What's New In Windows Server 2016 Standard Edition Part 5 - Storage

In the first post of this series I highlighted that with Windows Server 2016 there are some feature differences between the Standard and the Enterprise Editions that might get lost in some of the messaging, so in this series of posts I’m going to be highlighting the feature set of Windows Server 2016, and will include information from a few different resources, but the primary one is the Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 5 Feature Comparison. As mentioned in the first post of the series, these will focus on what’s new from a Windows Server 2012 R2 perspective, rather than Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows Server 2012 perspective. I will focus on those later if needed.

Following on from the previous post in the series, which was on Compute, today’s topic is Storage, and following you will find the information from the Feature Comparison Guide. Storage is one of the areas where Windows Server 2016 Datacenter has additional capabilities that aren't included with Windows Server 2016 Standard edition, including Storage Replica and Storage Spaces Direct (S2D, because SSD would have been incredibly confusing!).

Please note that these are subject to change and are based on Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 5. If any adjustments need to be made, please leave a comment.


Microsoft offers an industry leading portfolio for building on-premises clouds. We embrace your choice of storage for your cloud – be it traditional SAN/NAS or the more cost-effective software-defined storage solutions using Storage Spaces with shared JBODs.

Resilient File System (ReFS)

Resilient File System is now the preferred data volume for Windows Server 2016. This updated version provides many new capabilities for private cloud workloads. Improvements to ReFS in Windows Server 2016 include:

  • Data Integrity. Checksums protect all filesystem metadata, while optional checksums protect file data. Checksum verification occurs on every read of checksum-protected data during periodic background scrubbing. Healing occurs as soon as corruption is detected. ReFS uses alternate healthy versions to automatically repair corruption.
  • Resiliency and Availability. We designed ReFS to stay online and keep your data accessible. It performs repairs without taking volumes offline. Backups of critical metadata are automatically maintained on the volume. The online repair process consults backups if checksum-based repair fails.
  • Speed and Efficiency. Efficient VM checkpoints and backup are now possible since operations between parent and child VHDX is a ReFS metadata operation. This means reduced IO, increased speed, and lowered time taken. It greatly accelerates fixed and dynamic VHDX creation, lowering VM deployment times. ReFS provides near instantaneous VM Storage provisioning.

Storage Resiliency

Protects VMs from underlying transient storage failures. Monitors the state of storage, gracefully pauses VMs, and then resumes them when storage is available again. Reduces impact and increases availability of workloads running in virtual machines in the event of storage disruption.

Data Deduplication

Deduplication can provide volume space savings of up to 90% to reduce capacity needs and reduce costs.

New features and improvements in the Data Deduplication feature in Windows Server 2016 include integrated support for virtualized backup workloads and major performance improvements to scalability of volume (up to 64TB) and file sizes (up to 1TB with no restrictions).

Deduplication is also fully supported in Nano Server.

Cluster Rolling Upgrade

Cluster OS Rolling Upgrade is a new feature in Windows Server 2016 that enables an administrator to seamlessly upgrade the operating system of nodes in a Failover Cluster from Windows Server 2012 R2 to Windows Server 2016. When a rolling upgrade of a cluster takes place, there will be a temporary mixture of Windows Server 2012 R2 hosts and Windows Server 2016 hosts. Using this feature, the downtime penalties against Service Level Agreements (SLA) can be avoided for Hyper-V or the Scale-Out File Server workloads. This mechanism can also be used to upgrade your cluster nodes from Windows Server 2012 R2 to Windows Server 2016 Nano Server. Rolling upgrades can also be orchestrated through System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM).

SMB 3.1.1  

Windows Server 2016 includes updates to our main remote data protocol, known as SMB (Server Message Block).

  • Pre-Authentication Integrity: Provides improved protection from a man-in-the-middle attacker tampering with SMB’s connection establishment and authentication messages. SMB signing protects against an attacker tampering with any packets. SMB encryption protects against an attacker tampering with or eavesdropping on any packets.
  • Encryption Performance Improvements: Default is now AES-128-GCM, which creates a 2X improvement over AES-128-CCM in many scenarios, like copying large files over an encrypted SMB connection. Multiple encryption types now allowed for future-proofing, and full compatibility with Windows Server 2012 R2 SMB encryption.

Cluster Dialect Fencing: Provides support for the Cluster Rolling Upgrade feature. If the cluster is in mixed mode, the SMB server will offer up to version 3.0.2. After upgrading the cluster functional level, the SMB server offers all clients the new 3.1.1 dialect.

Work Folders – Overview

Provides a consistent way for users to access their work files from their PCs and devices.

Ability to maintain control over corporate data by storing files on centrally managed file servers, and optionally specifying user device policies such as encryption and lock-screen passwords.

Ability to deploy Work Folders with the existing deployments of Folder Redirection, Offline Files, and home folders. Work Folders stores user files in a folder on the server called a sync share.