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Windows Home Server helps families with multiple PCs easily connect their digital experiences, providing a reliable and familiar way to store, access, share, and automatically protect treasured digital images, music, video, and personal documents.



Windows Home Server is a unique, integrated solution that provides backup and restore, centralized expandable storage, and access from anywhere to your home server and home PCs. It is a lot more than extra storage. Unlike other home storage, backup, or remote access tools currently available, Windows Home Server offers unprecedented simplicity and ease of use. In addition, as a development platform, Windows Home Server offers partners great opportunities for innovation to address the needs of the digital home.


This means that a wide range of applications and tools that integrate with and take advantage of Windows Home Server will be available.


Windows Home Server works with your Windows PC. Windows XP Media Center Edition and Windows Vista Home Premium are designed to run on personal computers and provide acquisition and management of media, such as TV programs, music, and photos. Windows Home Server is designed to make managing a home network, with Windows XP PCs and Windows Vista PCs, easier and more automatic. It does this by acting as a centralized place for storage, enabling remote access and providing automated backup for all PCs in house.


Windows Home Server will be available through the retail channel within a wide range of new hardware products. The first products are targeted for availability in the second half of 2007.


For further information look at




 Windows Home Server SDK Now Available for Download

Microsoft has released beta software development kit (SDK) documentation for Windows Home Server, to provide guidance to software developers interested in building applications. As a software platform and an "always on" device in the home, Windows Home Server offers opportunities to build innovative products for the digital home, such as system protection, media sharing, home security and home automation.



Power Pack 1


The first minor release of Windows Home Server was announced at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2008) in Las Vegas. Power Pack 1, formerly code named "UR1", will ship in the first half of 2008 and be made available to existing customers of Windows Home Server via Windows Update.

Power Pack 1 has some great new functionality.


Update June 2008: The public beta is now available, check this link


Another use for home server


A growing number of people with SBS 2003 server and less than 10 client workstations are using Home server to backup the workstations on the network. A brilliant idea. Home server can not join the domain but the workstations can run the Home servers tools. Personally, I don't allow users to save anything locally and use roaming profiles so all that is unique about PC's are a few archive PST files, however, this seems to work well.


So what is it really like ?


If you have an OEM disk and system and install it yourself (Normally it would be preinstalled) you put the disk in, it prepares your hard disks (You do not get to choose how) and then it installs. It asks you for a password and with very few screens, you are up and running (Within 1 hour).

This is a headless design. You don't need a keyboard, mouse and monitor for this server. You can Remote desktop in from another workstation to do some minor items (like add printers etc) but in reality, you do nothing locally. You can add more storage and control users all from a remote PC. When you install the client software on your PC (Up to 10 PC's) it synchronizes the PC's password with the server, installs a monitoring client (Monitors your backups and Windows updates) and hen simply works. If you run all the wizards correctly, you have an automated disk backup system, built in file redundancy (like RAID, but an expandable version), an autoupdate server, a remote web portal to your server from anywhere on the internet and the ability to distribute media to friends and family through a portal. Sound good ?


Why do you need a server for the home ? Because you are human. Because you likely have more than 1 PC in the home. Take the human element out of it all. Automate backups, automate system updates, automate data redundancy because humans delete things. Control your home network even if there are only 2 PC's. Allow yourself remote access !


Have you ever deleted digital photo albums by accident ? had to explain that one to your partner ? Running out of room for all your digital media ? Would you love a central item to grab with all your data in an emergency ?


Home server is for you !


You would normally be buying this on a pre installed system from an OEM but if you get the chance to play with it (like I have) a Celeron 1 Ghz screams along with this server installed. It hardly needs much in the way of processing power.


Lets look at some of the benefits. Lets start with backup. Much like Vista itself, Windows Home Server allows you to back up your computer drive by drive to one centralized location. You can even do this with every computer in your house, provided you've got enough space installed on your Home Server. Like Time Machine in Leopard (Mac OSX), this is a fire and forget method of backing up that's painless and easy enough for your mom to do (and if she can't, you can always remote access in and do it for her). It does quick little snapshots and backup Deltas. Much the same (but not the same) as Volume shadow copy. Very Cool.



I spoke briefly about redundancy in the drive setup. Not only does this new system allow you to plug in any  media, SAS, SATA, eSATA, PATA, USB, Firewire or other, it also load balances and copies everything twice, so you can recover easily of something goes wrong. It is also a great place to you dump all your files off your computer and onto your network.


Homes that have more than one machine can consolidate all their music, photos, and movies so the files can be accessed anywhere.


For example, you can stream music to your Xbox 360 directly from the server (Sorry, no support for Xbox classic or MCE media extenders for Xbox classic). All the drives you attach (including external ones) are consolidated into one big pool that services your network (Hence Microsoft takes charge and formats these and manages these themselves). When you plug in a new drive, it will format the drive and add it to the drive pool.


This is great because it is set and forget (Home Server takes care of it all) and its essentially a RAID system. You can choose top level shared folders on your server for file duplication, which backs up the same files onto another one attached hard drive for redundancy in case one drive fails. There's also access rights for different users so you can keep your "photo" directory separate from your family vacation pictures. And since it's a standard SMB network share, Xbox, OS X and Linux machines can use it as well.


Another great things is 3rd parties are jumping on board and extending some of these and other features. The Windows Home Server platform also serves as a base for plugins, which either extend the functionality software-wise or act as a gateway or driver for some piece of hardware you're using. There have been talks about turning the Home server into an MCE style PC 9Some 3rd parties boast they have done this) and turning it into a main file server. I would not rush out and buy one to put MYOB data files on it for your small business but who knows the future. I have started collecting lists of some of these plugins on this page


WHS (Windows Home Server) can also monitor the status of all your computers connected to it via the Network status section (This is provided by installing the client application on the workstations). This lets you see the status of each computer's firewall, antivirus and whether any updates are pending from one place. For families, you can see if your kids have disabled the firewall or the antivirus because they wanted to download pirated music or run some magic tool "all the kids have access to at school" !



The client application on the workstation is great at alerting you to errors and has easily recognizable states to let you know your system health (Green = good etc).



With WHS you can also grab your files over the internet with remote access (From work, maybe the other side of the world ?). Setting it up is extremely easy as wizards take care of  port forwarding and domain registration (Even easier if your router is upnp). To enable it, just head to the settings, switch on the feature, and the server will auto-configure your router via uPNP.



After that's done, you go through the handful of steps to register a free domain name (yourname.homeserver.com is the result) and you can now grab your files from anywhere. Family and friends can now remote into the portal and check out your latest family pics. Great if your family is dispersed around the globe.

What's even better than accessing files from outside your home is accessing actual computers through remote desktop. Home Server allows remote access connections for privileged users to control certain machines on your network. Connecting requires Internet Explorer. This is much the way Remote Web Workplace works in SBS 2003. SBS 2008 will have a very similar interface to the WHS look and feel for remote access.

I recall doing a survey in early 2005 for Microsoft. The question was basically, do you think there is a use for a server in the home? What would you call it? how many PC's do you have at home ? etc etc.


The writing was on the wall. Microsoft have given this server a lot of thought.

Microsoft wanted this to be an easy to use product that families can take advantage of without having to think about it. It incorporates well into existing homes that have more than one computer and want to back up/store/share their data.


This product is a surefire winner. If you have the need for it, give it a go. You will not be disappointed.







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                                                              This page was written and designed by Michael Jenkin 2011 ©