Windows Home Server For Dummies
If you have a home or small-business network, then try Windows Home Server to manage folders, back up data, stream media, and more. Windows Home Server can save the day if one of your personal PCs hiccups: Know how to get the most out of its features, understand some of the things you can't do (or aren't allowed to do), and know how to install and uninstall add-ins.
6 Ways You Can Maximize Windows Home Server
Windows Home Server rates as more than an operating system, it's a platform (according to Microsoft). To get the most out of Windows Home Server, be sure to
Stick a second hard drive on your server. Windows Home Server needs two or more hard drives on the server in order to perform all the backups you paid for. The second hard drive needn't be fancy.
Turn on duplication for your server's shared folders. At first glance, the Folder Duplication feature mirrors the data in a folder on two (or sometimes more) hard drives. By maintaining mirror images, any single drive can turn belly-up, and Windows Home Server will still be able to reconstitute all the files in the folder.
Enable the Guest account. The Guest account does more than you think. For example, it can help your Xbox 360 pull music and videos off the server.
Set up Remote Access. If you ever need to log on to your home network from Patong or low Earth orbit, you'll be glad you have it.
Turn off other backup programs on Vista and XP machines. With Windows Home Server in place, you won't need NTBackup or Vista's Automatic Backup programs.
Get offsite storage. Windows Home Server can't protect your data if your house burns down or your server decides to eat all its disks. Offsite backup isn't automatic, but it can be free.
10 Warnings about Windows Home Server
Windows Home Server has great features and covers some very important bases such as back up and restore, folder sharing, and remote access. But Windows Home Server doesn't try to cover all the bases, and you should be warned about the following:
If you forget the server's password, you're in deep dreck.
You can't change your own password unless you know the server's password.
You can't let other people look at your shared folders unless you know the server's password. Ditto, ditto, and ditto.
You can back up a PC over a wireless connection every night like clockwork, but you have to physically connect the computer to your network to restore data to that PC from a backup.
You can restore only to a hard drive that's bigger than (or the same size) as the original.
Windows Home Server isn't a Media Server. If you expect to stream videos or music stored on your server to your Xbox, you have to connect the Xbox to a separate, bona fide Media Server computer, which then talks to the server.
You can't get at previous versions of files in shared folders if you're running Windows Vista Home Basic or Premium.
Windows Home Server maxes out at ten user names.
You can hang a printer on your server, but usually it's a pain. If Windows Home Server includes your printer driver, it'll be easy, but if you need to install a driver, you're in for a tussle.
You can't use Remote Access to control a computer running Windows XP Home, Vista Home Basic, or Home Premium.
Install or Uninstall Add-Ins on Windows Home Server
Microsoft made it easy for developers to install new applications on your Windows Home Server server — as long as you know the server's password. If you find a new Windows Home Server add-in that you really want, then install it. If you discover another add-in that's better, uninstall the unwanted app (bye-bye!) and then add the new one.
Download and install an add-in with these simple steps:
Go to any home or office computer on your network and download the application's installation file.
Every application designed to be installed with Windows Home Server comes in a specific kind of file called an .msi file.
Double-click the icon on the desktop marked Shared Folders on Server, then double-click the Software folder, and then double-click the folder called Add-Ins.
Copy the installation file (the .msi file) into the Add-Ins folder, and then X-button out of Windows Explorer.
Double-click the Windows Home Server icon in the notification area, near the time.
When the Windows Home Server logon dialog box appears, type your server's password and click the right-pointing arrow.
When the Windows Home Server Console appears, at the upper right, click the Settings icon.
Windows Home Server Console shows you the Settings dialog box.
On the left, click Add-Ins. Then click the Available tab.
You see a list of available add-ins. Not surprisingly, the list of available add-ins corresponds one-to-one with the .msi files in the Add-Ins folder. Rocket science.
Find the add-in you want to install, and click its Install button.
Windows Home Server installs the program by running the .msi file. When it's done, you see the Installation Succeeded message.
Windows Home Server advises that the computer has lost its connection to the server, and the Windows Home Server logon dialog box appears again.
Type the server's password and click the right-arrow.
The Windows Home Server Console appears again. If the add-in put a new tab on the Console, you can see the new tab. Your new add-in is running. Take it for a spin.
Finding the right add-ins can be a daunting task. If you ever change your mind about a particular add-in, uninstalling it couldn't be simpler, if you know the server's password.
Uninstall an add-in with these simple steps (don't worry, its feelings won't be hurt):
Log on to any computer on your network, and double-click the Windows Home Server icon in the notification area, near the time.
When the Windows Home Server logon dialog box appears, type your server's password and click the right-arrow.
When the Windows Home Server Console appears, on the upper right, click the Settings icon.
Windows Home Server shows you the Settings dialog box.
On the left, click Add-Ins.
The Installed tab shows you a list of all the Add-ins installed on your server.
Pick the Add-in you want to axe, and click its Uninstall button.
You see a message that says the add-in was uninstalled.
The connection with the server is broken. If you want to log back in to the Windows Home Server Console to verify that the add-in isn't running anymore, by all means do so.