With Win10 build 10240 available, and my gaming machine in a bit of a mess (hard disk on mirror with SMART errors, Office installation unable to activate) I decided it was time for the Windows 10 revolution. Never one for half measures, I’ve decided it’s time to replatform my home server, currently Windows Server Essentials on my HP N40L server. I have a couple of Win10 builds (the Dell10v netbook, Office on Mac VMware Fusion)), but I have no ‘production’ Win10 as yet. Win10 is not yet supported by Server Essentials, which is poor, given the advantages of backup and policy. More on that later.
Clean gaming pc.
Performant home server running Plex & iTunes, with a smaller, more manageable video library
Consolidated pc and server backup repository
Currently this is a core i5 4670k (3.4ghz overclocked to 4.1gz) with 24gb of memory on a Gigabyte Z87-G45 Gaming mainboard.
Boot – 80gb ssd
Mirror – 2x1tb Hitachi (plus one removed from array and in chassis with a SMART error)
Data – 3tb
I have decided to replace the 80g boot with a 250g SSD from a broken laptop (Acer – more later) and remove the mirror. With my ‘core’ data now saved on 1tb of OneDrive I don’t need a local mirrored store any longer.
Get the Windows7 USB DVD tool http://wudt.codeplex.com/ from Microsoft, still nice and simple.
Install the network drivers. Surprised that the onboard Killer E2200 drivers are not in the Win10 repository,
Switch off User Account Control (UAC), it’s a pain. I know it’s there for users who stupidly install trojans, but it pops up so often.
Go to Settings/Updates – the new settings panel should have everything there, not convinced yet, Confirm and login as an ‘insider’ to get ‘fast’ updates and check for updates. Not completely sure of the UI for ‘Settings’
The video (Radeon HD7800) driver updated nicely, no old Windows VGA, although it does install the AMD Catalyst bloatware. My audio bloat (Realtek HD Audio Manager) is also installed by default. I don’t know why MSFT support this and don’t just stick to the driver package, systray crud is unneccesary.
To fix this, use our old friend ‘msconfig’
Note, just typing in the search bar finds commands, I think this was available on XP but has been gone for 3 releases, sometimes it’s the simple that works.
Disabled the AMD and Killer networking, then across to task manager startup items to kill more bloat Note that OneDrive appears to have 7 startup items (AMD has 4), why?
Reboot to apply updates.
Note, the boot time is excellent. I also finally ave enough ssd space for page and hibernation.
The ‘setup OneDrive’ dialogue appears. I have a 1tb OneDrive store wth about 300gb of usage, but I have it sync’d to my local home server accessible from all of my local machines – otherwise I find I have a OneDrive network firestorm when I add some big files, as well as some unpleasant duplication sometimes. I only sync my tmp OneDrive store to all machines for anything I want widely shared.
I also dislike the use of OneDrive on my C: users (esp on an 80gb ssd…), so I save to my 3tb data drive, just in case I want to sync the whole store. I’ll leave OneDrive until I login with my domain/essentials account.
I use Server Essentials as means to
– share my common data stores (pics, videos, software)
– enforce backup and updates on pcs (Scott and Ross)
– have a common user management tool (domain)
Frankly, it’s pretty poor that Win10 is being released without SE support.
Firstly, my gaming rig (jzCorsair) needs removing from the domain, so it can rejoin with the same name. It would be nice to use the Server Connector, but it’s not available. http://blogs.technet.com/b/sbs/archive/2015/07/23/client-connector-availability-with-windows-home-server-small-business-server-and-windows-server-essentials-for-supported-client-os.aspx.
So, right click the pc, select properties and ‘change settings’ to attach to the domain.
Small thing I also always do, I hate the DVD assigned to D: and other drives to E: F: etc. I always change DVD to Z:
I also have a tmp folder on my big drive with a shortcut to it on desktop, and put downloads in tmp. With an SSD you can lose gb of space with downloads (and other user rubbish).
A couple of unidentified devices, as usual the Intel chipset drivers (why not on the Windows repository…), quick fix from Gigabyte.
Backup – nice to see Windows7 backup is back in Windows 10, sometimes a step back is a step forward…
So, what are the essential apps I use?
Acrobat Reader (but not the update crud)
iTunes (more crud…)
Tag&Rename – the best mp3 tagger, ever
DVDShrink – for ripping DVDs
Handbrake – for creating mp4 videos from DVDs
DVDFlick – for creating DVDs
New 2012R2 Server Essentials Install
My HP N40L is pretty slow at running Plex, especially if there is a transcoding demand. I’d also like to run some other apps on the server, but the Atom proc struggles.
A while ago a work laptop, Acer Aspire i3, got dropped and although it works fine, the screen cannot be easily opened and closed – a lot of movement will eventually break it. It has 8gb of memory and a decent processor, so it will work as a local server.
However, if I install Server Essentials on Server 2012R2 on this device, it will be tied to the physical install. Virtual machines have very little performance impact and provide the flexibility to more easily backup and move around. So, the decision is to run Hyper-V on the laptop and install SE as a vm. The virtual hd’s will be stored on a 2tb usb3 external disk.
The objective is a minimal server install just to support Hyper-V. Pretty painless, use the USB tool to write the iso and install. Run 122 (yes) Windows updates (around an hr), backup, domain join, and install the Hyper-V and Wireless LAN features. I have just linked Hyper-V network to wired, not wireless.
Also had to add the Windows Server Backup feature
Same again… core install and 122 updates. At least I can store this as a reference base image once I sysprep it. However, seems to be a new issue with generation 2 vms failing to update with secure boot enabled https://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/bfe47936-0430-446b-86c3-3d0ae832f1f8/windows-2012-r2-fails-to-install-updates?forum=winserver8setup
Windoze update seems a bit hit and miss today
I have a old HP EX495 server sitting around. It is headless, and was tied to Windows Home Server, but I installed Server 2008r2 (start the install on another machine and switch over at reboot) and can use it as a backup device – as it’s quiet and has 4 drive bays. First to test the 3 x 1tb drives from the gaming rig to see if one is really busted.
Connected one 1tb and Crystal Disk info does flag a ‘caution’ SMART status. Depends on the others whether I use it. Always ok as a spare/scratch disk.