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Windows 8.1 NAS Server Setup Questions

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#1 j2006

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Posted 29 December 2013 - 06:39

Hi all,

 

I'm planning on building my first NAS PC (home server) primarily to centralize all my media onto one PC so I can stream files to all the devices in my house. 

 

Since Windows Home Server 2011 isn't being updated anymore and Windows Server 2012 Essentials is way out of a normal home user's budgets (it's geared towards small businesses), I read few articles that say Windows 8 is good enough for this purpose as it now contains a lot of the functionality that WHS2011 had.

 

I haven't seen any articles on Windows 8.1 though yet.  So I have a few questions:

 

1.  Must the NAS PC have Windows 8.1 Pro or is Windows 8.1 sufficient?

2.  Am I able to set certain home PCs on the network to only have read-access to the NAS PC media?

3.  Am I able to backup my main PC to the server?  Am I able to backup multiple PCs on the network to the server?  (WHS had this functionality)

4.  If you currently have an 8.1 NAS PC, I'd love to know your hardware setup.   I'm particularly looking to build one that's low power with great expandability.

 

Thanks in advance! :)




#2 +riahc3

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Posted 29 December 2013 - 07:39

Hello,

A NAS is nothing more than what its name says: Network Attached Storage. What operating system you use, is strictly up to you.

You could use Windows 3.11 and it would still be a NAS: Obviously, for example, using Windows 3.11 you wouldnt get current NTFS permissions :)

I dont see why Windows 8.1 can't be used as a base for a NAS although you are more likely to see tools/configuration related to NASs (RAIDs and such) on something like FreeNAS/NAS4Free.

#3 TPreston

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Posted 29 December 2013 - 12:54

Most of your questions are basic windows file sharing 101, If you want to make things simple you can enable anonymous access

http://serverfault.c...sking-for-login

How many drives are you adding ? Are you doing RAID ? If so i highly recommend you get an end of life enterprise card like the HP P400 for 20 dollars online with battery backup module so if the computer crashes or power is lost data is stored in the controllers memory and written when power is restored.

#4 Dutchie64

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Posted 29 December 2013 - 13:32

Not entirely.

 

WHS is/was a neat little package that did more than 'just' fileserving.

 

It also can backup your pc's on a daily basis, has file restoring capabilities, and has a nice way of decoupling your data and drives(letters).

And the best part of WHS v1 was the painless adding of drives in a pool.

 

If anything of the old behavior can be replicated (even with some 3rd party software) within a Win8.1 install, I'm all ears too.

I'm still running WHS v1, and will for quite some time unless all of the functionality is matches somehow on a similar install.

 

And as the OP stated, the latest versions are much more business geared and too expensive. WHS pricing was a great deal at the time.



#5 AnotherITguy

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Posted 29 December 2013 - 14:22

Actually WINDOWS HOME SERVER 2011 is still supported, receives regular updates every month, and will continue to do so until the end of extended support for WINDOWS SERVER 2008 R2  (the core of WHS 2011) which is January 14th, 2020. The best part, WHS at newegg right now is just $49.99.



#6 Ulpian

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Posted 29 December 2013 - 14:25

Grab 8.1 PRO, because it has RDP (Remote Desktop) function.



#7 Rohdekill

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Posted 29 December 2013 - 14:30

Server version OS or Win 8 is an overkill for something as basic as a nas.  Stick with the options people already mentioned, unless you have plans for more than just hosting media.



#8 Dutchie64

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Posted 29 December 2013 - 14:42

The OP isn't interested in 'just' file-serving.

 

It's the other stuff WHS did he wants to replicate with a Win8 pc as a server, without buying into the $500 Essentials.



#9 BajiRav

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Posted 29 December 2013 - 14:52

If you are looking for strictly media sharing, then Windows 8.1 should be adequate with its storage spaces feature for expandability. For backup, you will probably need to set it up manually from all other PCs.



#10 jasondefaoite

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Posted 29 December 2013 - 15:01

I'd actually recommend Win8.1 Enterprise, as this one has NFS sharing capability built in.



#11 OP j2006

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Posted 29 December 2013 - 20:49

I only plan on using it as a central NAS to store my media to stream on my home network (about 2 PCs, Surface, phone and TV).   The backup option is more a nice to have, but I can set that manually on my main PC (as that's the only device that would need backing up).

