Vol. 22, #20 - May 15, 2017 - Issue #1131


Are WHS and SBS still relevant?

 

Deep Packet Inspection for Quality of Experience Monitoring

Read this whitepaper to get a detailed description of packet analysis techniques to measure high network response times, network delay, server processing times, client processing time, traffic distribution, and overall quality of experience.

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Editor's Corner


In this week's newsletter we'll examine whether Microsoft's Windows Home Server and Small Business Server platforms are still relevant. What sparked our interest in this topic was an Ask Our Readers request we received from a reader named Jack which we included several weeks ago in Issue #1129 Reader feedback: Reconsidering biometric security. Jack asked us the following:

I am probably one of many who invested in the HP Home Server/Microsoft Home Server a few years ago because it was very easy to understand and use (for us, computer illiterates). Then all of a sudden support became almost non-existent, the non-existent. Not even HP who manufactured the hardware supports it even though it is still on their website with no working links of course and no support even when you ask them about it. When mine no longer backs up anything completely, I tried to use another server system and NAS system but totally at a lost. Do you have any ideas on where or if there are any sites that still have forums or help on the Home Server?

While mainstream support for WHS 2011 ended last year and the Microsoft Exchange component of SBS 2011 is supported all the way to 2020, both of these servers can be considered legacy products even though they're still widely used in home, SOHO, and small business environments. So despite the fact that Microsoft is now pushing the cloud as the solution for everything, it's obvious that not all smaller businesses are ready yet to make the jump from owning their own on-premise server to running their whole business in the cloud. And despite how cloud providers might be calling you stupid to continue to maintain an in-house server for your small business, it really all boils down to trust as the following Dilbert comic illustrates:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/05d26fz1/

So to help us try and answer Jack's question and dig deeper into the issue of the continuing relevance of WHS 2011 and it's cousin SBS 2011, we're going to share some insights from Microsoft MVP Susan Bradley who is well-known in the IT pro community by her moniker "Small Business Susan". We'll also share some other comments we received from several other readers of our newsletter.

Ask Our Readers: WServerNews has almost 100,000 subscribers worldwide. That's a lot of expertise to tap into. Do you need help with some issue or need advice on something IT-related? Got a question you'd like us to toss out to our readers to try and answer? Email us at wsn@mtit.com


Reader comments on Windows Home Server

Our first reader comment comes from John, a Senior Analyst / Programmer based in the UK. John's comments focus on backing up the server and workstations connected to it:

I've been a user of Windows Home Server since the last version (2011) came out, although in my case I have it installed on a home-built server. Like your reader Jack I was finding the backup becoming increasingly flaky and did some investigation. I think the issue is not with the backup itself but with the connector software, which hasn't been updated in quite a long time. Although I did manage to get this working on Windows 10 it would fall over at the drop of a hat.

I investigated replacing WHS with something else but in the end elected to keep it going for a number of reasons: I don't have the money to buy Windows Server Essentials, which is the direct successor. I could probably have got a Linux replacement going but my real expertise is with Windows so I was reluctant to do that. I have a lot of services running on my Home Server including Plex and hMailServer. Plex runs on pretty much anything these days but finding another mail server and learning it from scratch was rather daunting. Plus, my WHS installation was otherwise working fine on a pretty low-power machine (AMD Sempron) and, as the saying goes, if it ain't broke don't fix it. So I set about looking for alternative methods of backing up.

There are two aspects that need to be looked at: backup up the server and backing up workstations. Without the connector software WHS will still continue to take care of the server backup itself so it was only the workstations I needed to worry about. Long story short, I eventually bought a three-user license for Acronis TrueImage. This isn't quite as set-it-and-forget-it as the WHS backup server but it comes quite close. I had some difficulty with it at first but everything has now settled down to the point where I don't really have to think about it. There are really only two minor issues with it in my experience:

1. It takes a bit longer to do a backup. My wife's laptop is sometimes only on for a short time; this doesn't actually give TrueImage a problem -- it will continue the next time it starts up -- but it does mean that backups can take a long time to complete sometimes. I therefore occasionally start it up and leave it running long enough to complete the backup.

