Over the last 2 years I have amassed a quite substantial media library as I have ripped all my CDs and DVDs. The problem I have in sharing this media collection around my home is that no single machine within my home has enough storage. An even bigger problem I faced was creating an easy way to access my files both within and outside my home.
Last month I completed the first step in solving my problem by building a cheap home server running NASLite-2 that would hold all my files that could be accessed around my home. This worked fine for a few days, but I discovered that whilst NASLite-2 provided a simple way to store files, it didn’t provide an easy way to create a remote access solution.
A more concerning failing of NASLite-2 was its speed. Transferring files took an eternity, and when I compared the speed to my eventual Windows Home Server setup it was 3x slower. I’m not sure if it was because of my hardware setup that NASLite-2 was too slow, but because it is such a bare bones solution it has limited expansion and configuration options, so there was nothing I could do to improve my speed.
The lack of expandability in NASLite-2 is the main reason I rebuilt my server using Windows Home Server, as I didn’t want to risk being stuck in six months time with a service that I couldn’t expand or modify. With WHS I’m confident that I won’t be left in the lurch in the future, and already there are dozens of useful WHS addons that have been released.
Windows Home Server Installation
Released in October, WHS is aimed at households that:
- have more than one PC that want an easy way to share, backup and remotely access pictures, videos, music and other files
- want additional security and automated backup options
- a home server that is easy to expand as household demands increase
Windows Home Server isn’t designed to run as a main PC or to run other applications, so the minimum requirements are very low:
- 1 GHz Pentium 3 or equivalent
- 512MB ram
- 70GB HDD (WHS itself only takes up about 20GB)
- Network card
To install Windows Home Server a DVD drive, monitor, keyboard and mouse are required but these can be removed once WHS is up and running as the server can be controlled via other PCs connected to your home network or over the internet.
My installation went very smoothly and took around 40 mins in total. Initially I thought was given the wrong CD as in many places the installation wizard said it was setting up Windows Server 2003, whose code WHS utilises. The only place where I had to intervene other than choosing a server name, password, entering my key etc was to manually install my network card.
Once I’d got the server up and running I removed the DVD drive I’d temporarily connected and turned my attention to setting up my PCs to work with my new server.