Microsoft

Are you interested in Windows Home Server?


A server in every home is what the Microsofties are spouting about Windows Home Server. Is it cool? I think so. But what if you didn’t want to buy a Windows Home Server or allocate an old machine to load the Windows Home Server software. I figured out a way to load it in the virtual world. I have a Windows Home Server and it backs up all my computers and files and resides in a virtual machine (vm) in VMware Workstation. I LOVED writing this tutorial. Let me show you how do do this.

71 comments
Steven S. Warren
Steven S. Warren

From looking over the thread, I understand how easy it is to open the ports on your router connection to one of your internal computer for sharing files but Window Home Server is so much more than just that. I love that I get an SSL certificate when I configure it Internet facing. I love that I can just drag and drop photos and they are uploaded automatically. I love that I can stream my iTunes all over the house via sonos. I can access Outlook, Diskeeper and I have over a terrabyte of storage. I love that all computers are backed up automatically and are brought out of a sleep state. Microsoft lately has been awful but Windows Home Server is a hit and I am really rooting for it.

feral
feral

Not a chance, I signed up for a demo DVD version and when it arrived yesterday I read the minimum requirements. 70Gig of HD space that is right 70 Gig! This is just bloatware nothing more nothing less and there is no excuse for it. Microsoft have taken the line that "Storage is cheap" yes it is cheap but that does not give any company an excuse to turn out an overweight piece of software. Obviously MS have not learnt a thing from all the negative feedback they have received over the years. PCuser magazine here in Australia have released a server OS for the home based on Ubuntu, with streaming media support and a whole slew of functionality that MS Home server does not have. I will now be devoting my time to installing and running it, requiring only 10 gig of space for the core functionality wins.

Ligwort
Ligwort

I've been using WHS since beta and think it is an excellent product and Power Pack 1 seems to have resolved the data corruption issue. As far as costs go price for OEM software is about $US160 (includes 10 CALS) and $US115 bi-annually for anti-virus (includes WHS and 10 licences) Whilst not suiting everyone but with additional functionality through community add-ins (I use DHCP and uTorrent Web interface) and simple backups and storage capabilities it is one of the better MS products on the market. I'm not sure of the licensing issues but for a small office of up to 4-8 PC's where no sophisticated system admin skills exist nor the cash flow to pay for them I could see this product filling a niche between a simple XP network and SBS server.

j-mart
j-mart

Has anyone any knowledge as regards to how it is selling. Are many buying this product?

jdclyde
jdclyde

cost and system requirements. Why would anyone bother when you can buy a cheap SAN device? What does it do for the home user that a low end SAN doesn't?

drl.techrepub
drl.techrepub

Man, I'm in two camps with this one. I have been curious about this product but have had misgivings from the antivirus perspective because many antivirus solution suppliers will not allow their software to run on a server. Purchasing an enterprise version is prohibitively expensive for just a home solution. Yes, I know it comes with One-Care but that is not strong enough in this current virus/trojan storm where zero day attacks are becoming more frequent. There's no point in backing up an infected file. More or less everyone pro-WHS seems to be for it because of the backup it provides to their other machines. Is there any other good reason for having it (doing backups is a very good reason)? I'm just wondering whether it's the backup solution that is the REAL requirement, and the rest of the server is expensive window dressing? Is it? What else does WHS provide that is "must have"? I think it's a great idea to have a home server but I stop in my tracks when confronted with the costs of installing strong enterprise level antivirus to ensure that I haven't created something akin to malaria pond. Imagine the devastation of infecting your WHS and reinfecting client machines from it because they are all behind the firewall in the DMZ... I've got SuSE linux running extremely well (took some learning) with the bonus of running ZoneMinder security camera software on it too. It doesn't cost me anything except effort and acts as a backup server too. I use Microsoft's SyncToy to make sure I backup essential folders and files, but if I have to rebuild it's a long process to make sure everything is restored (more accurately, "not lost"). Damn, I can see the benefits of WHS too. I'm open to being convinced if it does other things too. Guess I should run WHS in one VM and SuSE in another :-P

Jaqui
Jaqui

so windows server technology would be a major headache to impliment.

Aragorn7
Aragorn7

I built my own Windows Home Server and backup 5 PCs every night. I hope to use more of its features later, but I'm quite pleased with its performance. I could not recommend it, however, for the average PC user. You really need to be a PC enthusiast or professional such as those who frequent this site.

dunn
dunn

I am waiting to see whether the Power Pack (SP1) fixes all of the corruption issues. If it does then I will build one.

