A Possible New Server Build

by Damian on February 22, 2013 · 60 comments

in News

I have been kicking around the idea for a while of building a new server to replace my current WHSv1 server (codename: Shawshank Redemption). I built Shawshank back in August of 2009 and aside from a few hiccups along the way it has been rock solid. Naturally this brings up the question, if it ain’t broke why fix it? Well, right now I have a few reasons for wanting to upgrade:

  1. Support for HDDs greater then 2TB (I realize there is a hack/workaround for this in WHSv1 but it just seems like too much work, I rather have a solution  that just works out of the box)
  2. Software development/support is slowly fading from WHSv1. A perfect example, My Movies stopped supporting WHSv1 a while ago, which means any new features or enhancements get missed out on
  3. Consolidate hardware. I ran out of space in Shawshank so I added on an enhanceBox  eSata enclosure which has worked well. However, this adds another device to the mix which means one more variable to take into account if a problem occurs. Also, I have run into issues getting SMART data from the drives in the enclosure which leaves me feeling a little unsettled.
  4. I’m a geek who likes to run the latest/greatest :D

Now here is the main roadblock. Unfortunately I cannot simply upgrade Shawshank from WHSv1 to another O/S, it needs to be a clean install. This is a bit of a daunting task because of the amount of data Shawshank holds, so I can’t just simply transfer my files over to an external drive, install the new O/S, and then copy the data back. Instead, it looks like I will need to do an entirely new server build, get it up and running (while Shawshank is still running as well) , and then start slowly copying the data over. I don’t know when I will do this as time is at a bit of a premium right now, but I just can’t get rid of the itch to do something soon. Here is what I am thinking:

Operating System:

I am leaning towards Windows Server 2012 Essentials. This is obviously a more expensive solution, but since I have access to a copy for free that helps to lessen the blow. The downside with moving away from WHSv1 is I lose the built in DE functionality. I am not looking to do any sort of RAID and Storage Spaces just doesn’t seem all that reliable, so I will probably look to a 3rd party add in such as DriveBender or Stablebit.


This is where the fun will be had, choosing the hardware. Since I use my server for transcoding duties I will probably go with a core i7 CPU. I haven’t looked at motherboards yet, but if the one I go with does not have an Intel NIC I will add on a dedicated Intel NIC card (which is what I do already for Shawshank, or I could simply move over the Intel NIC from Shawshank once the data transfer is complete).

Probably the most difficult decision right now will be choosing the case. Since I require the ability to utilize a lot of hard drives for storage, this automatically eliminates a lot of potential cases. My server is located in my office at home, so a rack mounted case is not an option (thus eliminating options like the popular Norco cases). I was looking at some of the Chenbro, Rosewill, or Supermicro pedestal cases, but I may just go crazy and get  the Lian Li PC-D8000 which can hold 20 3.5″ hard drives internally and has 5 5.25″ external bays that could be converted for additional HDD storage. With the internal drives I lose the hot swap ability, but given I rarely have to move around drives I am fine with. Also, not needing some sort of hot swap backplane just means there is one less component I have to worry about if something goes bad.  I am still not 100% set on going with this case (and need to do some measurements as it looks to be a beast as you can see from the pics below).

The last thing I will need to sort out (aside from a PSU which I will definitely go with a modular version) will be what RAID cards to use. In Shawshank I am using the Supermicro SASLP SATA RAID cards, but I am not sure about their compatibility with WS 2012 E. This is something I will need to do more reading on before I make  decision.

Final Thoughts:

As of now I think I have a rough outline of what direction I want to move in, and now that I have written about it I am even more anxious to get something started.

Have any of you done a new server build of late (whether new or migrating from another server platform)? If so I would love to hear from you about your build and experience.

Article by

Hi, my name is Damian, and I'm tech gadget addict! Although I always had some interest in technology, it wasn't until I got my EX470 and more importantly found Mediasmartserver.net, that my interest became an addiction. My goal, aside from world domination and to see the Mets/Broncos win another championship, is to set up the perfect digital home where all my media is available at the click of a button. When I am not writing for Mediasmartserver.net you can find me over at my blog at http://www.adigitalhomeblog.com or follow me on twitter


JRW February 22, 2013 at 11:53 am

Never posted here before but I read the site a bit. I have been in your situation for quite awhile and finally made the move to build a new server and migrate everything over. What a pain in the ass!

My case has 9 external bays… (1) for the blu-ray drive, (6) will hold two hot swap drive bays containing 5 drives each [10 total], and the other (2) will hold a hot swap drive bay containing three drives.

I’m done with drive pool… bender… etc. I am going with a 12 port RAID card which will be configured:

(9) 2TB drives in RAID 6
(1) 2TB drive as a spare
(2) 3TB drives in RAID 1
(1) 150GB 2.5″ drive for the OS (run off of the mobo sata)

The RAID card was upgraded with 1GB of RAM cache and a battery backup module. I will also have (5) 1TB drives in RAID 5 in an external enclosure connected via eSata.

