Beginner trying to use Windows Server 2012 R2 - I don't get what is going on!

Discussion in 'Windows Server' started by AK 47, Dec 19, 2013.

  1. AK 47

    AK 47 MDL Novice

    Dec 10, 2013
    Hi all,

    First of all let me preface this post by saying that I am a beginner when it comes to networking and such. I am trying to learn via trial and error - and a lot of Googling and posting on various forums! It is clear to me that my knowledge is far behind that of most of the other users of this forum, as I don't understand a lot of what is talked about here!

    So please bear with me if I do not immediately understand your responses to my question.

    Let me get to me reason for posting:

    I have an HP ProLiant MicroServer N40L, which I use as a media server. I use it to download movies and TV shows, and stream them to XBMC on a nettop PC running Windows 8 Pro (soon to be updated to Windows 8.1 Pro), which is connected to my TV via HDMI. I also use it to download music, and access the music files via iTunes on a client PC (my Windows 8.1 laptop) in order to update my iPhone, etc.

    The N40L was previously running Windows Home Server 2011, which worked fine.

    For whatever reason, I had to reinstall Windows on the N40L. But then I thought, what's the point reinstalling a 2011 product, when I could just install Windows Server 2012 R2 on it? So I clean-installed Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard with Essentials Experience on the N40L.

    Prior to making the decision to do so, I had read that Windows Server is domain-only. OK, so I had no idea what that meant, but just thought I could figure it out on the fly.

    This is proving more difficult than anticipated.

    I have set up a domain on the N40L. However, I can't seem to get the other PCs on my network to join the domain. I have found a guide (this one: - sorry I can't post links yet), which seems to suggest client PCs can only have one user account attached, meaning my wife would lose all her photos, documents, etc. Am I understanding this correctly?

    I guess what I am after is to find out:

    1) Is there a (relatively) easy way to join my client PCs to the domain without deleting any user accounts so I can watch me streamed movies on TV via my nettop? If so, please could someone give me a step-by-step guide as to how?

    2) If not, I guess I will just have to reinstall WHS2011 on the N40L. But I love the modern interface of Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows 8.1. Is there a way of getting Windows 8.1 to serve my media instead of WHS2011, and are there any disadvantages in doing so?

    Any input would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. AK 47

    AK 47 MDL Novice

    Dec 10, 2013
    Thanks trasher255 and Russtavo for your responses. I will try and change from domain to Workgroup over the weekend. If this proves too difficult I may have to just put Windows 8.1 on the server.

    Thanks again for your responses, I may have some more questions for you depending on how it goes over the weekend!
  3. AK 47

    AK 47 MDL Novice

    Dec 10, 2013
    Thanks Russtavo. I encountered the same issue when installing Server 2012 R2, so I have already updated the BIOS, so hopefully that will no longer be an issue if/when installing Windows 8.1.
  4. ZaForD

    ZaForD MDL Expert

    Jan 26, 2008
    @AK 47,
    This maybe a little late, but it may still help others.
    I've been running SVR2012 Essentials on my Microserver since it was released and its running on a Domain as standard. But none of my PC's or Media Players are on that Domain. As long as the users are added to the server they can access all Files, Folders and Services.

    p.s. Thanks for the info on the BIOS/NIC fix for the Microserver. I've not updated to Server 2012 R2 yet because of that issue. :thumbsup:
  5. sebus

    sebus MDL Guru

    Jul 23, 2008
    How pointless is it then? To have domain & NOT use it?

    Microserver onboard card is useless! get cheap Intel 1 or 2 port PCI Express instead

    And Essential version is also pointless, full Standard or even Datacenter is way better option (none of you paid for Essentials anyway!)
  6. ZaForD

    ZaForD MDL Expert

    Jan 26, 2008
    LOL, in my case theres just me the cat and a couple of media players so a Domain isn't necessary and disabling it just causes problems in other areas.
    As for the NIC it works fine for small amount of traffic the cat generates watching LOLCATS on youtube :biggrin5:
    My Microserver only has one PCI slot which is where my TV card goes, so its down to the onboard NIC as its better than a USB WiFi adapter.
  7. Cowboy

    Cowboy MDL Member

    Oct 25, 2008
    AK47 et al. Don't fool around with a domain controller. You will need to issue certificates and do a lot of stuff that is probably beyond your experience. Demote the server to a standard computer and join a workgroup. There is absolutely no requirement for a server to be part of a domain! In fact in many corporate environments some computers are part of a domain and others are stand alone for security reasons.
  8. Hogan

    Hogan MDL Novice

    May 30, 2010
    I used this for my WSE 2012
  9. AK 47

    AK 47 MDL Novice

    Dec 10, 2013
    Thank you everybody for your replies.

    Unfortunately I am still having trouble with achieving this goal.

