Windows Home Server

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by Narnian, Sep 18, 2010.

  1. Narnian

    Narnian Nobody in particular ...

    Aug 6, 2010
    Midlothian, VA
    Real Name:
    Richard Elliott
    One thing I highly recommend for photographers (and anybody else for that matter) is the Microsoft Windows Home Server.

    1. It backs up my PCs automatically.

    2. I can store my photos (and all other documents) there to allow access from other PCs.

    3. It can duplicate files on multiple disks so if a drive dies there is a backup on another drive.

    4. If I run low on space I can add or replace drives on the fly.

    5. I can access all if my files through the Internet.

    6. I can remote control my home PCs through the Internet.

    7. And more.

    My only recommendation is wait a little while because a new version will be coming out soon. HP and most of the major vendors sell systems with Windows Home Server preloaded.

    I have the Acer Aspire easyStore AH340 Home Server which cost me $500 including 4 terabytes of storage.

    Windows Home Server - media server, backup and data recovery solution

    I am an IT administrator who had servers at home for years and got tired of maintaining my own network servers at home - after all that is what I do for a living and I wanted more time for things like photography. :wink:

    There are other network attached storage (NAS) solutions available for home use as well but this was actually one of the simpler and cheaper options.
     
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  2. Brianetta

    Brianetta Mu-43 Veteran

    438
    Sep 5, 2010
    North East England
    Real Name:
    Brian Ronald
    WHS is probably one of Microsoft's better products. All the same, I wouldn't touch it with your barge pole, because I'm a free software nut. A free alternative is Amahi:

    [​IMG]

    It's a complete managed service, using GPL software.
     
  3. Narnian

    Narnian Nobody in particular ...

    Aug 6, 2010
    Midlothian, VA
    Real Name:
    Richard Elliott
    "Free" is always a relative term. You still need to purchase hardware and time to set up and configure any system as well as maintain it. From my experience the total life-cycle costs always are a much larger part - acquisition costs tend to be a much smaller part of the expense. Except for Leica ...

    In our company corporate IT analyzed the costs of Linux versus Windows and Windows came out slightly ahead.

    Though I have not seen Amahi - it does look interesting. I suspect the average home user would find it more difficult to set up and configure than WHS.

    Edit: I do want to add that the main point of my thread is not specifically WHS, but that people need a backup/storage solution and WHS is pretty easy and inexpensive. It is good there are competitors out there. Get something to protect your photos - only having one copy of them is a very bad idea.
     
  4. Brianetta

    Brianetta Mu-43 Veteran

    438
    Sep 5, 2010
    North East England
    Real Name:
    Brian Ronald
    Free as in beer. I meant free as in speech. Free software can be modified, improved, shared. Regardless of monetary cost.

    Free software is defined by the Free Software Foundation here. As a free software nut, it's important that people understand what it is that I'm nuts about, because (to me) it isn't all about getting something for nothing.
     
  5. Narnian

    Narnian Nobody in particular ...

    Aug 6, 2010
    Midlothian, VA
    Real Name:
    Richard Elliott
    Thank you for the clarification. I was equating it with open source, which most Linux distros fall under. The only technical issue I see is it does not seem to support data duplication - if they add that in the future it would make it much more interesting.

    I will download a copy and look at it when I get a chance.

    If it is available pre-installed that would help home sales as well.

    The current version of WHS is available for around $110 for the software only.
     
  6. Brianetta

    Brianetta Mu-43 Veteran

    438
    Sep 5, 2010
    North East England
    Real Name:
    Brian Ronald
    $110 more than Amahi (-:

    It doesn't support data duplication, but the operating system on which it runs (Fedora) certainly does. It's not quite the fire and forget solution that WHS is, and certainly needs somebody who knows their way around a computer to set it up, but I wouldn't leave the setting up of WHS to a beginner either.

    You're quite right, though - any backup regime is better than no backup regime, and any tools that help people keep on top of their storage is a good thing.
     
