Windows 2012 Fileserver alternatives

Julian Haines
Julian Haines used Ask the Experts™
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I currently have a Windows 2012 x64 server being used as a Fileserver for 100 users and looking for a better solution, the Fileserver is a Virtual machine running on ESX 6.7 and accesses an EqualLogic SAN.

I need::

1. 99.9% uptime as the current single Fileserver has failed a few times.
2. Good access speed for all 100 users.
3. Support for long pathnames.
4. NTFS folder and file permissions from Active Directory

Thanks
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE Fellow)VMware and Virtualization Consultant
Fellow 2018
Expert of the Year 2017

Commented:
Use a NAS, or use Microsoft Failover Clustering.
Prabhin MPDevOps Engineer
Distinguished Expert 2018

Commented:
If you are going for NAS, i recommend you to setup FREENAS,
which is free of cost,
high uptime,
Storage replication,
stable one,

NTFS folder and file permissions from Active Directory
MaheshArchitect
Distinguished Expert 2018

Commented:
how much storage space you have currently?

and how much storage growth you need yearly?
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Martyn SpencerSoftware Developer / Linux System Administrator / Managing Director

Commented:
I have had very good experiences with Xigmanas, which used to be called Nas4Free. It originally shared a source base with FreeNAS. A Synology or QNAP NAS may also fit the bill.

You could also consider a business server focused OS such as ClearOS (which is based on CentOS). I have a couple of clients using it successfully. Personally, I use CentOS and have configured it to my needs.
Julian HainesSenior IT Administrator

Author

Commented:
Thanks for all the comments the storage is current around 4.7TB growing about 0.5TB a year

Thanks
Prabhin MPDevOps Engineer
Distinguished Expert 2018

Commented:
you can check more about freenas from here
http://www.freenas.org/
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE Fellow)VMware and Virtualization Consultant
Fellow 2018
Expert of the Year 2017

Commented:
I would not risk my business with some hokey cokey open free solution. (which you have to provide all the hardware for!)

As you have already invested in  a Dell Equallogic SAN, I would highly recommend Synology as a Budget solution, and maybe a NetApp Filer.
Martyn SpencerSoftware Developer / Linux System Administrator / Managing Director

Commented:
@Andrew: Out of interest (and this is not intended to be argumentative), which of the suggestions above do you consider "hokey cokey open free" solutions? Do you have some first hand experiences that you can share, as it would I am sure benefit the OP and those of us contributing to the thread.
MaheshArchitect
Distinguished Expert 2018

Commented:
@OP
Thanks for information

If I compare your data requirement with typical enterprise, its moderate and you can go with any NAS technology mentioned above
Check with your top management if they are OK with free NAS products or 3rd party products with 24/7 support is required, its depend on your business data criticality

U need to ensure that you have good backup tool implemented which can reliably backup data along with open files and NTFS permissions and also restore data in case
If your ESX server is already part of cluster, I don't see any need for deploying windows failover cluster
Windows failover cluster can be considered only if you have multiple standalone esx server hosts and there you can install virtual windows server as file server on separate esx host
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE Fellow)VMware and Virtualization Consultant
Fellow 2018
Expert of the Year 2017

Commented:
The Asker has 100 users, his organisation has invested in "ESX 6.7 and accesses an EqualLogic SAN."

He currently reports an issue with Windows 2012 reliability, whatever that is, is unknown.

I would be very surprised, if he decides to go with "hokey cokey open free"  solutions like FreeNAS, Nas4Free, ClearOS etc etc

which are unreliable and slow - and not fit for purpose in the enterprise.

and should be considering  Brands, with Support and High Availability and Uptime.

We've just shutdown our NetApp, and Synology NAS with  1800 days of uptime! (for DC power replacement!)
Martyn SpencerSoftware Developer / Linux System Administrator / Managing Director

Commented:
@Andrew: I note the lack of anything concrete that backs the opinion that any of the solutions suggested would be inadequate for running an organisation with 100 users. Thanks for taking the time to respond.
Shaun VermaakTechnical Specialist
Awarded 2017
Distinguished Expert 2018

Commented:
What is wrong with your current setup? Are you using some advance features like dedup?
Before we get into a free vs paid discussion (although I agree with Andrew on this, if it is mission critical than maybe not a free solution on home built hardware).  I would second the NAS or SAN solution.

But back to the OP, what problems are you having with the fire server on Windows 2012?  I run a 2008 R2 file server with 300 users and same size of data and we grow close to the same?
Martyn SpencerSoftware Developer / Linux System Administrator / Managing Director

Commented:
@Bryant: No one said anything about home built hardware. I was picking up on the suggestion that an open source solution would not be suitable. This is patently untrue and many open source solutions have enterprise level support if that is important. I am going to leave it at that, because I don't think debating here adds much more benefit to question.

I do feel that it is inappropriate to use emotive phrases like "hokey cokey" when referring to other people's suggestions as it could imply that they are of low value and it is likely to spark a debate. I am very happy to take this to a private debate away from this question.
Look I can leave it at this, I have used FreeNAS in a few lab scenarios and to be honest it was just flaky.  OU to crap or the appliance itself would.

And while you are correct many opensource products are enterprise grade, their support may not be, as it tends to be community support.  But if you want support then typically it is no longer free.  Take Redhat, Suse,  and Nagios as examples.   I prefer to have a vendor supporting mission critical equipment.

99.9% uptime is just short of an hour.  Personally I would go with tried and true equipment.

Now I did mention home grown hardware, typically in my past experience that is what freenas goes on.  Are you referring to a TrueNAS appliance.  That would be a different story but I have no experience but you get support.

All in all I am more curious to why a WIndows server does not work.  That to me seems to be the real question.  I would not typically recommend a linux solution to a windows shop and vice versa.  They tend to lack the skills to manage both well.
Martyn SpencerSoftware Developer / Linux System Administrator / Managing Director

Commented:
@Bryant:
And while you are correct many opensource products are enterprise grade, their support may not be, as it tends to be community support.
I specifically referred to enterprise grade support. This is paid for and is not community support. All of the products you mention have paid support available, with guaranteed response times and generally approved hardware lists. In the case of TrueNAS, the only approved hardware is that which they supply.

Now I did mention home grown hardware, typically in my past experience that is what freenas goes on.
One has the choice of running FreeNAS (or any of the other software mentioned above) on enterprise grade or home built hardware. Whilst I have no evidence to back it up, and so it's my opinion, it is reasonable to assert that quality open source software running on approved hardware, thoroughly tested, is no less likely to fail than a complete packaged solution (often which uses open source software "under the hood").

I said I would not debate this further here, and have let myself be drawn in again, so will say no more in this thread. Apologies to the OP.
Peter HutchisonSenior Network Systems Specialist

Commented:
Another suggestion is to stick with Windows 2012 and use DFS across 2 or more servers. This will ensure the shares are available 100% even if one of the servers went out of action. It also allows you to perform maintenance and expand disk capacity with minimal downtime.
Senior IT Administrator
Commented:
I am going to stay with my current solution
Shaun VermaakTechnical Specialist
Awarded 2017
Distinguished Expert 2018

Commented:
Multiple suggestions to stick with your current setup

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