I used Windows 8 Pro for an OS. I’m still learning how to use it, but its been extremely stable so far.

Good luck with your upgrade!



Pluckyhd February 22, 2013 at 1:01 pm

Stay away from whs!! U need to kill it de is so painfully slow an awful IMHO. I use flexraid personally. Good luck to me longer than a week to get all my data of whs drives. I ended up pulling the drives and doing it manually whs was just to damn slow copying data from it.

tcs2tx February 22, 2013 at 1:20 pm

I was one of the original WHSv1 adopters and beta testers. I have tried a number of alternatives (including WHSv2 and Flexraid). A while back, I found about ZFS and have been using ZFS-based storage pools ever since. It’s nice that there are a number of OS alternatives that can access the ZFS pools. I admit that it can take a bit to get up to speed if you are not a Linux/UNIX person (I wasn’t), but it didn’t take me that long and there are some very nice tools available – ZFSGuru and napp-it.

varun February 22, 2013 at 2:35 pm

I recently found myself agonizing about this as well – my EX490′s boot drive came with bad sectors, and despite several attempts to fix and then replace the drive, the errors kept creeping up every so often. After putting together a list of the features that each OS had (WHSv1, WHS2011, WS2012E, WS2012S, FreeNAS, NAS4Free, Amahi, some others), I actually opted for WHS2011. I’m going to have to think of some better way forward though, because WHS2011 doesn’t have very much longer left in the support lifecycle either…

GARDIAN February 22, 2013 at 4:47 pm

I just did a DIY x710 small Lian li case. Loaded win 2012e on it with no problems except no support for xp or vista.
If I had lots o drives, I would look at http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811112387
This case does 12 hot swap drives and has the space for dvd or bluray, but is pricy. I am going to buy win 2012e at some point, but I don’t have that much data yet.
Good luck

GARDIAN February 22, 2013 at 5:03 pm

If you want a big case with lots o room to grow, this one is in the DIY now. I wish I had this much data , but I just can’t do it.

Dj February 22, 2013 at 8:05 pm

Coming from a friend. Raid vs whs de is like Maserati vs a crack whore…you just can’t compare. I’ve been on ws12 (full not essentials) for a while now and I can do most everything natively that whs required a plugin for. And the opposite of friend I hate you and want that case!!!

Alex February 23, 2013 at 3:37 am

Hello again my dear virtual friend.

Here the route I took with my data storage.

I dumped all the solutions of adding a layer of technical solutions on top of the hard disks.

Raid is only good for uptime, If you don’t need uptime then you don’t need it. In a home, the misses and kids can surely do without some movies and music while you correct the rare problems that will arise.

Have you used the software pooling you are talking about ? Horrible… You don’t know where your data is being written, it relies on files it writes on your hard disk, sometimes they get visible instead of invisible. You don’t know where your data is spread out, sometimes windows doesn’t see it anymore, it’s a mess.

So I went with a P8Z77-V Pro because of the following reasons :

-Very nice build quality
-Has a PowerSurge protection. (I know you have a UPS, but did you acount for the time the PSU itself behind it will fail ?). Look into individual powersurge protection that sits between the PSU and the hard drives.
-Good power stages, enough for stable operations
-Intel NIC.
-8 SATA Ports (The third party one is ASMEDIA, better than marvell or realtek)
-Individual FAN Controllers, with 4 PIN connectors. I can control all my fans automatically with software based solutions.

The case I’m using is a Nanoxia Deep Silence, has space for 8 Hard Drives.
I used the external 3.5 bay for the SSD drive and have 8×3 TB Drives WD Red sitting in it.

For backup, I use a 1-1 mirror controlled by software without any proprietary files (FreeFileSync) and has versioning enabled.

I also use this to turn off the backup hard drives when I’m not around for a long time to avoid the wife and kids damaging anything.

I use a bay that has a power off switches for the drives.

I hide the drives in windows from the explorer.

If you don’t need Raid, don’t buy a raid card, buy SATA ports cards.

If you buy a RAID card, buy one expensive, with integrated on board ECC Memmory. Otherwise, you won’t get passed the silent corruption data that comes with RAID.

For RAID to work properly you need the controller to control all parts of the information that gets written to the drive. If the card relies on the onboard memmory then it might get back the information it sends with corruption. And since there is no ECC, well, it’s just a matter of time.

That’s my two cents on the matter.

If I had HUGE amounts of data to backup, 1-1 mirror will start costing a lot, so I would do RAID 6 DISK BASED, not parity based and I would use a hellish expensive and reliable card with all the necessities on board and from a company I know I can find the same card in about 30 years.


