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Topic # 229194 12-Feb-2018 11:02
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I am considering embarking on a great adventure..... resurrecting my WHS2011 server in a virtual environment.

 

Virtualisation was only just hitting it's straps when I left the IT game, so I imagine things have changed quite a bit. And it's not something I have kept my finger on the pulse of at all since then.

 

Given my obsolete knowledge, here is what I think I can do.

 

 - Get a new box to run a free version of a virtualisation OS on (do they still do that?)

 

 - Install/restore my WHS2011 from a backup.

 

 - Use this setup to continue client backups using WHS2011.

 

I'm not sure what hardware I will need, hopefully not a lot. I think I will need at least 1TB of storage for the client backups.

 

From memory (dubious at best) I recall words like ESXi, VMware, Hypervisor. Are these still the main players or have others joined the game?

 

I have rebuilt my WHS several times but I am over it now. A virtual system is a portable system, and that is what I would like from now on. 

 

Any and all help and advice would be greatly appreciated.





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  Reply # 1955604 12-Feb-2018 11:12
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Doubt that'll be a legit use of the license.  Although I think that version is now EOL, and I don't think Windows 10 devices will use it as a target.  Lots of better options than P2V of your old WHS.  


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  Reply # 1955605 12-Feb-2018 11:15
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Basically you have 3 main players; VMWare vSphere (ESXi), MS Hyper-V and Xen (Xenserver is a prebuilt solution).  There are other such as Linux KVM, Promox etc but they don't appear to be classed in the same way.

 

Generally, all the hypervisors are free, but some with limited restrictions.  ESXi is free but has more advanced features behind a pay system, Xenserver has now gone commercial again and copying VMWare, with Hyper-v being fully free but I don't believe you can manage it using a GUI without a paid windows license.

 

My personal preference is ESXi, followed by Xenserver (or Xen) and I've never used Hyper-V extensively enough.

 

Both ESXi and Xen will allow you to passthrough real PCI devices (with VT-D and VT-X) to a VM and it will appear as if the device was really attached; this has value for things such as graphics cards and Drive cards such as SAS HBAs.  Hyper-V I don't believe allows passthrough of hardware but will allow HDDs attached to system to be passed through.

 

I personally run an Esxi 6.5 cluster of 3 machines with VMWare vSAN running in the background for aggregated VM Storage, but if you only want one machine then a simple All-in-One would suffice... E.g. USB stick for ESXI to load with, HDDs for VM storage and then some form of dedicated drive card that is passed through to the WHS2011 server.  You could always use xpenology in place of WHS2011 which is a hack for synology's DSM and that would allow more flexibility but you won't be able to run the WHS connector software for autobacking up window based clients, atlthough you could run a combo of WHS and Xpenology - share via SMB or iSCSI the xpenology drives to WHS and use that to backup... Lots of options!


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  Reply # 1955610 12-Feb-2018 11:17
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Sorry to add that Synology can backup client machines but there isn't the option to rebuild via PXE/USB and as Gehenna pointed out it doesn't support W10.  I've got an essentials server license which I use in place of WHS and then backup to an iSCSI based connection from my Xpenology VM.


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  Reply # 1955616 12-Feb-2018 11:22
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I looked at using WHS2011 as a base then virtualising machines on top of that....but it has a restriction of 3gb of ram (and when you virtualise other stuff, you want lots of memory to play with so my machine has 32gb).

 

So I went with windows server 2012.  On reflection I wouldn't do that again, and would go for Windows 10.  I've not using any server components, but Hyper-V, and Hyper-V is part of Windows 10 now anyway.

 

For storage I use drivebender, found storage spaces too complicated to set up, lost visibility of the individual drives and wasn't sure if it left the drives as simple ntfs volumes for if I had to push them into something in the event of a failure.

 

Then it's up to you if you run a WHS2011 VM for shares/client backups.  I tried that and didn't find a good experience.  And ended up using acronis for physical machines, and using a hyper-v export for backing up the virtual machines - so client backups were redundant.

 

 

 

 





Previously known as psycik

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  Reply # 1955624 12-Feb-2018 11:35
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Personally, I use Proxmox for as my hypervisor (both at home and in our office).

 

At home it runs on fairly average hardware - i5 6400, 16GB RAM, Raid 0 SSD storage (hypervisor & VM's) + spinning mass storage. But I don't run any windows VM's. Just a handful of linux containers (for my "web apps", debian OS), a FreeNAS VM, and a couple debian VM's for mucking around with. Don't do anything that important on it. I do backups to a FreeNAS share, but then ultimately run full image backups up to Amazon S3 (not very effective price wise though, there are probably better options but the S3 backup is easy to set up).

 

Originally ran ESXi on some different hardware for maybe 5-6 years, but moved house and stuffed the MoBo which prompted the upgrade to 6400, DDR4 ram, and also switched to Proxmox at that time.. With ESXi I had 32GB RAM with a similar amount of VM's and it really needed the RAM. With Proxmox and the linux containers the work loads seem to be far far lighter and watching utilization on the RAM it could maybe do with a touch more at times, but not really worth it. Otherwise it just works. Proxmox is VERY easy with it's GUI, plus the CLI is fairly intuitive for those extra tasks that aren't in the GUI.

