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Windows Server 2012: Use as Workstation also? --- ReFS vs NTFS?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
I'm going to use Windows Server 2012 for a file server (on-site backup):

Concerns:

1) I like what I have read about ReFS and why it is replacing NTFS.

2) My questions, however, are:

A) Should I use Server 2012 on my other Desktops (two - one for Work, the other for Website Design)?

For use of Server 2012 on my workstations, I have some fear: http://forums.mydigitallife.info/threads/37288-Can-I-Use-windows-server-2012-as-my-desktop-OS
Quote:
I installed server 2012 yesterday and it got it up and running. Then I installed a program designed to make changes to allow this version to run as a workstation; i.e., turning on Wi-Fi, sound, and other features not normally used by a server. Some things just don't work; SuperFetch doesn't work and that is needed to have a ReadyBoost USB. Homegroups is nowhere to be found but it still supports the older Workgroup system of local networking. No way to use gadgets, unlike windows 8 which can be made to use gadgets. I dual boot with Windows 8 (actually triple boot with 7, 8, and 2012). Server 2012 is slightly faster than 7 or 8 but that may be because I haven't installed all the programs I normally install. Even with all programs installed 8 is faster than 7.

B) OK, if I use Server 2012 on the File Server only, how the heck do my files move back and forth to the Server 2012 computer - NTFS to ReFS?

C) If I use Server 2012 on all my computers, except the Linux box, will all my programs run, will I still have a Workgroup Network, Firefox and all the stuff I have on my Workstations?

D) If I do install Server 2012 on my Workstations (all OS/Programs are separate from files on SSD's), what will this new OS (Server 2012) do to all my Workstation files that are in NTFS?


A Couple of Interesting Articles:

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/desktop/hh769303%28v=vs.85%29.aspx

http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/10things/10-compelling-reasons-to-upgrade-to-windows-server-2012/3397
Edited by incurablegeek - 6/13/13 at 1:28pm
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post #2 of 11
NTFS and ReFS are only how the operating systems format the drives. When you access drives over a network, the computers don't care how the drives are formatted. And 2012 is backwards-compatible with NTFS, so if you stick an NTFS drive directly into a 2012 computer, it will read/write to the drive with no issues. If you stick a ReFS drive into a Windows 7/8 computer, it will just say it can't read the file system, and will do nothing to the drive.

So, move your files over the network!
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post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 
Actually Win 8's file system is ReFS. And ReFS is a whole lot different from NTFS.

Have a read:

1) http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/desktop/hh848060%28v=vs.85%29.aspx

2) https://blogs.msdn.com/b/b8/archive/2012/01/16/building-the-next-generation-file-system-for-windows-refs.aspx?Redirected=true

3) http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2398987,00.asp

For obvious reasons I want all my files systems to be converted from NTFS to ReFS. I think MS calls that Data Deduplication, but I need to read more.
http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/desktop/hh769303%28v=vs.85%29.aspx

What I have learned, though, is that, yes, you can convert Windows Server to a Workstation but you will encounter lots and lots of problems. Not relevant here, but I can list them if you wish.

What I need to know is how do I converted all my many TB's to ReFS? If I dump Win 7 for Win 8 Blue, I know Win 8 will read my NTFS but how can I convert them to ReFS?

++++++++++

Btw, nothing of what I am saying is in any way a disagreement with your post. You are quite right. One thing that I think might annoy people on forums is that by time I come back to the responses I have already read a whole lot more. So they think I'm just baiting them or being a troll. No such intent I can assure you. I just like to get answers to my questions as quickly as possible. So thanks for your response. smile.gif
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post #4 of 11
Windows 8 is NOT ReFS, actually. It is first released with a Server release (Server 2012) for data storage ONLY, meaning the OS drive can still only be formatted as ReFS. Windows 8 as of now CANNOT read/write to ReFS file systems. Development of Windows 8.1 suggests that it may be supported then, but there is no current support on release versions of Windows 8 for ReFS.

In fact, the same release strategy was used when NTFS was being released!