Bill Cardiff February 23, 2013 at 9:37 am

Hello. I’ve been a subscriber for a while but haven’t commented up until now. Long time reader first time caller kind of thing.
Instead of going with a paid operating system, have you looked at an open source alternative? I have been doing a lot of reading on Open Indiana with it’s ZFS file system. I have a hackintosh running a version of ZFS and it is an amazing (to me) file system. I have three 3Tb drives set up with RAIDZ – this limits me to 6Tb of space, however I can lose a drive and not lose data, equivalent to a RAID 5 system. The downside is you have to start out with a drive pool of a set count and it has to stay that count, or you build sideways instead of up. When I needed to replace my ailing WHS v.1 Acer H340 I had only three drives to work with, so my pool is now a three drive pool. From here I can add another set of drives to this to create a multidevice pool, but I haven’t got there so I’m not exactly sure how it works that way.
HOWEVER, before I get too sidetracked, Open Indiana is a free open source alternative. There is also a third party install that will create a web interface for the server giving almost a WHS console look to the system.
I like the drive pool. I like creating a RAID5 pool that prevents bit root automatically, allows for snap shots, and rebuilds, and can be built of fast consumer level SATA drives.

George Hayles (SeaRay33 from the Forum) February 23, 2013 at 3:28 pm

Hi Damian,

Hope you survived Sandy and all the other mischief up there lately :-)

I may be very naive but I moved most of my TB’s of data by copying to WHS 2011 based hardware with an external eSATA tower. I used an old desktop about 6 years old with 4GB RAM and an Athlon dual core processor. I have noted some comments from above. That is why I start my comments with maybe being naive, but I have had no problems with Stablebit Drive Pool nor with the slowness of transfer of TB’s of data to the new server. In fact, I am quite pleased with the performance and stability of the build so far.

I like the case you selected. Very, very nice. So far as I can see there is no reason not to go (sorry about the double-negatives) in the direction you are thinking.

There is one major change I am considering and that is the reason I have not fully moved on over to the WHS 2011 storage option. And this is a huge change in direction for me. I am thinking about full cloud storage.

Before you think I have completely gone off the deep end, take a look at Bitcasa.com. They have gone public now. Yes, there are still some hiccups and I think they moved out of beta too quickly, but unlimited storage for $99 bucks per year is just too good not to consider. I have uploaded some rather large mkv files. They stream back flawlessly.

Since I was a beta tester for Bitcasa (I’ve been using it for a bit over a year), I got my first year of unlimited storage for $49 per year. I am not a bit sorry for paying that at this point and I plan to renew again for $99 per year next time. If all goes as planned I will not buy many if any hard drives in the future.

I have a major disadvantage that I suspect you do not have where you live. My Time Warner upload speed is only 1Mbps and 10Mbps down so getting the data to the server in the sky is very slow for me. I am considering a 3Mbps upload alternative and will probably go with that (via a satellite dish no less, Can you believe that 12Mbps down and 3 up with a satellite dish? ). Even with the slow upload I have had over the past year, I would still recommend to anyone that they take a look at Bitcasa to see what is offered. I am quite certain no one else even comes close to their price for unlimited data storage. They were one of the finalist for Disrupt 2012 last year and I would say they are well on their way to disrupting the storage industry as they said they would do. You and your readers are smart enough to make your own decisions without listening to me. Here are the links you will need.

Link for Bitcasa:

Link for 12 down and 3 up dish based ISP:

Note: If anyone goes the Exede route, they will have to set their router to upload mkv or other large files from 12midnight to 5am when monthly bandwidth is unlimited.

alex February 24, 2013 at 8:24 am

OVH Hubic offers unlimited for 83 euros a year


George February 24, 2013 at 11:23 am

Hello Alex. Thank you for the info. I was not aware of HubiC. Glad to see there are some European alternatives making waves in the status quo.

Emory Lehman February 23, 2013 at 9:32 pm

I’ve been a long time follower/lurker. I have been using my HP EX485 for a few years now. But it is about time to move on. So I have been spending most of the day working on building an Amahi server out of a bunch of “left over” parts. But so far I am not too impressed with it. Granted it is easy to install and get running, but for my situation I don’t want to change any of the setting in my router running DD-WRT. I have it setup to run OpenDNS and block many of the “bad” sites out there on the net, and to keep my kids away from that stuff. But Amahi makes you use it as a DCHP server and OpenDNS is way too hard to get it running and set up. But if I could I would go this route:



Kryspy February 25, 2013 at 6:12 am

I use unRAID for my file serving needs. Very reliable and greatly reduces downtime as you can pull a drive and still access your files.

Only downside based on your needs from your previous build is TV tuner support. There is a plugin for tvheadend which works well apparently but I don’t use it.

Before unRAID I used Ubuntu with snapraid and mhddfs for storage and MythTV for TV recording. I don’t bother with TV recording anymore because I moved to a ISP that affords me enough bandwidth to use streaming TV shows feasible.


Comp1962 February 26, 2013 at 5:01 pm

@ Danian ~ I am in the same boat you are although I have plenty of space still available to me in my WHS2011 Server. I like the Lian Li Case you posted but at the same time I love the backplanes in my Norco Enclosure. I also know how fast one can eat up hard drives when storing movies. I have to say I am quite happy with my WHS2011 server and I do run the released version of Stablebit Drive Pool which I like much better than DE in WHS v1 so I moved everything over to WHS2011.

