Using Windows Home Server

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

Installing the Remote Notification Add-In to Windows Home Server on a Friday night

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Background

According to the Add-In creator Alex Kuretz and his website, Remote Notification is “designed to forward the System Health Notifications from the Home Server to an email address. This can be particularly useful when configured to send to an email address that forwards an SMS (text message) to the user’s mobile phone.” This sounds really cool. I have a WHS and a cell phone. I have some extra SMS text time left on my cell phone bill at the end of each month so I am going to install the Add-In. Hopefully it will notify me any time there is a status change to my Windows Home Server. I will do the installation on my home-built WHS and my parents HP MSS. A real SA needs multiple clients, right?

Note: I already have this Add-In installed and working properly so I am going to uninstall it and go through the process again for this Friday night article.

Equipment Needed:

Remote Notification Add-In available at downloa … cation.zip or http://www.mediasmartserver.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=19

A cell phone and plan that allows text messages (you probably should check for text charges first)

An email account through a major service provider

One beer (optional, but you could need up to three depending on your router and ISP)

Serenity playing on Hulu (you pick the episode)

Installation of the Add-In

  1. Download the RemoteNotification.msi file to your server Add-In folder. You will probably have to unzip it and then move it to the folder.
  2. Open the WHS Console and click on settings.
  3. Click on Add-Ins on the left and select the Available Tab on the right
  4. Click on Install and wait for the WHS Console to restart

Pic1

The WHS Console will restart automatically.

Pic2

Settings for the Remote Notification Add-In in Windows Home Server

Click on the Remote Notification Add-In. For the Message Settings I am going to enter the data from an email I set up especially for my WHS. Check with your ISP. Most of the time they allow you extra email names.

I am starting with ISP information from a website that has most of the United States email providers. The website is http://snappermail.com/support/isp.cfm . Check with your ISP if it is not listed.

I have entered all of my information (not real data shown below of course) in the Add-In and sent the Test Notification.

Pic3

My silver cell phone just beeped like a little bell. I love WHS.

Pic4

That was too easy. My router is UPnP so I did not have to do any backend changes. I am not even done with my first beer. Something should have went wrong. It always does. Seriously.

Settings for the HP MediaSmart Server on a 2Wire Router

Time to remote in to my parents HP MSS. I have installed the Add-In and am waiting for the Console to reconnect. I have a few minutes. Do I open a second beer? Of course but I have to walk to the garage.

Mental Note: I should have got that damn mini fridge back.

I have entered all of my data in the Add-In settings on the HP MSS and sent the Test Notification.

Pic5

Error message and it is big one. Crap. My phone is just sitting there like a little silver turd.

Pic6

I verified that I have set up the same exact settings on my parents HP MSS as I did on my WHS and just sent the Test Notification again. Same error. Crap. Still a silver turd.

So it is really not working. What is going on? The same exact settings. Is the HP MSS WHS software different? It works on mine but not theirs. Same version of the Add-In. Crap³. Time to look around the forums and see what I did wrong.

Nothing I can find on the forums that match my error. Time for a new post and a new beer.

Sweet, I got a response from the author of the Add-In. Based on the information I provided, Alex said that I need to check that port 25 is available. I remember enabling ports on their 2Wire router when I first installed the MSS. Dumb router. I hate the 2Wire interface because it is not UPnP. Dumb. I could do a router behind the router but it seems like such a pain in the butt. Maybe for another Friday night…

Mental Note: What should I write about next Friday?

Ok, I have added port 25 to the 2Wire router, saved the new settings and clicked on Test Notification. Still a quiet turd. What is going on here? Time to check with the forum again.

Another response. Coolio. Alex said that my ISP only allows access from their customers, so they will not allow me to send email from my parents AT&T IP. Either I need to configure Remote Notification to use their AT&T mail server settings or use Gmail or some other web mail provider. I say F AT&T so Gmail here I come…

Ok, created a Gmail account for the server and the Gmail settings are entered (I am pretty sure that yourmamasWHS @ gmail was taken) and I am clicking on the Test Notification.

Pic7

Flipper. What is going on now? I knew my WHS install went too easily. Beer and posting number three I guess.

Alex just responded back again via the forum (he is never going talk to me again after this) and said that Gmail doesn’t accept connections on port 25 (I never changed it from when I switched from my ISP to Gmail) so I should try port 587. Back to stupid 2Wire.

Pic8

I get it now. The port number 587 for Gmail was also listed on the web site I referenced above but I must have missed it. I am dumb. Not as dumb as 2Wire though.

I will check all of the settings one more time.

Pic9

Here we go again with the Test Notification. Please work. Seriously.

Pic10

It worked! I hear silver bells, silver bells. It is like beeping Christmas here.

Conclusion

The Remote Notification Add-In works great and all of the issues I had were just incorrect settings on my part. This Add-In is really cool because it allows you to turn it on and off without affecting the settings. It also allows you to choose which messages you receive. I feel like an SA now with Remote Notification.