1DaveN
1DaveN

I LOVE my WHS. I installed the beta, never planning on making it a permanent part of my home network. As it turns out, I can't imagine not having it, so it ended up being there to stay. I occasionally use the remote access features, which are awesome, but mainly it's the security of the WHS backup that's got me sold.

mypl8s4u2
mypl8s4u2

What for????? Hasn't MS learned anything from VISTA? It's a clown program. Think of it. Server in a home. Who's going to take care of it, update it, make sure the shares are working correctly and that user accounts are set up. When purchasing a new machine, adding that to the server, setting up the user, setting up the account, adding shares and rights and all the other goodies that come with a server not to mention the cost of Antivirus software for a server is way more then for a simple stand alone machine, and the license issue? MS just wants to make more money on crap. Show me what family wants to be chained to such junk? A family of 6 will need to purchase 10 user license for the server. In addition to the anti virus program which would also need an additional 5 user license agreements to the first 5 included. And when you add shares, more licenses. An added cost way above the practically of a home network. And what to do if you can't add a system, can't control access or just having problems with shares, who you gonna call? And the backup, daily maintenace, what to do for a failed server share, mirrored partitions. Yeah, I can just see my grandpa trying to swap out a hotswap drive on a server. Totally overkill. MS, get real

sonicsteve
sonicsteve

Yes I know more about computers than the average bear. While the backup function sounds nice I store all my important data on a 80GB mirror NAS. One workstation shares this and all the others connect to it. I'm not shelling out money for something that is totally unnecessary. I honestly hope this product flops.

prplshroud
prplshroud

...shop for a good NAS box instead. I own a Netgear ReadyNAS NV+ and aside from the fact that it's just a little bit pricy, it's a great little box. It supports every possible OS and means of access you could think of (Win/Mac/Linux/Unix) (HTTP/FTP/Samba/NFS/CIFS). It's more efficient than WHS could ever be. It takes up less space, uses less power, and holds more data than a PC it's size (2TB RAIDED). Last, but certainly not least, you're not locked into a company's solution. It's an open platform. Oh yeah, you get 5 Retrospect Backup licenses with the box too. The only thing that really doesn't make the product anymore is that Netgear dug their claws into the thing when the bought the original company, Infrant.

work
work

Each PC on the network is already a server. Set up some shared disk space on one of them. Put another hard disk on one of them. There you go. Same difference.

greig.holder
greig.holder

I've been running Windows Home Server for about 18 months, since it was in early beta (I now run the OEM version). It's been great. I used a seriously out-of-date computer, added some new hard drives and loaded WHS with no problems at all. The automatic backup runs quickly and automatically. It has saved my bacon twice. Once was recovering from a hard drive failure (about two hours with zero data loss). The second was after a complete failure of a laptop when I restored all my data to a new machine. We store our pics and music on the server and stream them to our various PCs and entertainment system. Works great. With remote access our kids can dump photos into the machine from whereever they happen to be in the world. And one daughter backs up her key Mac files remotely (just data, not the OS and spps). For my business, I run the Web site from WHS and store client files so I have less on my laptop when travelling (yet have remote access). It keeps an eye on the security software on our various machines and lets me know if any of them are out of date or not configured OK. Next, I'm planning to run home automation software (M-Control) so I can monitor and manage the house while we are travelling. There is a very active support community (for example, see wegotserved.co.uk), with lots of folks writing cool and useful add-ins. This thing isn't perfect but it's darn good. I know there are alternatives but WHS fits my needs very well.

fred.wagner
fred.wagner

I bought a Buffalo LANStation a couple of years ago - gives me a server without the complications of Windows, administers remotely through a browser interface, and I even included MAC namespace when I installed it.

jfuller52402
jfuller52402

I've had a standalone Windows Home Server for a little over 6 months. Yesterday, the hard drive in my wife's PC died. I was able to through a new (larger) drive in it, boot with the included WinPE recovery CD, format the new disk and recover the backup from the day before. Start to finish less than an hour. I know there are other solutions out there, but I can't justify spending the time to create a custom solution when HP sells a great turn-key solution!

john3347
john3347

feral, the installation only sets aside 20 GB for OS. The remaining 50GB is for minimum back-up space.

Steven S. Warren
Steven S. Warren

of that 70 gb, a good bit of it is storage. It partitions your drive into two partitions for the install to be successful. It is not bloatware. Just install in a vm as I showed you in my tutorial and take a look. Hey, you might even like it. Cheers!

anthony.smith
anthony.smith

Credit where credits due, Microsoft have done a good job with this product. It's reasonably priced, provides good features and takes a lot of the heartache out of managing a home network.

