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Windows Home Server impressions

November 5th, 2007

whs I maintain a server at home that I’ve been using for several years to handle routine backups and media sharing / serving for not only our Shuttle SD37P2 but also my work laptop.  I had been using Windows Server 2003 and was using Second Copy to handle the file backup.  I had to go in and manually define which folders to backup and and on what schedule.  It worked well enough though I did find that I’d missed backing up certain files after a few crashes.  I did like Second Copy’s ability to backup to a remote FTP server as well.

After Windows Home Server was announced I was intrigued by the seamless nature of the daily backups, disk duplication as well as single file instance (or whatever Microsoft calls it).  WHS promised to backup my entire PC and maintain daily incremental backups.  With the single file instance, I could be assured that files my wife and I share, or files that were similar from my desktop to laptop would only be stored once on the server.

My cousin hooked me up with a copy of Windows Home Server and I decided to repurpose my existing server (SK41G) which is now 5 years old.  I added 512 MB of RAM taking it to 1 GB (not needed, just felt it was cheap) and added another 500 GB ATA drive to supplement that 500 GB drive I already had, taking me to a total of 1 TB of storage.  I didn’t have to configure the drives, WHS automatically handles multiple drives in a RAID-like environment

The installation was seamless and I have to say I haven’t been this satisfied with a Microsoft product . . . well, ever!  I get daily backups, have used it a few times to save myself from some errors and I have easy access to my machines thru the homeserver.com domain.  (I had this before thru remote desktop but it’s even easier now).

I’m missing the ability to stream media right now, but WHS promises to be quite extensible with their “Add-In” technology.  Right now I’m using two Add-Ins, one called Wake On LAN and another to connect to my Tivo HD.  The former lets me wakeup my desktop PC even if it’s in standby, and the second lets me move video files back and forth to the Tivo, also provides access to our music.

So far the amount of storage being used is really quite amazing (I have 20+ days of daily backups right now for two different PC’s that are running Vista Ultimate).  Out of the 1 TB of storage:

  • 20 GB for System files (Windows Home Server operating system files)
  • 187 GB for PC Backups
  • 149 GB for shared folders (our music, pictures and videos)
  • 83 GB for folder duplication (ensures that the shared folder files are duplicated across both of my drives in RAID-fashion to ensure redundancy)
  • 493 GB of free space (wow!)

Click on the picture above to see it for yourself.

I’ve been keeping track of development of WHS HW and SW through the WeGotServed blog, I recommend it highly.

Link:  We Got Served, SecondCopy, Windows Home Server

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