Windows Home Server Questions?

vischo

Gawd
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Some of you may have seen my setup in the following threads http://hardforum.com/showthread.php?t=1257799 (SERVER) and http://hardforum.com/showthread.php?t=1252288 (HTPC). Please take a peek so you get the overview of what I use. (Windows Media Center, Server 2008 with JBOD 8 HDD's, 300+ DVD rips, 18,000+ MP3s, Vista laptop, Vista desktop) When I initially read up on Home Server I was a little less than optimistic. Now, its seems every person who talks about it has great things to say. I'd like to here from those of you who switched to Windows Home Server, how you feel and ask a couple of questions.

1. Give me an overview of how you use Home Server. How was the transition?
2. Are there any problems (other than x64) that you have?
3. Can you move data from a newly installed HDD onto the storage pool of Home Server before you "Add" the drive into the pool (at which point it formats it and adds to the pool)?
If not, I will have to move the data from a temporary server, 1 HDD at a time.
4. Any setup tips? Sounds like 1 main drive and 1 storage drive during install is best.

From the documentation, "If the home server fails completely, all the surviving drives can be attached to a computer that is not even running Windows Home Server, and you can copy the files from the drives..."

That being said, it would seem that Windows Home Server is just as good, if not better than my current setup of JBOD.
 

DeaconFrost

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I started a thread in the OS forum asking some basic questions, as well. I am checking out the new PowerPack video on the official website for now, as I'm interested in the new features. The deal killer for me in the past was the lack of x64 support. My wife and I both run x64 on our computers. With these new features, I'm definitely thinking of picking up a copy of the OS.

http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/winfamily/windowshomeserver/default.mspx
 

[LYL]Homer

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I built a WHS box about 6 weeks ago. Previously I had everything crammed into a PVR box. I read up on WHS and it sounded pretty good.

My PC's on my home network are listed in my sig.

1. I have a large amount of media files that I share to the client pc's and also stream over my gigabit network to the TV via PVR. All PC's backup to the server. I have file duplication turned on for our photos and some other misc. documents. The transition was pretty easy, and the installer for WHS is nice. After the OS was installed and my data was put in the pool I did scratch my head a few times wondering, "Ok, how do I now connect remotely from work?" or "How do I install an add-in?" But a few minutes of looking on the MS forums solved each issue.

2. No problems, fingers crossed. I've ordered a bigger case for my server with better airflow. The drives chug quite a bit with balancing. The WHS interface on client PC's can take up to a minute to come up when the server is balancing, which it does whenever something is added/removed.

3. Yes, you can move data from a drive before adding it to the pool. It shows up just like a regular drive at first. I had to spend a few days shuffling drives to move data to the pool drives and adding cleared off drives to the pool. When you add a drive to the pool the server balances the data across them (for data that has duplication turned on). The files I duplicate also are backed up onto an external HD that is not part of the pool.

4. MS suggests your largest drive for the main drive with the OS partition (20gb) and the rest as a data transfer area. Some file duplication takes place here too, so the space is used and not wasted. Also, WHS doesn't like RAID. Install the drives without RAID even if your card/mobo supports it. I'm using the two IDE channels and 4 SATA ports, plus 2 and 4 port SATA cards.

Yes, it's better than JBOD. If the OS drive or mobo fry, you are supposed to be able to reinstall WHS and after it's running just add your pool drives and it will find everything. Note: On any WHS install only connect drive(s) that you do not have data on! The installer makes this explicit, but a few have not bothered to read this and lost some or all of their data!

64 bit support is on the way according to the WHS official forums.

I've just started playing with the add-ins and connecting remotely, both pretty cool!

http://forums.microsoft.com/windowshomeserver/default.aspx?siteid=50
http://www.wegotserved.co.uk/windows-home-server-add-ins/

Take the time to read the documentation before/during/after you install WHS and you'll be miles ahead. It is a great OS but is still being worked on and added to by a fairly active sounding team at Microsoft. If you're familiar with any MS Server OS you'll probably be right at home, and if you're a noob like I was you'll find that it is not at all intimidating.

Let me know if you have any other questions.
 

DeaconFrost

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I just ordered my copy of WHS this morning, and should be putting together the server shortly, maybe this weekend.
 