  7. andy_jansen

    andy_jansen Mu-43 Regular

    45
    Oct 19, 2010
    Herten, NL
    Define point 7: And more... please ;)

    Seems to me that my Windows 7 media center can do the same.
    Except for remote controlling pc in the network, but since my media center is the only pc I want to excess from the internet, I just use port forwarding from my router.

    Just to clarify myself, I'm not saying that my option is better, just want to know if Windows Home Server could be something for me.
     
  8. Narnian

    Narnian Nobody in particular ...

    Aug 6, 2010
    Midlothian, VA
    Real Name:
    Richard Elliott
    See points 1,3 and 4 ;) They are not possible with a media center PC (not without an investment in special hardware). The fact that all of my photos and music and documents are automatically backed up and duplicated is sufficient reason for me. In fact this is the primary reason I bought it. If you are not interested in this function then it is probably of little, if any, value to you.

    It is definitely not a replacement for Windows Media Center but an add-on to your home network. Sort of Network Attached Storage (NAS) on steroids.

    As for point 7 there are add-in such as My Movies, it has an iTunes server, media extenders, etc.

    I have a Media Center PC in my family room - a nice, little (and very quiet) mini-PC. It cost me $200US.. I keep all of the content on the Windows Home Server. It is "headless" - it has no video card. It is designed to be put in a corner or closet somewhere. In my case it is upstairs in my office. No big noisy computer in the family room.

    However I would recommend holding off until the new version comes out in a couple of months if you are interested.
     
  9. andy_jansen

    andy_jansen Mu-43 Regular

    45
    Oct 19, 2010
    Herten, NL
    The auto backup can simply be done with some additional software.
    I have a program for syncing 2 folders. If I change a file on my laptop, it automatically syncs with the folder on my media center.

    As for duplicating files on 2 hard disks, you will need additional hardware. So I needed to buy a RAID5 card for this.

    Inserting hard disks on the fly, can simply never be done on a windows 7 pc :p
    You need to shut down, insert disk and boot again.

    So you didn't convince me ;)
    Still home servers are great, and based on what you want to do with it, nobody will have the perfect solution I think.

    As for big and noisy, my media center is big (same size as my amplifier), but you can simply make it very quiet using big passive colling on the CPU and GPU. The fan in the case is enough to keep it cool.
     
  10. texascbx

    texascbx Mu-43 Veteran Charter Member

    389
    Dec 30, 2009
    Texas
    That WHS is a great solution for people that don't want to muddle through and become expert at Linux command lines.

    That Amahi Home Server looks interesting too.
     
  11. Narnian

    Narnian Nobody in particular ...

    Aug 6, 2010
    Midlothian, VA
    Real Name:
    Richard Elliott
    Windows Home Server doesn't run Windows 7, it is based on Windows 2003R2. The new version is based on Windows 2008R2.

    And I can insert hard drives all the time on the fly with those ;) In fact I do since I use those operating systems at work - I am in charge of servers and storage for a pharmaceutical chemical manufacturer and can own any home network storage solution I want. I have tried various file server, scripts, utilities, NAS and other solutions and in the end I choose WHS because it is simple, inexpensive, and it works.

    WHS does not use RAID, it uses a different duplication technology. It is file based. You tell it what folders you want duplicated (e.g. Photos) and it makes sure every file in that folder is duplicated on a different drive. If a drive dies you just replace and the files will be duplicated back. If you want to put in a larger drive it is the same thing. It will move off non-duplicate files to allow you to swap a 250GB for example with a 1TB (which I did). So, unlike RAID, you can have different size drives. So the drives are not mirrored (i.e. RAID 1) or stripped (RAID 5) and do not need to be the same size.

    You can duplicate most of the features of WHS, but it takes extra work, hardware and software as you have pointed out.

    As a result WHS (and the Amahi Home Server) makes that backup function easier and, hence, more likely to be done. My wife's hard drive died a few months ago and thanks to WHS I was able to restore the system back with all of her files and settings. Got lots of husband points for that :cool:

    I do not keep my files (except working files) on my laptop or media pc - it is all on the server. I have it replicate over the Internet to my dad's house as the third copy in case the house burns down.
     
