File server or NAS Domain Controller

Hi all,

I have an isolated network (no outside connectivity) of 20 Windows10 workstations, that I would need to set up with secure file sharing. The data is essential for the daily operation of the company. Data consists of local databases and file archives. I would prefer data protection over high availability. Some downtime is acceptable but loss of data is not. I would also like for them to be able to do some basic configuration.

I inherited a HP Proliant server with 21 SAS drives (2TB) and 128GB of RAM (used by Redhat KVM virtual machines acting as DC, AD and SMB Fileserver).

After some reflection I have come up with 2 options:

  • Option 1 is to use the server, create one huge RAID6 array and install xcp-ng with a Windows Server acting as AD DC and FileServer… backups to tape

  • Option 2 would be to install a NAS (or two?) and use the DC service on the NAS to set up the domain and manage the users… (maybe through RSAT if at all possible)

I am leaning towards option 2… since the GUI of a NAS is more user-friendly for a lambda user. And I am looking into their AD DC capabilities and maybe connecting two NAS together for redundancy/replication… and optionally backups to tape…

Online searches mostly discourage using the NAS as DC… any experiences?

1 Like

FreeNAS is an amazing NAS but not a domain controller. Windows server is still the most effective way to offer Active Directory functions. If you are looking for the best HA / Uptime take a look at the TrueNAS equipment. In this video I demonstrate a removing a motherboard (it has 2) and the system not missing a beat.


Thx I will certainly check out the video.

Would you recommend running the Windows Server VM on the TrueNAS?
Or as a VM on a separate server (xcp-ng)?

There exist a Linux solution for AD I’ll post the link once I find it. If you must run a windows server do it on xcp-ng.