Microsoft

How do I... configure Windows Home Server for remote access?

Steven Warren shows you how to set up a remote connection in Microsoft Windows Home Server and what you can do with it once it is configured.

There has been a lot of discussion on Microsoft Windows Home Server and its merits on TechRepublic lately. One of my favorite features of Windows Home Server is the ability to securely connect to your machines remotely. In this tutorial, we will show you how to configure this feature in Windows Home Server.

This blog post is also available in PDF format in a TechRepublic download.

We will begin by opening the Windows Home Server Console from the Desktop and clicking Settings to open the window shown in Figure A.

Figure A

These are the Windows Home Server Settings.
Next, click on Remote Access and select Turn On Web Site Connectivity, as shown in  Figure B.

Figure B

Turn on Web Site Connectivity in Windows Home Server.

Now that the Web Site Connectivity is turned on, three ports are open on the Windows Home Server firewall. They are the following: port 80, port 443, and port 4125. These ports are opened so that your Windows Home Server can accept incoming requests from the Internet.

Port 80 will accept Web requests, port 443 is for SSL requests (of course), and port 4125 is for remote desktop proxy requests.

Now your Windows Home Server will perform tests (Figure C) to see if it can automatically configure your router using Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) architecture. Please make sure UPnP is enabled on your router in order for it to be successful. Most routers today have this turned on by default (Figure D).

Figure C

Perform router testing for Remote Access.

Figure D

Router testing is in progress.
My initial test shows that the router is not configured for remote access (Figure E). Click the Configure Router button to configure your router automatically using UPnP.

Figure E

Router is not configured for Remote Access.
Once you click the Configure Router button, you will be prompted with the dialog box shown in Figure F. Click Yes.

Figure F

Configure port forwarding.
Once the configuration is complete, another check takes place (Figure G) and green checks throughout indicate a proper configuration.

Figure G

Router has passed tests and is properly configured.
We can now move on to configuring a domain name for our Windows Home Server. Click Setup under the Domain Name box (Figure H), and a wizard will walk you through creating a Windows Home Server domain name.

Figure H

Click Setup to configure a domain name in Windows Home Server.
The first window you are presented with is the Welcome splash screen (Figure I), which prompts you to sign in with your Windows Live ID. At this point, you can create a Domain name such as Lastname.homeserver.com or whatever suits you (Figure J). Figure K shows a properly configured domain name. Note: With Windows Home Server, you are getting a free SSL certificate. This is a great plus when using Windows Home Server.

Figure I

The Welcome splash screen appears.

Figure J

Secure access to Windows Home Server.

Figure K

The domain name is working.
Important note: If your router does not support UPnP or pass the tests, you will need to manually forward the following TCP ports from your router to the IP address of your Windows Home Server. Again, these ports are 80, 443, and 4125.

The best way to test the configuration is to use a wireless mobile card or modem connection or simply go to your buddy's house and connect to his network. Of course, if all else fails, you can test from your internal network as well.

Once you are connected to a network other than your own, open up the browser of your choice and type in the Web address (URL) to your Windows Home Server. Take for example, https://stevejobs.homeserver.com. You will see your login page, as shown in Figure L.

Figure L

The Windows Home Server login page appears.
Next, click Log On (Figure M) and enter your credentials. You can also test this internally from your network. It is OK to test both inside and outside your network. I would rather know it works so when I am traveling, I have no connectivity issues.

Figure M

Enter your login credentials.
As you can see, you now have access to your Windows Home Server (Figure N). You can remotely access your computers and the shared folders you created. You also have the ability to upload pictures and files by using drag and drop. It is actually a great product once you have everything completely configured.

Figure N

You can now access your files.
Let's now walk through connecting to a computer remotely. First, click on the Computers tab, and all your computers that are available for connection will be listed, as shown in Figure O. Simply click on the computer name to connect to that computer; it is that simple.

Figure O

These computers are available for connection.
Finally, if you click on the Shared Folders tab (Figure P), you can see all your folders that allow you to download and upload information. Once you are finished with your remote use, you can log off.

Figure P

Access your Shared Folders in Windows Home Server.

Windows Home Server is a very innovative product that enables the average home user to easily manage the arduous task of backing up computers and files from multiple computers. It also allows you to easily access your computers and files remotely. In this tutorial we have shown you how to configure remote access to a Windows Home Server for your home network.

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