Using Windows Home Server

All about Windows Home Server, the Digital Home and Security.

10 things I learned about Windows Home Server the hard way (on a Friday night)

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  1. If you really want to learn about Windows Home Server build your own
  2. It was about the same cost to build my own WHS as it would have been to just buy one (but not anywhere as fun)
  3. Advanced Admin Console should be your first Add-In
  4. Disk Management should be your second Add-In
  5. Gigabit, gigabit, gigabit
  6. Get a Router with UPnP
  7. Get the RSS feeds from the five blogs listed at Microsoft WHS (at least these five)
  8. You cannot use Restore to a change to a different size hard drive
  9. Backup WHS regularly
  10. Backup WHS regularly, again 

Blogs listed at:

http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/winfamily/windowshomeserver/community.mspx 

See you next Friday night

Timothy Daleo

Written by Timothy Daleo

April 11, 2009 at 6:39 am

Using Windows Home Server Site Move

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I figured that it was about time to move the Using Windows Home Server site to a new server, which I plan to do this weekend.

When this happens you will also see a new look and feel to the site, with lots of new content coming up along with loads of competitions and giveaways.

Hopefully the move will go smoothly, but I apologise in advance if there are any problems.

Any of you who are reading this using RSS will have to update your feeds. I will post an additional message with the new link once the move happens.

If anyone would like to write any articles, or even if there is something you would like to see on the site, please email me at andrew @ usingwhs.com (remembering to remove the spaces!)

Thank you for your continued support and see you on the flip side:-)

Written by Andrew Edney

April 9, 2009 at 8:05 am

Black Hat Europe 2009 Next Week

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bh-thumb Black Hat Europe starts next week and will held in Amsterdam. Black Hat has 4 separate briefing tracks, which are Hardware and Embedded Devices, Reverse Engineering and Malware, Client Wars and Application Security, Forensics and Network Protection with lots of different sessions in each track delivering up to date and relevant information on the latest security issues.

For more information about this conference and to register, click here. But hurry, the conference is next week. I will be there and will report back!

Written by Andrew Edney

April 9, 2009 at 7:56 am

Adding eSATA hard drives to Windows Home Server on a Friday night

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Equipment required:

eSATA external hard drive(s)

eSATA cable – Not SATA

eSATA connection or Add-On PC card (the HP MSS has this connector already)

2 Beers (not shown)

Windows Media Center streaming your favorite 365 station

Friday Night Kit

Background

I have a Dell SC440 PowerEdge running WHS that I built last year. The server came with 6 USB ports to which I immediately connected three external drives (only one is part of the storage), one UPS, a mouse and keyboard. I have often wondered where I would plug in my next drive when the time comes. The release of Power Pack 2 now offers Windows Media Center support and I have decided I am going put the rest of my 120 DVDs on the server. I am going to need more space eventually and Seagate was having an outlet sale so here is the article. My wife wants to know what is in the boxes that keep showing up at our doorstep. I hope she does not look in the server closet any time soon.

I currently have 1.5 TB in the case and a 500GB Free Agent Triple connected via USB. I purchased a second 500GB Triple from the Seagate outlet store this week and for the new eSATA card, the drive and the two new cables, I spent $115. I know I could spend $150 on just one 1 TB eSATA drive but I like to buy drives in stages and replace the older ones. You probably have your own logic on how you like your drives. I am also wondering if I will get any increase in file transfer speeds since I am moving to a faster interface on the duplicated drives. I am going to run some times before and after to see if files transfer faster. It currently takes 1:17 to upload the Voyager 952 MB file.

I thought you might find some of the speed standards interesting shown in the table below:

Device Speed (bit/s) Speed (bytes/s)
USB 2.0 480 Mbit/s 60 MB/s
FireWire 400 393.216 Mbit/s 49.152 MB/s
eSATA (SATA 300) 2,400 Mbit/s 300 MB/s

All external Seagate drives that offer FireWire connectors use the FW400 standard. Over the years I was always led to believe that FireWire 400 was really fast. Who really checked? I guess if you want to be able to daisy chain then you can use FireWire. USB 2.0 is still preferred for most of my applications.

Enough of the specs. Lets touch some hardware. Let the good times roll.  Viva WHS.

Installation

The Dell Server was made for easy access and card installation. You can do pretty much everything you want inside the system without tools. I removed the cover and pushed two plastic pins to get the card bay open. As you can see I can also get to everything else in the same fashion.

