Windows Home Server Review

WHS Shared Storage

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.

Initially I used NASLite-2 to power my home network, but I switched to Windows Home Server last week and I’m glad I did as it is amazing program.

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.

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

27 Responses to Windows Home Server Review

  1. Joseph Plazo December 10, 2007 at 1:23 am #

    Now that’s comprehensive. Far more entertaining and informative than what I get at pcmag.com

  2. Profile photo of Joseph Plazo
    Joseph Plazo December 10, 2007 at 1:23 am #

    Now that’s comprehensive. Far more entertaining and informative than what I get at pcmag.com

  3. Serg V December 10, 2007 at 4:30 am #

    Microsoft usual offering not bad system for home use. UNIX system is more reliable, but Windows easy for setup and not required a lot of time

  4. Serg V December 10, 2007 at 4:30 am #

    Microsoft usual offering not bad system for home use. UNIX system is more reliable, but Windows easy for setup and not required a lot of time

  5. Terry Walsh December 10, 2007 at 9:08 am #

    You can find a full list of WHS Add-ins at http://www.wegotserved.co.uk

    Cheers
    Terry

  6. Terry Walsh December 10, 2007 at 9:08 am #

    You can find a full list of WHS Add-ins at http://www.wegotserved.co.uk

    Cheers
    Terry

  7. Jalaj December 10, 2007 at 1:21 pm #

    (WHS itself only takes up about 20GB)

    Is that a typo… 20GB ?

  8. Jalaj December 10, 2007 at 1:21 pm #

    (WHS itself only takes up about 20GB)

    Is that a typo… 20GB ?

  9. Everton December 10, 2007 at 1:43 pm #

    @Jalaj

    The installation of WHS uses up 20GB – you can see my storage breakdown in bottom right of the first screenhot – http://www.connectedinternet.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/server-storage.png

  10. Profile photo of Everton
    Everton December 10, 2007 at 1:43 pm #

    @Jalaj

    The installation of WHS uses up 20GB – you can see my storage breakdown in bottom right of the first screenhot – http://www.connectedinternet.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/server-storage.png

  11. Joseph Plazo December 10, 2007 at 3:44 pm #

    Considering that many PCs ship with 40GB by default, this 20GB screams “Im bloatware”

    Sigh. It’s like software vendors and hardware vendors are in cahoots to make us spend on bigger, faster and nastier upgrades

  12. Profile photo of Joseph Plazo
    Joseph Plazo December 10, 2007 at 3:44 pm #

    Considering that many PCs ship with 40GB by default, this 20GB screams “Im bloatware”

    Sigh. It’s like software vendors and hardware vendors are in cahoots to make us spend on bigger, faster and nastier upgrades

  13. Jez December 10, 2007 at 3:45 pm #

    waiting for my $5 120 day trial disk now! this ‘should’ hopefully solve most of my issues! Hope there is a good community for addins..

  14. Jez December 10, 2007 at 3:45 pm #

    waiting for my $5 120 day trial disk now! this ‘should’ hopefully solve most of my issues! Hope there is a good community for addins..

  15. fenix December 10, 2007 at 8:36 pm #

    Yeah, WHS is one of the best recent MS releases, especially after the mixed reaction to Vista. The close collaboration of MS with third party vendors means that those programs ought to work right out of the box and integrate nicely into WHS. For eg, Diskeeper, and excellent defragmenter in it’s own right snaps right into the WHS console, and makes defragging very easy and painless. Overall, an excellent effort by MS and I hope this carries over to Vienna/7/whatever the next version of Windows is called.

  16. fenix December 10, 2007 at 8:36 pm #

    Yeah, WHS is one of the best recent MS releases, especially after the mixed reaction to Vista. The close collaboration of MS with third party vendors means that those programs ought to work right out of the box and integrate nicely into WHS. For eg, Diskeeper, and excellent defragmenter in it’s own right snaps right into the WHS console, and makes defragging very easy and painless. Overall, an excellent effort by MS and I hope this carries over to Vienna/7/whatever the next version of Windows is called.

  17. WHS is Slow December 15, 2007 at 6:49 pm #

    WHS speeds can drop to as bad as between 1Mbits/s to 7Mbits/s which as you can imagine may disappoint you heavily especially if your on a 1 Gigabit network!

    Source: on10.net/Blogs/EnglishBloke/how-can-i-speed-up-my-windows-home-server-file-copies

  18. idlorj December 17, 2007 at 6:51 pm #

    The system drive is a 20GB partition. On my WHS I have 14.9GB free out of the 20.

  19. idlorj December 17, 2007 at 6:51 pm #

    The system drive is a 20GB partition. On my WHS I have 14.9GB free out of the 20.

  20. TN January 7, 2008 at 10:51 pm #

    Where in the world can you buy a PC that ships default with a 40gb hard drive? I didn’t even know they made those anymore…

  21. TN January 7, 2008 at 10:51 pm #

    Where in the world can you buy a PC that ships default with a 40gb hard drive? I didn’t even know they made those anymore…

  22. MichaelQ January 16, 2008 at 10:11 pm #

    Perhaps this may be a silly question, but:

    Can you put a Mac on a WHS network? Would you get all the advantages? (i.e. shared folders, streaming, back up [with Time Machine], etc?

    How would you set this up?

    Thanks for any help!

  23. MichaelQ January 16, 2008 at 10:11 pm #

    Perhaps this may be a silly question, but:

    Can you put a Mac on a WHS network? Would you get all the advantages? (i.e. shared folders, streaming, back up [with Time Machine], etc?

    How would you set this up?

    Thanks for any help!

  24. Everton January 17, 2008 at 7:02 am #

    @MichaelQ

    The Mac will be able to see all the shared folders as they are just network shares so yes. Backup works as you can backup the Mac to one of the shares. Also streaming as it’s based on UPnP

  25. Profile photo of Everton
    Everton January 17, 2008 at 7:02 am #

    @MichaelQ

    The Mac will be able to see all the shared folders as they are just network shares so yes. Backup works as you can backup the Mac to one of the shares. Also streaming as it’s based on UPnP

  26. SandraMillhouse July 8, 2010 at 12:38 pm #

    I'm happy I found this review. I've been using Windows Home server for a while now and I'm happy with it. Still, it's good for home use. At work we need something better so we prefer a Linux server.
    Sandra Millhouse @ Virtual servers UK

  27. christian louboutin September 27, 2010 at 6:27 am #

    It seems too complicated and very broad for me. I am looking forward for your next post, I will try to get the hang of it

Skip to toolbar