  12. andy_jansen

    andy_jansen Mu-43 Regular

    45
    Oct 19, 2010
    Herten, NL
    Maybe not the main topic, but do you do this manually, or can it be automated??
    Still looking for an easy external backup method.
     
  13. Narnian

    Narnian Nobody in particular ...

    Aug 6, 2010
    Midlothian, VA
    Real Name:
    Richard Elliott
    I use the fee version of Logmein Hamachi2 to create a VPN. Then I am using a free Microsoft utility called Robocopy running as a daily task to sync to an external drive on my dad's computer.

    It is not 100% reliable as the connection drops periodically. I am going to add a VBScript I have that pings a destination address and tells me if it is up or down. Then I hope to add an automatic reconnect function. If that fails I will have it email me to come fix it.

    It is still a work in progress. When I can find cheap enough cloud storage I will probably go that route in the future - I'm getting lazy in my old age.
     
  14. petercheck

    petercheck New to Mu-43

    3
    Jan 4, 2011
    Drive Extender provided the ability to take the small hard drives many small businesses and households may have acquired, and pool them together in a simple volume.However, after introduction Microsoft has recommended not enabling shadow copies on Home Server for unspecified reasons, and had not fixed the problem by September 2008.
     
  15. nseika

    nseika Mu-43 Veteran

    260
    Nov 22, 2010
    Jakarta, Indonesia
    Real Name:
    Lois
  16. canyon

    canyon New to Mu-43

    1
    Jun 29, 2010
    Microsoft fixed the problems with Windows Home Server (WHS) about 6 months after the launch, and there have been no issues since.
    The best implementation of WHS is the Hewlett Packard Mediasmart Server range, which is currently in its 3rd generation of products (EX47x, EX48x, EX49x). I bought an EX470 in May 2008, which now has 2 x 1TB and 2x 500GB disk drives installed. I've relied on it exclusively ever since - It sits in a secure location in my house (hidden away in the downstairs toilet). I keep all of my photos, music, videos and ebooks on it. All of these folders are duplicated, so that if a Drive fails in the server I don't lose any data. It also automatically turns on and backs up my PCs overnight. And it acts as a DLNA media server, so I can watch/listen to any of the multimedia content from it on my main TV (via a PS3) or my bedroom TV (via a Popcornhour).
    I would unreservedly recommend one to anybody who wants a photo storage facility that is more reliable and secure than a pc.
    And now the crunch:
    As of early 2011, Microsoft will be bringing out a new release of Windows Home Server, which will not include Drive Extender, the one feature that gives the drive pooling and duplication. And HP are "retiring" the Mediasmart Server line of products.
    This has caused immense dismay and anger in the related groups and forums - WHS was regarded as (for once) a "perfect solution" from MS.
    Personally, I'm not too worried - I've got my old EX470, and I can replace the existing disks with 1.5TB ones, and extend it to add another 4 x1.5TB, so as long as I can get spares I will keep it going.
    It will be interesting to see what comes up over the next few months to fill the gap. There is AMAHI, which is a Linux-based open source equivalent, but it doesn't have all of the features of WHS, and you need a PC, of custom hardware to run it on. I have made an AMAHI box to play with: but at present, the installation and setup isn't for the faint-hearted unless you are a Linux wizard.
     
  17. jeb

    jeb Mu-43 Rookie

    24
    Dec 27, 2010
    Hi!!
    Another alternative to all this is Unraid!
    It's a small linux distro that runs on a usb key. The free version support 3 drives. You can recycle an old computer with any hard drive you want, the software will build a raid array and your good to go.!! I used an old p4 with a 15$ sata pci card and some drives. Everything is secure, you configure the thing via a web interface, no need to know any command line. If a drive fail, you replace it and unraid will rebuild the data that was on that drive. I'll check Amahi to see if it the same principle.

    Take care!
    Jeb