Windows Home Server
Well I've been Running Windows Home Sever (henceforth Called WHS) for a few days now. I think I have things worked out enough now to write a review for all of my fellow CF'ers.
This took forever to installed. I have it running on a spare P4 HT 3.0, 1GB of RAM and a 160GB drive. I didn't expect fast install after running vista RC2 on it. However, it took about two hours from the time it started to get to a workable desktop. I'll mention this here, remember the password you set for the server. If you forget it, there is no non-hacking way to reset the password.
Very easy. All you really need are chipset drivers video (for when you actualy have a monitor hooked up) and hard-wire LAN. WHS will not work wirelessly. It must be physically connected to the network. However any other device can be wireless. All hard drives in your comptuer are formatted and seen as one. For the most part this is a blessing as you do not need to worry about finding the right drive. Only down side is no more RAID. I don't see that as much of a downer, but it did worth one point off for no RAID.
All the big stuff when it comes to using WHS is available in the WHS console. You can access this on any connected computer, or the server itself. Here you can change the settings like daily backup times, add user accounts for private shared files, and monitor storage space. In the console, you can configure media streaming as well It's a nice simple one click and boom your streaming.
Easiest install I've ever had to do. Click next a few times, type in the password for the server and boom the connection software is installed. This connection software is vital to allowing the server to backup your comptuer. With out it, you can still access shared folders through normal network connections, but the server WILL NOT backup your system. This software is also what allows you to access the WHS console to change settings from any computer. For those who want to know, this software uses virtually NO system resources. WARNING TO 64-BIT USERS the connection software does not work on 64-bit systems. Microsoft is said to be working on a 64-bit version of this.
Home Comptuer Restore Disk N/A:
Not rated since I did not have to use this yet. One of the great fetures of this server is the ability to restore your computer to a day or two past if the HDD takes a crap on you. Just pop in a CD that came with the OS, it looks for the server, you choose the right system backup and after a little time things are right back to the way they were.
Great. Does an automatic backup every day as long as both the server and computer are on during the time period you've designated. First one takes a bit of time, but the rest do not last long. Only files that have been changed will be backed up durring each backup. WHS looks at indiviual clusters of the file and changes only the needed clusters on the server if changes have been detected.
Storage Managment 5/5:
This does a wonderful job. If there are two or more copies of the same file on two or more computers and/or WHS Shared folder, there is only one physical copy stored on the server and all locations are linked to the file. This saves valuable space of having unneeded duplicates. Also, WHS will go through every sunday and clear out unneeded backups (backups older than your grace period. default three days.). If a computer is not connected to the server, it's last three backups will always be kept until user manually delets them or computer is reconnected and more updates are done.
Network Health 5/5:
Monitors everything related to security. Turn a firewall off on one computer, and all computers are alerted to the fact that computer X does not have a firewall, or computer X has not had a virus scan recently. Great way for us to keep track of our family's security habits.
Remote Log on 3/5:
When it works, it's great. You have user accounts on WHS. If your password is strong enough, you can enable Remote logon. With the help of a free windows live ID you get a free domain to connect to the server. From here, you can look at (and download) and shared folder on your server that you have access too (all but other user's shared folder). You can even upload files to your server from any computer using this.
I said when it works for two reasons. 1) Configuring the router is hard. It does a good job auto-configuring what it can, but when it runs into errors you're stuck trying to fix it. Mine said the router wouldn't accept Domain logins. However that wasn't the issue (I tried turning that on), I needed the system on a DMZ. 2) My router sucks. When I got the remote logon working and enabled my router started resetting itself every five minutes. This stopped the moment I disabled remote logon. I realize this is a router issue as when DMZ is disabled (thus remote logon not working) everything was fine. No new firmware and I'm not buying a new router just for that.
Overall, I would get this if you have more than one computer in your house. Now that I have this one, I'm not sure I'll ever go with out one again. Even if all you will use it for is the data backup, it can come and help you if your in a bind. Most of you have spare computers laying around, this would make good use of it.
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