Microsoft Server 2012 for everyone running anywhere. Easy to install and packed with great new features!

It took me about twenty years to find the perfect server that can run at home and small business environment. When I talk about server I mean the hardware is as important as the software. The best part is that this setup wont break the budget!

For the hardware I find the HP Microserver N54 the best value for money.

It is  a proper x86 CPU with 64bit support, virtualization enabled, 4 dedicated SATA bays + 2 extra SATA, Gigabit NIC, DDR3 ram and efficient 150 Watt PSU .. take a breathe... , 6 External USB Ports, PCI-Express 16x, Pci Express 4x, on board USB for booting or volume encryption and the box it self very stylish! I picked up mine for £99 delivered, after £100 cash back  And you know what!? Even at the full price its the cheapest 4 HDD BAY box with a full x86 processor!

I have managed to run the free Hyper-V on there with Windows 7 and FreeNAS. I wouldn't use Visual Studio on there but it is ideal for sharing files and printers on  your LAN for everybody at home to use without any problems.

For the software part I want to show you how fantastic Microsoft Server 2012 is. I keep hearing allot of good things about all around me and I have used it on Windows Azure many times! Now I want it too! If you are TechNet subscriber like myself, then  you can trial the full version for 180 days instead of 90.

My goals and expectations:
  • Replace Ubuntu with Server 2012 for ease of use.
  • IIS to test websites using my dynamic IP.
  • Print sharing for everybody at home to use.
  • Simple file sharing that all my Windows devices will understand.
  • Easy data redundancy with software mirroring.
  • Fast, secure and reliable remote desktop connections.
  • Plex DLNA Media Server using Plex for my Samsung TV, Xbox 360 and mobile Phones.
I have two 250GB hard drives installed in the Microserver. The Micro server has hardware RAID but I want to demonstrate how easy it is to mirror the drives in Server 2012. I install Server 2012 to a single hard drive first. Once the setup is complete I go to Computer management and  then Disk Management.
  1. I need to convert the boot hard drive into a dynamic drive. 
  2. Then convert the second 250GB to a dynamic drive. 
  3. I can then mirror the volumes using build in software mirroring. 

If speed is critical then using hardware raid is essential. For simplicity and ease of use the software raid is ideal! Even if one drive dies you can re mirror it without rebooting the Server!(with hot swap enabled machines) But even in the worst case scenario when a hardware fault is caused by a power surge - You can still boot up with only one drive and re create the mirror while the Server carries on to work.

I use a dynamic DNS service with my BT Infinity modem. Every time my IP changes a free domain on will be updated. I will use that is registered with a real registrar and I create a new sub domain home, remove all the A records and place a CNAME to my address. I can then create a new website in IIS and a bind it to to port 80. I can test as many websites as I like using that technique.

Using the same address I can remote desktop from any computer on the internet (just forward port 3389) I also noticed an incredible speed improvement with RDP on Server 2012 from Windows 7 and 8 clients.

You can start to notice how Microsoft Server 2012 can cater from home users to small businesses with out breaking the bank and with all your hair intact. :)

Just give it try, you wont regret it.