Windows Home Server

Dieses Post schreibe ich heute in englisch.

Windows Home Server, what is it, what does it and why that is cool? That’s what I write about now 🙂

Quote from Microsoft:

  • Automatic backup of all Microsoft Windows XP and Windows Vista PCs on the network
  • Centralized storage of data and media files
  • Expandable disk drive capacity
  • Remote access to files and folders from the Internet

 This are the main feature of this Windows Server 2003 SP2 based product.

It’s actually sort of a new Operating System like Windows XP Media Center is. It’s got a brand new user interface which makes it really, and I mean REALLY, easy to use. This is probably the biggest plus point of this product. I mean, not even OSX is that simple 😉

A few more words about the quoted features and the not mentioned ones.

  • Automatic backup of all Microsoft Windows XP and Windows Vista PCs on the network

This feature requires a small client to be installed on the client machines. This client coordinates the backup and also enables a direct remote desktop connection to the WHS through the simplified gui. The backup starts automatically every day between 1.00 – 5.00, so it shouldn’t disturb the normal operation. The backup only starts if the client is either running, in Standby or Hibernation. If the client is shut down, then the backup can’t start.
If no backup completed for some 7 or 10 days, then the WHS icon changes to red and notifies the client about the problem.

The first backup is a full systembackup with all files (some few folders like c:\temp are excluded!). The subsequent backups will only be differentials from the full backup. Thanks to this the backup won’t grow much over time, as long not many files are changed 😉

The WHS also comes with a CD (or image) for a restore CD. With that CD is it possible to boot a “to be recovered” computer and restore all files and settings like on the day that is selected in the restore window.

I tested this once after an unsuccessfull XP to Vista Update and it completely restored my system 🙂

  • Centralized storage of data and media files

The WHS has by default the following folders offered: Photos, Music, Videos, Software and Public.

The folders Photos, Music and Videos are also Media Center Extender capable. This means a Xbox360 can directly stream from the WHS to the TV.

For each new user will be a new folder created in which only this user (needs to have same username and password like the one logged into the client) has access to. If the WHS has more than one harddrive is the option for “file distribution” active. This ensures that the files are spread over the harddrives and will be still available in case of a harddrive failure.

  • Expandable disk drive capacity

The WHS automatically adds new harddrives to it’s pool as soon they are connected. There is no partitioning needed nor possible. It’s also possible to unmount a harddrive via the gui. This is usefull if one of the data drives should be replaced with a bigger drive. All type of drive connections are possible like USB2, Firewire, S-ATA, IDE, etc.

  • Remote access to files and folders from the Internet

One of the coolest features (besides the backup) is the remote access. The WHS enables with a few clicks the remote access. There is an option to configure the router if uPnP is enabled, otherwise you need to configure 3 incomming ports pointing to the WHS. An additional click enables you a dynamic dns service with You’ll need a user for this (free). The third click enables the webserver of the WHS which offers access over the internet. The webserver has the features remote desktop access to the running computer and the WHS and the tab Shared Folders lets access you to all Shared Folders where your user has right to. You can download and upload all files in those folders. This way you always have access to all of your data from everywhere with a very simple web gui!

Finally! 🙂

Other important features are Print Server and add-ins.

Each connected printer (please note that you need Windows Server 2003 drivers for the printer, but usually the XP ones will also work after manual installation) will be right offered as a network printer in the whole network. No need to configure more.

Add-ins, probably the most important feature for the future. Microsoft offers a very powerfull SDK for the WHS which enables programmer to write many many nice add-ins. Some allready exisiting ones are listed in the following links.

The WHS will be offered in probably two ways.
The first is a complete computer for some 600-1000 Euro which offers a very low power ussage, a few USB ports and usually 2 or more harddrives.
The second is a CD only which should be for OEMs to equip their systems, but is also interresting for enthusiasts 🙂

My future WHS machine will be a Celeron 2,4GHz, 1GB Ram, 2 120GB HDD, 3 500GB HDD, a nice Antec P182b case (silent) and some Samsung S-ATA DVD drive.

I was able to beta test the product and I really like how easy it is to use. It should be available in 1-2 months for an unkown price.

Official Microsoft page:

Official Microsoft blog:

Very good Add-ins page:

I think this was and will be for a long time my longest entry 😉

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