Register for the iXsystems Community to get an ad-free experience

Virtualizing Windows Server Essentials


Sep 26, 2019
I work at a small company as an Electrical Engineer and have taken on the additional duty of IT. For the past 5 years we have been running Windows Server Essentials 2016(started with 2012) with a fair bit of success, I love the VPN experience, computer backups, integration with O-365 and Exchange and really want to keep that moving forward but one thing I have not done is virtualize the install making hardware migration a pain. There are also additional services running on the server I would like to virtualize. The other problem I am running into is that some of my users are building rather large and complex Solidworks assemblies (multiple gigs) and 1 gig network is simply not working for them.

So I was hoping I could use you guys as a sounding board for my proposed solution.

My idea was to run freeNas to essentially control the drives and to run as a VM manager.
Running windows server essentials 2016 inside a VM (would this still receive the ram cache benefits from ZFS?) Assigning it 2 10 gig nics
Running several other VMs (freePBX, Solidworks License manager, etc)
Using freeNas to backup everything off site.

I would like to keep the shares managed by the Windows Server as my users love the use of the essentials plugin and anywhere access.
I guess my main concerns are, will I be shooting myself in the foot by running the shares off the windows server inside of the VM? Does freeNas offsite backup include the VMs?

Thanks for your time,


Jun 30, 2020
Hmm Paul

I'm a TrueNAS newbie but I have succeeded in building a 6 drive ZRAID2 system. Before I read all the hardware tips in detail I ordered a LSImegaRAID 9267-8i so I have a couple of SSDs hanging of that (just as way to get more SATA buses). I managed somehow to get storcli working in shell and can now see the SSDs in TrueNAS. I put them each in a new Pool. I am setting regular snapshots on them and will try to set up regular replicates of the snapshots to the ZRAID2 pool. Cunning plan is to temporarily run Windows Server essential in a VM (or JAIL?) on the SSDs. This I will use to dedup a set of photos stretching back 20 years, not sure how it will work but if I have any success Ill post again. Any comments from more experienced TrueNAS drivers would be welcome!