Because the Microsoft Client Backups have saved my butt many times since I started running WHS that I see no reason to abandon a Microsoft Server Solution. The Client Backups are the #1 reason why I started running WHS in the first place. All the other things I do with the servers are just an added bonus. I also think I want to install a Redundant PSU solution in my next build. I have used Modular PSU’s in a couple builds because I do not like cable clutter.

I still run my WHS v1 servers for client backups and will continue to do so until all the clients they backup are retired. I also repurposed them for other tasks so I still find them to be useful.

I expect to start building my next server sometime in July 2013 so I have to get off my butt and come to terms with this build because July will come quickly.

excal February 27, 2013 at 4:56 am

Heya Damian,. I’ve often pondered what my next step will be as well. I’m running a ex490 (with upgraded cpu thanks to you) and its been rock solid. My biggest question/concern is if I move away from DE into something more like a traditional RAID setup does that not effect the storage requirements? Specifically, aren’t you supposed to use copies of the same exact make/model/size drive when running a traditional RAID?. Also, I understood iT to be a much bigger deal to add/remove drives from the storage pool in a traditional RAID. However, I’m most definitely not an expert in the area (which is why I’m asking), but the ability to mix and match drives along with easily adding them on an as-needed basis was the biggest allure of whs and DE to me. . Have things changed in this area at all?

Damian February 28, 2013 at 4:08 pm

I thin some of the traditional RAID required the same HDD size (or you could only use the size of the smallest drive in your array). I believe some of the newer RAID setups (unRaid and FlexRaid) don’t have this requirement. I do realize that the DE type of storage used in WHSv1 (and via the Stablebit/Drive Bender add ins) are not as efficient as some of the RAIDs, but at least as of now I have been very happy with the tradeoff.

Gardian February 27, 2013 at 4:37 pm

Wow, I was checking out the Case PC-D8000, very nice, I see you can get hotswap backplanes for it, Thx for showing it, it is in my (next case) list.

Comp1962 February 27, 2013 at 4:56 pm
JohnBick February 27, 2013 at 8:54 pm

I suspect the ONLY real reason you are doing this is your #4..!

I don’t need anywhere near the capacity you are planning, but I am starting to think ahead on this. Will likely use my existing (large) tower replacing my desktop with something very quiet with SSDs and minimal fans/HDDs. What I have is MUCH quieter than what it replaced but it’s time to be even quieter in the office.

I plan to have the connection to my server changed to fiber for the speed and off-load a good portion of my data from the desktop to use it directly from the server, reducing local storage and maybe eliminating all disk noise.

Server will be in the basement once it’s stable. My EX475 has been there for years and it works out well for me.

Thinking abut several of the options mentioned above as well as possibly a Linux solution (Kubuntu?). The one thing I really want that may be tougher is the ability to quickly and easily re-build a PC in the event of a C: drive (or user) failure. That one feature has saved my sanity several times over the last 5+ years! (Ten minutes of setup, read a book for an hour and then back to work. LOVE that!) That will likely narrow the OS choices.

Will likely use high-end RAID. Was thinking RAID 5 but Alex mentioning RAID 6 has me rethinking that.) I will definitely go with the RAID controller on a card and will buy at least one spare RAID card up front. Do not care about hot-swap for the storage but I do still run scheduled backups, rotating them to SD Box) so a couple hot-swap bays in the front will be very desirable and I can do that with the case I have.

Seven-year old grandkid figured out how to access movies I thought I had locked up fairly well so will be re-thinking access restrictions as part of this. (No, not “adult” movies, just not ones we felt appropriate for the grandkids!)

Of course all this takes time and money so I may procrastinate and travel instead…!

Damian February 28, 2013 at 4:06 pm

Thanks everyone for your comments and feedback. In particular sharing what steps you have taken to upgrade. I just pulled the trigger on that Lian Li case so looks like this is going to happen sooner then later :D.

Although I still haven’t settled completely on an O/S I am still leaning towards Server 2012E. One of my big requirements with this build is that it can;t have a huge learning curve. Time is a bit of a premium for me so I can’t spend hours on hours learning a new O/S (I should hopefully be able to move pretty quick from WHSv1 to Server 2012E).

Of course I still have to pick out the rest of the hardware and will probably do that over the coming weeks. Once everything is ready to go I will definitely get another post up with full details on the build, pics, and horror stories (hopefully these will be kept to a minimum lol)

Comp1962 March 2, 2013 at 4:51 am


I found this on Barns & Noble yesterday which is from when WS2012 was in beta but its a free eBook Download that may or may not be of interest to you. http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/introducing-windows-server-2012-mitch-tulloch/1111068681?ean=9780735669765

Of course I did download it but I went and bought a couple books to help me better understand WS2012. Today I will install the OS on an old HP ProLiant DL145 to take it for a test run if I can run it in an old unit.