 

Would the $49 WHS2011 be sufficient for this or should I get the $96 Win 8.1 OEM / $137 Win 8.1 Pro OEM?  (based on the comments above WHS2011 would be good enough)

 

Also - Obviously building your own can be more cost-effective, but I'm thinking maybe getting a Microserver instead to avoid the hassle.  Do you know any good (low powered, quiet) ones other than the HP Gen8?  I can't find one here in Canada for a good price.  And even if I could find one, the fact it doesn't come with a operating system, you need to purchase additional RAM and you need an additional license for proper remote management... I don't think the gen8 would be a cost effective choice at this time.



#12 _dandy_

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Posted 29 December 2013 - 21:50

After being involved in the IT field for nearly 30 years, my strategy at home consists of using 2 primary machines as follows.

 

The machine I use for hosting the bulk of my files (essentially, being used as little more than a simple NAS) is running off of one of Intel's first Atom CPUs and Windows 7 on 2GB of RAM.  The CPU's ridiculously slow, but for serving files (music, video, pictures, installer ISOs), it's more than adequate and a faster CPU wouldn't buy me anything.  The machine has no video card, so if I need to do anything with it that goes beyond file shares, I use RDP.  The machine has 4 hot-swappable drives accessible from the front and the whole thing barely registers at 45 watts, so even my cheap UPS can keep things going for almost an hour.

 

Other than the OS and a few file shares configured, there's no software installed on it, so I don't bother backing up the OS--it's just as fast to reinstall it from scratch than it would be to restore from a backup.

 

All of the data files (a partition separate from the OS) are backed up regularly on a pair of external 4TB drives that I rotate once a month (I bring one to the office and bring the previous month's back home).  That takes care of both offline and off-site storage.  The drive I have at home is only connected and powered on when updating the backup.

 

My one beefy machine has an i7 CPU and 32GB of RAM, and hosts a multitude of virtual machines (anything from XP to Server 2012 R2 and a number of Linux flavors to play with).  Again, the host OS has nothing installed on it so it doesn't get backed up.  The host is running Server 2008 R2, but the free Hyper-V server would do just fine if you're ok with going through the initial configuration from its PowerShell menus--as with the NAS, I hardly ever need to do anything with the host OS.

 

The virtual machines are what I do all my work on.  Instead of backing up individual OSes and the software installed on each, I just back up each virtual machine's virtual hard disk (.VHD) file.  Backing up and restoring entire machines (OS, software and configuration included) becomes a simple matter of copying files around from one location to another.  The host machine has only 2TB of storage, but it's plenty for all of the VMs--all the large, bulky data files (VHDs excluded) are on the Atom machine.

 

The external 4TB drives I use in rotation are large enough to include the backups of both the VMs and the NAS.

 

I use RDP extensively.  I can access/work with all of my virtual machines, as well as the files on the NAS, from any number of other desktop machines, laptops, my Surface and Android tablets, media player (hooked up to my projector), etc.



#13 OP j2006

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 03:24

I only plan on using it as a central NAS to store my media to stream on my home network (about 2 PCs, Surface, phone and TV).   The backup option is more a nice to have, but I can set that manually on my main PC (as that's the only device that would need backing up).

 

Would the $49 WHS2011 be sufficient for this or should I get the $96 Win 8.1 OEM / $137 Win 8.1 Pro OEM?  (based on the comments above WHS2011 would be good enough)

 

Also - Obviously building your own can be more cost-effective, but I'm thinking maybe getting a Microserver instead to avoid the hassle.  Do you know any good (low powered, quiet) ones other than the HP Gen8?  I can't find one here in Canada for a good price.  And even if I could find one, the fact it doesn't come with a operating system, you need to purchase additional RAM and you need an additional license for proper remote management... I don't think the gen8 would be a cost effective choice at this time.

 

Another one I was looking at was the Synology DiskStation Ds412+, I love their Web interface and it looks very easy to use.   Now I don't know what to do haha.   I want something that'll be primarily a good media server (for multiple devices on my home network) and a minor backup for my main PC.



#14 RottGutt

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 03:35

Another one I was looking at was the Synology DiskStation Ds412+, I love their Web interface and it looks very easy to use. Now I don't know what to do haha. I want something that'll be primarily a good media server (for multiple devices on my home network) and a minor backup for my main PC.


I would whole heartedly recommend going with a Synology box. I went from an HP MediaSmart home Server which I thought was great, to a Synology DS212, which was a million times better than the WHS box. I mean, there is literally no comparison between the two.

Tim

#15 Jared-

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 03:45

Just buy a Synology NAS box - it'll do everything you want. 

 

Building a PC for what you want is an overkill.





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