Dumphrey
Dumphrey

and is it licensed for each connected workstation?

jck
jck

it is stupid friendly, jd :^0 But like I pointed out in my earlier post, I have an XP Pro x64 box...which not only functions as my backup machine...but a game machine. At least, it will as soon as my Acronis software comes in. BTW, I have to make a personal and professional suggestion. If you run a dual MS/Linux shop, don't think Norton Save and Restore will restore your Linux partitions. I bought the software. It has parameters for partition type 83 (Ext2/3). But, it won't properly store the Linux data or restore it. I bought Acronis and will try it. Hopefully, I can put the 250GB drives back in and get all the backup done before that one drive totally fails. But, Windows= stupid user friendly + low learning curve. It's for people who won't or can't. lol ;)

john3347
john3347

You can save a picture, letter, manuscript, or whatever on your WHS and access it from any computer anywhere and modify it and return the modified version to the WHS without needing to have the piece of work Picture, manuscript, etc.) installed on whichever computer you are using. If your friend in a remote town has the application you need to edit your workpiece (Word, Photoshop, Open Office, or whatever) and an internet connection, you can work from a friend's computer. Entertainment can be stored on the WHS and accessed by anyone on the LAN whenever they wish to access the movie, pictures, music, etc. There is no need to have a movie on disc or installed on every computer that wishes to access the movie. If a computer on the network "blows up", it is a simple operation to insert the recovery CD and boot from the CD drive and restore the ailing computer to a previous state. (this feature is, to the user, very similar to Windows System Restore except that the computer doesn't have to be bootable on its own. Could go on and on. As I said in a previous post, this obviously did not come out of the same cubicle as Vista and SP3. As for antivirus protection, one of the three most prominent free AV applications advertises their product as WHS compatible. It is also noteworthy that this product will install on a computer of very modest specs. Only the hard drives likely would have to be updated to re-purpose a 7 or 8 year old computer. Two or more physical harddrives are, of course, necessary for file duplication. (No raids here)

Dumphrey
Dumphrey

WHS will only come pre-installe don hw much like webserver edition. Only the beta was an open release yeah?

JJFitz
JJFitz

I have never seen any software where ALL of the bugs have been worked out. You might get very old while you are waiting. I prefer jumping in the deep end of the pool over walking in from the kiddie end. :)

john3347
john3347

You get one user license for one WHS. 10 client computers (WHS refers to them as connectors) may connect on that one license. You simply insert the connector CD in each computer and the work (configuration) is done for you. As for "who you gonna call?", WHS maintains a comprehensive forum just for this purpose. There is also a very wonderful WHS forum which I believe is based in GB, "We Got Served" that provides HUGE support to the home user who has problems with (or questions about) their WHS. WHS obviously did NOT come from the same cubicle in Redmond as Vista and SP3.

markguer
markguer

I think it's fairly obvious from your post that you've ever even seen a WHS much less take one for a test drive...lol 1. Shares are easy. comes with default shares already set up. 2. adding pc computer to enable backups, take about 5 minutes per pc with included software. 3. antivirus. comes free with WHS pp1. 4. licenses - no users licenses needed beyond the WHS software you purchase. 5. oh. i forgot to mention hot swappable hard drives.. for grandpa. you should try actually using software prior to critizing it in a public forum. Someone with a genuine need may read your dribble and believe you actually have some technical expertise. My two cents...

Realvdude
Realvdude

Why would a Network Attached Storage device need to be shared by a workstation for others to connect to it? If your doing that, you could have just installed/attached another 80Gb drive and shared it. Also, 80Gb would handle my docs, music and photos, but wouldn't scratch my home video footage.

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

Having a NAS is a god send. It's easier to manage, mroe robust, and supports multiple OSs.

fish1467
fish1467

I use peer to peer for some file backup and printer sharing. I haven't tried any auto backup and I'm not sure what exists. The only problem I'm having now is that my XP box can't see my Vista box. Works fine from Vista to XP. I haven't had time to figure out what's causing this. The advantage that I see with peer to peer is that you can use both computer as work stations. I really don't have a need for another computer on my home network.

