Feature and performance comparison between Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials and Veeam Endpoint Backup FREE

Posted by Paul Braren on Dec 15 2014 (updated on Apr 26 2015) in
  • Backup
  • HomeServer
  • Reviews
  • Storage
  • Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials is GA for about a year now. It's the evolution of products that originated with Windows Home Server back in late 2007, which was based on 32 bit Window 2003. It's now based on the very capable Windows Server 2012 R2, with a streamlined interface reminiscent of its origins. A Dashboard to watch over your "client connector" PCs that are doing daily backups. Since the very start, Microsoft has had bare-metal restore capabilities, and a unique feature set that made it the darling of home backup enthusiasts.

    Flash forward to today, here in late 2014, and the beta of Veeam Endpoint Backup FREE has arrived. It takes a much more decentralized approach in its 1.0 release, which is currently in beta.

    What conclusions can I draw, from my "lab notes" spreadsheet below? None yet, it's just a beta. But I can make initial observations, and take some average measurements of basic operations.

    Overall, the single-instance-storage model of WS2012R2 comes at a cost in terms of speed. I have 14 PCs backed up daily, and the disk usage for all those systems is about 4TB. Keeping one copy of Windows 8.1 in there, despite there being 7 systems at that level, reduces the backup footprint considerably. I don't know for sure yet, but I'm guessing backing up all 14 of these systems with Veeam Endpoint Backup FREE instead will likely be at least 6TB. Not just because of the 15GB or so for each Windows instance, but the many GBs of games and other large files that these systems all have in common.

    I'm using the same data storage for all the tests, which is a Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials VM running under ESXi 5.5, with a sub $200 MediaSonic RAID5 eSATA enclosure formatted VMFS, with a thin provisioned NTFS formatted filesystem in that VM.

    Preliminary testing summary (based on my observations so far):

    • If centrally managing your backups is important to you than reliability and simplicity, then Window Server 2012 R2 Essentials* may be a better choice, at roughly $250 to $380. TinkerTry Superguide here.
    • If the simplicity and speed of getting your backups and restores done is important to you, then Veeam Endpoint Backup FREE** is likely to be a better choice, at $0, once it's GA. The word FREE is in the product name, good video overview here that starts with the free discussion. Brings back memories of Veeam's free FastSCP that I used a lot when consulting at customer sites, back in 2007-2009.

    * server not included
    ** file sharing server, NAS, or Veeam Backup repository not included

    This DRAFT table below is subject to change at any time, as my home lab testing of Veeam Endpoint continues in the coming months.

    You may notice the "Automatically wake this computer" option in WS2012R2E (screenshot above). Veeam instead does backups unobtrusively as soon as it can. If you'd rather your daily Endpoint backups happen at night, see also How to set your computer to wake up for nightly Veeam Endpoint Backups.

    Here's my informal spreadsheet comparison table that I initially built for myself (click here if you have trouble viewing the embedded version below)