Comp1962 March 4, 2013 at 2:04 pm

I see from a forum post you received the enclosure. Did you happen to also purchase the backplanes? If so where do they actually mount in the enclosure.

On another note I installed WS2012E over the weekend on an old HP ProLiant DL145 for testing. Installation was a breeze compared to installing WHS v1 in that server. All the drivers accept the PCI-X Controller Card loaded up without any issue. The controller card was used for Port Multipliers. Anyway its like Win 8 in its layout so if your familiar with Win 8 you will be able to get around it. I also managed to get Remote Access working. I only mention this because its the 3rd server I can use Remote Access with on a single network. This is good for me and the insanity continues……

Gardian March 4, 2013 at 4:25 pm
Damian March 4, 2013 at 6:13 pm

It’s BIG!!! [INSERT THATS WHAT SHE SAID JOKE] :D. There are probably more parts with this case then you need to put together a car lol. If I remember from looking at the instructions quickly there is a cutout area where you can secure the backplanes. I probably won’t need to go this route quite yet as I have 20 internal 3.5in HDD bays to use first before I need to convert the 5.25 bays.

Right now I just started to look at hardware, haven’t decided what route I will go yet. I will go with an Intel Core CPU (prob i5), will use an Intel NIC (either via the onboard NIC or a dedicated LAN card), and a SATA Raid card(s) (possibly Supermicro SASLP although I need to confirm they support drives greater then 2TB)

Comp1962 March 5, 2013 at 8:01 am

@ Damian ~ I pulled the setup guide for that monster enclosure you got there and it looks like the backplanes mount inside towards the rear. So does the front cover pop off to provide the access? Looks like the drives insert from the front of the case and have a locking mechanism. As for the Big Comment…. Can your kids play inside that sucker?

@ Gardian ~ I know those backplanes they look the same as what I have in another Lian Li case. I wish they had a 5 port backplane because then you would only need 4 of them and I am addicted to backplanes, hate mucking around with cables.

Damian March 6, 2013 at 12:18 pm

Although I haven’t tried yet I have to assume that you remove the front lid (from looking inside the case itself you definitely can’t install the drives internally). I really hope to start digging around the case this weekend and come up with a definitive game plan (i.e. even stuff like case fans which none are provided, but I could probably add 12 fans if I wanted to!).

So far I just have the O/S hdd picked out (2TB Seagate 7200RPM drive on sale at Newegg). I see no reason to get an SSD drive

Comp1962 March 6, 2013 at 6:12 pm

In my WHS2011 server I did install an SSD and it gave the server a significant performance boost making the SSD very useful.

The backplane option looks very similar to the backplanes in the Lian Li PC-Q25B you reviewed which I purchased shortly after your review.

What I am interested in is how easy the front cover actually comes off and is it similar to the side panels of the PC-Q25B. The other enclosure very similar to the one you just bought had front access panel knockouts which allowed you to install a multi bay drive enclosure.

I know your still selecting the hardware for the new build but if you do go with WS2012 it does support multi processor motherboards. I have it running in an old HP ProLiant DL145 which has 2 Opteron Processors. While a single processor will work just fine the thing is if you want to push thing up a notch then a duel processor motherboard might be worth considering but it does add additional cost.

Gardian March 11, 2013 at 5:35 pm

Those backplanes can be for all the 3.5 drives, you could use 6 of the triples for the 18 drives and then ya could get two more singles to have all 20 bays hotswap. Price would be extra and more fail points. That would be my dream :-)
I have looked to price them and they are hard to find.

Damian March 12, 2013 at 3:27 am

Supposedly the backplanes are still in production but out of stock in the US. A Lian Li rep said we should start seeing them in April, and this is one place that should have:


Those are my two issues as with you, it increases the price and fail point. I will probably wait until they are in stock, pick up a couple to test. I could always just slowly add 1-2 backplanes at a time

Ben Ogilvie March 6, 2013 at 12:54 pm

A new offering has caught my eye recently, napp-it to go. Simple setup, boots from a USB drive, and will run a second USB drive for a mirrored OS.
Includes Mediatomb and snapraid.

John B. March 8, 2013 at 3:32 pm

I migrated my DIY server from WHS2011 to 2012e in November. A few reasons: Native support for drive pooling and allowing Windows 8 client file histories to be stored on the server (like TimeMachine on Macs.) My experience with ReFS/Storage spaces has been very positive so far. Modest amount of data… I have 7TB in a mirrored pool across 4 spindles. However I lost a drive last month due to a hardware failure. 2012e sent me an alarm via e-mail. I replaced the bad drive and 2012e rebuilt the pool. Simple and good enough for me. If something really bad happens, I can always recover using my server backups. That happened in my old EX470 using DE! Nothing is perfect.

Damian March 11, 2013 at 3:48 pm

First batch of hardware is ordered, should be here on Wednesday. Oh boy, what have I gotten myself in to!!!

