when to retire WHS2011/migrate to DSM? RRS feed

  • General discussion

  • I'm on my second WHS machine and have been running WHS since the get-go. The current machine, built for WHS 2011, was built in July of 2011 and has been running 24x7 all but about three weeks of that time. (Intel BOXDQ67EPB3/Core i3-2100T based.) For the first three+ years of its life it lived in a nice cool dry climate. It now lives in a fairly warm and very humid one. The case is beginning to rust, but otherwise the hardware has been rock solid. The biggest headache I ever had with it was getting it up and running with UEFI/AHCI and Ethernet on an intel non-server board in the first place.

    The most volatile of the shared folders data is in an intel BIOS RAID1 array. The server backs itself up twice a day to an external USB drive using Server Backup. I also backup the shares data to a separate external USB drive frequently using an xcopy script. The external drives swap to offsite once every six months. Between the offsite intervals I have a script on a client PC that copies newly modified shared files to AES 7Zip archives on OneDrive. I'm reasonably confident the server could burn down tomorrow and I wouldn't lose more than a couple of days of data. (Assuming I could read the Server Backup on some other machine--do not know if Windows 10 can read one of these. Anybody know?)

    Sooner or later, it will need to be retired. But I'm not really sure when that is or what the driving factor will be. I think I will replace it with a Synology box--today it would be a DS216+.

    So, my question/topic for discussion is this: when to retire the WHS 2011 server? The OS is now out of mainstream support, but my understanding is that it will continue to get the Server 2008R2 security updates for some period. (What period?!?) The .homeserver.com domain name still woks. (But until when?) The client stuff still works, though it has been glitchy recently about starting all the services, with the current Win10 clients. The server's hard disks (a Seagate Momentus XT ST95005620AS 500GB 7200 RPM hybrid 2.5 for the OS, and 2x HITACHI Deskstar 0S03230 3TB 5400 RPM 3.5s for all the shared folders data) will die at some point, but when? My preference is, obviously, to have it live at least a week or two past its replacement's entry into service so the migration is least painful. Other than the "Joy" of making the new platform work and integrating it with all the other stuff, I'm in no hurry, so if I could time bringing the replacement online to exactly that same week or two, that would be fine. If I knew when that was going to be. I'd rather go earlier than after the WHS 2011 box is in a failed state.

    What are everybody else's thoughts on retiring their WHS2011 machines?

    Saturday, May 7, 2016 9:04 PM

All replies

  • Great question! And one I've wrestled with recently as I've just survived two server HD failures (7 years or so of use on the drives!). I use Stable Bit's Drive Pool and Scanner with my WHS 2011 and highly recommend both. I decided to try Win Server 2016 Essentials Tech Preview and put together a new box. I am not crazy about having the domain but MS has listed a way to join clients without using it. I share files over a workgroup and that became a problem. Also, I was having problems with Scanner - maybe because the server software is still in beta.

    I then went back to WHS 2011 on the new HW - I had a spare key to use. It's all ready to take over from my current server but I haven't done it yet. I hope to have a better solution before WHS goes out of extended support in January 2020. I really love all three components of WHS: file sharing, remote access and automatic full backup. Bare metal restore has saved me several times and I don't want to give that up. I'm looking for more than a NAS.


    Monday, May 9, 2016 5:42 PM
  • Thanks for the reply!

    The client bare metal restore is the only thing I believe I'd be giving up going to DSM. I've used it several times, but not recently. Granted, having it those times saved a lot of pain. (Not sure even if I've used it since going from WHSv1 to WHS2011.) All my due diligence tells me that I can map every other function I'm getting from WHS into DSM and get some others besides that simplify life here--like Time Machine and iTunes server both being stock in DSM. So I don't see a functionality gap really holding me back. Nor a gain in functionality pulling me. I keep getting back to the question of how long can I safely (hardware, support, etc.) continue to use WHS2011 before pulling its plug. Checking out StableBit as we speak. I'd like to think SMART would raise a flag about one month prior to a disk failing. And that the disks will be the first things to go. The last computer I had die, a 3+ year Toshiba laptop, died from a motherboard power regulator failure with zero warning.

    Monday, May 9, 2016 7:38 PM
  • For me, Bare Metal Client Restore is the only thing that I will really miss when I finally move from WHS2011, although while my boxes are still working I don't plan to do so. It has saved me a few times from having to install an OS from scratch and facilitated moving the boot drive from a HDD to SSD on all of my many client machines. Data backup is simple these days and offsite backup is inherent if you use the cloud - I am lucky I guess that I have a rock solid fast fibre optic Internet connection that makes this feasible.

