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  1. #1
    Jul 2015

    Windows Storage Server 2012 (Essentials?) NAS with Intel Core i3/5/7?

    I have been on the fence for 6 months to a year regarding buying a NAS machine. I'm not a huge DIY'r, so I was hoping for a COTS solution. But to get a Linux-based NAS (from QNAP for example, not sure if Synology even has SOHO/SMB NAS with Intel Core cpu's) with even just an i3 (4th generation) with 6 bays, using HGST enterprise drives (7K4000) is ~$2,500, more than I had in mind. I get that they have a lot of cool software capabilities but the price hike seems exhorbitant. I have mostly video (my own from a Panasonic SDK-750) and pics (Nikon D800) and I'm over 2 TB already and expanding regularly. I like the idea of more than 4 drives so more than 1 can fail.

    So I saw the recent review of the Thecus machine for $350 by Jeremy, which is less than the cost of buying WSS 2012 R2 Essentials, but for me it's too small. I see the Thecus W5000+, and Seagate has a WSS Business NAS now (using a dual-core Atom), and Buffalo has a few boxes (they price out over $2,500 though so they are presumably using WSS 2012 R2 i.e., not Essentials). But all these use at most a dual-core Atom with either 2 or 4 GB of memory, max. I'd like to be able to transcode, or at least be able to stream pre-transcoded video to at least 2 devices at once, and want some headroom beyond that. But most importantly I want solid storage (will probably use a Cloud service to back up the NAS but my internet service upload speed is so slow that services like BackBlaze & CrashPlan say they need 800+ days to do the initial backup - ouch!).

    Does someone know of a WSS NAS with better hardware (Core i3/i5/i7 and 8 GB of memory) that runs Essentials and lands around $1,500 - $2,000 with, say, 6 each 2 TB 7K4000 HGST drives (or 3 TB drives - I'm not sure where the knee in the curve is - one vendor, either simplynas or nashq charges just a handful more for any given NAS using the 3 TB HGST enterprise drives than the 2 TB)? I'm leaning towards Windows Storage Server because of a couple of articles bemoaning incompatibilities (or at least potential gotcha's) of Windows files systems vs Linux, plus maybe being able to use the machine as a casual PC too.

    Thank you for any help,

  2. #2
    Jun 2001

    Re: Windows Storage Server 2012 (Essentials?) NAS with Intel Core i3/5/7?

    I have been running a Thecus W4000 for a bit over a year now. While I like it, I find the RAM and the Processor a bit limiting. It's fine for basic file access, backups and remote access, but For transcoding, media streaming of video, etc, It's lacking.

    One thing I like about the Thecus is that the OS is installed on a m.2 SSD. That leaves all 4 bays open for whatever you need. Right now I have all 4 bays filled with 3TB drives. I have two drive pools set up. One is a Mirrored set for my files and shares. The other two are striped for more storage. The striped drives are for my backup jobs. I wanted redundancy for my actual files, but if my nightly backups get hosed from one of the stripe drives failing, I'm not too worried.

    I haven't been happy with the video streaming on this Server, so I am building a new NAS. I have a Mini-ITX system that I built a couple of years ago. It is an Ivy-Bridge i3 processor w/8GB of RAM. It has been an very stable PC. I've been using it as a desktop PC at work driving 3 monitors and all the apps and tools I use at work with zero issues. The Mini-ITX case I have been using isn't very workable as a decently expandable NAS, so I just purchased a Silverstone NAS case with 8 hot swappable 3.5" bays. The bays support both SATA and SAS. I'm going to install Windows Server Essentials 2016 (tech preview) on it and see how things go.

    Unfortunately, I didn't find any more powerful and expandable Server Essential machines out there, so I think Building is the best option. That said, HP's latest Microserver is a decent option for prebuilt hardware. A Xeon Processor and 4GB of RAM in a nice small form factor with 4 bays is nice, but without an OS they run around $750. An OEM copy of Windows Server Essentials is around $350. The Case and Power Supply are costing me under $200, so reusing the old hardware makes sense.

    Btw, something to consider. If you don't care abut the remote access and bare metal backup/restore features of Windows Server Essentials, a Basic NAS with iSCSI support may be all you need. I have an older HP MicroServer set up at work using FreeNAS and have it set up as an iSCSI target for my desktop. Since the iSCSI target is formatted as NTFS, there isn't a worry about file system compatibility. There are pro's and cons to doing it that way, but it's a much cheaper alternative as well.

    The new case and power supply just came in today, so I'll be building and testing this week. Once I get a good idea of the performance of it I'll post.

    edit, lol, I really need to edit my Signature. Those systems are way out of date!

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