Which one is the best for a home media server - Windows 8, Windows Server 2012 Essentials or Windows Server 2012? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 10-16-2013, 08:11 AM - Thread Starter
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Sorry, no Linux, Unix or alike discussion here.
My small media server (with 6 - 10 HDDs) needs a robust Windows OS to mainly manage storage and stream HD contents over home network.
I was told unless I am not or do not plan on using the more advanced features of Windows Server like Active Directory, DHCP, DNS, etc. on a regular basis then using Windows Server as my base OS is overkill and probably creating more headaches than necessary. Is that correct?
Personally, I prefer using Windows Server 2012 Essentials, but I am definitely stuck at its ridiculous domain that I couldn't skip as I installed it. Right now I don't know how to create WORKGROUP that allows my home computers to connect to Windows Server 2012 Essentials without joining the Windows Server 2012 Essentials domain.
So, once again, which Windows OS is the best for a home media server, guys?
Do not ask me ridiculous questions such as what's your case, what's your mobo or how much ram do you have.... blah ... blah...
I also never ask which OS is better "bang for the buck"; do not discuss about the price but on which is better depending on the mentioned needs.
Thank you very much for your value inputs.
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post #2 of 12 Old 10-16-2013, 08:32 AM
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I'm using WHS2011 combined with FlexRaid (Data Protection + Storage Pooling).

My reason for going that route initially was the initial cost, and the familiarity of Windows. FlexRaid was something that met my additional needs/wants in a single package.

The WHS portion is relatively straightforward. You don't need to add FlexRaid, and will allow file sharing and backups.
There are other utilities that you can add that in lieu of FlexRaid to add additional features.

So it seems to be able to do what you would want it to do.

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post #3 of 12 Old 10-16-2013, 08:37 AM
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Is your server a "headless" server? Or, are you using it as a workstation too? That may help better answer the question.

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post #4 of 12 Old 10-16-2013, 08:49 AM
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It sounds like you want something simple and it so happens in this case it's also the cheapest: WHS2011. I am doing the very basics like you and it's been rock solid for me for as long as I've had it. My server is WHS2011, ASUS E35M1-I motherboard (6 x SATAII), 4GB RAM, 2 x SATAIII (PCIe card), 1 SSD + 6 HDDs, 300W PSU all in a Lian-Li PC-Q08 case.

I just picked up another $36 copy and I am going to rebuild my server with a different mobo & CPU (P8H77-I and G530) since I now have these parts lying around and can probably get good money for my ASUS E35M1-I. I've chosen WHS2011 again after once again looking through alternative like FreeNAS, Amahi, etc. It keeps coming back to familiarity and if it ain't broke don't fix it.

 

 

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post #5 of 12 Old 10-16-2013, 08:57 AM
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You could just add your computers to the domain. I did and it was no big deal.

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post #6 of 12 Old 10-16-2013, 10:17 AM
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post #7 of 12 Old 10-16-2013, 10:31 AM
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I personally think that WHS is a little more headache than W7 or W8. My opinion is generally based on the idea of running applications on the server that aren't developed to run as a windows service. In an ideal world, I could float developers the suggestion and a donation -> poof, the service would be available. In reality, I think w7/8 give you more flexibility if these are important (explained more below)

The following can't run as a windows service last I checked
  • Plex
  • MCM
  • WMC
  • VMware Player

WHS (and I'd assume WSE) is designed to load services on reboot and run them without need for logging in

I never found a free way to "auto-login" and "auto-start" applications in WHS. There were a couple paid ways, but I prefer the native ability W7 gives you for doing this. I really don't like completely tying the functionality of running my server the way I want to run it to a 3rd party app that may or may not be supported beyond it's initial release (personal preference)

A lot of people have said Plex doesn't need to be started in order for your library to be available, and a lot have said the opposite. In my experience, it wouldn't publish the media on the server to myplex unless I logged into WHS. Other things wouldn't work if you backed out of an RDP session unless they run as a service, so I had to use VNC instead

I have a really nice automated ubuntu VM running in VMware player, and I can leave it running in the taskbar with RBtray. This is possible in WHS as well, but not as straightforward to me. I also use WMCserver for XBMC and it feeds off of WMC being setup with channel logos, recording scheduling, tuner configuration, and guide data. This would be quite complicated to setup in WHS.

Since so many of the things I actually use just run best without WHS, I wouldn't get a ton of value from it.

Personally, I think setting up Flexraid is a little easier to do from Windows than WHS as well. Rather than dealing with editing or removing WHS default share folders and structure, you just create a Flexraid drive in windows and share it across your network. It'll run fine headless if that is your plan.

I prefer teamviewer, but any good VNC option is easier for remote management. RDP for a W7 server will leave your server backed out to the login screen unless you know a little RDP trickery. I guess it's not a big hurdle, but not as dead simple
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post #8 of 12 Old 10-16-2013, 12:57 PM
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There is zero reason to run WMC as a service. It already comes with two or three different services for background work. In fact, my main recording PC is just a regular desktop which I use for other purposes. I rarely even open WMC on that PC. But then again, WMC isn't available on any server OSes.
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post #9 of 12 Old 10-16-2013, 01:22 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wiley165 View Post

Is your server a "headless" server? Or, are you using it as a workstation too? That may help better answer the question.
It's headless. Thanks.
Appications? I may install tRAID once it's officially lauched in a next few weeks.
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post #10 of 12 Old 10-16-2013, 01:32 PM
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+1 for WHS2011. Cheap, reliable and easy to manage. Add in 3rd party pooling and your sorted.
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post #11 of 12 Old 10-16-2013, 02:37 PM
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Personally, I tried Server 2012r2 with the Essentials role, and nearly immediately went back to WHS2011.

Similar to what you're saying, Active Directory was too much of a headache for my client PCs, plus DriveBender was continuously giving me errors and 2012 Essentials doesn't have a WMC program to move recorded TV automatically to the server (though admittedly I could do that last part in many other ways).

It sounds like you want something you can setup easily and then not need to think about again; for my use, WHS2011 met that better than 2012r2 Essentials.

Just make sure you install the WHS2011 hotfix to backup UEFI/GPT computers if you need to.

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post #12 of 12 Old 10-16-2013, 03:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Foxbat121 View Post

There is zero reason to run WMC as a service. It already comes with two or three different services for background work. In fact, my main recording PC is just a regular desktop which I use for other purposes. I rarely even open WMC on that PC. But then again, WMC isn't available on any server OSes.

WMCServer is a very good reason for me. My big overall plan will eventually serve live tv, music, and recordings/rips to every display in the house, but the next 2-3 I add would be something like a next gen Pivos Xios. Can't run WMC server without an instance of WMC somewhere, and I like the idea that every other computer besides my server is asleep when not in use. For me that means the server has to do everything that needs doing, up to and including WMC
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