2. Although it can back up to the cloud the only option is to Acronis own cloud, which I wasn't prepared to pay for. Obviously WHS would only backup to the server so you've not lost anything, it's just a bit of a shame. I have an Office subscription which gives me 1TB of cloud storage so it's a shame that I can't use it for this. If that's important to your reader then he may like to look at an alternative.

TrueImage comes with a few other tools, some of which have proved useful. For example, when I changed the hard drive in our laptop to an SSD disk TrueImage had a tool that let me clone one to the other, meaning I was up and running very quickly.

One other point: the WHS connector software used to also take care of making server shares available to workstations, so without that running you now have to do that the old-fashioned way.

Next a reader named James offers a list of websites he uses himself when he has issues with HP Home Server:

The resources are slim but here are websites/links that I use:

MediaSmartServer.net - The Windows Home Server Enthusiast Community

http://www.wservernews.com/go/l9oam396/


MediaSmartHome.com - Your HP MediaSmart Server Community


http://www.wservernews.com/go/f35baomy/


MS Windows Home Server (Philip Churchill)


http://www.wservernews.com/go/pn7pdw1j/


Depending on the issue, there may be something here that would help.

Another reader named John from Ontario, Canada offered a more general suggestion concerning NAS and HP Home Server:

I always recommend the How To Geek website to my computer challenged friends who will need the step by step and screenshot handholding provided by most of the pages with those sorts of instructions. A search for NAS on that page returned several possible links. An example that may help with the HP home fileserver question is below:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/ebk8qtqs/

I agree with John that the How To Geek is a terrific site -- I use it often myself when trying to figure out how to do something with Windows or Windows Server.

Finally, let me toss one suggestion of my own: check out Microsoft's Windows Home Server 2011 forum:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/7xcv8vaw/

Now let's move on and hear what Susan Bradley has to say about the current state of SBS 2011…

 

Susan Bradley on WHS, SBS, and WSE

I started by asking Susan whether SBS are still relevant and whether she knows any people still running them and why they're holding off migrating to the cloud. Susan responded in her usual insightful way as follows:

Given that I get a question every other week about "how do I migrate from SBS to...." we're still out here! I still walk into many a small office and see an old SBS or Server 2003 or 2008 in the corner still chugging along.

For every firm that sees the value and the need for hosted Exchange and Office 365, there is another firm that doesn't want the monthly subscription fees that come with it. There is a breakeven point of about 20 to 25 users where online services start to cost more. We don't upgrade servers annually; they have about a five to seven year lifespan.

The other problem faced is that Office 365 demands that you upgrade to the latest Office versions and we still have LOB apps that are not ready or don't support Office 2016 at this time.

I asked her what about WHS and she replied:

Home server has morphed into WD NAS devices. Show me small firm nailed by ransomware and I'll show you a consultant who has now made sure the desktops are backed up with a NAS device.

So three things: Cost of subscriptions/LOB apps that demand older Office versions/Ransomware and need for desktop backups still mean there's a few of us out here.

I asked Susan whether cloud-based backup can replace local server-based backup for smaller businesses:

While Azure Backup is nice and cool, it's not fast to recover. SMB's don't have fiber channels to the cloud we're still on DSL and Comcast. So when ransomware hits and you want to rebuild ... you need something local.

What about Windows Server Essentials (WSE) the successor to SBS? Susan responded:

Essentials is even more of the red headed step child of the Microsoft server family. At the present time the official documentation states that you can't install Azure AD connect on Essentials, but it's merely a formality. You can't install it *and* run the Office 365 wizard on the box at the same time because they would want to do the same task.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/3ux1bhx8/

[Editor's Note: If you read this documentation you'll see it clearly states that "Azure AD Connect cannot be installed on Small Business Server or Windows Server Essentials. The server must be using Windows Server standard or better."]

So pick one or the other. I'm hoping to get Microsoft to make that change because for Essentials to truly be the hook into cloud services that Microsoft intended it to be it needs to natively support the tools that Microsoft intends for us to use.