[LYL]Homer

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A couple of tips and some pics -

1. Add-ins go on in \\Software\Add-ins\ They are a .msi file, then they show up in the Console under Settings, Add-ins.

2. The console looks pretty simple, and it is. But just about all of the configuration is done from it.






 

DeaconFrost

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For those already running it, do you have to load drivers for your system, especially if you are using it with a mouse, keyboard and monitor? If so, I'm guessing the Server 2003 equivalents will work.
 

speedrat

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Yes you use Windows 2003 drivers. I have seen one instance where it had a WHS-specific driver, but WHS is simply a GUI on top of 2003. Everything else remains the same. I use 2003 at work, but just really wanted a simple solution at home that I don't have to fuss with. Very pleased with WHS so far. Give me 64-bit compatability and I will be in tall cotton! :)
 

w1retap

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Does the OEM version have the Vista Aero type interface, or does it just have the standard windows classic and XP look? I downloaded a trial of it, and I got the windows classic logon and no sign of the Vista Aero looking themes. Then I enabled the themes service from the administrator settings, and it enabled the XP theme. That is all. But yet, I always see screenshots where people are running the Vista interface. :confused:
 

TechLarry

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Standard devices are supported as in any other version of Windows.

Serverr 2003 drivers should work fine.

In my case, my 3Ware 9500S-8 controller (with my 6 drives on it) was not recognized. I simply told the system to update the driver from Windows Update, and it found it and installed everything fine.

In fact, that's the FIRST time the search for driver via windows update has ever worked for me :)

As for virus protection, the only fully integrated solution is Avast, which I purchased. It integrates into the console as a standard WHS app should and installed and runs fine.



For those already running it, do you have to load drivers for your system, especially if you are using it with a mouse, keyboard and monitor? If so, I'm guessing the Server 2003 equivalents will work.
 

TechLarry

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Agreed. I went from a full-blown Windows 2003 Enterprise Server system with a 6-drive 1.8TB RAID-5 array to WHS, and I do not regret a second of it.

Zero maintenance, and the backup system is the best in the business.

Yes you use Windows 2003 drivers. I have seen one instance where it had a WHS-specific driver, but WHS is simply a GUI on top of 2003. Everything else remains the same. I use 2003 at work, but just really wanted a simple solution at home that I don't have to fuss with. Very pleased with WHS so far. Give me 64-bit compatability and I will be in tall cotton! :)
 

TechLarry

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WHS is not based on Vista. It is based on Windows Server 2003 Small Business Edition. It has the W2K3 interface. You are seeing the 'vista' interface because you are seeing snapshots of the Remote Console being run on a Vista machine. You are not seeing the screen of the WHS.

You will spend almost zero time using the standard windows desktop once installation is complete. 99.9% of all maintenance is run from the console via a remote computer. WHS is designed to be used as a headless server.

You CAN use full RDC to log into the desktop of the server, but there are very little instances where you need to do this, which is good. It almost totally isolates the operator from doing any potential damage.

This is not a system designed for constant tweaking, geeking and playing in. It is designed to be installed and stuffed into a closet, and is quite happy to run with no monitor, keyboard or mouse installed once it's set up.

As the great infomercial man Ron Popeil likes to say....

"You just set it, and forget it!"



Does the OEM version have the Vista Aero type interface, or does it just have the standard windows classic and XP look? I downloaded a trial of it, and I got the windows classic logon and no sign of the Vista Aero looking themes. Then I enabled the themes service from the administrator settings, and it enabled the XP theme. That is all. But yet, I always see screenshots where people are running the Vista interface. :confused:
 

DeaconFrost

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As the great infomercial man Ron Popeil likes to say....

"You just set it, and forget it!"
So, what you are saying is, it can back up my files, AND make a pork roast, like my Ronco Rotisserie? Nice.

Newegg absolutely rocks for delivery. I just placed my order yesterday morning, and it's out for delivery already.
 

TechLarry

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If you have as many drives stacked as I do, yes. It can make a pork roast :)

So, what you are saying is, it can back up my files, AND make a pork roast, like my Ronco Rotisserie? Nice.

