Using Windows Home Server

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

What is Windows Home Server?

with 10 comments


In a nutshell, Windows Home Server is a server running Windows for your home. Yes, I know that is obvious, but bear with me. When most people think of servers, they think of those big machines that sit in secured rooms somewhere in the workplace and do things such as run databases or e-mail programs; most people typically don’t think of a server as something that they might have at home.

According to Microsoft, by the year 2009 there will be over 70 million multi-PC networked households in the world. That is quite a large number! Obviously Microsoft would like to take advantage of this opportunity by providing a product that will benefit all of those households, and that is where Windows Home Server comes into play.

It is very likely that the residents of each of those 70 million households have some data that they will want to share among their PCs, be it digital photographs, home movies, songs, or some other type of media. It is extremely likely that each of those households will want to be able to easily back up and restore those computers with as little effort as possible.


Windows Home Server has features that address each of these scenarios to some extent, most of which can be set up initially with a few clicks of the mouse and then left to run quietly in the background.

Microsoft wants you to take away one message from using Windows Home Server: “Protect, Connect, Organise and Grow.” Using Windows Home Server enables you to protect, connect to, and organize your digital data, and also grow your storage needs, all with very little effort.

Essentially, your Windows Home Server will become the central hub of your home network, performing and storing all of your computer backups, storing and sharing all of your digital files, and monitoring the health of your home computers on your network. It can also provide you with remote access to your computers and your files for when you are away from your home.

Windows Home Server is intended to overcome home users’ reluctance to set up a home server. It is relatively inexpensive (depending on the hardware you purchase) and is incredibly simple to set up and use. In fact, once you have it set up and running how you want it, you may even forget it’s there. It is designed to be set up and used by anyone, not just those people who are computer experts.

Windows Home Server is actually built on the Windows Server 2003 platform, but many of the more complex elements have been hidden away, leaving just the simple elements that are needed to perform the job in question; for example the number of options on the Start menu is dramatically reduced from what you would expect to see. This is because you don’t need them!

Windows Home Server is designed to run on a small form factor set of hardware, meaning that instead of a big box with multiple hard drives, CD and DVD drives, and more ports than you can shake a stick at, it has only exactly what it needs to run, nothing more, nothing less. In fact, you will probably find that most prebuilt Windows Home Server machines don’t even have ports for a keyboard, mouse, or monitor.


For more information on Windows Home Server, including setup, configuration, troubleshooting and more, why not buy my book, the Windows Home Server User’s Guide.


Written by Andrew Edney

May 12, 2008 at 2:39 pm

10 Responses

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  1. Hi, Just a quick question – Do you guys know when the “File Copy” bug will be sorted out? As this is putting alot of people of the product.

    Sean Cowie

    May 21, 2008 at 3:07 pm

  2. Sean – if you are referring to the data corruption bug, the fix will be included in the forthcoming Power Pack 1 which goes into public beta in the next few weeks.


    May 21, 2008 at 7:27 pm

  3. I really do not think you should be publicising Home Server in the state it is in the moment. I purchased it as a file store which I could access to edit files, but the corruption bug means that it is not fit for the purpose. The Mircrosoft workround – to copy files, edit them on the client, then put them back is not feasible for the large linked spreadsheets I have developed.

    Alex Woodrow

    May 22, 2008 at 8:29 am

  4. Alex – WHS is a released product and is being used by people. Yes, there is a data corruption bug, and yes it is serious, but it only effects a small number of people and the advice from Microsoft if followed works. I have been using WHS since January 2007 and havent had the problem at all. The corruption bug should not be a reason not to publicise WHS. Besides, the file store is only one element of WHS – you have backups and restores, remote access, and so on. Also the corruption bug fix is included with the forthcoming Power Pack 1 which goes into public beta in a few weeks.


    May 22, 2008 at 9:19 am

  5. I am an entusiastic user of Windows Home Server which I bought in January 2008 and built my own box to run it. My wife and I have our own desktops and laptops all of which run XP Professional and are on a combined wired/wireless network. Prior to obtaining WHS, I had a separate desktop box which acted as a ‘peer-to-peer’ server and was used to store all our files for common access. I also make some of the server files available for use on the laptops by using the ‘Make files available offline’ feature. It was nice to be able to get a ‘proper’ server to do this. Among other things, my wife edits our church magazine and I set it up in Publisher 98; also, I am church treasurer and keep all my accounts and reports on the server. We do not normally keep any data files on our own machines.
    However, one problem has been the ‘file corruption’ bug. I use Excel for many of my reports and I have found that regularily I am unable to open them if I edit them directly from the server. I have had to adopt your suggested stratagy of moving them to the desktop, working on them, then sending them back. It works, but it is difficult to keep track of, and defeats the purpose of having a server.
    I was also attracted by the automatic backup feature (like most people, up-to-date backups, although attempted, were more of an intent than a reality), but was bitterly disappointed to find that the server itself could not be included in the backup schedule. This seemed to negate the whole point of keeing data on the server. I understand that this matter is being addresssed. Will it be included in the forthcoming Power Pack 1?
    I look forward very much to seeing these two issues resolved and knowing that at last our data is reasonbably secure.

    Jim Lawson

    May 24, 2008 at 7:12 pm

  6. Jim – PP1 will include the corruption bug fix so you can then go back to using your Excel spreadsheets from the server. As for server backup – PP1 will include the ability to back up the folder shares but not the server itself. The home server backup technical brief on the MS website includes manual steps to backup the server if you want to do it.


    May 26, 2008 at 6:19 pm

  7. Can you get Windows Home Server in a 64 bit edition and does Windows Home Server support Windows Vista Ultimate 64 bit clients?

    Jimmy Jackson

    February 23, 2009 at 7:25 pm

    • Hi Jimmy – currently Windows Home Server comes as a 32 bit edition – but expect to see future versions of Windows Home Server only being 64 bit. And yes, if you have Power Pack 1 installed for Windows Home Server you can indeed back up your 64 bit Windows Vista clients.

      Andrew Edney

      February 23, 2009 at 8:00 pm

  8. Hello, will whs work with xp pro 64 bit.


    March 4, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    • No, it will only support Windows Vista 64 bit clients, and you need to have Power Pack 1 installed on your Windows Home Server to do that.

      Andrew Edney

      March 4, 2009 at 3:59 pm

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