Thank you very much Susan for all your hard work on championing WSE and the earlier SBS/WHS platforms for small business customers who still want to maintain their own in-house servers! I concluded by asking Susan whether she still blogs a lot about these platforms and she said:

I don't blog as much as I used to but it's at sbsdiva.com:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/ca47wn4u/

I'm still a moderator also at patchmanagement.org:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/inigxnmv/

and write for windowssecrets.com:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/zcf1f18u/


Send us your feedback

Got feedback about anything in this issue of WServerNews? Email us at wsn@mtit.com

Recommended for Learning

Get hands-on with cloud technologies from Microsoft

Practice with the latest cloud products and services in a live environment and advance your cloud skills for free.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/xcnkt344/

 

Microsoft Virtual Academy

Cloud App Security Series

Now that you've made the move to the cloud, get the help you need to protect your apps. Join the experts for a series of courses to explore the powerful solution from Microsoft known as Microsoft Cloud App Security. Learn about Discovery to determine who's using which apps and how safe they are. Then, look at Data Protection to enforce your policies and Threat Detection to watch for abnormal activity and other anomalies. In this new series, find out how to secure your apps and make sure the data in them stays protected. Find out more!

http://www.wservernews.com/go/fha9fgr1/
  

Factoid of the Week

Oops, we goofed with last week's factoid as we stated it like this:

Fact: Safety Beach, a bayside suburb in Melbourne, Australia, was renamed Safety Beach to attract tourist trade to the peninsula.

As several readers pointed out to us, we obviously meant to say this instead:

Fact: Shark Beach, a bayside suburb in Melbourne, Australia, was renamed Safety Beach to attract tourist trade to the peninsula.

Anyways, most readers overlooked our mistake and send us interesting and amusing responses to our question about whether they had heard about or observed any other similar "rebrandings" of products, services, and so on. Here's a short smattering of the responses we received to this question:

Matt from Western Australia - Well how funny. My parents had a holiday house in Safety Beach, Victoria Australia. We went there every summer as they were both school teachers, during most of the 70s and into the 80s. Safety Beach was a nice quiet beach with clean sand and yes, safe waters. Many fond memories. I learnt to swim in the sea at that beach and later on enjoyed watching the land based wildlife that walked along in the ripples on the edge of the water trying to improve their tans. How did you happen to chance on that beach? Also, never say to an Australian, "you sound like you're English". Almost the biggest insult you can throw at an Aussie. Take care and happy swimming.

Glenn from Adelaide South Australia - Another Australian story: 100 years ago there was a suburb in Adelaide called Chicago. They wanted to change the name, as Chicago gave an impression of gangsters. So they changed its' name to Kilburn, so much nicer!

Wayne from Australia - My wife tells me the story of the Casino in Darwin which is located near the ocean at a locale that has been known as Fanny Bay by the locals for many years. To make it seem more exotic, the Casino named their location Diamond Head. Now it is called Skycity.

Editor's Note: Nice to hear from all of you Australian readers of our newsletter!

Don from California, USA - Dolphin fish was a tough sell because people thought it was dolphin or porpoise. Mahi-mahi as it's now called sells much better.

Editor's Note: Actually that's a misconception as this Wikipedia article explains:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/p5o7p4sd/

Matthew - Rape Seed is marketed as Canola. Black cod is now called Sablefish. Tilapia is often marketed as red snapper.

Editor's Note: Speaking of fish, a survey performed by conservation group Oceana in 2013 suggests that up to three-quarters of the fish sold at sushi restaurants is not the type of fish that being advertised:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/doo5twr8/

John - How about naming a rather large island Greenland when it is actually covered in rock and ice. Eric The Red must have figured he could grab the tourist trade from Iceland.

Mary, a Software Engineer from California - This reminds me of a 50s science fiction story "Mezzerow Loves Company" by F.L. Wallace. A guy named Mezzerow owns a planet that isn't getting many settlers because it was misnamed "Messy Row" by an Earth computer. He travels to Earth to get it corrected to "Mezzerow" but learns that there's a 4 to 6 year backlog, unless he can convince the computer that he deserves priority due to extreme anguish and suffering. He writes a convincing plea, receives notice that his planet has been renamed, and heads home. On the way, he asks the pilot to check the updated charts. The planet has indeed been renamed -- to "Misery Row."