Newegg absolutely rocks for delivery. I just placed my order yesterday morning, and it's out for delivery already.
 

w1retap

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Thanks Larry for clearing that up. I wasn't sure what was going on there. :p But yeah, I've been messing around with WHS and it is great. I like it so far. The remote administration is very nice and easy to use.
 

speedrat

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Agreed. I went from a full-blown Windows 2003 Enterprise Server system with a 6-drive 1.8TB RAID-5 array to WHS, and I do not regret a second of it.

Zero maintenance, and the backup system is the best in the business.

My old setup matched your exactly! Oh wait mine was 4-drive. :)

Now what to do with the RAID card.....
 

speedrat

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Standard devices are supported as in any other version of Windows.

Serverr 2003 drivers should work fine.

In my case, my 3Ware 9500S-8 controller (with my 6 drives on it) was not recognized. I simply told the system to update the driver from Windows Update, and it found it and installed everything fine.

In fact, that's the FIRST time the search for driver via windows update has ever worked for me :)

As for virus protection, the only fully integrated solution is Avast, which I purchased. It integrates into the console as a standard WHS app should and installed and runs fine.

Larry whats does Avast do for you? I am using NOD32 on my WHS. Does Avast do any managing, etc for you on WHS?
 

[LYL]Homer

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One is supposed to ONLY run WHS compliant anti-virus on WHS, and as Larry said Avast is the only one now.

Also, the only version of WHS is the OEM version. The other way to get it is to buy a pre-built WHS box from someone like HP.
 

TechLarry

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Interesting question, actually :)

You are running NOD32 and are probably fine. It's just running in the backgound as a standard Win2K3 application. You won't have access to it from the remote console, but that probably doesn't matter as NOD32 is very good at taking care of itself.

Here's the deal. I emailed ESET about using NOD32 on my WHS. I use it currently on my main desktop.

I received a call from their sales department 2 days later. It was explained to me that since WHS is based on Win2KS3, I would need to purchase their SERVER License, even though this was a home server.

Ok. I reallly dislike that and think they should be making exceptions for WHS users. Others are!

I was offered the basic server package, which included the software licensed for the server PLUS 3 workstation licenses for one year. It was around $100.

Honestly, that's a fair price. I didn't bite for two reasons:

I don't need 3 more workstation licenses. I already have one paid for, and my Laptop has a corporate load on it with SAV 10 enterprise.

Second, as far as I know, NOD32 does not integrate into the WHS console as all apps are supposed to. If I am wrong about this, I certainly stand corrected but that's what I am able to gather. That doesn't mean it doesn't work (as you obviously know), it just means it's not integrated and isn't manageable from the WHS console remotely.

If you are using the desktop version on WHS, you are actually probably outside of the license agreement, but that's not my problem and I personally don't care :) Whether ESET pushes the point and give you grief who knows?

So, that sums it up. I got a copy of AVAST that is written specifically for and integrated in to WHS, it's licensed for WHS at a fair price ($29 if I recall correctly), and it works.

No, I'm not a huge fan of it. I really don't care for the interface at all, but I don't have to really look at it very often :)

If ESET changes thier policy on this and integrates it properly I will most likely change over to them when mh current AVAST license expires in 11 months or so.





Larry whats does Avast do for you? I am using NOD32 on my WHS. Does Avast do any managing, etc for you on WHS?
 

speedrat

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Well good info, Larry. I think I am ok. I looked at the website and my license. I purchased the home office 3-user edition for 2 years. It isn't used as a manager, but I will convert it if necessary.

But you are right it isn't integrated into WHS. It runs in the background all by itself. Does the Avast integrate? Can you manage your clients from the WHS console? Guess I need to read up on it some more! :)

Just looked at the Avast website. Looks like it does manage from the console. I will look into it. Much obliged...
 

DeaconFrost

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Avast has a pretty decent deal (for some people) that you get the WHS license and up to 10 desktop license for $89.95 for two years. That doesn't seem like a bad deal if you have a few client systems sitting around.
 

[LYL]Homer

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Avast is 25% off thru the end of the month.

$30 1 year
$41 2 years
$55 3 years

This is for just the server. I run AVG on the client pc's. My 60 day Avast trial is almost out so I'll get is just for WHS.
 

RSiggs

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1. Give me an overview of how you use Home Server. How was the transition?

