Just when I thought it was safe to open a box again, Thecus drops one at my door and tells me that they have produced the First Ever Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 Essentials NAS. After coming hot off the heals of the Buffalo WSS 5400 NAS review, I thought I would have a break to get back to some good ole fashioned Linux based NAS reviews, I guess not. Having liked the Buffalo NAS, I can’t wait to see what Thecus is able to accomplish with their W5000 5-Bay premium NAS.
If you were paying attention, you may be asking yourself what the heck I am talking about. “I thought you said a there were only two flavors of Windows Storage Server 2012 R2, Workgroup and Standard.” Well, guess what my friends, now there are three. So, what makes this one different? First, it comes with ability to be an active directory domain controller and it mirrors the Server 2012 R2 Essentials experience. This makes this NAS EXTREMELY attractive to small business that do not want to invest a few thousand dollars in a server, and server software, for less than 50 people.
|Ability to join a domain||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|BranchCache – Hosted Cache||No||Yes||Yes|
|Virtualization||No Hyper-V||Yes (2 VMs)||No Hyper-V|
|Networking infrastructure (including DNS, DHCP, and WINS)||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Windows Server Essentials Experience||No||No||Yes|
|Active Directory (Domain Controller, Certificate Services, Federation Services, Rights Management)||No||No||Yes|
With that out of the way, there is one thing about this NAS that is a stretch from the norm. Outside of shipping with a Windows OS, this NAS also ships with a 500GB SSHD (Seagate ST500LM000) pre-installed. The W5000 is also outfitted with an Intel® Atom™ Processor D2550 (1.86GHz Dual Core) and a meager 2GB of DDr3 RAM. Additionally, you will find dual Ethernet Ports, VGA, HDMI, 4 x USB 2.o, 1 x USB 3.0, MIC input, Line input, Audio output, 1 x eSATA, and an LCM display to keep them company.
|Processor||Intel® Atom™ D2550 (1.86GHz Dual Core)|
|System Memory||2GB DDR3|
|Embedded Boot Drive||Seagate SSHD|
|Form Factors Supported||2.5″ / 3.5″|
|LAN Interface||RJ-45×2: 10/100/1000 BASE-TX Auto MDI/MDI-X
|USB Interface||USB 2.0 host port x4 (back x4)
USB 3.0 host port x1 (front x1)
|LCM Module||LCM display
4 buttons (ENTER, ESC, UP, DOWN)
|HDMI Output||HDMI port (back x1)|
|VGA Output||VGA port (back x1)|
|Audio||MIC input, Line input, Audio output|
|Disk Interface||5 x SATA for internal
1 x eSATA for external
|Power Supply||200W Power Supply|
|System Clock||Battery-backed up system clock|
|Power Management||Auto power on after shutdown due to power loss|
|Buzzer||Adjustable frequency alarm|
|Environment||Temperature: 5°C to 40°C
Humidity: 0 ~ 80 % R.H. (Non-condensing)
|Chassis||Tower Metal Chassis|
|Dimensions (HxWxD)||230 x 190 x 240 (mm)/ 9.06 x7.48 x 9.45 (in)|
To highlight some of the things Thecus has with the W5000:
- Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 Essentials
- Intel® Atom™ Processor (2.13GHz, Dual-Core)
- 2GB DDR3 RAM
- HDMI and VGA output
- 1 x eSATA for external
- Enhanced Boot Drive: Embedded SSHD
- Data Deduplication: Performance Optimization
- Active Directory Domain Services: Scalable, Secure User Management
- Office 365 & Microsoft Azure: Cloud Service Integration
- Global Language Pack: 36 Interfaces Available
- Automated client backup built in
- Microsoft Bitlocker drive encryption
- Simple administrative dashboard
- NTFS Online Scan and Repair
Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 Essentials
Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 Essentials is the latest version of Windows Storage Server that is designed for small businesses that want to leverage cloud services in a NAS appliance. It enables cross-premise functionality, providing small businesses with robust on-premises solution for file and print, client backup and restore, secure remote access, and identity management services, combined with optional off-premise services supported by Microsoft.
Critical Data Protection:
The File History periodically (every hour by default) scans the file system for changes and creates a copy on the server. It simplifies the recovery of files, accidentally deleted or overwritten, without the need for an administrator’s assistance.