Comp1962 March 11, 2013 at 7:36 pm

I think your a few years to late to be asking that question. However the question should be when did the addiction insanity begin.

Happy to see your making progress. I know how exciting it can be to build a new friend.

Damian March 12, 2013 at 3:30 am

Lol, I hear ya. Honestly if Lian Li made this case to look like wood furniture it would make a great cabinet! I could also easily fit that mini ITX Lian Li in the new case!

I think my plan, once the new Server is up and running, I will move some of the hard drives from my old server into that mini ITX Lian Li case and have that set up as a backup for some critical data. I just need to figure out what I will do with the Shawshank case when done

Comp1962 March 12, 2013 at 9:40 am

What I did with my older servers was down size them and repurpose them for other tasks. I will be honest in that making the transition from WHS v1 to WHS2011 took quite a long time. I needed to know I could trust WHS2011 with Stablebit Drive Pool before I could fully downsize my WHS v1 server. Basically I had the same data on both servers but once I gained full confidence and appreciation for WHS2011 I did not hesitate to downsize the WHS v1 server and repurpose it for other tasks.

Now I am looking at Server 2012 and I want to build a new server yet the hardware running WHS2011 is more than suitable to run Server2012 but the migration is a major PITA something your going to deal with very soon.

John B. March 12, 2013 at 9:38 pm

Comp1962, you are spot on. Converting to a new OS on an existing server is a PITA. Took me about an hour to install and configure 2012e. 3 days to move data, delete old crap, repurpose drives, take backups along the way, etc. Would have been much easier with a new hardware build but my current hardware is more than enough for 2012e and how I use the server. Another downside is once you move to the new OS you really are committed. Sure, if you did your planning right, during the new OS install you could revert back if there was a problem. However you do not have the luxury of running old and new in parallel.

vidkun March 11, 2013 at 5:48 pm

I’ve been in the process of rebuilding my media server with WS 2012 E and having some crazy issues. The drives were Ext4 in Linux. So one by one, I have had to migrate data from one drive to an empty one, then reformat as NTFS, then relabel i with the proper slot that it is in the chassis.

However, I’m not even halfway through them and I’ve got drives showing up multiple times under My Computer, half of them showing with a question mark and unaccessible, got some showing normal with a drive letter in My Computer but then under Server Manager they show without a drive letter. Assigning a letter to it in server manager causes it to show in My Computer with both the original letter and the new one.

Now, I’m a linux guy so I’ve never had these sort of stupid issues. Am I missing something or have you guys had anything like that happen in your Server 2012 builds or previous WHS builds?

Gardian March 13, 2013 at 5:04 pm

No problems with win2012E and driveBender. I’m not a linux person, but, ntfs is ntfs. I think I would power down, take all drive out except the os, boot up, try to see it everything is ok, then check the drives outside of the server, maybe usb with a laptop or another win pc, see what the drive letters look like, then if they all look ok, plug them all back in the powered down server and boot up and see what happens.
IMHO, thats what I would do, playing in the dashboard vs playing in the os can get ya in trouble in any version of home server I have found.
Good Luck

vidkun March 13, 2013 at 6:21 pm

Thanks Gardian. I did a clean install of server 2012 to resolve some issues related to a third party driver I had installed. That’s all fine now. However as I’ve been adding my drives one by one so I can label their position in the case properly, I get to 6 drives just fine. After that shit starts getting odd. An added drive will either replace one of the previous 6, or maybe it’ll show up properly as a 7th or 8th drive, or it doesn’t show up and I actually lose a drive dropping back down below 6 drives.

So I removed all but the 8 drives that I knew were working and showing up properly and rebooted. However, now it is only showing 6 drives. I’m not sure what the deal is at this point.

Gardian March 14, 2013 at 11:21 am

Just about has to be 1 of 2 things:
1) The card/driver for the card, I’m assuming you don’t have that many sata ports on your motherboard.
2) Something to do with the drives, but I really can’t imagine what that would be.
3) you found some kind of huge problem with windows :-) that we didn’t already know about lololool

vidkun March 14, 2013 at 2:03 pm

1) They’re running off SAS backplanes in a Norco 4224. Hooked into an HP SAS expander into an IBM M1015 flashed to IT mode.

2) Could be, but swore I had scanned them with chkdsk and smart. came back clean. I’ll keep trying this avenue.

3) I wouldn’t put it past me. I have a knack for breaking things. ;)

Thanks for the ideas though.

Ultradude March 14, 2013 at 3:30 pm

Like the rest of you I found the need to upgrade. But my reason came from my old 490 died after a power glitch. I tried WHS2011 and had way to many problems mostly because of hardware and now with a new build and 2012e I’m back up and running. Yes 2012e has a bit of a learning curve and it does mean switching to a domain. But there is so much good information out there that I’m confident that all 24Tb will be back rock solid and usable again. So good building and have fun.
P.S. I did get the Home server back up an running again with a new drive for the OS. So I’m using it just for system backups now…..

