Windows

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.

17 comments
tduff626
tduff626

I have tried reprograming my router but still have the same issue. Could the dsl modem be blocking and if so how do i correct

Porsche928Guy
Porsche928Guy

No mater what i can't log in to my web server. I can see it from outside the network but the log in never works. says password or name is wrong. even made accounts and still not working. Any ideas?

joboxer38
joboxer38

anyone using charter security suite with whs? having problems configuring the firewall to allow internet access to a website I condigured using whiist. Actually, the firewall is blocking access to whs. any ideas? Anyone know the ports?

Parsed
Parsed

Would it be possible to allow remote access users to use a CAT tool (computer aided translation software) over WINDOWS HOME SERVER, without leting them to download any of the used files (they are only able to UPDATE those documents...) in server?

zenpath
zenpath

Any ideas? all the remote access settings seem correct, all validate ok.. and I can remote in and see share folders.. but I never see the computers tab to be able to remote desktop to?

pman860507
pman860507

i have done all of this and i didnt even know that the computer tab exist until the other day when i was at my sisters and i accessed my server from their and i saw that tap. why is on my home and my work computer i am unable to see the computer tab.

fujihts
fujihts

Speaking of remote access. Does the server need to be power on continous for remote access. To keep it the server on continous can be costly on the electric bill.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Windows Home Server has been around for a few months now. So, that begs the question: Do you have a home server? Are you using Windows Home Server or some other software?

jodix24
jodix24

Are you using IE? You can only do the remote desktop after you download an activex add-in which of course is IE only.

brucedor
brucedor

I have been using WHS for 3 months to back up my 5 cp's and love it works for me!

jfowler
jfowler

I flubbed for the innovative little HP "MediaSmart" unit, and I'm quite happy that I did (I upgraded the RAM to 2 Gb, and storage to 2 Tb). Great products from both Microsoft and HP.

jallison
jallison

I've had WHS running a month or two and am pretty happy with it. I really like the backup system, and am anticipating setting up a web site (limited somewhat by Comcast cable upload speed of only 128kbps), but I still haven't gotten remote access to work. Previously, I'd successfully gone through all the steps in the guide, but at Figure O it fails. First I get the connection options panel, with connection speed, screen size, printer and sound options, etc., then I get the Remote Desktop Connection window. When I click "Connect", it just drops back to the Figure O display again. During WHS installation there were vague hints about using the "same password" - no details, just that it would make things "easier." So I've gone back and set a password on my target machine the same as the server. Still no luck. I was hoping I'd find the secret I'm missing.

john3347
john3347

I was intrigued by the promises of WHS advertisements and I ordered a trial version earlier this year. I fell in love with the capabilities of the application and when the trial was approaching expiration, I bought the application. I have it installed on an older computer of modest specs that had been stuck back into a corner "in case anyone needed one sometime". I have 6 computers connected to it and I am able to access drawings, instructions, notes, etc. that are now stored on the server from the garage, wood shop, basement, or from remote locations with my laptop (or with a friend's computer or a public computer). Although the constant nagging was a bit excessive as the trial approached expiration, the program works well and is capable of being administered by someone with very "modest" technical skills. It lives up to its name - Windows HOME Server! It definitely did not come from the same cubicle in Redmond as SP3 and Vista - - this product works.

j-mart
j-mart

Runs Debian 64 bit. The only limting factor is how much knowledge I have. As I learn more I can keep it simple or as complex as I want, all for minimal outlay.

cjahnke
cjahnke

I bought the (comparatively) cheap Acer easystore. Runs at only 35 watts* with two hard drives and under full network load. That's less than the lightbulb in the lamp next to it, I was impressed. *measured with Kill-A-Watt P4400

ztodd
ztodd

I have been using WHS since Jan 08. Started with trial and loved it. First Windows product I have paid for....Its that good! Currently running with old $10 ECS motherboard(closeout from FRY's) with AMD 5000+ CPU. 8x1tb hard drives to store my video collection, playable on every PC in my house(5) and laptop remotely. Every machine gets backed up every day it gets turned on and WHS nags me if it's been to long, which I need. Runs on Commercial grade W2003 server kernel which is very stable. Best windows product since w2k.