Ultimate Guide to Windows Server 2012 That You Don’t Know


According to a recent study in 2017, Windows is the most popular operating system in the United States. It makes up approximately 36% of the market.

Windows Server 2012 was one of the largest upgrades to the Windows Server in Microsoft’s history and has become a staple operating system for Dedicated Hosting by ServerMania.

Want to know more about the key features of Windows Server 2012? We explain all about this custom server solution. 

What is Windows Server 2012?

Windows Server 2012, formerly referred to as Windows Server 8, is the successor of Windows Server 2008 R2. The upgrades to the server system included improvements to cloud computing and storage infrastructure.

In October 2013, Windows released a minor update to the server called Windows Server 2012 R2. 

Windows Server 2012 has four editions: Foundation, Essentials, Standard and Datacenter. 

According to Microsoft, the end-of-extended support date for Windows Server 2012 is Oct. 10, 2023. 

What are the Key Upgrades?

There are a couple up key upgrades that made Microsoft Server 2012 a huge leap forward from Windows Server 2008. Here’s a list of the biggest changes: 

Graphical User Interface (GUI)

Windows Server 2012 was created with the Metro design language. This means that, when installed in Server Core mode, it appears like Windows 8. 

The administrator can switch between Server Core mode and Server with a GUI mode without reinstalling anything. It’s an easy switch now. 

Address Management

Windows Server 2012 has an IP address management (IPAM) suite. This was a huge upgrade for medium-sexed businesses. The IPAM suite allows you to issue, lease and renew IP addresses in an organized fashion.

This means that you can group or allocate IP addresses easily. You can also integrate with the in-box DHCP and DNS servers to manage devices already on your network. 


Hyper-V 3.0 extends the functionality of a virtual network.

The Hyper-V Replica feature lets you replicate a virtual machine from one spot to another with just a network connection. This requires no shared storage. This feature provides awesome real-world application for disaster recovery. 

Hyper-V Replica includes a much simpler interface for setting up and monitoring a replication. 

Live storage migration is permitted. 

Active Directory

Active Directory got several changes in Windows Server 2012. 

The PowerShell-based Deployment Wizard is a remote tool that can upgrade servers to domain controllers. This is all done without the Wizard running on the server itself. 

The Wizard can then assist in the automation of additional domain controllers. This allows for large-scale Active Directory deployments. 


Windows Server 2012 has hundreds of more cmdlets than its predecessor. Since PowerShell is the preferred method of managing workloads, having additional PowerShell capabilities will make running your operating system easier. 

Resilient File System

Resilient File System (ReFS) is a new file system in Windows Server 2012. New features of ReFS include:

  • Improved reliability for on-disk structures
  • Built-in resilience
  • Compatibility with existing APIs and technologies

NTFS is the primary file system for recent versions of Windows and Windows Server. Some NTFS features are not supported in ReFS, including object IDs, short names, file compression, file level encryption (EFS), user data transactions, hard links, extended attributes, and disk quotas.

ReFS does not offer data deduplication. Booting from ReFS is not supported either.


The updating of clusters is automated. This means that the entire cluster stays online during the update process with almost no reduction in availability.

NIC Teaming

Windows Server 2012 is the first version of Windows Server with built-in network interface card (NIC) teaming.

NIC teaming allows admins to team NICs for bandwidth aggregation. This creates a more resilient operating system with server resiliency built right in. 

New Server Manager

Windows Server 2012 comes with new server Manager. One of the benefits of this upgrade is the capability to create server groups. A server group is a collection of servers that already exist on your network to configure the using the guide about the How to link Roku Device?.

There server groups can be managed through newServer Manager.  You can manage tasks among all the servers with a common attribute. For example, you can provide specific information to all the database servers.


DirectAccess is Windows Server 2012’s answer to virtual private network (VPN). VPN enables remote users to send and receive data as if their computer were directly connected to the network.

DirectAccess allows the functionality of a VPN without the overhead of a true VPN. DirectAccess gives users connections to file shares. It also gives administrators the ability to manage machines that are not on the network. 

Who Was Windows Server 2012 Designed For?

The discussion of whether to upgrade to the latest and greatest occurs every time new technology is released. In 2012, the question of whether to jump on board the Windows Server 2012 train was complicated. 

Who Should Be Using Windows Server 2012?

The upgrade to Windows Server 2012 was not for everyone. Below are two company profiles that would make ideal customers and users of this product:

1. Your Company Has Lots of Servers in Lots of Datacenters

Improvements to PowerShell v3 cmdlets and remoting support were huge for your business. newServer Manager, which makes managing the same action on server groups automatic, would be a huge time and money saver.

Your company would also likely find benefit in the high level of fault tolerance and resilience to the disaster that comes from the use of Hyper-V Replica. 

Windows Server 2012 was built for exactly this company.  

2. Your Company Supports a Lot of Remote Workers or Multiple Branches

The new DirectAccessfunction will change the way you run your business. You can avoid the hassle and cost of a traditional VPN. With DirectAccess you can quickly and easily set up access to the network sharing files and on-site equipment, such as printers. 

Your remote groups are easier to manage because they are essentially on the same network as the rest of the company. 

The file storage and transfer improvements also make sense for branch offices when connectivity back to headquarters isn’t great.

Who Should Not Upgrade to Windows Server 2012? 

The updates to the server were superfluous for some companies. If you’re the company described below, you probably should have skipped the upgrade to Window Server 2012: 

1. Your Company Has a Straightforward Needs

Windows Server 2012 is probably too much for a company like this. The cost of the upgrade is not worth it because you aren’t seeing the benefit to productivity from the upgraded functions.

There is not really any difference between 2008 and 2012 as far as file and print services go.

If you had less than 35 servers and things were working just fine, the licensing cost for Windows Server 2012 was not worth it for your company. 

Still, Using Windows Server 2012?

Windows Server 2012 was a major upgrade to the Microsoft Server. With functions like DirectAccess and Active Directory, it’s no wonder that Microsoft has become an industry favorite.