Clyde March 25, 2013 at 1:46 pm

I am in a similar shape and will definitely be following with great interest. I currently have an HP EX.495 with four 2TB drives running WHS2011. I’m a first timer who is in the process of upgrading CPU and memory in the EX.495 … but I’m really on the edge of building a DIY with at least 32GB of storage, sound card, video card, and monitor. As you can see, I’m in the planning stage and just wanted to thank everyone for the great info that I’m receiving on this site …!!

Damian March 25, 2013 at 1:54 pm

Finally put server together yesterday. Turned it on and happy to report it turned on! Unfortunately I am moving at a snails pace because I can’t get more then 5 minutes alone time at home on the weekends (not complaining because it means I am spending time with my wife and boys, just really pushes things back)

Comp1962 March 26, 2013 at 9:47 am

Hey your making more progress then me. I just installed WS2012E in an old server to play with but have yet to have the time to play with it nor the time to figure out how to deal with the data migration. Only thing I have come to terms with is 4TB Drives but have yet to pick one up even though I saw Hitachi’s for like $150.

Damian April 6, 2013 at 4:30 pm

Frustrated with Windows Server Essentials 2012, gonna try WHS 2011 now

Comp1962 April 6, 2013 at 7:51 pm

Sorry to hear WS2012E caused you frustration. I have it running in an old HP ProLiant Server and the install was very smooth. I have yet to play with it much. One of the things I wanted was support for the larger hard drives but last weekend I installed a 4TB Hitach in Highlander which runs WHS2011 and it installed without issue. I run Stablebit Drive Pool which has been a blessing because its very user friendly and easy to use.

Because I now know I can run 4 TB Drives in WHS2011 running Stablebit Drive Pool and with MV8′s it means there is not immediate need to move everything over to WS2012E. One of the nice things about Stablebit Drive Pool is that you can move a Pool to another server running Stablebit Drive Pool and it will recognize the Pool so Migration is not an issue but its something I have not yet done but in theory if this is true then I could install WS2012E into Highlander and with Stablebit Drive Pool installed I could then connect my Storage Pool Drives and be back in business. However this is note something I have done nor have I seen any confirmation from others that it works.

I like the fact that WHS2011 and WHS v1 supports a wider range of OS’s where WS2012E Does not. The domain part of WS2012E can be worked around which is good to know because everything here is configured to work off a Workgroup so easy access to WS2012E is not quite there unless the clients are part of the Domain so for internal media streaming WS2012E does not fit my needs for an easy access central storage solution.

I will still play with WS2012E when I have time to see what it has that interests me and review all the pro’s and con’s but right now WHS2011 is working and has been running now almost 2 yrs without any major issues.

If its the Domain issue that has caused you frustration then check out the following link on how to work around the domain requirement. http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/winserveressentials/thread/aa40963c-7235-40f7-85f5-8f8d030a7c13/

Damian April 6, 2013 at 8:06 pm

The Domain is a PITA. Part of the issue is I think motherboard related. When I install my Mobo and run the install disc it won’t launch (says the OS does not support). I can dig into the disc and install each piece manually but it is not 100% clear what each item does. It took me nearly an hour to get 2012 on the network, but all I could connect to was my network, couldn’t connect to the internet (even after adjusting the internet permissions/settings). In the device manager the Ethrnet connector shows with the exclamation point and no variety of drivers fixes this. The RAID drivers were not installing correctly either

Decided to try WHS2011, install went well, I was on the internet, rebooted, and now I can’t get on the network, and still having a bunch of driver issues. I noticed as well my 3TB drive is only showing at 2TB (and one of my 3TB drives isn’t showing at all).

Just frustrating as this should have been the easy part since I have minimal hardware. Gonna call it a night and revisit in the AM

Comp1962 April 6, 2013 at 8:18 pm

Are you running the MV8′s in your new server? My motherboard has support for the larger drives. I also installed the newer MV8 Drivers I got from Supermicro. I never had issues with network connectivity and I am running 3 network ports on Highlander 2 of which are Intel CT Cards and the other on the motherboard. Also I am running Stablebit Drive Pool and the larger then 2TB Drives had to be setup as GPT.

Damian April 7, 2013 at 9:20 am

No cards, just connected straight to the mobo first (keeping it minimal with hardware so I can test)

Part of the issue, I think my switch is failing. I have been having network issues on my PC but I thought it was PC related, but now digging around I think I see hints of issues with other devices connected to the switch. Need to replace the switch which is a shame if broken since it is a better one (HP Procurve)

I need to figure out the driver mess as well, I have a few ideas…

Comp1962 April 7, 2013 at 9:48 am

Not familiar with the HP Procurve switch. I made up some very long cables which come in handy if I ever need to connect a device directly to my router to troubleshoot an issue. The other thing is not to rule out the Router because I have experienced issues with some devices and not others which were corrected by resetting the router but for me those were rare occurrences.

