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darcilicious
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2 edits

[Other] WHS 2011 vs Windows Server 2012 Essentials

Looking for feedback, opinions or best yet, personal experience regarding these two:

2011 is much cheaper, allows for less clients (ten, which is more than enough), and support ends on 4/12/2016 with no extended support.

2012 Essentials is significantly more expensive, will handle up to 50 clients (overkill for me) but mainstream support doesn't end until 1/9/2018 with extended support ending on 1/10/2023.

Features I'm ultimately interested in are:
duplicating drives
drive pooling
automated backups of PCs on the network:
-- W7 and W8.1; OS X would be nice butnot a deal breaker
remote access to files
VPN access
web server
general file sharing
ability to backup specific folders (local to the server) to online remote location

Thoughts?

If it matters, I'm looking to replace our current HP WHS v1 system; it's failing and I might be able to fix it or might not; in either case, it's EOL'd by both HP and Microsoft. If repairing it goes south, I want Plan B in place I have hardware picked out which will work either OS above.
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dave
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I'm almost in the same situation: have WHS v1 but I see the writing on the wall. So keep us posted on your decision.

One more thing for your checklist, maybe: which client operating system versions are supported? (particularly for automatic backup)



darcilicious
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said by dave:

hich client operating system versions are supported? (particularly for automatic backup)

Good point, I'll add it to the list. To somewhat answer that question, I know that with WHS v1, the Windows 7 client/access software works on Windows 8 just fine; don't know about 8.1; and despite that, I haven't installed the client/access software on the one 8.1 machine we do have.
--
♬ Dragon of good fortune struggles with the trickster Fox ♬


dispatcher21
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reply to darcilicious

A Synology device may work for you.
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darcilicious
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Thanks but I've already narrowed down my options to these two.



Link Logger
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1 recommendation

reply to darcilicious

I had the same choice to make and went with the 2012 Essentials. All I'm really using it for is backups and it seems to be very happy running along in the corner backing up my systems, so I'm happy.

Blake
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Vendor: Author of Link Logger which is a traffic analysis and firewall logging tool



darcilicious
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Can you share your reasons for going with 2012 Essentials?



Link Logger
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I always loved Home Server and still have one running along backing up the families computers, but I felt Home Server was coming to the end of its road so might as well give 2012 Essentials a go as it seems to be the replacement and learn a little about it.

Blake
--
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Octavean
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reply to darcilicious

I have an HP MediaSmart EX490 WHS v1 box and a fairly new DIY Windows Server 2012 Essentials box.

I would suggest both a new Windows Server 2012 Essentials box and upgrading / refreshing the old HP server. That's basically what I did anyway. I've recovered my old HP EX490 from a failed PSU, failed OS drive and so on. Those failures are what prompted the addition of the new 2012 Essentials server.

I figure a new CPU, more RAM and WHS 2011 would breath new life into the HP.



darcilicious
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Any particular reason you chose the 2012 Essentials over WHS 2011?

I'm not particularly interested in updating my HP EX490 at this point (beyond possibly fixing the current failure).
--
♬ Dragon of good fortune struggles with the trickster Fox ♬



PhoenixDown
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reply to darcilicious

Same boat as all of you unfortunatley. WHS 2011 was great but is a dead product.
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Octavean
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reply to darcilicious

Simply put, I viewed Windows Server 2012 Essentials as the current and future software / OS that had the feature set I needed.

Keep in mind that the decision to go with Windows Server 2012 Essentials was also kind of a split second, flying by the seat of your pants, holy $#!t kind of moment for me. It was the first time my HP EX490 failed and I was intent on getting a new server up and running quickly.

Basically Windows Server 2012 Essentials had everything I needed, was already familiar to me in some ways and wasn't difficult to familiarize myself with the things I needed to know but didn't.



Nightfall
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reply to dispatcher21

said by dispatcher21:

A Synology device may work for you.

I have a Windows Home Server 2011 and a Synology in my home, and after using both, I am going to retire the Windows Home Server 2011 eventually. Don't get me wrong, I like Windows Home Server 2011. The backup and restoration of systems is easy and works great. It has a lot of other things like running a website from it, remote control access, and so on. The shared folders are very nice as well.