Now let's move on to this week's factoid:

Fact: French has no word for "shallow."

Question: This one might be a bit difficult. Complete the following sentence: "English has no word for _______."

Email your answer to us at: wsn@mtit.com

Until next week, 

Mitch Tulloch

 

Admin Toolbox

Admin Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without

GOT ADMIN TOOLS or other software/hardware you'd like to recommend? Email us at wsn@mtit.com

Free tool for fast, transaction-level recovery for SQL databases. The wizard-driven recovery process will guide you through all available databases and instances that you can restore.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/5l3o8nzs/

Test if any website is blocked in China:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/6c8tl6ed/

DiskCryptor is an open encryption solution that offers encryption of all disk partitions, including the system partition:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/y9dy3x36/

Eraser is an advanced security tool for Windows which allows you to completely remove sensitive data from your hard drive by overwriting it several times with carefully selected patterns:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/y8tsvjg7/

 

This Week's Tips

GOT TIPS you'd like to share with other readers? Email us at wsn@mtit.com

URGENT! Intel systems - Mitigating the Intel AMT Vulnerability

You've probably heard about the recently discovered Intel AMT Vulnerability that enables a trivial bypass of the poorly implemented MD5 hash matching for HTTP Digest Authentication used for authentication by the Intel Active Management Technology web interface. If you haven't you can read Intel's security bulletin here:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/c82orqdv/

and Tenable's reverse engineering of the vulnerability here:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/creqbaog/

EMBEDI also has an excellent explanation of the problem and the risks associated with it in this white paper:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/2k0jpcuu/

What you should also know is that Intel has published a detection guide and mitigation tool for the issue here:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/a9zcll28/

As far as I can determine the guide/tools apply to systems having Intel Centrino, Centrino 2, Core 2, Core i5, and Core i7 processors running Windows 10 or Windows 7.


WARNING! Microsoft Edge - Possible issue when printing PDFs

An issue has been reported by Microsoft where printing PDFs opened in the Microsoft Edge browser could result in numbers in the document being printed incorrectly--yikes! Read more about it here:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/r8rrhrfp/


PowerShell - Download and install updates from WU and WSUS

Rod Trent's myITforum.com has a PowerShell script you can use to download and install updates from Windows Update/WSUS with rebooting and reporting functionality that can be customized:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/a58tbqek/



Events Calendar


Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) on July 9-13, 2017 in Washington, D.C.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/rumh37uq/

Microsoft Ignite on September 25-29, 2017 in Orlando, Florida

http://www.wservernews.com/go/rw1hxlnp/

Add Your Event

PLANNING A CONFERENCE OR OTHER EVENT you'd like to tell our 100,000 subscribers about? Contact info@techgenix.com

New on TechGenix.com

Review of SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor 12.1

SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor 12.1 combines old reliable functionalities with some new features that make the product a winner for IT admins.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/l9rge6u8/

Weathervane from VMware is now open source

VMware's benchmarking tool Weathervane is now open source, so you can customize your own performance testing and make the utility better for others.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/d87ran0o/


Apps and DevOps: Where does QA fit in?

In the mad dash to get apps to the marketplace, where does quality assurance fit in? QA has a place in DevOps, but its role is changing.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/qpbxutsv/


How in-memory computing helps enterprises overcome Big Data woes

In-memory computing delivers data-crunching benefits and does it in real time. Here's what you must know about this cutting-edge technology.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/kn8eno3a/


Azure AD B2B collaboration is now generally available

Azure AD B2B collaboration, which allows companies to securely collaborate with other organizations, is out of public preview and is generally available.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/vk4dzbga/

 

