Windows Home Server– Where do you go from here?

So you’re at the point where you are considering building a new server or perhaps for whatever reason you are thinking about upgrading your Windows Home Server over to a newer version. The problem? Windows Home Server is a dead product.

For really small businesses and home businesses, most of us don’t need massive data servers. This is why Windows Home Server existed in the first place. Unfortunately, Microsoft found it too niche and canned the effort.

So what are your options going forward? You have three.

Option 1: Stick With Windows Home Server

If your server is doing the backups it is supposed to and is handling all the tasks on your home network with ease, Windows Home Server 2011 will probably be more than enough for you. Moving on at this point might not make sense.

Starting a brand new home server? Sites like NewEgg list the Home Server 2011 Edition for around a measly $50. That’s cheaper than you’d pay to buy a copy of Windows 8 and certainly cheaper than Microsoft Windows Server 2012 Essentials.

Still, maybe you aren’t happy with something you feel is out of date, that leads us to option number 2…

Option 2: Use the Windows 8, probably Enterprise Edition

Windows 8 might be a client OS, but if you have basic needs– it can probably suite them. It is going to be more expensive than Server 2011 and will be missing a few features, but it is more modern and probably better supported going forward.

You’ll find that Windows 8 is great with networking and is actually much better in this regard than even Windows 7. That said, your business might have more demands than Windows 8 and you just don’t want to stick with Server 2011.

Your choice? Windows Server 2012 Essentials.

Option 3: Upgrade to Windows Server 2012 Essentials

At $425, this is $325 more expensive than Windows Home Server originally went for– and today you can get an older copy of Windows Home Server 2011 for $50 or even less. So why pay the cost? You need the most robust tools around and are willing to pay for them.

With ReFS support, the new Storage Spaces and Server manager, let’s just say there is a lot to love. For those coming from WHS, you might find Essentials is a bit more complex but is still reasonably manageable. If you have what it takes to run a decent small business or home network, you probably won’t find this too much more difficult.

Whatever path you choose, it is worth noting that there is no immediate upgrade path available to you. That means more work, but it should be worth the effort in the end if keeping up to date is important to you.

There is also a fourth option, and that’s to jump ship to Linux, but considering we are a Windows Server site, we don’t officially recommend that as an option for most users that are already familiar with the way Windows Server works.

Do you currently run WHS, what are your future plans?

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  • Bob Lynn

    Sticking with WHS v1 🙂

  • Lights-Out

    Windows 8 is no longer a show stopper for those coming from WHS + Lights-Out. Lights-Out for Windows 8 “Home server” is currently under development. Interested in a preview: Send an email, see

    Martin Rothschink

  • Aled Rhys Jones

    Just moved to Windows 8 Pro. £25 + media centre feature was free. I have a WHS v1 and separate Media Centre, but this new machine will take over both roles.

  • Guest

    I have WHS 2011 on my HP EX490 with a 5-drive eSATA expansion and am happy for the time being. When I do upgrade, I will probably opt in to the real server crowd so that I can join the computers to a domain for ease of access across machines and other ‘real’ server niceties.

  • Florisz

    I still use WHS v1 also. Main reason is the native drive extender. For 2011 I read BETA third party add ons only. 2012 is way too expensive. What about ‘Windows 8 “Home server” ‘ on this aspect?