My two HP MediaSmart Home Servers have been chugging along for a few years now and I thought it was about time I moved up to Windows Home Server 2011. As there is no real upgrade path from Windows Home Server v1 I took the opportunity to get some new hardware and install Windows Home Server 2011 on it.

There are companies like Tranquil who are selling WHS 2011 boxes ready made but I wanted to have a go at building my own box so I took Andrew’s advice and purchased a HP Microserver. The server is a small box not much bigger than the old HP Mediasmart, is powered by an Athlon II Neo processor and comes with a 160GB drive and 1GB for RAM. I added an extra 2GB of ram and a 250GB drive and I plan to add more storage at a later date.

As Windows Home Server is an OEM product you can’t actually go out an buy the software like you can buy Windows 7 but there are other ways of getting it such as via OEM re-resellers or Technet/MSDN subscriptions (which is how I got the OS)

The first job is to add the extra memory, the front panel opens up and then you can to slide the main board out and insert the memory. It was actually pretty easy to add the memory once I disconnected the connectors.

IMG 1231


There is no DVD drive on the server so you can either install from a USB drive or use an external drive which is what I did

IMG 1233

Installing WHS 2011 is very simple, very much like a Windows 7 install.  Just follow the wizard and away it goes.

IMG 1234

IMG 1235

IMG 1236


Once Windows Home Server is installed you can install the connector software on the client PCs but before I did that I added an extra 250GB drive in to the server and moved the backup folder from the small system drive to the bigger new hard drive. This is one area where Windows Home Server 2011 differs from the v1 product, in the original version you could add drives to the drive pool and you didn’t need to worry about drive letters but in WHS 2011 the drive extender technology has been removed so you do need to think about drive letter and plan where you are going to locate the backup and shared data but actually moving the folders over is very simple






On the client PCs via the browser you connect to the server and download the connector software and there is a simple installer.






The Windows connector adds a shortcut to the Home Server console which has a makeover since version 1, it looks a lot cleaner in this version but has just about the same functionality. I like the Launchpad window that has quick launch buttons and a count showing the number of outstanding issues on the network (including updates pending)


There is also a connector for the Mac which at first I thought great I can backup my Mac to WHS but alas that is not the case, the application called Launchpad enables access to the shared folders on the server and has a Backup button that doesn’t do a backup to Windows Home Server instead it launches Time Machine backup application for the Mac. I think its a real missed opportunity by Microsoft missing out on the Mac integration, it would have really made WHS a central part of my network as it is at least having the access to the shared folders is nice and saves you having to setup network shares on the Mac.




Back to the Windows connector, there is no Windows Media Center compontent to install as there was with the old version of WHS, the Media Center addin is built in to the connector software but its missing the server monitor of the old version but I have to say I didn’t really use it that much anyway.


So far I am impressed with WHS 2011, it certainly not the enthusiasts product many of us envisioned during Vail’s development processes but as a backup and storage device is does the job very well and I have’t touched any of the 3rd party addins available. Yes it could be more feature rich, it could have been my Media Center server, Mac backup device and may more things but for a backup server its a great product.

In the next post I am going to look at the new remote access and media streaming features of Windows Home Server 2011



The HP Mediasmart server on the left with the new HP Microserver on the right










11 thoughts on “Building Your Own Windows Home Server 2011”
  1. You do realize that Mac’s backup with TimeMachine to Windows Home Server just fine? Why should Microsoft re-invent a backup utility that works just fine?

    The only thing TImeMachine lacks is de-dupe for multiple Mac backups, but that’s a limitation of HFS Plus and nothing that MS can fix. Apple will have to provide a modern file system with snapshotting like NTFS has to fix this issue.

  2. Could you just clarify a point for me? I thought MSDN subscriptions allowed deployment of software in non-production environments only. Are you only going to use this Windows Home Server 2011 to develop add-ins?
    Just wanted to know as I’m desperate to upgrade my server, but didn’t think I could use my MSDN subscription.

    1. I am using it to “test” my plugins 🙂
      I don’t think it would really be a problem in a home environment

  3. The article on my site has been updating with a script contributed by a user to automate the manual process, and there is an Add-In in the works that should make it even simpler. Hopefully this makes Mac integration easier for the average user.

    For those that are using Macs with WHS v1, I’ve updated my Remote Notification Add-In with Mac support, displaying WHS health alerts on the Mac desktop and more importantly reporting Time Machine backup status to the server for centralized monitoring and reporting. More details on that here:

  4. great article.
    as i also bought a hp proliant microserver and i also bought 8gb memory,a dvd player,2 500gb disks and windows hme server 2011 and a ati videaocard with mini-display port for my apple display,i wonder how you installed whs 2011,which needs a 1.4 mhz cpu
    the hp only has got a 1.3 mhz cpu?
    I am asking this because i have bought already everything,and will get it this week,but now i read that it is very difficult to install whs2011.
    thanks for your help,cor

    1. Hi Cor,

      I’ve just got WHS2011 installed on my Microserver (4GB RAM, 2x 2TB RAID1) – installation can take a while and may require multiple restarts, but it should install with no problems.

      You may find that your CPU is your limiting factor if streaming video content over the web via the remote access website though.



  5. There is one significant “gotcha” to be aware of if you use RAID on an HP MicroServer running Windows Home Server.

    Having replaced the original OS with WHS 2011 (I never even bothered to boot up the original OS) there are no utilities that might have come with the HP system. You have no visibility into the health of the RAID system and no ability to manage the RAID array.

    While working on some changes to my system I happened to have a keyboard and monitor jacked into the MicroServer and noticed during POST that one of the drives had become “disconnected” from the RAID 1 array. (Some forum postings indicate that this is a not uncommon problem with the AMD RAID system on various machines. The drive health is fine, but the RAID controller no longer sees the drive as part of the array.) The “System Health” light on the front of the MicroServer did not indicate any problem. I would have had no clue about this failure if I hadn’t happened to connect the keyboard and monitor during a reboot.

    Users of WHS 2011 and RAID on the HP MicroServer (or any other system with an AMD RAID controller) should download and install RAIDXpert from the AMD web site. ( The Login ID and Password are “admin / admin”. This utility lets you monitor and manage your RAID array. You should periodically run RAIDXpert to check the status of your RAID array on your WHS 2011 system. RAIDXpert is a browser app and may not refresh automatically.

    Following instructions I found on some forums, rebuilding the RAID array was not difficult. You basically delete and re-link the disconnected drive. Doing this erases the drive, so be careful that you are deleting the correct drive. It took around 4 hours for the RAID controller to mirror the 2TB good drive onto the “new” drive.

  6. am try to install whs 2011 oem version to hp prolient N40L. install hangs during the expanding windows files. is there any solution to this ?

Leave a Reply