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Upgrading your WD DX4000 to Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials

Update!!! I have created a new image for Windows Server 2016 Standard on WDSentinel DX4000. Get it here

Instructions are the same, except you can create your USB using USB Image Tool which is far simpler this time. NIC Drivers are also now fully compatible.


  • Just like Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2016 is too slow to run on this device. My DX4000 is upgraded to 4GB of RAM, yet still it is far too slow to be functional for me. I will give it a shot for a couple of weeks.
  • This image will keep your D drive intact, it only formats C drive. However, PLEASE BACKUP ALL YOUR DATA FIRST.



The WD Sentinel (DX 4000) Storage Appliance from Western Digital comes with stock Windows Storage Server 2008, I wanted to upgrade it to Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard to make use of the following features:

  • Data Deduplication
  • SMB 3.0
  • Native NIC Teaming

However because it is a headless system (does not have a screen), it was virtually impossible to simply upgrade it. Also, for me to be able to keep the Essentials Dashboard (which is only a feature of Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials) I have to first install Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials, then upgrade to Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard.

I finally found this awesome guide to perform the upgrade, it depends on Windows Assessment and Deployment Toolkit to create a WinPE image that will automate the installation of Windows Server 2012 R2.




Because those steps are too complex, it is not an easy task for the average person to go through it, I’ve depended on this guide to create an ISO image that will automate the upgrade for you. The ISO image can be downloaded from here.

So simply follow these steps to upgrade your DX4000 to Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard whilst keeping the Essentials Dashboard:

  • Backup your data
  • Backup your backup
  • Have a recovery ISO image (EMEA) (PANAM) from Western Digital ready in case something goes wrong, here is the manual
  • Download and extract the DX4000_WindowsServer2012R2Essentials.iso
  • Use software like Rufus (http://rufus.akeo.ie/) with the following settings to convert the ISO Image into a bootable USB
    1: boot-disk = ISO (Select the ISO file)
    2: Partition = MBR for UEFI
    3: Filesystem = FAT32
    4: Size = Default FAT32
  • Modify the file “autounattend.xml” on the root directory of the USB to replace “XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX” with your Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials product key
  • Insert the USB into your DX4000 and boot from USB (by holding down the reset button for 15 seconds while starting your device)
  • That’s it, everything will run automatically, after about an hour you will be able to connect via Remote Desktop to your device.
  • After your system is up and running, you can simply mount a Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard ISO and upgrade your Essentials edition into Standard edition (to get use of NIC Teaming and Data Depuplication via the upgrade wizard


  • After like 5~10 minutes from booting with the USB you will be able to use TightVNC Viewer to view the installation status, simply make sure you note the IP Address assigned by DHCP to your device and use TightVNC to connect to it
  • Windows default username is “Administrator” and the default password is “P@ssw0rd”
  • The Intel NIC drivers are not compatible with Windows Server 2012 R2, so do not bother trying to install them, Windows will pick up a default driver which will work just fine
  • The LCD of your system will stop working after performing the upgrade, this ISO image does not have any software to control the LCD

Enjoy 🙂