 

In the office we have a small stack of servers and have it all clustered together (but using local storage) which is super cool for management - especially considering the price! Ultimately will shift to SAN storage and utilise the fail over options. We run only a single Windows VM (win 7 pro) for one stupid windows only application we just can't do without, and it is a absolute RAM hog.

 

Other one to look at is unRAID. I believe @michaelmurfy now runs that home?


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  Reply # 1955631 12-Feb-2018 11:39
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Yeah the option is to utilise a storage system and then running VMs from it.  Synology has Virtual Machine Manager now, and unRAID has built in VM systems now too.  I'm a big fan of Synology but only because I haven't had to pay for the rather expensive hardware price to get a 12 bay storage server otherwise I'd be on FreeNAS I suspect


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  Reply # 1955635 12-Feb-2018 11:48
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I wouldn't recommend using Windows Home Server it is end of life. Microsoft Lifecycle Policy This means no further updates.

 

If this is your main requirement

 

kiwifidget:

 

 - Use this setup to continue client backups using WHS2011..

 

 

I would recommend using a NAS like synology, I reckon you would get more out of it.


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  Reply # 1955652 12-Feb-2018 12:24
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I fully recommend unRaid - it is a great home server with full VM + Docker support and is well worth the money. I've got mine set up with a 4tb parity drive, 3x 3tb NAS drives and a 128gb SSD cache and it is working really well. Also got Plex + Transmission and TVHeadend running on Docker containers and a few Linux VM's.

 

To be honest I also recommend it over NAS products - is much more powerful than what Synology or qnap has to offer IMO.





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  Reply # 1955660 12-Feb-2018 12:43
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I'd echo to a certain extent what MM has said.. unRAID on custom hardware will be more powerful and cheaper than a COTS NAS system... I just don't like how it 'aggregates' drives, which is why I use Xpenology.  Its a custom loader for Synology DSM to run on custom hardware... So I run it on a Xeon chipset with lots of RDIMM DDR3 RAM with ECC for bitrot protection but it spans the drives so VMs running happily from it no matter the space used or drive its on, the only issue is that if I lose 3 or more drives, I've lost the array so rebuild times from crash plan will be slower where as unRAID will only lose the data from the dead drive if you go past its parity protection level.

 

Xpenology has a graphical interface for its VM management, not sure what unraid has these days.




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  Reply # 1955661 12-Feb-2018 12:50
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@michaelmurphy , ok, you got me intrigued with this unRAID thing.

 

I have a case, a psu, some assorted HDDs and an SSD, and a stuffed mobo.

 

Would an i3 or i5 mobo/CPU get things going, with say 8GB RAM?

 

 





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  Reply # 1957102 14-Feb-2018 14:42
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Tried out ESXi at home, but I was too used to a fully functioning setup at work and the limitations of the free version just started to annoy me.

 

Have been running Hyper-V on a couple of ex-work laptops lately, although only in a basic setup.  One is on top of Windows 10, that I'm looking to move away from.  The other is Windows 2016 Hyper-V Core.  You can download and run that for free.  Just need to manage it remotely, which is the same as ESXi.  Tying it in to Project Honolulu is nice too.  Did take a bit of mucking around to get everything talking, but that was mostly due the laptop hardware quirks.

 

Looked into unRAID a while ago, however never got past the trial because I couldn't be bothered rebuilding my main machine.  Will give another go when I have to buy replacement hardware.  It all depends on which direction I go.

 

If you're used to Windows then Hyper-V could be a option for you.  Some might find it a bit over-simpilified.


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  Reply # 1958133 14-Feb-2018 16:36
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I moved from WHS2011 a few years ago.  I run Windows Server 2012R2 Essentials to backup clients (in a Hypev-V VM).  Coming from Windows I found Hyper-V very easy to pick up.  I also run SBS2011 and SQL Server in Hyper-V, and I never needed WHS after my move to Windows Server.  Although it does mean you should create a domain, which can make life easier.

In regards to UnRaid, whilst I am sure it is good there is nothing like RAID1 in Windows.  If one of the drives die, you can plug the other drive into any Windows machine and its readable.  This does not apply to almost all other RAID solutions, including NAS units.  Of course you should ALWAYS have a good backup solution as (most geekzone members will agree) RAID is not a backup.


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  Reply # 1958138 14-Feb-2018 16:45
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Add me down as another Proxmox fan. Like all other solutions there are pros and cons but it's really straight forward and backups and restore are dead simple.

 

 


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  Reply # 1958143 14-Feb-2018 16:49
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sbiddle:

 

Add me down as another Proxmox fan. Like all other solutions there are pros and cons but it's really straight forward and backups and restore are dead simple.

 



Never heard of Proxmox, but always interested in finding out about new products.  Does it do incremental backups and bare-metal restores like WHS / Windows Server can?


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  Reply # 1958168 14-Feb-2018 17:22
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The thing with UnRaid is it uses standard XFS so can be mounted on any Linux PC and is a NAS distro out of the box. Proxmox isn't a NAS distro and instead more of a competitor to something like VMWare ESXi. I believe XFS is far better than Windows Raid1 since it supports full snapshotting etc.

 

Something else is a Windows Server 2012R2 or 2016 license costs an order of magnitude more than an UnRaid license. Not everyone gets free licenses.





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