Using Windows Home Server (Part 1)

So I got my Windows Home Server setup and I thought I would give my first thoughts.

First off I bought a small form factor PC with a 160gb drive in and added a 500gb SATA drive.

This is my box:

it’s a Biostart with AMD Sempron 3400 with 1gb of memory. I think the spec is a bit over kill as the box seems to never break a sweat.

Then I installed the Home server software on the box and the setup looked a lot like Windows Server 2003

Once the server has installed (for more details on the install see this great post) I installed the Connector software on my Media Center PC and Tablet PC

The two areas of Windows Home Server that interested me so start with are the shared storage and the backups. So first I thought I would take a look at backups. This is one area I always feel bad about as I have never had a really good backup solution, I have a external harddrive that I use to backup vital data like pictures etc but no image backup and seeing as my main Media Center PC is critical to a happy family life I was eager to try a backup.

Once the Windows Home Server client software is installed is very easy to take a full backup. Basically you right click on the Home Server icon in the toolbar and select Backup now.

The first backup tool some time (a couple of hours) which is not to bad as I have loads of recorded TV. You can exclude folders too, (some are excluded automatically). Subsequent backups are quicker as Home Server uses an intelligent backup system and knows what has changed on the harddisk and this includes other machines too, so if you have two machines with Vista installed the OS files are not duplicated on the backup. Backups are automatic and and I set mine for 1am

If your hard disk fails you can boot from a recovery CD and restore the whole PC or if you just want one file you can get a single file off any of the automatic or manual backups. The restore function works just browsing a folder, you pick the backup and then browse for the file you want.

One very nice feature is the remote access function. So from my PC at work I can log in to the server via a web UI and then remote desktop on to any machine on the network. In Beta 2 this requires a couple of routes creating on the server.

 

From the Computers tab I can Remote desktop my to any of my pc’s or I can download items from the shared folders.

Oh and once you have the server up and running you can disconnect the monitor, keyboard and mouse.

There is a great deal of potential in Windows Home Server, at the moment for me its handling backups and shared files. I will do a post on shared folders another time and how to get Media Center working with the shared folders.

Part two will be on managing Windows Home Server using the Windows Home Server Console, which is a very nice tool for setting up users, shares and managing the whole server.

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About the author Ian Dixon:
Ian Dixon is a Microsoft MVP (Most Valuable Professional), founder of TheDigitalLifestyle.com tech site and producer of the weekly The Digital Lifestyle Show podcast. Ian has been writing and talking about Windows for over 10 years and has over 20 years in IT as an IT Manager. Ian has thousands of followers on Twitter and Facebook and over 4 million views on his YouTube channel.

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