A Closer Look at Thecus’s New Offerings Based on Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 Essentials


Hi Folks –

Over the past few weeks, I’ve published two blogs (here and here) on Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 Essentials, a new edition of Windows Storage Server that we created to enable affordable, easy-to-use, cloud-connected NAS appliances for small businesses and small office/home office (SOHO) environments. Thecus is the first OEM to deliver new NAS appliances based on Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 Essentials, and this post takes a closer look at those new offerings.

Thecus’s line of new NAS appliances running Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 Essentials include the 2-bay W2000, the 4-bay W4000, and the 5-bay W5000. All are powered by Intel Atom dual-core processors and have 2GB of DDR3 RAM, dual LAN ports, and an embedded SSD or solid-state hybrid drive (SSHD) boot drive, which is preloaded with the Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 Essentials operating system. All three models also have an HDMI port, one or more USB 3.0 ports, and two or more USB 2.0 ports. The W2000 even includes a built-in SD/SDHC/MMC card reader!

The following table captures the major differences between the three models:

 

Thecus W2000

Thecus W4000

Thecus W5000

Form factor

2-bay

4-bay

5-bay

Processor

Intel Atom D2701
(2.13GHz Dual Core)

Intel Atom D2701
(2.13GHz Dual Core)

Intel Atom D2550
(1.86GHz Dual Core)

Default/Max. Memory

2GB DDR3

2GB DDR3

2GB DDR3

Embedded SSD with O/S preinstalled

1x 64GB SSD

1x 64GB SSD

1x 500GB SSHD

Ethernet Ports (RJ45)

2x 10/100/1000M

2x 10/100/1000M

2x 10/100/1000M

USB Ports

2x USB 2.0 (back)

1x USB 3.0 (front)

2x USB 2.0 (back)

2x USB 3.0 (front)

4x USB 2.0 (back)

1x USB 3.0 (front)

SATA/eSATA Ports

2x SATA (internal)

1x eSATA (external)

4x SATA (internal)

1x eSATA (external)

5x SATA (internal)

1x eSATA (external)

Other Ports

1x HDMI (back)

1x VGA (back)

1x HDMI (back)

1x VGA (back)

1x HDMI (back)

1x VGA (back)

Card Reader

Yes - SD/SDHC/MMC (front)

No

No

Dimensions / Weight (without data drives)

6.45" H x 4.54" W x 8.57" D

8.82 lbs.

7.56" H x 6.77" W x 9.84" D

14.55 lbs.

9.06" H x 7.48" W x 9.45" D

15.87 lbs.

 

All three models are now available through the company’s retail distribution partners. You can get a diskless W2000/W4000/W5000 for about $350/$450/$550, respectively.

Easy-to-Deploy

With Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 Essentials preinstalled on an embedded SSD or SSHD, these toaster-sized powerhouses are just as easy-to-deploy as they are affordable. In a nutshell, the process typically consists of the following steps:

  1. Insert data drives – A HDD/SDD compatibility list for all three models can be found here.

  2. Initial power-up – When you turn on the unit for the first time, the Configure Windows Server Essentials wizard will run and guide you through the process of specifying a server name, generating a domain name, and specifying a user name and password for your new domain’s administrator account. (This is the account you’ll use to add/delete users, assign/revoke permissions, and make other changes.)

  3. Setup anywhere access (optional) – A great thing about Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials is that it can let you access your data from almost anywhere, with almost any device, as long as you have an Internet connection. You’ll find a link to launch the wizard for setting this up on the “Home” tab of the management console, which is designed for nontechnical types.

  4. Configure Windows Azure Backup (optional) – This is one of the coolest features! You can choose to sign up for a Microsoft Azure Backup subscription and backup your server to the cloud, as a means to help protect against catastrophes such as a fire, water damage, or theft of the NAS. Again, a simple wizard will guide you through the process of getting everything setup, selecting the folders you want backed-up, and deciding when you want your backups to run. (Make sure to copy the backup passphrase file to a USB stick and keep it safe, as the key to your own personal online backup vault.)

  5. Connect to Microsoft Office 365 (optional) – This is my other favorite feature. It integrates your server with Microsoft Office 365—an online subscription service that provides email, shared calendars, online document creation and editing, instant messaging, web conferencing, a public-facing website, and internal team collaboration sites. It also enables management of users across both environments in a single place, and users will benefit from single sign-on across both environments.

For steps 5 and 6, you don’t need to have subscriptions to Azure Backup or Office 365 before getting started; you can purchase them from within their respective setup wizards. And for Office 365, as long as you have enough unallocated user licenses left on your subscription, any new user you add can be provisioned automatically.

Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 Essentials: Where Business Meets Simplicity

In closing, I’d like to reiterate that we designed for small businesses and SOHO environments (with 1 to 50 users/devices) that want a business-grade, feature-rich, cloud-ready NAS at an affordable price—including robust, shared local storage and optional integration with Office 365 and Azure Backup. So if you’re in the market for your first server, you may want to check out these nifty new offerings from Thecus.

Here are some other resources that you may find useful:

  • A short video introducing Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 Essentials can be found here

  • Another short video that shows the deployment process described above can be found here.

  • More information on Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 Essentials can be found here.

  • My first two blog articles on Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 Essentials can be found here and here.

That’s it for now!

Live long and prosper,
Scott M. Johnson
Senior Program Manager
Windows Storage Server
@supersquatchy



Comments (3)

  1. Anonymous says:

    Hi Scott. Is it possible to have another primary domain controller with this thecus? Or does it work like windows server essential? It's not clear to me. I'd like to use all the new features of this product in a existing network where there is a Server
    essential 2012 R2 domain working.
    Thank you

    Roberto Foglia

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hi Folks –
    Over the past few months, I’ve made some noise about Thecus’s new line

  3. gramps says:

    Roberto, Yes, it is possible. In fact if you look at the Seagate configuration screens, you will see the domain join option.

    http://www.seagate.com/manuals/network-storage/windows-nas-administration/getting-started/ Click Hardware setup and scroll down. On The Thecus it is a different process though. You need to cancel the essentials configuration, join the domain, and complete
    the essentials configuration after a reboot.

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