    I can't remember when I last connected to either of my two WHS2011 Servers from outside my home network as everything I need ready access to is in the Cloud. I use W10 (with Storage Spaces) as a media and data server inside my network. If I need anything on that Server outside my network, I just VPN in.

    I did look at WSE2012 some time ago which would give me the Bare Metal Restore (and I assume the 2016 version will also) but it's a lot of money together with the required hardware for that function - hence no plans to move at the moment.s

    Phil P.S. If you find my comment helpful or if it answers your question, please mark it as such.

    Monday, May 9, 2016 9:55 PM
  • Hi,

    The mainstream Support End Data on Windows Home Server 2011 is 4/12/2016. (you may still log on this forum to discusses related problem and obtain free support)

    If possible, or you want to obtain new function, you may consider of Windows Server Essentials. 

    As WHS 2011 is the last WHS version: 
    Windows Home Server has seen its greatest success in small office/home office (SOHO) environments and among the technology enthusiast community. For this reason, Microsoft is combining the features that were previously only found in Windows Home Server, such as support for DLNA-compliant devices and media streaming, into Windows Server 2012 Essentials and focusing our efforts into making Windows Server 2012 Essentials the ideal first server operating system for both small business and home use—offering an intuitive administration experience, elastic and resilient storage features with Storage Spaces, and robust data protection for the server and client computers.

    You may try Essentials Evaluation version first, to know more about this new OS version, then, you may decide whether it is the time to upgrade your WHS, or, whether the new Essentials Server is applied to your requirement:

    Best Regards,
    Eve Wang

    Please remember to mark the replies as answers if they help and unmark them if they provide no help. If you have feedback for TechNet Support, contact tnmff@microsoft.com.

    Tuesday, May 10, 2016 7:00 AM
  • you may consider of Windows Server Essentials.

    Three things kill that thought: 1) The cost of the software, 2) The cost and headache of the hardware it takes to run it, and 3) Lack of confidence that Microsoft will stick with the product. When I can buy/build a Synology DS216+ with 10TB for $690 all in, that idles at 8W, and a WSE license is $560 before any hardware--and there is no simple store-bought platform that will run WSE, the Microsoft solution fails totally at cost effectiveness. Which will drive the third issue.

    Tuesday, May 10, 2016 5:38 PM
  • You can buy the OEM WSE product for $400 at Newegg and they frequently offer 10% off that.  The S/W price didn't deter me - mostly dealing with the domain requirement.  I didn't look forward to converting my three clients.  The H/W cost could be what you make it.


    Tuesday, May 10, 2016 6:25 PM
  • I didn't see WSE OEM at newegg, but didn't look for long--the $560 was a newegg price; must have been for a retail license or something.

    Still hard to believe I could come close in dollars. Disks alone are more than half of the $690 for the 10TB DS216+ and they'd be the exact same BoM cost in a WSE build. That leaves $300 to build a suitable platform to hang 10TB of disks from and ignores the $360+ OS it would need.

    And, yeah, WSE is overkill even if there is a way to workaround the domain requirement. Don't forget that its overkill propagates into the hardware BoM cost. I expect the DS216+--not the low end model by any means--does fine with its 1.6GHz dual core Celeron and 1GB RAM. What's the minimum system requirement for WSE? Ans: just went and found them. Minimum dual core is 1.3GHz and 2GB. They recommend 3.1GHz and 16GB.

    Tuesday, May 10, 2016 8:14 PM
  • Hi,

    The price is uniform. For WSE, there is flexible, affordable, and easy-to-use server solution along with after-sale service provided by Microsoft.

    How to buy Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials:

    Best Regards,
    Eve Wang

    Please remember to mark the replies as answers if they help and unmark them if they provide no help. If you have feedback for TechNet Support, contact tnmff@microsoft.com.

    Wednesday, May 11, 2016 9:20 AM
  • With Server 2016 on the horizon, I wouldn't jump in the direction of Server 2012 at the moment particularly as WHS2011 still works - just have a data backup plan.

    Phil P.S. If you find my comment helpful or if it answers your question, please mark it as such.

    Wednesday, May 11, 2016 12:11 PM
  • I pay a lot of attention to my data backup plan. I think I have it covered. But I'd rather not have to depend on backups to migrate to a new solution after an unexpected death of the WHS 2011 box.