JJFitz
JJFitz

I assume that you mean a Buffalo LinkStation. I could not find a LANStation ont their website. I bought an early NAS Linkstation for backing up my home computers. Back then, it came with a single hard drive so there was no redundancy. The HD crashed 2 years later. 2 years is not a long time. I expected at least 3 years out of the device. All my data would have been lost if I hadn't backed it up to an old desktop for redundancy. My LinkStation is now a bookend. Thank goodness Buffalo now uses dual drives for NAS. What were they thinking before? I am happy with my HP WHS with automatic back ups and plenty of room for storage growth. It paid for itself when I was able to restore my daughter's HD crashed computer in under an hour. Additionally, there is a large community of WHS hackers out there posting lots of tips and tricks.

john3347
john3347

Dumphery, one license serves up to 10 connector computers. There is no individual license applicable to each connector. Either Avira or Avast (I forget which one) offers a free AV for WHS.

markguer
markguer

AV is for the server itself. you are free to use whatever AV product you like on the client side. I use an unmanaged set up of Norton Corp Edition on server and all clients. you do not need to install the add-in if you choose not to.

Ligwort
Ligwort

The pricing I referred to is for an Avast Home Professional product. Pricing includes 1 WHS licence and up to 10 PC licences. Licence restrictions include: installation at one site only and only for home use but they do allow for use in a home business.

Dumphrey
Dumphrey

partitons. As far as I know riesers and XFS have built in "backup" in the form of a data dump. I will have to double check this... I was reading an article about it the other day. The newer norton may not wright to an ext2/3 partition, ghost 2000 would read and image them but not store the image on an ext2/3 partiton. As for WHS, remote access is provided to anyone with a halfway decent router and ddns... cant say as that feature impressed me much.

jdclyde
jdclyde

Should just show up like another drive, right? What could be easier than that, as that is what the "server" will give anyways IF you map it out? People will get it, like other MS products, not because it is good, but because they have heard the name "Microsoft". Still wonder about cost/requirements....

markguer
markguer

For $149 I still don't think you can go wrong. I have an open source stack (php & mysql) installed on my HP oem WHS. I successfully host web sites for my family members using multiple content management systems and back-end database plaforms. This is without losing the built in remote access, video streaming and iTunes streaming features already built in to WHS. Joomla! = php, mysql DotNetNuke = asp.net, sql 2005 Sharepoint 2007 Server = asp.net, sql 2005 So don't say this box is not versatile. Just try getting those technologies to run together simutaneously on an Ubuntu box.. It's near impossible. When Linux can provide that type of integration in a downloadable distro, then I'll consider switching over. For $149 out of the box only an idiot would recommend or use any different home server solution.

Dumphrey
Dumphrey

Windows Live Home care has not fared so well in getting its certs... But, if you are not the type to go about setting up a linux/bsd nas then this would be a decent product. At least its based on the 2k3 server code which I like and trust(within limits). I would still be very weary trusting the MS AV product exclusively.

Dumphrey
Dumphrey

it can hold tons of data and act as a vault to recover a crashed box, stream media, share files, etc. This means individual workstations/computers can have smaller and fewer drives, which reduces heat and expense. Traditionaly they are built on raid arrays to add some fault tolerance and hotswap drives are a big plus (replace a failed drive with no downtime or data loss (hopefully)). That alone almost makes the HW end of a WHS worth it. Personally I am not a fan of the Buffalo stations or the ReadyNAS(how I loath thee crapy box). I use an XP Pro box as a storage server and just stream off that to my laptop (connected to my tv/stereo as needed) untill such time as I build a HT computer to be permanetly connected to my HT system. Chances are when the XP box goes south, it will be replaced by FreeNAS, which I know and like.

Dumphrey
Dumphrey

The MS Av/malware product has proven to be a poor choice. Speaking of, has anyone found where to uninstall it (Defender) from Vista?

jck
jck

My software is delivered and sitting on my doorstep. I work 85 miles from my house though. So, I will be speeding home to get it, unwrap it, and get the 3 old hard drives out and set onto a box next to the PC asap so that I can re-backup my system with the new software I bought tonight. Hopefully, it will be faster than Norton and I can finish the task before midnight and sleep 3-4 hours before I get up and drive back here to work 2 more days. If only now I can get the formal offer letter, and my time here is through. Ah sweet peace...a week off...hallelujah! :^0

Dumphrey
Dumphrey

I quite on ghost after version 10 came out, it was pure bloated junk. Its hot point was being able to image a disk with out having to boot into a ghost environment. It then made differrental back ups... Whay would I need that? I just want OS images and then use Ntbackup for the rest. Im still using ghost 2003, and some day it will be replaced, and I am still evaluateing OS versions to fillthe roll. Eventually one will be feature/performance complete enough to fill the roll.