And, taken from your second link,

"In Windows 8, ReFS will be introduced only as part of Windows Server 8, which is the same approach we have used for each and every file system introduction. Of course at the application level, ReFS stored data will be accessible from clients just as NTFS data would be."

How I transferred all my data from NTFS to ReFS was with an intermediate drive. I had 6 2TB drives formatted in NTFS, and a 3TB external drive.

I transferred 2TB of data from one hard drive to the external, formatted the original drive as ReFS, and then moved all the data back. It was as simple as that!
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post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 
From MS:
Quote:
ReFS cannot be used on removable media, nor can it be used to boot an operating system — it's simply for storage right now. Microsoft says the new file system will only be introduced as part of Windows Server 8, but Windows 8 client will be able to access and read ReFS volumes until it's fully supported in client operating systems in the future.

Yeh, it kinda looks like we are both right and wrong. Not yet in Win 8 but coming in Win 8.1.
Quote:
With the leak of build Windows 8.1 9369, we have another look into the development of the platform as Microsoft marches towards what is expected to be a late summer release of the platform, and a preview release in late June. We have already seen a few enhancements such as the File manager and trackpad settings and it now looks like we will also see ReFS support for the client.

You know, Kubed_Zero, the more I read about the adoption of ReFS, the more I get confused. There is talk that Win 8 OS cannot be loaded on an ReFS formatted drive. Ok, well then how the heck can it read files on my 2012 File Server.
Quote:
I transferred 2TB of data from one hard drive to the external, formatted the original drive as ReFS, and then moved all the data back. It was as simple as that!
Heck, with all my files, you'll be attending my funeral before I'm finished converting. rolleyes.gif

What do you recommend for the here and now?

1) Stay with Win 7 Ultimate 64 bit on my workstations and put Win Server 2012 on my storage server?
-or-
2) Dump Win 7 now and replace it with Win 8 and ..... hope ReFS comes to Win 8 in an update to Win 8.1
-or-
3) Forget about Win 2012 Server until NTFS is finally replaced with ReFS on all Windows software?


Oh, and Kubed_Zero, thanks for all the direction, correction and guidance your giving me.
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post #6 of 11
ReFS is a storage file system format at the moment. It is not to have the OS on it. You can read an write to it fine, you just can not format a drive to ReFS and then expect to run the OS of that filesystem.

I have Server 2012 on my storage box and it runs what I want fine.
post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
It is not to have the OS on it.

Yeh, I don't know why I even cared about that. All my OS and Programs run off SSD's only and as we all know the architecture of an SSD is completely different from a magnetic hard drive.

Also, there was a comment made that Win 8 cannot handle ReFS files. That's not true.

This is a clarification from a friend who has beta tested for MS for many years:
Quote:
Windows 8 x64 can read ReFS partitions. So is ReFS native to Win 8 or is NTFS?

A: NTFS is default but you can format in ReFS if you want....

Q: No Windows 8 does not have ReFS enabled – you have to add it.....(I have the program).

Windows 8.1 is to have ReFS in it.... or you can add it... a special program and only works in x64

Here are my final unknowns:

"What do you recommend though for the here and now?

1) Stay with Win 7 Ultimate 64 bit on my workstations and put Win Server 2012 on my storage server?
-or-
2) Dump Win 7 now and replace it with Win 8 and ..... hope ReFS comes to Win 8 in an update to Win 8.1
-or-
3) Forget about Win 2012 Server until NTFS is finally replaced with ReFS on all Windows software?

My biggest concern right now is what to do with all my many TB's of files on NTFS drives - if I enable SeFI on a Win 8 installation on my workstations. I think I'm understanding correctly that any files moved from my workstation to the 2012 Server will necessarily go into ReFI formatted drives. I mean 2012 Server just sees those files a "raw data" as I believe you said.