A special thank you to Alex for the Add-In and the help with the installation. Oh, and one more thank you to the 2Wire developers for making such a POS interface and router without UPnP.

See you next Friday.

Timothy Daleo 

Parts of this article restate the actual issues I had back in December when I initially installed this Add-In. That original posting can be found at:  http://www.mediasmartserver.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=2995  however the beers were consumed tonight in real-time. The email settings were changed to protect the innocent.

Written by Timothy Daleo

March 28, 2009 at 9:33 am

The Home Server Show 38 – PP2 Extravaganza!

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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 38.

This weeks show is all about Windows Home Server Power Pack 2 and includes an interview with yours truly. Yes, I’m really getting around this week on podcasts!

Dave and I really had a blast recording the show – thanks Dave 🙂

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

Written by Andrew Edney

March 27, 2009 at 7:25 am

Windows Home Server Add-In : LightsOut 0.8.0. Released

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LightsOut is a Windows Home Server Add-in that is used to put your Windows Home Server into a suspended mode or hibernation and resume on user defined events.

LightsOut is one of those really useful Add-Ins that has been around for a little while now but certainly worth having. And great news for fellow WHS MVP Martin Rothschink is that Acer have licensed LightsOut for their Aspire easyStore Windows Home Server. Well done Martin!

What has changed since 0.7.7?

In particular, LightsOut has been localized into French, Spanish, Chinese and Japanese, besides the already existing English and German versions.

A brief summary of the main changes:

  • Whenever a restore operation is detected, LightsOut keeps the server running for 2 hours for each selected volume
  • The help file is now opened on the server and no longer requires a LightsOut client installation
  • The Uptime diagram shows tooltip details about computers and remote access
  • A version check has been added for SB Core service. When a fixed version is detected, a warning is no longer displayed.

Some more small changes and fixed have been added into 0.8.0.

We will have a full review and walk-through on LightsOut soon.

Until then, for more information on LightsOut, and also to download it, click here.

Written by Andrew Edney

March 26, 2009 at 4:36 pm

The Media Center Show #199 – Round Table and Windows Home Server PP2

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Digital Lifestyle

Ian Dixon over at the Digital Lifestyle.com has just published this weeks Media Center Show Podcast. This week has a great round table discussion and also I am on the show talking about Windows Home Server Power Pack 2 🙂

I had a great time talking to Ian again and will be doing a round table with him very soon, not to mention I will be presenting on Windows Home Server at the UK Windows Media Center and Home Server User Group Meeting in Birmingham on the 21st April.

To download and listen to the show, click here.

Written by Andrew Edney

March 26, 2009 at 4:19 pm

Windows Home Server Power Pack 2 – Now Available

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Today finally sees the announcement that Windows Home Server Power Pack 2, formally known as Snoqualmie, will be released tomorrow via Windows Update. Power Pack 2 is a minor release for Windows Home Server but it is also a "must have" update to Windows Home Server!

If you have your WHS set to download and install updates automatically then you have nothing else to do but sit back, relax, wait for the download and installation to happen, and enjoy PP2! However if you don’t want to wait you can always force the download 🙂

If you don’t have automatic updates switched on, in which case why not, now would be a good time to switch it on to make sure that you don’t miss out on any updates in the future.

This is the release of the English version, with Chinese, French, German, Japanese and Spanish currently scheduled to be available before the end of April.

If you want to read the documentation for Power Pack 2 click here.

You can check that Power Pack 2 has installed correctly by opening the Windows Home Server Console, clicking on Settings and the Resources, and confirming that the version you have installed is 6.0.2030.0 as shown below. The image on the left is the pre PP2 version numbers and the one of the right is the PP2 version.

PP1 resources     resources new

All of your computers that are currently running the Windows Home Server Connector will have the connector automatically upgraded to the new version.

NEW FEATURES AND ENHANCEMENTS

There are a number of new features and enhancements that are delivered with Power Pack 2.

Remote Access Enhancements

The Remote Access settings experience has been greatly enhancement to make it even easier to setup and configure remote access to your Windows Home Server. There are some new wizards as well to help you with the initial configuration of remote access, and also to repair your existing configuration as well.

remote access remote config remote config2 remote config3 remote config5 remote repaired

The troubleshooting help has also been improved.

Home Computer Backup Enhancements

Have you ever tried to restore files and folders from a backup only to have the process stop somewhere between 79 and 81%? Well if you have then there are some fixes included in PP2 which should help eliminate this!

An Updated SDK

The Windows Home Server SDK has been updated and includes facilities to enable add-in developers to display a EULA during installation, amongst other things.

Server Storage and Shared Folder Enhancements

Improvements have been made to the amount of notification messages that WHS produces about the files that are stored in your Shared Folders. Previously the amount of messages produced could cause high CPU utilisation for any applications that might be accessing these files, such as a Zune. This update rectifies this issue.

Have you ever tried to copy large files from your Windows Vista computer to a share on your Windows Home Server and had it fail because you didn’t have enough free space on your WHS Primary Drive? For example, you only had 3Gb of free space on your primary drive but you wanted to copy a 5Gb file to your Videos folder? Well, this update changes this from needing the free disk space on your primary drive to needing the free disk space in the storage pool, which after all is what you were expecting, right?