The Synology just does things better and it takes less power to run. The tools are much easier to use. I end up using the synology sharing more often than Windows Home Server for sure. Plus, when it comes to cost, Synology has Windows Server Essentials beat hands down.

So yea, why you have narrowed down your options is curious to me. Still, good luck in your decision making process.
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darcilicious
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said by Nightfall:

I have a Windows Home Server 2011 and a Synology in my home, and after using both, I am going to retire the Windows Home Server 2011 eventually. Don't get me wrong, I like Windows Home Server 2011. The backup and restoration of systems is easy and works great. It has a lot of other things like running a website from it, remote control access, and so on. The shared folders are very nice as well.

The Synology just does things better [...]

Okay, which Synology exactly and what hardware did you use for each of your servers? (Software is only half the solution). And how does it do all that I listed better"?
--
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Martinus
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reply to darcilicious

I changed my WHS v1 to Windows Server 2012 Essentials last year and I'm really glad I did. The hardware it was in was a bit old and when I built the new box I did not want to go with an OS which Microsoft had stopped developing.

The server makes backups of all the PCs at home - a mixture of Windows 7 and Windows 8.

I use it also for streaming with serviio. Also have SB + SABnzbd, my calibre library, photos, music, etc.

I did not install it as a Domain Controller though. There are ways around for preventing it if you are not interested in the DC role.

The UI is kind of Windows 8 but not that bad



Martinus
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reply to dave

said by dave:

which client operating system versions are supported? (particularly for automatic backup)

You have to install a "connector" in the PCs that would have access to the server.
I know Windows 7 and higher are supported. Don't know if earlier OSes are though.


darcilicious
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reply to Martinus

said by Martinus:

There are ways around for preventing it if you are not interested in the DC role.

Yes, this would be preferred, thanks for pointing it out.
--
♬ Dragon of good fortune struggles with the trickster Fox ♬


Martinus
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said by darcilicious:

Yes, this would be preferred, thanks for pointing it out.

Here: »social.technet.microsoft.com/For···-network


Nightfall
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reply to darcilicious

said by darcilicious:

said by Nightfall:

I have a Windows Home Server 2011 and a Synology in my home, and after using both, I am going to retire the Windows Home Server 2011 eventually. Don't get me wrong, I like Windows Home Server 2011. The backup and restoration of systems is easy and works great. It has a lot of other things like running a website from it, remote control access, and so on. The shared folders are very nice as well.

The Synology just does things better [...]

Okay, which Synology exactly and what hardware did you use for each of your servers? (Software is only half the solution). And how does it do all that I listed better"?

IMHO, the shared folders work a lot better on the Synology and the apps that plug into android and apple phones/tablets make connecting to the synology easier. Then you have all the apps that you can install on the synology that make it much more than a "storage" device. The backup and restoration process in Windows Home Server is the only thing that beats the Synology hands down. Everything else I would say Synology wins at.
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F100

join:2013-01-15
Durham, NC
reply to darcilicious

darcilicious, I'm in the same boat as you also. I've got a WHS v1 server set up and a Windows 7 PC with Media Center recording our TV and auto backing up to the WHS share. Also use an Xbox as extender and it all works pretty good. But I want to move some stuff to Windows 8.1 and update my server hardware.

Most of essentials would be fine. I've read about ways to have the Media Center PC push the .wtv files to the network share on essentials since it doesn't do this automatically like on the WHS versions. Most of the other features are covered by Essentials except duplicating drives. Plus you can install other stuff on the server without breaking it. It's too bad MS killed Technet since it was perfect for folks like us trying to learn how to use MS applications.

BTW is anyone using the Storage Spaces built into Win 8.1 and Server 2012R2? Or have most of you gone with a raid card or something like drive bender or the other one I can't think of right now? This is for the mirroring/drive pooling part.



darcilicious
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reply to Nightfall

said by Nightfall:

the shared folders work a lot better on the Synology

How so specifically, please?