---I started out on the beta and am now using the released version. I've had to reinstall twice, once for my own mistake and once for an anti-virus issue. No problems since the release. The home server stores all my music (400Gb or so), video (3Tb of movies and TV) as well as documents, photos and machine backups.

2. Are there any problems (other than x64) that you have?

---Other than getting a decent streaming add-in, no not really.

3. Can you move data from a newly installed HDD onto the storage pool of Home Server before you "Add" the drive into the pool (at which point it formats it and adds to the pool)?
If not, I will have to move the data from a temporary server, 1 HDD at a time.

---You can, but it would require you to rdp into the server itself, rather than through the 'console'.

4. Any setup tips? Sounds like 1 main drive and 1 storage drive during install is best.

---Make sure your largest drive is first so that you can maximise the 'balancing' storage portion of the server. It's going to make 2 partitions, one for the OS (20gb) and the other for Data (whatever the remaining space is on the drive. That data partition is where it will store data you copy onto the server before the drive extender service distributes the data onto other drives. The larger it is, the more data you can put on at one time.

Roger
 

AMD_Gamer

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I had it running inside of a VirtualBox VM for the 30 day trial.

sweet, i plan to run it on my vmware server,

im just waiting on a copy of windows xp pro i got from the FS/FT forum for $45 because they dont have the connector software for vista 64:mad:
 

Sparkyy

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I've read through the thread and several others, I guess I am just trying to figure out how it saves across multiple drives.
So you have say 4 - 1Tb drives and a 20gb for the OS, now you have pictures, docs, multimedia etc and its a total of 1.5 TB, now if you told WHS to duplicate all of those files, you in a sense are using 1.5 TB twice over or am I totally off base?
4 TB total, 1.5 of real data, 1.5 of duplicate so 1TB left right?
I know the numbers are never even just trying to get down the logic of it.
 

DeaconFrost

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It isn't really intended to be used that way, mainly because of the storage. You wouldn't be able to easily add drives to the data pools, etc. If you take a look at the basic principles of WHS, you'll see why it should be run on its own dedicated machine.
 

TechLarry

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Yes, Avast does integrate into the WHS console.

This is a stand-alone install for WHS only. It is a single-client license, and is not a server based product in that it doesn't manage networked machines. It is solely to protect the WHS server.



Well good info, Larry. I think I am ok. I looked at the website and my license. I purchased the home office 3-user edition for 2 years. It isn't used as a manager, but I will convert it if necessary.

But you are right it isn't integrated into WHS. It runs in the background all by itself. Does the Avast integrate? Can you manage your clients from the WHS console? Guess I need to read up on it some more! :)

Just looked at the Avast website. Looks like it does manage from the console. I will look into it. Much obliged...
 

TechLarry

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That's the deal I got. I went for 1 year in hopes of better support from ESET in the future (price wise).




[LYL]Homer;1031928375 said:
Avast is 25% off thru the end of the month.

$30 1 year
$41 2 years
$55 3 years

This is for just the server. I run AVG on the client pc's. My 60 day Avast trial is almost out so I'll get is just for WHS.
 

TechLarry

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Yes, but given your statement you are not their intended customer.

The intended customer is someone who wants a server that provides the most commonly needed services with near zero maintenance.

That ain't Linux :)

Tried whs ended up using linux and soft raid 5. Much more flexible.
 

TechLarry

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If you select a share for mirroring, WHS will ensure the data for that share exists on two distinct drives at all times. It does require double the space (obviously).


I've read through the thread and several others, I guess I am just trying to figure out how it saves across multiple drives.
So you have say 4 - 1Tb drives and a 20gb for the OS, now you have pictures, docs, multimedia etc and its a total of 1.5 TB, now if you told WHS to duplicate all of those files, you in a sense are using 1.5 TB twice over or am I totally off base?
4 TB total, 1.5 of real data, 1.5 of duplicate so 1TB left right?
I know the numbers are never even just trying to get down the logic of it.
 

Toytown

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After looking at getting another NAS device, my mind is now changing to WHS. Could anybody be so kind to answer these 3 questions for me please.

1. Regarding the mirrored shares, can i choose to break and remake the mirror on shares at will (taking into account theres enough space in the pool to remake a mirror)?

2. do the drives spin down when not used?

3. Can you tell WHS to turn off from say 2am - 8am?
 
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