Inside Dell Server

I bought the PCIx1 slot card since it had two eSATA connections and the 3.0 Gbps speed. Your hardware will be different of course. I added the card I bought from Newegg and it went in without any issues.

Adding the card to the Dell Server

Mental Note: I recently read about how much work is required to change the RAM on a HP MSS and I just about hit the floor. I hope my parents never decide to start streaming media with their MSS!

I put everything back together (without tools) and put the server back in closet. I connected all of the cables, including the two new eSATA cables on the card side and pressed the power button. Come on baby. Do your thing.

Ok, so my WHS booted back up and I am waiting for the CTL-ALT-DEL screen. For those of you with HP MSS you should have skipped all of these steps. You also skip the “normal” log in screen like those of us with the OEM version and a monitor. Personally I have a hard time trusting a system without a monitor. I need to see the boot process and log in. Yes, I know I am strange.

Great, my WHS actually found the new hardware without my help and is downloading the driver. Is this really going as smoothly as it seems? It is all done. Seriously?

I am now connecting the new drive. Sweet. WHS sees the new drive. Notice that it shows 76% free before I add the drive.

Windows Home Server Console

I select the new drive and click on Add. Here we go again…

Adding the new drive

I expect you and I appreciate the warning but just flippin add the drive already.

More adding the drive

Drive added. Thank you. 80% free? I totally expected more of a delta. We covered the math a few articles ago so I will now console myself with another beer.

Hey did you notice that my first Free Agent drive is now listed as Internal (SATA) also? Before the screen shot I just unplugged the USB and reconnected it with the new eSATA cable and the drive was recognized and the location was relabelled. How cool is that?

It is now time copy some files and check that everything is working on the client side. It is getting late and the wife will be asking questions soon so I better hurry.

I just copied my 952MB Voyager test file and there was no difference in the time from before I changed to eSATA. I am kind of bummed about not seeing any change but I guess the WHS balances the loads before it copies to external drives. I am ok with everything else. You can see my two eSATA drives below and my other USB Free Agent that I use for backup.

Tim's Hard Drives

You could also see in the Console shots earlier above that I also have a second backup drive that I keep in a small USB safe. I rotate this smaller drive off site by backing up the database and all folders BUT the videos folder due to space limitations. You can never back up too much. Seriously.

I have the extra space I need so it is time to start backing up my DVDs.

See you next Friday night.

Timothy Daleo

A good website that has all of the speed standards is at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_device_bandwidths

If you go to the link above you can see that the new USB 3.0 is going to kick ass in the next few years. Seriously.

Written by Timothy Daleo

April 5, 2009 at 4:35 pm

The Home Server Show 39 Out Now

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HomeServerShow graphic Dave over at the HomeServerShow.com has released the latest edition of his podcast, The Home Server Show, number 39.

This weeks show is all about OS System Drive Failure Options for Windows Home Server and is worth a listen – as usual.

Dave also announces the winners of the my book giveaway he announced last week.

You can get more information here, and download it from iTunes or your other favourite place.

Written by Andrew Edney

April 3, 2009 at 6:03 am

HP MediaSmart Server EX487 Wins Engadget Award

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small_hp-mediasmart-server_ Well the voting is complete and the results are in . The HP MediaSmart Server EX487 has won the Engadget Editors Choice Award 2008 for Storage Device or Technology of the Year. Interestingly, the Readers Choice Award 2008 for Storage Device of Technology of the Year went to the Apple Time Capsule!

Anyway, well done to HP – it is certainly nice to see a Home Server winning some awards.

To see all the winners, click here.

Written by Andrew Edney

March 30, 2009 at 8:45 pm

PerfectDisk 10 for Windows Home Server Giveaway – The Winners

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Last week we reviewed PerfectDisk 10 for Windows Home Server and our friends at Raxco gave us three fully licensed copies of PerfectDisk 10 for Windows Home Server to giveaway to our readers.

I am pleased to announce the winners of the giveaway are:

Brian Schmitz from Oakdale, MN, USA

Phil Bevan from Australia

Jonas Winther from Denmark

Congratulations guys, expect an email from Raxco shortly.

For all those that didn’t win this time, don’t worry, there are plenty of giveaways coming up on the site, so stay tuned.

Written by Andrew Edney

March 28, 2009 at 10:48 am

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