Nobody has said specifically how Synology is better -- I'm more than willing to change my mind but I need more information Preferably a specific example such as: shared folders on Synology allow guests on the network to access folders that are set up for it (I know WHS v1 does this but maybe 2011/2012 don't?)

I've also had no problems using iOS apps to connect to any shared folder on my network, I have a hard time imagining that it won't be similar if not identical with 2011/2012. So how does Synology make this "easier".

You also haven't said which Synology you're talking about. Can you please provide details?

Also, per my requirements above, I'm not looking for a lot of non-storage type apps/functionality as I've already got those pieces in place on my network.
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dave
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reply to Nightfall

said by Nightfall:

The backup and restoration process in Windows Home Server is the only thing that beats the Synology hands down.

That would be the deal clicher for me. without that, a NAS is just a NAS.

(Actually, next-go-round I might consider separating the NAS from the auto-backup-server)


Martinus
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reply to Nightfall

said by Nightfall:

The backup and restoration process in Windows Home Server is the only thing that beats the Synology hands down. Everything else I would say Synology wins at.

I believe it's even better inWS2012 Essentials. Though it uses a different mechanism to trigger the client backups.

As far as I recall, in WHS, it was the server that initiated the clients backups. I may be wrong because I used the Lights Out app, which woke the clients and started the backup process.

In WS2012 Essentials, the backup is triggered by the clients Task Scheduler - not the server. Meaning that a client backup will only start when the client is on.

But restoring the whole OS or single folders/files is a breeze.

JoelC707
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reply to darcilicious

I unfortunately don't have personal experience with either of those options. I've always had access to Action Pack and/or Technet (still have MAPS but my TechNet subscription finally lapsed) and have used 2012/2012R2 for a long time. Basically I'm doing my own, more complicated version of WHS/Essentials.

I haven't looked at pricing honestly so I don't know exactly how much more Essentials is, but regarding that point I would ask, is it worth that much to you? Regarding the support length, do you plan this system to last more than two years without an upgrade? If so, that should dictate which one you pick, all else being equal (aside from price obviously).

Regarding Storage Spaces, it does work and with ReFS it provides ZFS like protection (bit rot and whatnot). It may have changed but when I first read about ReFS, I thought those were features of the FS itself but actually they had to be used in conjunction with Storage Spaces mirroring mode.

Like any other software based RAID, parity mode is not ideal because it relies on the host CPU for the parity calculations and will drastically slow down the array access speeds. This can be improved with the use of SSD tiering (similar to ZFS L2ARC/ZIL).



Nightfall
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reply to darcilicious

said by darcilicious:

Nobody has said specifically how Synology is better -- I'm more than willing to change my mind

Hrm....

said by darcilicious:

Thanks but I've already narrowed down my options to these two.

You will have to excuse me, but I really don't feel like typing 4-5 paragraphs since it seems like it will fall on deaf ears. Sounds like you have your plan in mind and that isn't a bad thing. Good luck!
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darcilicious
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1 edit

I said I was willing to change my mind and I mean it. However, in order to do that, I need more information than "is better" and "is easier". I don't think that is unreasonable, especially as you're someone who has used both.

You won't even post which Synology model you're using to I can follow up on my own.

Sounds like you're not really interested in providing information beyond "Synology is better, you can take my word for it", which of course is your choice -- but please don't say I've already made up my mind when all I've done is asked for more information.

Regarding:

said by darcilicious:

Thanks but I've already narrowed down my options to these two.

That was well before you chimed in with your experience of using both Windows and Synology.

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unknvoip
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reply to Nightfall

said by Nightfall:

You will have to excuse me, but I really don't feel like typing 4-5 paragraphs since it seems like it will fall on deaf ears. Sounds like you have your plan in mind and that isn't a bad thing. Good luck!

While the OP may or may not have their mind made up, some of us lurking in this thread might benefit from your information. I had never heard of the Synology solution. I have a WHS V1 and have started to wonder what might be next for me. Your input would certainly not fall on deaf ears.

dave
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reply to Martinus

I think in WHS v1 it is client-driven too.

Obviously, no client backup happens if the client is hard-powered-off. But you can configure it to wake up at backup time, and then it can also check whether you're on mains power or battery, and not do the backup when on battery (if that is what you want).