In conclusion, I think that telling Server 2012 to function as a Workstation and therefore loading it on my Workstations would be possible - but just plain silly. Did a lot of reading on that.
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post #8 of 11
I remember trying to use Server 2003 as a workstation and all the problems I would run into (looks to still be a sticky thread on OCN actually). I imagine there's a lot of the same disadvantages to doing so with this version as there was then: Some drivers see a server OS and bail. There were some freeware, free version anti-virus and games that did the same. Almost all of the problems have work-arounds (technicalities of EULAs not withstanding).

For the ReFS thing (which I haven't really studied up on) the only disadvantage I can think of would be for recovery: if the OS drive died how could your drives be hooked up to another PC to get the data back? How about a WinPE sort of environment that could access ReFS? (Questions I had to ask myself when I built a ZFS iSCSI box) Expected limitations on a corporate server (usually with specific documented solutions) might be different if it's just home use.

Anyway I would encourage the project forward for-fun-and-profit if nothing else. It's fun and you'll learn a lot. For the 2003 conversion I actually had a series of batch files and an answer file that would run during OS installation. It installed updates and did the registry importing for me so it was all workstation-a-fied without me having to touch it.

For the other questions i haven't researched it but in the FAT to NTFS bleed over time frame (late 90s - 2003/4) there was a utility that with windows that could convert FAT to NTFS but not the other way (creatively named convert). It wouldn't surprise me if they did something like that again. It would be a lot safer to use an intermediary hard drive for that anyway. And I don't know if there will be a utility.
Edited by subassy - 6/14/13 at 2:33pm
 
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post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 
Subassy,

You speak the truth and present your knowledge truly in an OCN-appropriate way. I hope that compliment is not misinterpreted as condescension. That's never my intent.

Frankly, I hate it when people blow smoke at me and then I find out they are completely wrong.

1)
Quote:
I remember trying to use Server 2003 as a workstation and all the problems I would run into
I have read quite a lot on just that issue. Also, there are actually forums dedicated to using Win Server 2012 as a Workstation OS. All I can say is trying to make that happen is a fool's errand. Square peg in a round hole, if that is more visually accurate.

2)
Quote:
It would be a lot safer to use an intermediary hard drive for that anyway. And I don't know if there will be a utility.
I agree with you 100%. I never trust a utility with my file conversions.

For what it's worth, I have read voraciously on this issue and have been in email contact with MS Beta Testers of Win 8 and Win Server 2012. I try not to annoy them, but I do have this obsession with knowing something well. Here is what I plan to do:
Quote:
I have decided to use:

1) Windows 8, which will eventually be updated from NTFS to ReFS. In the meantime, I can tell Win 8 to convert file system to ReFS. Yes, I know for sure that can be done.

2) I will use Win Server 2012 on my File Server with ReFS partitions, which are default.

3) The question of whether Win 8 will install and run on an ReFS is really a moot point for me. I always install OS/Programs on SSD's. As you know their architecture is completely different from a magnetic hard drive.

4) Just as NTFS killed FAT (for the most part), ReFS (for many, many valid reasons) will kill NTFS.

Finally, in response to your observation:
Quote:
if the OS drive died how could your drives be hooked up to another PC to get the data back?

Please see #3 above. What I am checking right now is Acronis 2013 and how to use it on Windows 8 with ReFI (so many thing that ReFI is impossible on Win 8. It emphatically is not.). As I understand, some adjustments must be made to the BIOS because of Windows 8's Secure Boot facility which blocks any other OS. My MS beta-tester friend of many years says it's easy to make Acronis work. Right now I'm dead tired and will worry about that later.

About ReFS, these will get you started:

1) https://blogs.msdn.com/b/b8/archive/2012/01/16/building-the-next-generation-file-system-for-windows-refs.aspx?Redirected=true

2) http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/desktop/hh848060%28v=vs.85%29.aspx

3) http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2398987,00.asp

Thank you so much for your reply.
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post #10 of 11
Well I'm just glad i was able to help, even if it was in some small way. And thanks for the links. I'm going to be starting a server 2012 adventure myself in the next month or so. I probably need to know ReFS stuff as well.
 
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