Using Windows Home Server

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

Posts Tagged ‘WHS

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

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

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

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