Martinus
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said by dave:

I think in WHS v1 it is client-driven too.

Obviously, no client backup happens if the client is hard-powered-off. But you can configure it to wake up at backup time, and then it can also check whether you're on mains power or battery, and not do the backup when on battery (if that is what you want).

Of course. But with WHS and the Lights Out app - and probably without it, the clients were woken up - a WOL magic packet, I suppose - and the backup process would run.

It doesn't work this way with W2012. The backup process only starts when the client is on because it's not the server that requests the backup to start but a task that the server creates in the client PCs when you install the connector.


Nightfall
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reply to unknvoip

said by unknvoip:

said by Nightfall:

You will have to excuse me, but I really don't feel like typing 4-5 paragraphs since it seems like it will fall on deaf ears. Sounds like you have your plan in mind and that isn't a bad thing. Good luck!

While the OP may or may not have their mind made up, some of us lurking in this thread might benefit from your information. I had never heard of the Synology solution. I have a WHS V1 and have started to wonder what might be next for me. Your input would certainly not fall on deaf ears.

Fair enough.

Let me start by saying that I have Windows Home Server 2011 and a Synology DS412. All the synology solutions are the same for the most part when it comes to what apps they support and so on. It doesn't matter if you have a DS213+ or a DS414. The only difference is the amount of drive bays they have or hardware related improvements.

Now, lets explain what I like about the Synology solution over Windows Home server.

First off, the apps that the synology have are awesome. For those of you who have Windows and Android devices, there are a lot of apps you can install that can stream video and audio off your synology and to your phone. Then you have a file browser that can grab files off the synology. There is also a picture application as well that can view pictures from your synology to your phone.

Connecting to the synology using Quickconnect or their native DDNS is seamless as well. Many already have DDNS of some kind, so I won't bore you with the details. The apps on the phone and such all use quickconnect which make it easy to connect to the synology no matter where you are.

Another thing I like about the synology is the ease of expansion. Even if you have a 2 bay synology and run RAID 0 for redundancy, you can easily expand your storage by replacing a drive, allowing it to resync, and then replacing the second drive when you are done.

You also have the price factor to consider. Even if you decide you want a 4 bay NAS, the cost of the computer plus Windows Server Essentials is going to be more than the cost of the NAS + 4 drives. I personally believe that the 2 bay NAS is probably the best bang for the buck unless you have 4-6 terrabytes of info to store. Then you also have to consider how you are going to back it up.

Another thing I love about the synology solution is the seemless backup and restore from one synology to another. I bought a small 1 bay synology and every night it backs up and compresses the backup to the 1 bay synology. You can even store this off site if you have the internet speed.

Then you have all the synology apps you can install on the synology itself. Want a torrent download manager? Synology has it. Want a Wordpress site? Synology has it. How about 3rd party apps? Synology has a great database of those as well.

»www.synology.com/en-us/dsm/app_packages

The one thing that Synology lacks is a true client backup solution. The Windows Home Server 2011 system is so nice when it comes to backups for the client PCs. It can keep multiple backups and you can restore seemlessly with the client restore CD.

With the synology, you can do full backups to the synology from the client, but they are not as user friendly.

»www.synology.com/en-us/support/tutorials/454

Another thing I like about the synology is the user community. Very large and robust. Their tech support is also excellent as well. I have only phoned in once for a support incident, and when I did it was a very easy process with a human being that I actually understood easily.

Finally, the cost to run the Synology solution is going to be much cheaper in the long run. A computer or server is going to cost more in power than the Synology will over its lifetime. You probably will be able to pay for a new Synology in a 4 year span in the electricity you will save over running a bulky/noisy server.

Combine with this some of the irritations of Windows Home Server 2011 and the Synology is much better. I had instances of the database of my client backups on the server go south and I had to remove all my backups and start over again. Then I had issues with the windows home server and making it accessible over the internet through the website. I was constantly getting an error and finding the solution isn't easy because the community just isn't that popular. Sure, you have technet and other online resources, but finding actual solutions is a little frustrating.

I really hope this helps you out.
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