Windows Home Server

Windows Home Server is a home server operating system developed and brought to the users from Microsoft. It is designed to stand as a solution for homes that are equipped with multiple connected PCs to proffer automated backups, file sharing, remote access et cetera. It is dependent on the functional characters of Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 2. Officially released on 7 November 2007, Windows Home Server has had 3 Power Pack versions that were released on 20 July 2008, 24 March 2009 and 24 November 2009 respectively. Windows Home Server has another version in line, brand named as Windows Home Server V2 that is expected to be released in 2010.

Technology Used

It is not surprising to know that Windows Home Server is built on the same codebase as Windows Server 2003 SP2 as it is evident from the fact that it includes almost all the technologies that are found in Windows Server 2003 SP2. Some features that are not found in Windows Server 2003 SP2 have been added to Windows Home Server.

Server Console

Home server console is a configuration interface that is delivered as an RDP application to the remote PCs. The client application can be accessed from any PC that works on Windows operating system. The server requires no video card or other such peripherals but an Ethernet card, Windows Vista or Windows 7 PC and at least one Windows XP.

Drive extender

Windows Home Server Drive Extender is a replication system that is file-based and proffers 3 advanced features to the users:

  • A single folder namespace without the necessity for drive letters.
  • Storage expansion (to any extent) by the support of any hard disk drive.
  • Multi-disk redundancy that helps the user to retrieve any data that has been lost.

Computer backup and restore

Windows Home Server Computer Backup is an advanced feature that automatically backs up all the data of all the computers in a home to a server with the help of an image-based system, which ascertains point-in-time-based restoration of specific or entire PCs files and folders. Complete restoration can be easily done with the help of bootable CD, while file based restoration can be done through the WHS client software that makes it easier to handle the selecting, dragging and dropping files from it.

Remote file access

Remote File Access provides users the access to an SSl secured web browser based interface over the internet. It allows the users to upload and download files from the content stores. However, users are limited to upload up to a maximum size of 2GB for a single batch.

Remote Desktop Services

It allows the users to remotely control the desktop of any computer that uses Windows on the home network. Systems that support this service are those that would support Remote Desktop: Windows XP professional, Enterprise and Ultimate editions.

Add-ins

Windows Home Server lets third party developers to publish add-ins (commercial and community) so as to enhance the functionality of the server.

System Requirements

The following are the minimum system requirements for Windows Home Server:

  • 1.8 GHz Intel Premium 3 processor
  • 512 MB RAM
  • 64 GB internal hard drive (primary)
  • 100 Mbit/s wired Ethernet

Other requirements mandatory for the installation of the operating system include:

  • Bootable DVD drive or a USB stick
  • Display
  • Keyboard and mouse

Features and Advantages

The Windows Home Server highlights the following features in its technology:

Main features

Features Uses and advantages
Centralized backup, server backup Centralized backup is a service that permits the user to take a backup of as many as 10 PCs with the help of the Single Instance Storage technology, which makes sure that there are no multiple copies of a single file. The server backup helps the user to take the back up of files stored in the shared folders on the server to an external hard disk drive.
File sharing It proffers network-sharing service to the computers to store files remotely thereby acting as a network-attached storage device. Common file types are categorized with titles like Documents, Music, Pictures, Videos et cetera.
Expandable storage It is a service that provides a single unified and expandable storage space that makes the need for drive letters absolutely unnecessary.

Other features

Features Uses and advantages
Health monitoring A service that helps a user to centrally track the health of a PC on the network .i.e. checks the PC for viruses and firewalls.
Printer sharing It is a service that allows the users to use a centralized print server to take up the job of printing documents and other files.
Shadow copy It is a service that makes use of Volume Shadow Copy services that allow recovering of older versions of various documents.
Headless operation Headless means no keyboard, mice or monitor. Hence, headless operation is a service that functions on the grounds of remote administration, which is performed by making use of the Windows Home Server Console client software. The operation also advocates Remote Desktop connections to the server even when connected to the same LAN.
Remote Access Gateway RAG is a service that allows remote access to any PC that is connected to the network, including the server itself over the internet.
Media streaming It is a service that can stream media to an Xbox 360 or other devices that support Windows Media Connect.
Selective Data redundancy It guards against the failure of a single drive by duplicating selected data across multiple drives.
Extensibility through add-ins Add-ins allow developers (third party) to advance the features and capabilities of the server. These can be ASP.NET applications that are hosted in IIS 6 running on WHS.

Advantages

File corruption

In the first release of windows Home Server, files that were saved directly to or edited on shares on a WHS device were liable of being corrupted. The issue had been resolved with the release of Power Pack 1. Hence, the users are protected from the issue of their files going corrupt.

No native backup

Power Pack 1 has the ability of backing up files that are stored on the shared folder to an external drive.