Bug Fixes 

Obviously there are some bug fixes included in Power Pack 2.

If one or more of your home computers has been running the Windows 7 beta, then you would have noticed already that prior to PP2, the Computers and Backup tab showed any Windows 7 computer you had as a Windows Vista computer. Now with PP2 installed WHS correctly identifies Windows 7 – as you can see below.

OS

Improved User Experience 

Improvements have been made to the “Day 1 Experience” which basically means if you were to be installing Windows Home Server with Power Pack 2 for the first time there are now less screens that you have to go through before being able to use it.

There have also been some improvements in the Windows Home Server Connector installation experience.

New Language Support

Italian language support has been added in addition to existing Chinese, English, French, German, Japanese, and Spanish versions.

Media Sharing Enhancements

With the release of PP2 comes support for MP4 audio and video. Also, any content that is stored on your WHS and shared via WMC, including those MP4 files, will now show up in the music or video library with title, artist, composer, album and genre metadata.

music

Windows Media Center Connector

For some of you, this might be the one thing you were waiting for! This enhancement enables your Windows Media Center to connect to your WHS and access content that has been stored in your Shared Folders.

You can also use your Windows Media Center Extender to view content stored on your WHS.

How cool is that? In the past, you could hack your WHS and WMC to enable some of this functionality, but thankfully it is now fully supported and provided to you without the need to do anything extra. So, do you think that the future might see even more WMC integration with WHS?

If you click on the Windows Media Center icon that appears in the Settings area of the Windows Home Server Console before you have installed and configured the Windows Media Center Connector, you will see a reminder to install it first.

WHS WMC Console Settings

INSTALLING AND CONFIGURING THE WINDOWS MEDIA CENTER CONNECTOR

The required files for the Windows Media Center Connector are automatically copied to all of your Windows Media Center computers ready for you to install. To do this just follow these simple instructions:

On the Start menu, find Windows Media Center Connector and click it.

mce start menu

The UAC box will appear (assuming have haven’t switched UAC off) – click Continue.

The next screen to appear is the Windows Media Center Connector installer. Just click Next to carry on.

wmcc1

You will then be asked for your Windows Home Server password (remember this is the administrator password). Type it in and then click Next to continue.

wmcc2

The installation will only take a few seconds, then when it is complete you will need to click the Done button to restart your computer. If you don’t want to restart at this point you can check the “Do not restart now” box – just make sure you restart before you want to use the new functionality.

wmcc3

Now when you go into the Windows Home Server Console, click on Settings and then Windows Media Center you will see it is populated with information specific to your Windows Home Server.

WHS WMC Console Settings - after

You can specific access to different folders for Windows Media Center and also Windows Media Center Extenders just by clicking the relevant radio buttons – just as you are used to already with Windows Home Server. You can even stop all access with a single click of a button. Don’t worry, you can re-enable access with a single click as well!

Recorded TV folder

When you go into the Windows Home Server Console and click on the Shared Folders tab you will notice a new tab called Recorded TV.

shared folders

If you double click on the Recorded TV folder you will notice that Folder Duplication is switched off by default, so if you really want to protect your Recorded TV, now might be a good time to enable it.

recorded TV properties

Another nice feature is that every user by default gets Full access to the Recorded TV folder. So if you don’t want every user to have this, make sure you go and change it.

recorded TV properties - user access 

It is important to know that Windows Media Center does not automatically copy your Recorded TV from your Media Center to the Recorded TV folder on your Windows Home Server. This is something that you still have to do manually. Why then you may ask is it there? Well, it’s for consolidating your recorded TV content, and also ensuring that it gets backed up. All very useful!

Anything copied to or stored in the Recorded TV folder appears on your Media Center under Recorded TV, just as though it was stored on the Media Center itself.

recorded tv

Conclusion

Ok, so that’s it – what are you waiting for – go get Power Pack 2 and start experiencing even more with your Windows Home Server.

Windows Home Server Finally Available on TechNet and MSDN – Really, It Is This Time!

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Following last weeks post about Windows Home Server being available on both TechNet and MSDN and then the subsequent disappearance of it because Microsoft were testing, I can now announce that Windows Home Server is available on both TechNet and MSDN and will be staying there – HONEST! 🙂

This is great news and has been a very long time coming. I’m not going to get into all the details as to why it has taken so long, but what I will say is that the guys in the Windows Home Server team have been working very hard for a very long time to make this happen. Well done guys!

Written by Andrew Edney

March 24, 2009 at 1:30 am

Building an Astaro Personal Firewall with Spare or Low End Parts – Part Three now available

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Continuing in his series on how you can build your own Astaro Personal Firewall with either spare or low end parts, and no other cost MVP Pete Stagman had just published part three.

This week’s part is all about DMZ’s – enjoy!

To read part three, click here.

Written by Andrew Edney

March 23, 2009 at 8:35 am