    Can you restore files from a WHS2011 "Server Backup" using Windows 10? My recovery plan assumes that any failure of the WHS2011 box at this point will be catastrophic and not worth recovering from--i.e., the WHS2011 box cannot be used in any way as part of recovery.

    Maybe Server 2016 will make a more valiant effort to compete in this space from a software cost PoV, but that still leaves the relative headaches of DIY hardware and the high hardware requirements of this nuclear weapon of an operating system. If I haven't moved out on the WHS2011 replacement before Server 2016 is announced in detail, I'll certainly consider it. But the hurdle looks pretty high.

    To Eve's points, yes, I see the Foundation (OEM) license at $400. Even with occasional 10% off deals, that still puts a WSE solution $60 under water compared to the Synology DS216+, before buying any hardware for the WSE to run on. I'd certainly give WSE flexible, and maybe easy-to-use is a push, but affordable and after-sale service provided by Microsoft are not exactly selling points. The moment I use a Foundation OEM license, any "after-sale service" provided by Microsoft, what very little there was in theory anyway, goes right out the OEM window. This is one of the reasons I lean away from, not toward, a Microsoft solution. Providers like Synology seem way more interested in my kind of business in this space than Microsoft has ever seemed.

    • Edited by Dick Watson Wednesday, May 11, 2016 7:13 PM
    Wednesday, May 11, 2016 7:12 PM
  • Foundation is different to Essentials OEM - the latter you can get it at Amazon for $399.99 (US):


    The recommendation for WSE hardware is 8GB not 16GB and that would support 25 active users so you could probably get away with a much lower hardware specification, closer to the minimum. I use two WHS2011 servers, with one mirrored to the second so a complete hardware failure of one would not compromise my data. Once again, Bare Metal Restore is important for me but if it's not for you then I see no reason to move to WSE 2012/2016 as it is much more complex and expensive than a simple NAS.

    I can't remember what file format is used on server backups but I don't think it can be read on W10 - why not try it and let us know?

    Phil P.S. If you find my comment helpful or if it answers your question, please mark it as such.

    Wednesday, May 11, 2016 11:18 PM
  • I read 16GB here, but either way. I'm still starting out $60 in the hole before buying any hardware to run WSE.

    Bare metal restore is a nice to have feature, but not a deal breaker and not, by itself, worth the extra cost and headache to go from DSM to WSE.

    When you mentioned it, I remembered that I had a WHS backup drive I could test. Immediately ran into Access Denied before even trying to look at it with Win10's "Win7" Backup/Restore. Suspect I'd have to do a change owner. I think I'll kick that can down the road for now. Earlier today, I added some more code to my robocopy script to assure I get the one set of folders I would only otherwise be able to recover from the Server Backup, so I'm now not depending on this ability anyway.

    As the capabilities of the NAS products have expanded hugely since the days of WHSv1, it was pretty easy to determine that it's a decent solution to my needs. What's still less clear is what are the forcing functions to go ahead and retire WHS2011 before the hardware turns toes up.

    Thursday, May 12, 2016 4:18 AM
  • I still run WHS 2011 in my home environment and WHS v.1 to backup a few Windows servers in the company, which would otherwise never see a backup.

    Since newer versions hesitate to backup server OS and IT budget is low nowadays, there is still no real chance to retire that box.

    If I will be in the need of upgrading the home system, this would require newer hardware (the old AMD CPU in the HP Microserver box is rather slow) and software. This will not happen before Server 2016 is released. Cloud backup is no option due to privacy considerations, amount of data and bandwidth limitations. (Costs may also play a role in long term.)

    The core part of my current WHS usage is the daily client backup, together with the data deduplication in the backup database saving disk space for the backup. This functionality is more important than ever before with all the crypto trojans around.

    Best greetings from Germany

    Thursday, May 19, 2016 9:09 AM
  • Ok, it's two years after this post.  what did you end up doing?  I have been struggling with the same question of when to retire my WHS 2011, albeit later than you!
    Friday, August 17, 2018 6:46 PM
  • Ok, it's two years after this post.  what did you end up doing?  I have been struggling with the same question of when to retire my WHS 2011, albeit later than you!

    No changes from what I described above - 2 x WHS 2011 Servers and a W10 music, video, data server!

    Phil P.S. If you find my comment helpful or if it answers your question, please mark it as such.

    Sunday, August 19, 2018 12:57 PM