Tech Briefing

AWS

Amazon Chime Update - Use Your Existing Active Directory, Claim Your Domain (AWS Blog)

http://www.wservernews.com/go/3i968l88/


Server-Side Encryption for Amazon Simple Queue Service (SQS) (AWS Blog)

http://www.wservernews.com/go/x6oq2sdv/

Azure

5 Tips for Successful Azure App Development (TechNet UK Blog)

http://www.wservernews.com/go/bs0iujwv/

Setup continuous deployment to Microsoft Azure Government using Visual Studio Team Services (Azure Government Cloud)

http://www.wservernews.com/go/0i0r8kpk/

Certification

Preparing for Microsoft Azure Exam 70-534: Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions (CloudThat)

http://www.wservernews.com/go/2tl3b0wv/

7 Reasons why you should attain a gold cloud competency (Microsoft Partner Network UK Blog)

http://www.wservernews.com/go/ngi4w5sv/

Enterprise IT

Configuring Tombstone Lifetime (TSL) period (IT Pro Central)

http://www.wservernews.com/go/4g2j1ar6/

Using Debugging Tools to Find Token and Session Leaks (Ask the Directory Services Team)

http://www.wservernews.com/go/1f3te94i/

Windows Server

Windows Server 2016 – Azure-Inspired Software Defined Networking (SDN) in YOUR Datacenter! (Keith Mayer)

http://www.wservernews.com/go/dm9t3i0q/

Converting a Windows Server 2016 evaluation to Standard (IT Pro Central)

http://www.wservernews.com/go/eyhu0nb9/



Other Articles of Interest

What users can expect as cloud providers add new data centers

The price wars are now dying down, and cloud providers are looking for new ways to differentiate their services. Adding new data centers is one method, but what impact will this have on users’ workloads?

http://www.wservernews.com/go/52xz1fw9/

Pivotal hops aboard Kubernetes container orchestration tools bandwagon

Pivotal is supporting a new integration between Kubernetes and Cloud Foundry later this week, which means growing maturity in the containers market.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/9w3zb5kx/

Jenkins devs prep Blue Ocean, a sea change in DevOps deployment tools

What do Jenkins, Ansible Tower and New Relic have in common, besides being parts of a DevOps toolchain? A new appeal to an audience beyond IT.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/6v9r1468/


Why Microsoft Azure Stack is destined to fail

Microsoft touts Azure Stack as a way to bring public cloud benefits to on-premises environments. But, for many businesses, the sales pitch doesn't match their needs.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/kbj07pfc/

 

WServerNews FAVE Links

This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff

GOT FUN VIDEOS or other fun links to suggest you'd like to recommend? Email us at wsn@mtit.com

Elon Musk Goes Underground To Solve Traffic Jams

While sitting in a traffic jam, Elon Musk had a brilliant idea: Why not bypass city traffic through a series of underground tunnels?

http://www.wservernews.com/go/h138wdvs/


Exotic Red Underwater Creature - The Spanish Dancer

As the 'Spanish Dancer' drifts through the water, its vibrant red fins look just like a red dress twisting and turning in a dance:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/hma5gdo4/


Angara Contortion Bend Over Backwards

Flexible Angara Contortion push their bodies to the limits as they twist, turn and twine together with their out-of-this-world routine at Britain's Got Talent 2017:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/hxmceqtv/


Hydroplaning Dolphins Catch Fish In Just Inches Of Water

Intelligent and adaptable, these dolphins have developed a unique technique for catching fish that ordinarily remain out of reach:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/fpbngxlv/

 

WServerNews - Product of the Week

Deep Packet Inspection for Quality of Experience Monitoring

Read this whitepaper to get a detailed description of packet analysis techniques to measure high network response times, network delay, server processing times, client processing time, traffic distribution, and overall quality of experience.

Download Now>>

 Image

WServerNews - Editors

Mitch Tulloch is Senior Editor of WServerNews and is a widely recognized expert on Windows administration, deployment and virtualization. Mitch was lead author of the bestselling Windows 7 Resource Kit and has been author or series editor for almost fifty books mostly published by Microsoft Press. Mitch is also a ten-time recipient of Microsoft's Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award for his  outstanding contributions in support of the global IT pro community. Mitch owns and runs an information technology content development business based in Winnipeg, Canada. For more information see www.mtit.com.

Ingrid Tulloch is Associate Editor of WServerNews and was co-author of the Microsoft Encyclopedia of Networking from Microsoft Press. Ingrid is also manages research and marketing for our content development business and has co-developed university-level courses in Information Security Management for a Masters of Business Administration program.