jck
jck

Save and Restore was touted as the "easier to use" Ghost. So, I bought it so that I could originally set it up on my mother's machine and it would be backed up to CD (she has pretty much nothing but pics on the machine). Well, I ran it against my machine...and it didn't skip a beat backing up the Linux partition. It just acted like everything went fine. I took out 3 250GB drives and put in 3 new 500GB drives. Went to restore...and...it'd restore the 2 NTFS, 1 FAT32, and even the Linux Swap. But, the Linux Ext3 (I think I made it) had been saved to a file with no store data on it. The file size is 29.8GB, but the data Norton reads says it's file size: 0, File System: unknown. From what I got to reading, Norton had bought out Veritas or someone? And, got one of their software packages. Needless to say, I spent $50 on the software. It won't backup my Linux, yet it doesn't scream when you try to either and say "Hey! Incompatible file system!" or anything. And, I just spent 2 days (my whole weekend practically) in chats with Norton support (useless). Finally Sunday night, I called them and talked to a guy. And after researching it, he found a spec doc that showed Linux (and the Linux Swap, even tho that worked being backed up) was not included on supported file system types. They said Ghost 14 will do Linux fully, but after spending 2 days and $50 of my money to find out that it would not do Linux. I won't buy another Norton product. I asked them politely to exchange my software, since there was nothing on the package or in the literature that said Linux would not backup. As well, it has parameters for Linux in the restore utilities. If it doesn't do them, why put them in there? But to no avail, they would not exchange or refund me or send me Ghost 14. Hence, my disgust. Anyways, I am going to try Acronis (which is a tool we used at my last job) and see if it does everything promised. Plus, I got a better deal from them. A disk management tool plus backup tool for less than Save and Restore. VADDA BAHGAN! lol :^0

jck
jck

when I had my NT 4.0 server. i had a music server running on it, and a Proxy. As for Vista...well...Dell made me take it. They didn't offer XP on laptops anymore when I bought mine. But when I get the next laptop, I'm going to insist the company let me back-rev to XP Pro x64. Otherwise, I won't buy from them. I already have the CD...all I need is the key from MS. :^0 lol

jdclyde
jdclyde

would EVER have need of an "apps server"? ha ha. you have viiisssstaaaaa :p

jck
jck

Windows Home Server is about $150 from outlets. Who knows what the MSRP is from M$. But, it looks like MS WHS requires CALs. Another $50 for 10 CALs. But, I got an XP box that does all that...and my backup software will manage backups on unlimited other machines on my network. Why pay $5 a PC to back it up and manage it? XP Pro can do remote control of my other machines, as well as talk AD to them. If I wanted to do Linux (and there's a Linux client), I can do LDAP. And, it's all on encrypted wireless networks. I just don't see a need for specialized new software when my old software can do it with the addition of a 3rd party software...and do it cheaper. as for SANs...yeah, it can just show as another drive. However, WHS also does remote backups and all. Plus, I guess it functions as somewhat of an apps server. I just see no value in it from my end. BTW...my Vista box...is locking up on shutdown now. WOOHOO!! Yay for service packs! lol

Dumphrey
Dumphrey

it has a bare metal restore to a snapshot? This is a pretty nice feature if you have room for that much back up data (full bu + differentials). But I guess the point of the WHS is single point storage, so client machines should have fairly small disk usage. And I usually skip backing up programs and games (personally, not professionally), I just back up the data.

markguer
markguer

Well there are a few that pop into mind immediately. 1. The whole server is run from a 'console' application. you do not need to know how to create a user and assign appropriate permissions etc. 2. Creation of users provisions user shares, permissions to shared folders, remote access rights, rights to photo gallery apps etc. automatically. Normal administration of a server is completely 'idiot proof' so to speak. Perfect for a home user who only want to create a user, not become a server admin. 3. Inclusion of an image based backup appliucation for client computers. Let's face it who uses NTBackup anymore? 4. Ability to provide remote desktop access and/or remote access to files and folders without hacing to know how to set up an FTP server or write a web app from scratch. I could go on for awhile, but those are the biggies.

markguer
markguer

Well there are a few that pop into mind immediately. 1. The whole server is run from a 'console' application. you do not need to know how to create a user and assign appropriate permissions etc. 2. Creation of users provisions user shares, permissions to shared folders, remote access rights, rights to photo gallery apps etc. automatically. Normal administration of a server is completely 'idiot proof' so to speak. Perfect for a home user who only want to create a user, not become a server admin. 3. Inclusion of an image based backup appliucation for client computers. Let's face it who uses NTBackup anymore? 4. Ability to provide remote desktop access and/or remote access to files and folders without hacing to know how to set up an FTP server or write a web app from scratch. I could go on for awhile, but those are the biggies.

Dumphrey
Dumphrey

to WHS over server 2003? (ignore price/licensing please). Its good to know you can buy OEM copies. I was unaware it was available that way.

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