Windows Home Server
September 8, 2008
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First time I heard about Windows Home Server was from Øystein. He was praising it like it was a new god or something. Of course, I was sceptic. Microsoft making a server for home usage? That’s THAT easy to use? BULLSHIT, I thought! A couple of months later, I went to MSDN in Stavanger, where I got a 180 days trial of it (because I’m a member of NNUG ;). I thought I could at least try it out. That ended my sceptic thoughts. 3 clicks to install the server. Everything was setup by it self. Then, put a CD in all my computers (at that time, “only” three). One click on each, and the backup of them was setup. IS IT REALLY THAT EASY? you might think. It’s easier! It’s a wonderful product. I have admitted to Øystein that I was wrong.
The main thing about Home Server is to take backup of your computers. You can configure it to keep your backups as long as you want, so if your computer crashes for some weird reason, you can just put in a CD and it will restore to what every point in time you want it to. I haven’t tested this yet, but Øystein did have to do this. It worked perfectly. You don’t need to restore the whole computer. You can restore one file if you want!
Another cool thing is the “shared folders”. All computers in your network will get a shortcut on your desktop to your shared folder on the server. You can have private folders (for your user), or you can have shared folders. This makes it much easier to share files between computers at home. You’ll always have your photos, music and videos one click away, on all your computers. One bad thing about Home Server is that it doesn’t support RAID. I found out this when I was installing the real version (not trial) after 100 attempts. I had tried almost a whole weekend to install it on 3 different RAID-controllers, with different discs.. It installed ok, but when I booted it, it gave me bluescreen. I called Øystein and he said: “Try not using RAID” 😛 Why didn’t I think of that?! You might think that without RAID you don’t have a good server. Well, not exactly. You can easily right-click a folder (inside the home server management console) and click “Duplicate”. This will ensure that your folder is duplicated to more than one disk. One of my disks actually crashed a couple of hours ago. Luckily I’m using “duplicate” on all my important stuff, so I just unplugged the hard disk and the server is up and running again! When you plug in new hard disks you get two options. Add to share, or use for backup. If you add it to your share it will just extend the capacity of your share. If not, it will backup your important files, so you can unplug it and put it in a safe or similar. Very nice feature!
Conclusion: If you have several computers in your home, and do not have backup of anything, it’s a very good solution. It’s also very nice for sharing files between computers at home.