Back in Nov 2012 I built a new desktop and thought it would be cool to install one of those eSATA Cards that came with either the Sans Digital or Rosewill Port Multipliers and that sucker took the network port down to 10mbps. Almost sent the Motherboard Back but I decided to start removing cards to see if there was a conflict and sure enough that eSATA card caused the issue but you have not installed cards yet.

Wish you luck getting around the network connectivity and hope you or your wife doesn’t take the new build in drive over it in the driveway.

Damian April 7, 2013 at 5:44 pm

Not a router issue as the only issues I am having are for the devices that are connected to this switch. Picked up a new linksys switch to replace out, but now no devices connected can access the network. I have no clue what could be going on there because switches have always been easy plug n play.

Tried reinstalling W2012, it installed, then I got an error that it didn’t install correctly…

I am just going to scrap looking at the server for now because what should have been easy is taking way too much time. I need to sort out the switch issue first, and then decide from there were I go with this new server.

Comp1962 April 7, 2013 at 5:53 pm

That’s a real bummer. I would be pulling my hair out with that one. The last switch that caused me grief was at work when it was fully populated.

Sometimes you just need to walk away for a bit.

Damian April 7, 2013 at 6:07 pm

Yeah, walking away now, probably won’t revisit until next weekend. I have a few DLink switches that I use at home that I could swap out, and if it works I will just return the Linksys switch.

This whole install process should have been a no brainer, now I feel like I have no brains left lol

Comp1962 April 7, 2013 at 6:22 pm

I can’t wait until next weekend since its a long weekend for me to work on my toys and I still have a 4TB Drive left to install. Going to drill some holes in the side of the Norco Enclosure just to mount it but will have to drill enough holes for 4 drives if I can fit them in.

Anyway if the DLink Switch gives you grief then check out the feeder cable to the switch and where its connected to. Having long cables to troubleshoot with always pay for themselves when your working with connectivity issues.

I really hope your able to get past this connectivity issue as I can imagine your anxious to get your new build up and running and I am looking forward to reading your results and want to know how the cooling in the Lian LI enclosure works out for you.

Frank April 12, 2013 at 12:43 pm

I have been reading myself cross-eyed the last week or so. I too am still on WHSv1 and looking to move on. It has served me well with only minor hickups over the years. But I’m looking to keep up with the times. MyMovies or other auto rip solution is important to me and the other thing I want is better access to my data (e.g. remote/phone/tablet). So after much pondering my tentative plan is to go with WHS2011 for now as I have a copy handy. I realize I may move on from WHS2011 rather soon (1 or 2 years down the line). But for now I cannot find a better solution. When MyMovies v5 comes around I may rethink my approach.

Unlike most I am looking to scale back. I actually deleted a lot of movies etc to shrink my data pool and I will be re-using my old hardware (Intel E5200).

I was intrigued by unRAID and really wanted it to be a solution for me. But my better judgement tells me it will not work for me. So I decided to use unRAID as part of my migration strategy. It scratches the itch and I get some first hand experience with the product;
A couple of days ago I temporarily re-purposed another machine by unplugging the HDD from it, hooking up 2 spare 3TB drives, loading unRAID on a USB and booting the “temp server” into unRAID off the USB. Getting the 3TB drives ready for unRAID took about 30hrs!
Last night I did some trial copying to test. All is good and I will start the big copying tonight to fill up the one 3TB drive. Once it is full I will start parity on the second 3TB drive. If parity check out I will delete that 3TB of data off WHS and shrink the volume and remove a 2TB drive. Then add the 2TB to unRAID, and rince/repeat until all data is moved over to unRAID except the PC backups and system data (basically everything that is not duplicated in WHSv1).
With that done I will remove the last drive from WHSv1 and store it. Then install 2011 and play with FlexRAID and Stablebit to determine if it works for me. Once I decide to keep it I’ll move the data from unRAID to 2011.

I figure I will have a week or 2 without client backups, but I’ll make sure to control the environment (no installs, MS patches etc) and I can always pop the WHSv1 disk back in and recover to the point when I took it offline. Optionally I can also play with the backup options in unRAID.

An I completely crazy?

Damian April 19, 2013 at 12:11 pm

You are crazy, but so am I !

Right now I have WS2012E up and running and I am using Stablebit. So far it is going well, starting to move my data over, encountering a few bumps here and there but all part of the learning process.

Rich April 19, 2013 at 8:41 am

sigh, I to have thought a lot about changing my current server setup as I’m closing in on running out of space (only a measly 1TB left) but I am torn on whether or not I should go the unRAID route. I don’t typically use my server for anything else other then serving my digital media and I’ve heard good things about the platform.

I don’t have much living space to work with so it should provide an interesting challenge.

Good luck with yours…

Damian April 19, 2013 at 11:29 am

unRAID seems like a great option. I didn’t consider mainly because I am just comfortable with Windows aside from a few other reasons.

Moving along here with the new server, hope to finally get a writeup up about the build soon now that I am finally making some headway

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