Client Computer Backups
Configured to run daily on each PC that’s connected to the Essentials environment, client computer backup stores your backup data centrally on the server. This type of automatic protection enables you to restore individual files and folders, or an entire PC, as you would do when replacing a faulty hard drive or upgrading from and older hard drive.
You can add a hard disk drive to the server, either internally or externally, and designate it as a backup destination as opposed to server storage. Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 Essentials will then use this drive to back up all the data stored on the server, including both the operating system files and your business data.
NTFS Online Scan and Repair (CHKDSK)
CHKDSK in Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 Essentials introduces a new approach that prioritizes volume availability and allows for the detection of corruption while the volume remains online with data available.
Robust Windows Server Security
Flexible anti-virus support and complete disk protection with BitLocker Drive Encryption for robust data protection.
Storage Spaces delivers Software Defined Storage (SDS). Easily group multiple hard drives into a storage pool and protect data in the pool, without the need to understand RAID. Storage Spaces enables cost-effective, highly available, scalable, and flexible storage solutions for business-critical deployments.
Controls data growth by removing duplicate data. Allows the server to efficiently store, transfer and backup less data.
Integrated Cloud Services
Integration with Office 365
Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 Essentials provides the option to integrate with Office 365 or a third-party Hosted Exchange provider. Administrators need only create a user’s account once — an associated mailbox can be automatically created at the same time. The Essentials server syncs passwords with Office 365, helping end users enjoy a seamless sign-on experience whether they are accessing local or cloud-based resources.
Integration with Microsoft Azure Backup
Integration with Microsoft Azure Backup complements your local server backups with a cloud-based service that stores your business-critical data in a highly secure, offsite datacenter.
Essentials Administrative Dashboard
The Dashboard is the command and control center for Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 Essentials. Designed with a streamlined look and feel and enhanced with improved functionality, the Dashboard is used to perform all the management and maintenance tasks you need to control how your behaves on network.
The Launchpad is a small application that provides authenticated users with access to key features of the server, including shared files and media, add-ins, and Remote Web Access. The Launchpad also provides real-time information and notifications about the health of the computer.
Printer Server Support
Print Services enables you to share printers on a network, as well as to centralize print server and network printer management tasks. It also enables you to migrate print servers and deploy printer connections using a Group Policy
Health status notifies you of issues or problems related to computer backups, server storage, low disk space, and more. Health reports can be automatically generated on a scheduled basis and emailed directly to local administrators or external partners.
No Windows Server CALs Required
No Windows Server Client Access Licenses (CALs) required benefits users the ability to access the services of the server without a permit. With this, business users will not have to go through the trouble of obtaining authorization of per-user or per-device. With no CALs required, users are able to access data on demand, without the troubles of CALs.
Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 Essentials offers an affordable server solution that can be used as the primary infrastructure server in multi-server environments.
User Groups Management
You can create user groups and add user accounts to them. User account permissions can be managed through their user group memberships.
Secure and Fast Remote Access
Remote Web Access (RWA)
RWA enables end users to work remotely from virtually anywhere using almost any device. A website for RWA delivers a highly secure way for users and administrators to use their web browser to access files and folders, client computers, and the servers running in your environment.
Remote Domain Join
Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 Essentials turns setting up virtual private networking (VPN) into a painless wizard-driven process of just a few clicks, and simplifies the management of VPN access for users. Client computers can leverage a VPN connection to remotely join the Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 Essentials environment without the need to come into the office.
My Server App
My Server app provides a modern and touch-friendly way for end users to access files and folders, as well as perform light administration tasks. The app runs on Windows and Windows RT desktops, laptops, and tablet devices.
BranchCache can help you optimize Internet usage, improve performance of networked applications, and reduce traffic on your wide-area network (WAN).
SMB Multichannel enables file servers to use multiple network connections simultaneously. It facilitates aggregation of network bandwidth and network fault tolerance when multiple paths are available between the SMB 3.0 client and the SMB 3.0 server.
One of the very confusing aspects of the product’s web page is the fact that Thecus elects to highlight the fact that this NAS ships with an inbuilt HDMI output and the info box reads: “Turn your NAS into the ultimate multimedia hub! An inbuilt HDMI output allows you to connect your NAS directly to your TV for media streaming and easy device management.”
Now forgive me here, but I can’t think of one person on earth that would install KODI (XBMC) or Plex on a Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 Essentials NAS. Not to mention that the NAS only sports 2GB of RAM!