    The situation I am now in is as follows (please bear with me as I may have explained some of this in my previous post):

    I have three computers:

    • HP ProLiant Microserver N40L running Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard with the Windows Server Essentials Experience role installed;
    • Laptop running Windows 8.1 Pro with Media Center; and
    • Nettop running Windows 8.1 Pro with Media Center connected to TV via HDMI.

    Points to note:

    • The N40L is to be run headless and controlled only via the laptop.
    • The nettop is running XBMC v12.3 and is solely used to access media on the N40L.
    • The laptop will access music on the N40L via iTunes (on the laptop) for syncing with iPhone 5S.

    I have followed these ( - sorry, I cannot yet post links) instructions to skip joining a domain and I have installed the Connector on the laptop (as this will be the only machine I will use to control the N40L.)

    I have set my media library folder on the N40L to share with everyone.

    When I go to add the library to XBMC on the nettop, I select Windows network (SMB), but then only the nettop itself and the laptop show up as options on the network to add media from. The N40L is not one of the given options to choose from.

    I also had a look on the laptop in the Shared Folders folder, and the library folder is not showing there either, despite me having set it to share with everyone. However, I seem to be able to access my music via iTunes.

    So essentially, I have three questions:

    1. Have I missed a step somewhere which is preventing me from accessing the N40L on the nettop?
    2. Is this happening because I did not install the Connector on the nettop? When the N40L was running WHS2011, I also did not install the Connector on the nettop, but I could access the files without any problems using SMB. I do not want to install the Connector or any other unneccesary programs on the nettop, as it is to solely be used to acesss media via XBMC, and not for any other purpose (including controlling the N40L).
    3. Would I still be facing the same issues if I replaced Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard on the N40L with Windows 8.1? I am beginning to this Windows Server 2012 R2 is far too complicated for what should be a simple task like setting up a media server.

    I think this is what I am trying to do but I'm not sure how to do it or if I have already done this by not joining a domain and installing the Connector. Is there a simple step-by-step guide anywhere as to how to do this?

    Thanks to all of you for your help so far, I really appreciate the input.
  10. idmanager

    idmanager MDL Junior Member

    Jan 25, 2010
    #13 idmanager, Jan 5, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2014
    I run server 2012 r2 std edition on my hp 54L micro server just fine, it takes mins to setup
    I don't think you can see the shares because you have not turned firewall off, don't disable the service just go into firewall settings and turn it off, also in advanced system settings make sure you have put your workgroup name in, then share a folder not a drive a folder, goto it's properties and select share then enter as the user name everyone and restart server, in running sabnzbd and a few more apps on the standard 2gig memory and it's fine
  11. ZaForD

    ZaForD MDL Expert

    Jan 26, 2008
    OK, As I've said before I'm not a Server Guru, like a lot of the guys here (but I've learned a few tricks from them. ;) )
    I'm just someone that wants my Media in a central place that's easy to access from my Media Devices and to keep backed up.
    It just happens to be similar to what your trying to archive, I'm also using a MicroServer, Nettops, XBMC, Android Tablet and WP/Zune. (yes I'm one of the five people that bought a Zune :D)

    1. Its not that you've missed anything, its more a case that your overlooking something.
    Windows Server Essentials, is meant to be run on a Domain as such it will always assume that its on a Domain.
    Whereas WHS/WHS2011 were Workgroup based.
    (although some people ran them as Domains and had to find solutions to the problem that caused)
    2. The short answer is Yes. Using the Connector software will help you bypass the Workgroup/Domain problem by making most of the connections needed to allow your clients and server to communicate. If you go without the connector software (like I do) you will have make those Links/Shortcuts manually.
    3. As for using Windows 7/8/8.1 that's depends on the setup. If you set them up on a Workgroup they will work like WHS/WHS2011, if you set them up on a Domain they'll work like Essentials.

    WHS/WHS2011 were Workgroup based so they could be seen by Clients on the Workgroup. Essentials is Domain based so it can be seen by Clients on the Domain. There may well be a way to get them to see each other, but just creating shortcuts is enough for me.

    My Nettop and original Xbox both use XBMC as their OS, so it isn't even possible in install the connector software. But all XBMC really needs is a link/shortcut and a User/Password for the folders your sharing on the server.
    These can be added manually via the 'Add Source' link in the section you want it or via FTP by editing the sources.xml
    e.g smb://media-server/videos/ then enter and save User and Password when prompted.
    (you can get the folder address from Explorer on your Laptop, just add the smb: at the beginning)

    If you setup a shared folder through the Dashboard, it will add each users permissions to that folder.
    If you setup a shared folder through Explorer/Properties/Share, it will add permissions to Everybody. As I said before this doesn't work for me. So I follow the Dashboard approach and add each users permissions to my Shared folders and have had NO problems with the folders being accessed by any device that is allowed access.

    Its never a good idea to tell someone to turn off their Firewall as a solution to a problem. Especially when they freely admit their still learning or are not to sure of what their doing.