Using Windows Home Server

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

Posts Tagged ‘Add-Ins

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

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Written by Timothy Daleo

April 11, 2009 at 6:39 am

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

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

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

Media Center Health Monitor for Windows Home Server

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My friend and fellow MVP Ian Dixon (he of the DigitalLifestyle.com), has written an add-in for Windows Home Server called Media Center Health Monitor, which as it sounds, monitors the health of the Media Center or Centers (if you have more than one), and the Media Center’s do not even have to be associated with your Windows Home Server.

The add-in is currently in beta, but you can sign up for it here. Ensure you give Ian lots of feedback.

If you are not already running the Media Center Health Monitor on your Media Center, make sure you download and install it in order for your Windows Home Server to have something to monitor!

You can install it directly from the downloads section once you have signed in to Ian’s site. Just follow all the on screen prompts!

MCHealth

Once you have signed up, been approved and have downloaded the add-in, copy it to your Windows Home Server Add-ins folder in the Software share.

ready to install

Once you have copied it to the share you will probably see the usual message about an add-in being ready to install. So, do as it says and open the Windows Home Server Console, click on Settings, then choose Add-Ins and click the Available tab. Click the Install button to start the installation.

available add-ins

Like with any other Add-in, once the installation has completed you will need to restart the Windows Home Server Console.

When you have opened the Windows Home Server Console again, you will see a new tab – called strangely enough Media Center Health Monitor.

media center health monitor icon

If you click on the Media Center Health Monitor tab, you will see a message warning you that you need to enter your Online Account details in the Settings tab – so lets go do that now, shall we?

monitor not configured

Click on Setting, and the click on Media Center Health Monitor to bring up the required screen.

media center health monitor settings

Enter the User Name and Password you used to create your account and click Save. You can also check the box for Auto Update Status and change the Update Interval if you want something other than 5 minutes.

When you go back to the Media Center Health Monitor tab now and click on My Events, you can view anything that has happened. You may need to click Refresh to get something to appear.

My events

If a health warning is received, it will also appear in Task Tray.

health warning

Overall I like this Add-in, and you can certainly do a lot more than just have Windows Home Server monitor it, you can have the application send you an email, or even have updates on Twitter (Ian does love his Twitter!).

So, why not give this Add-in a try and make sure to give Ian some feedback.

Written by Andrew Edney

March 22, 2009 at 3:52 pm

Backing up Windows Home Server on a Friday night

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Equipment Needed:

External Hard Drive

WHS BDBB Add-In available at http://www.mediasmartserver.net/downloads/WHSBDBB.zip or http://forum.wegotserved.com/index.php?autocom=downloads&showfile=90

Advanced Admin Console Add-In or remote desktop connection

2 Beers (optional)

Home Server Show Podcast #37 playing on iTunes (you can also substitute any episode of Jericho Season One)

Background

So I love the automated backup function of WHS. We all do. In addition to the regular backup of my networked computers, I run the folder backup of the WHS server to my external USB drive. We all do. I take an additional step to secure my data. On the weekends, usually every Saturday morning while I browse the discount tech sites and the wife is still sleeping, I copy the backup database to another hard drive that I take off-site. The backup database contains all of the files WHS would use if I needed to restore any PC backed up from the network.

I do this backup each weekend for three reasons:

  1. If the server ever goes tits up I have everything I need to do a complete and easy restore
  2. I enjoy saying that I have “off-site backup” protocols
  3. Saying “off-site” is cool. 

The Process

Let me start by saying that you might have a different order of doing this same process. The important thing is that you follow some sort of plan on a regular basis. Seriously. How much easier can MS make it? Keeping your data safe is the whole reason we do this, right?

Since I run the regular backup every few days all I need to do is copy the remaining backup database files to the same external hard disk. My typical WHS folder backup look likes this:

Pic0

The WHS backup database is not duplicated by this standard WHS folder backup process. For this reason, according to MS, “you may want to periodically copy the entire backup database from your home server to an external hard disk that you attach to your home server. The external hard disk should not be added to the Server Storage on your Windows Home Server.” I found this information at:

Home Computer Backup and Restore

I followed the MS directions and start by accessing the Command Prompt from within Advance Admin Console and using the directions listed in the link above.

Pic1

Mental Note: Disable the Remote Notification (if you have it installed) before you stop the backup service to avoid the extra SMS messages.

Once you have stopped the pdl and backup service, access your external hard drive from the Advanced Admin Console and create a folder on the external hard drive in which to copy the backup database as shown below:

Pic2

Give your folder a name that makes sense to you (preferably with the date) and is easy to recognize.

Pic3

The WHS backup database is stored entirely in the folder D:\folders\{00008086-058D-4C89-AB57-A7F909A47AB4}. We are just going to copy it. Use the Advanced Admin Console and navigate to that folder. Once you are in the folder, select all, and then copy those files to the new folder you created.

Pic4

This is the point where Jericho and the beers come in to play. You now have some free time. I have Netflix on the second monitor and the wife is watching her shows in the living room. I wonder if I could EMP-proof my server? A ruggedized Windows Home Server? Could I successfully build a Faraday cage in the server closet? Faraday is also the guy on Lost. Maybe he is the great great great great great grandson of Michael Faraday who developed the electromagnetic field concept in physics and the cage. I love Wiki. I love Lost. I love WHS. Seriously.

Pic5

My files took 56 minutes to copy during the manual process. There are some massive files sizes so be patient. You mileage will vary depending on the speed of your external hard drive. I keep a special USB drive in a small fire-proof safe. My safe was $100 on sale at a local retailer and the drive is a little 320GB Seagate for about $80. This ends up being cheaper than some of the dedicated fire-proof drives and lets me expand and change drives easily. An additional added benefit is that it is USB powered and does not constantly run off of AC power. Find the right combination that suits your needs and budget.

Pic8 

Installation of the WHSBDBB Add-In – An Easier Way to Backup

There is an easier way to backup the backup database. I found a file during my adventures that automates this process for you. I had probably looked at this Add-In before but since the name was WHSBDBB I just kept going. It was only until I read a related article on accident that I gave it a second look.

http://www.mediasmartserver.net/downloads/WHSBDBB.zip

Once you download the file install the WHS BDBB Add-In by copying the WHSBDBB.msi file to the Software\Addins folder of your Windows Home Server. Start the Windows Home Server Console, click on Settings, then select Add-Ins. Choose WHS BDBB from the Available tab, and click "Install". The Add-In installation is a standard install although I had to reboot twice to get the Add-In to work.

Automated Backup

Ready? Open the Add-In click on Backup and choose your drive.

Pic7

I actually perform this backup twice; once to a hard drive in my little safe and once to the off-site hard drive that I switch out. Switch out? Yeah, when I drop off the hard drive I backed up today I pick up the hard drive from last week. I rotate two drives that I got from the Western Digital outlet. Can you ever backup too much? Well maybe…

Pic6

The manual copy of 73GB took 56 minutes total while the WHS BDBB took 60 minutes. I am not sure why there was a delta (I used the same drive) but the simplicity of the Add-In offsets any extra time.

For more information about Windows Home Server Home Computer Backup and Restore, and why you should look into it, go to the Community Forums at the Microsoft Web site ( http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=100263).

We are all done and backed up. Nice.

See you next Friday night.

Written by Timothy Daleo

March 21, 2009 at 9:37 am