Windows Home Server, Observations Part 1

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  • Windows
Windows Home Server, Observations Part 1

Setting up Windows Home Server was easy although it took longer than expected. The 10 gigabyte footprint is quite large when you consider WHS only has a few primary purposes: Backups, Restoring and Sharing. But being a beta product you would expect a lot more bloat than that of a final release.

Once installed, you are immediately prompted to remove your keyboard, mouse and monitor. WHS is intended to be administered remotely, which is great because it means you can set it up on a spare box and just use your existing peripherals, and put them back when you have finished.

To access the WHS console you are required to install the Connect software on the computer you want to access it from. The installation was very simple and I was logged into the console in no time.

Once logged in you then have to add the PC's on your home network that you wish to be included for backup and sharing purposes. Again this was very easy.

I was able to specify what to backup and even specify a backup schedule. This works much better than Vista's built in backup utility, which only lets you backup entire volumes without any exclusion options.

Everything on day one was easy and worked as expected. Day 2 was a slightly different story. WHS had difficulty accessing my 2 PC's, showing them both as being inaccessible. It took 15 minutes for my PC to become available and more than 30 minutes for the other. All part of the fun of being a beta tester. Once the PC's were found everything went back to normal.

"It took 15 minutes for my PC to become available and more than 30 minutes for the other. All part of the fun of being a beta tester."

So far so good, but I do wonder just how beneficial running a dedicated server will be. On one hand I clearly understand the need for backups. I already make regular backups onto my external hard drive daily using the awesome (and free) 3rd party application SyncBack. So my external drive is only powered up for a few minutes each day at most, which is a lot more resourceful than running a dedicated box all day and night which only backs up during a time period you specify anyway.

On the other hand, the idea of a centralised repository for all my media is appealing. And WHS allows you to access it remotely.

On the down side, if the dedicated server died, you won't be able to access any files until you either get it fixed or pull out the hard drives and slave them into your primary PC. Assuming you even have a spare IDE or SATA header to connect it too.

For now I am happy to keep testing and it may even dawn on me that this is a better solution than what I am currently using.

More to come soon.

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