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  • best alternatives to Windows Home Server?

    A year ago I purchased a copy of Windows Home Server 2011 for $50 from Amazon. I'm only just now getting around to installing it, but I'm noticing that not only has Microsoft discontinued WHS 2011, but it seems to have discontinued any future releases also.

    So, for those of you who used to run WHS, what have you found (if anything) that you like just as much as (or possibly more than) WHS?

  • #2
    What about the newer server essentials?

    There will, of course, still be updates to WHS 2011. It works fine and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. It's Server 2008 R2 under there.
    Originally posted by rprade
    There is no rhyme or reason to the anarchy a defective Z-Wave device can cause

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    • #3
      Like S-F said WHS 2011 has at its core Server 2008r2 and is very good and stable. Server 2012r2 is the replacement. You can buy it in the Essentials variety or add the Essentials role to the other varieties. There is also a media pack that will allow streaming media just like WHS2011. For home use 2011 might be a better choice as in its default configuration WSE2012r2 requires the client computers to join a domain. There is a registry change that can get you around that requirement. 2012 also takes over the role of DNS on your network so it is best to leave it up 24/7. Depending on the variety you will also get Hyper-v with 2012. It only comes with the Standard and Datacenter editions, but you can add the Essentials role to those version. Hyper-v is what drove me to switch. 2012 also has better handling of large GPT hard drives, offers ReFS and will support up to 25 client computer as opposed to the 8 of WHS2011.

      If you don't need a lot of large drives or Hyper-v stick with 2011. It is rock stable and a little easier to manage and comes in at a very reasonable price point. To go to 2012 Essentials will cost you substantially more and Standard substantially more than that. 2011 and 2012 have the same excellent client computer backup and restore strategies.
      Randy Prade
      Aurora, CO
      Prades.net

      PHLocation - Pushover - EasyTrigger - UltraECM3 - Ultra1Wire3 - Arduino

      Comment


      • #4
        I am still using Windows Home Server 2003 version on a HP MediaSmart Server. It still works great backing up Windows XP, Windows 7 and Windows 8 computer/laptops etc.
        Billy Draper

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        • #5
          For a dedicated HS server what difference does it make that Microsoft quit supporting it? If you can get the drivers you need it should work for many many years with no issues. I still have two PC's running XP which as far as I'm concerned is the best OS due to it's memory footprint and stability.
          -Rupp
          sigpic

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          • #6
            [QUOTE=rprade;1155346 2012 also has better handling of large GPT hard drives[/QUOTE]


            I was not aware of this. Many people are and have been using it with Very large drives. Like 60 TB +. Could you elaborate on this?
            Originally posted by rprade
            There is no rhyme or reason to the anarchy a defective Z-Wave device can cause

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Rupp View Post
              For a dedicated HS server what difference does it make that Microsoft quit supporting it?
              Good question. I'd rather not make too many assumptions, so that's why I'm asking. Has Microsoft, in fact, quit supporting it? I mean, is Microsoft at least earnestly doing bug fixes, or has Microsoft dropped it like a hot brick altogether? I gather from S-F's answer that Microsoft will be issuing updates. If so, that at least rules out the hot-brick scenario, but what kind of updates? What about patching new security vulnerabilities that might emerge? Also, will WHS11 be able to back up Windows 10 computers and beyond, and is that a reasonable expectation, or is it asking too much?

              In short, I'm just trying to figure out the road map, so that I know where I should go from here, and what might trigger the need to move on to the next destination.

              So here's an example "What difference does it make?" scenario that has my concern over even basic backups. I've been using Acronis TrueImage for backups, but I'm hoping to replace it with WHS-2011. In the past, some years I wouldn't need to buy the latest version of Acronis, but other years it seemed I had to upgrade to the latest version because the old version couldn't handle changes to the way Microsoft boots its OS (more specifically, it couldn't handle restoring a new OS so that it would be bootable). So, one concern is, from a backup standpoint, will I soon be facing that type of problem with respect to WHS-2011? Can WHS handle post-2011 UEFI changes and produce a fully bootable backup of a computer running Windows 8.1 for instance, or do I get access to files only and but not something I can boot up for disaster recovery purposes? Maybe WHS2011 works just fine regardless, but that's the sort of scenario that rendered the need to do upgrades on Acronis backup software. Acronis usability started to become really questioinable when Microsoft didn't allow Acronis to produce bootable backups, but a couple or so years ago instead required users to find some obscure files on their own to enable that. That's when the whole Acronis thing started to fall apart, and on average reviews have been much worse ever since.
              Last edited by NeverDie; January 9th, 2015, 11:50 AM.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by S-F View Post
                I was not aware of this. Many people are and have been using it with Very large drives. Like 60 TB +. Could you elaborate on this?
                My memory is foggy. I was able to use larger than 2tb drives and GPT on 2011, but I seem to recall it was a bit of a kludge. You had to RDP in and couldn't use the dashboard (not a problem) but there were some issues with permissions I think. I also think one of the service packs addressed some of those issues.

                I had my 60tb and 30tb raid arrays working on 2011, I just don't remember exactly what the issues were that we had to find workarounds for. I guess a more correct statement might be that 2012 handles large drives somewhat better.
                Randy Prade
                Aurora, CO
                Prades.net

                PHLocation - Pushover - EasyTrigger - UltraECM3 - Ultra1Wire3 - Arduino

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by NeverDie View Post
                  So here's an example "What difference does it make?" scenario that has my concern. I've been using Acronis TrueImage for backups. Some years I wouldn't need to buy the latest version, but other years it seemed I had to upgrade to the latest version because the old version couldn't handle changes to the way Microsoft boots its OS, or it couldn't handle restoring a new OS so that it would be bootable. So, one concern is, from a backup standpoint, will I soon be facing that type of problem with respect to WHS11? Can it handle all the UEFI changes and produce a fully bootable backup of Windows 8.1 for instance, or do I get access to files only and but not something I can boot up for disaster recovery purposes? Maybe WHS11 works just fine regardless, but that's the sort of scenario that rendered the need to do upgrades on Acronis backup software.
                  I'm confused. If you have the OS you like now and the Acronis that runs on that OS then what is the problem? I use a really really old version of Acronis on XP everyday with no issues. If and when I update that server I will update the Acronis version. As far as Windows 8 goes it was Vista II and thus the reason Windows 10 is coming so fast. I would avoid Windows 8 at all costs for a server type scenario.
                  -Rupp
                  sigpic

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by rprade View Post
                    My memory is foggy. I was able to use larger than 2tb drives and GPT on 2011, but I seem to recall it was a bit of a kludge. You had to RDP in and couldn't use the dashboard (not a problem) but there were some issues with permissions I think. I also think one of the service packs addressed some of those issues.

                    I had my 60tb and 30tb raid arrays working on 2011, I just don't remember exactly what the issues were that we had to find workarounds for. I guess a more correct statement might be that 2012 handles large drives somewhat better.
                    AFAIK that was V1 and the issues with GPT were fixed in WHS 2011. With V1 there were some registry hacks you needed to go through to use larger drives. It's normal with WHS 2011. I've seen people pass huge ZFS arrays to WHS 2011 with no issue at all.


                    @ NeverDie,

                    WHS 2011 will get all of the security updates. It regularly gets the normal Server 2008 R2 updates as well as the occasional WHS 2011 specific ones. MS has never said that they will no longer support it, just that there won't be any further development.
                    Originally posted by rprade
                    There is no rhyme or reason to the anarchy a defective Z-Wave device can cause

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Rupp View Post
                      For a dedicated HS server what difference does it make that Microsoft quit supporting it? If you can get the drivers you need it should work for many many years with no issues. I still have two PC's running XP which as far as I'm concerned is the best OS due to it's memory footprint and stability.
                      When the OP stated there would be no future releases of WHS2011, that is true. What is also true is that it is still a supported product and will be for quite a while. Windows XP and earlier are no longer supported, which is not a problem for a HomeSeer server, but Vista, Windows 7, server 2003, server 2008 (at the core of WHS2011) are all fully supported O/S versions. It will be some time before WHS2011 is not supported.

                      I would also argue that XP is a very good O/S but it would not be my choice for a dedicated server. Put me squarely in the Windows 7 camp for now. It is very stable and makes a very good server, as does WHS2011 which is the same generation as a server model.
                      Randy Prade
                      Aurora, CO
                      Prades.net

                      PHLocation - Pushover - EasyTrigger - UltraECM3 - Ultra1Wire3 - Arduino

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by S-F View Post
                        AFAIK that was V1 and the issues with GPT were fixed in WHS 2011. With V1 there were some registry hacks you needed to go through to use larger drives. It's normal with WHS 2011. I've seen people pass huge ZFS arrays to WHS 2011 with no issue at all.


                        @ NeverDie,

                        WHS 2011 will get all of the security updates. It regularly gets the normal Server 2008 R2 updates as well as the occasional WHS 2011 specific ones. MS has never said that they will no longer support it, just that there won't be any further development.
                        I switched to WSE2012 as soon as it came out because I had learn it. I just can no longer remember what it was about 2011. Regardless, I agree that the 2008r2 kernel is proven, stable and will be supported for quite some time. And yes, I remember V1, I had the maximum 32 x2tb drives on my V1 server and it worked fairly well, except when serving up Blu-ray ISOs it would freeze for a second or two about two time per movie.
                        Randy Prade
                        Aurora, CO
                        Prades.net

                        PHLocation - Pushover - EasyTrigger - UltraECM3 - Ultra1Wire3 - Arduino

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Has anyone tried putting WHS 2011 on one of the HP MediaSmart servers? I have one of the EX475 (I think) models which I gave a faster chip and more RAM. I still use it for storage, but I can't get the true WHS functionality to work anymore.
                          cheeryfool

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by cheeryfool View Post
                            Has anyone tried putting WHS 2011 on one of the HP MediaSmart servers? I have one of the EX475 (I think) models which I gave a faster chip and more RAM. I still use it for storage, but I can't get the true WHS functionality to work anymore.
                            What do you mean by true WHS functionality?

                            I have one of the EX487 models and changed the CPU added more memory, still running like a champ. Had a power supply go out last year, bought one for 19.95 (if memory serves). It still runs great, and has been very useful when I needed to grab a deleted file or restore a laptop due to a virus.
                            Billy Draper

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by rprade View Post
                              Put me squarely in the Windows 7 camp for now. It is very stable and makes a very good server, as does WHS2011 which is the same generation as a server model.
                              That's the one I am using. win7. I was using WHS, but it was too restrictive for me. I loved that the original WHS had the drive pooling. Loved it so much that when I moved to WHS2011, I purchased some drive pooling software. Then, again, as I mentioned I found it too restrictive and slow on the hardware I was using. I never used WHS WITH Homeseer. I've only used Win7 for that (since my original issues).

                              I now have it setup:
                              Main server: Win7 running virtualbox and I have my drive pooling running on there.
                              WHS (Asus Easyhome): was TOO slow for WHS 2011, so I turned it into a iSCSI extender running FreeNas (or whatever they are calling it today...NAS4Free?). Then I take that as an iSCSI drive into my drive pool. Works really well. It has a DEDICATED connection to my server (no switch) and I get rates in the 200MB/s burst and 105MB/s sustained writes. Reads are about the same. This is significatly faster than when I was running WHS on that same hardware (50-60MB/s range).

                              Now I just have to reconfigure the UPS. I didn't realize all the stuff I had plugged in. My UPS only lasted about 5 minutes. Originally purchased it to run my server for 30-40min (so there would be time to shut down all the VMs!!).

                              Found that out this last week when the power went out for 5 hours. Luckily I installed a fireplace this year. Kicked that on for heat. Got the portable inverter out and had light. Had it lasted any longer I would have broken out the generator. Not a good thing to not have power for 5 hours in winter - with temperatures <looks over at outside thermometer> 16 degrees and dropping.

                              --Dan
                              Tasker, to a person who does Homeautomation...is like walking up to a Crack Treatment facility with a truck full of 3lb bags of crack. Then for each person that walks in and out smack them in the face with an open bag.

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