A server for the home

ONE OF the most overlooked versions of Windows is Home Server and it also happens to be one of Microsoft’s best.

It is not uncommon for a home to have more than one computer, which is why having a dedicated machine with Home Server is so vital.

Firstly, Home Server will make backups of up to 10 machines in your house — we would prefer that there wasn’t a limit but 10 sounds reasonable for now.

Besides maintaining backups it can also stream movies and music, and share files across the network.

At the moment, you can’t get your hands on just a copy of the OS but instead have to buy a Home Server PC.

Acer is the only one offering such a machine here and it is called the Acer Aspire Easy Store.

Though custom building your own computer and installing Home Server would be the best option, the Acer Easy Store gets quite a number of things right.

It has an Intel Atom 230 processor (1.6GHz /512K cache/ 533MHz FSB), Intel 945GC Express chipset, 2GB RAM and 1TB hard drive (upgradable to 8TB over four bays). It costs RM1,299.

Also, more Home Server PCs are expected to be available starting from the third quarter of this year. If you don’t wish to wait, you can download a trial copy at bit.ly/q85Fb and start fooling with it.

Remote access

Because the Home Server is best controlled remotely, you will have to install a client called a WHS Connector on each machine.

Even though the software is included with the Home Server disc, there is a better way to install the client over the network. Open up a browser window and type in http://servername:55000 where the server name is the name of your Home Network PC.

This should bring up the Windows Home Server Connector page which will prompt you to download the client. Once you download and install the client you’ll be prompted to input the admin password for the Home Server machine.

After that you will be presented with the Console window from which you can fully control the functions of the Home Server and how it’ll interact with the other machines.

The first tab – Computers and Backup – will show all the other computers connected to the Home Server. You can use it to schedule backups or start an instant backup.

Also, should you need to retrieve any of the backed up files, you can access the read-only virtual partition that the Home Server will create for you on your local machine.

Streaming media

The Home Server will automatically create a few standard folders for file sharing. To be able to stream to other devices, go to the Console setting and click on Media Sharing on the left pane.

You will then be able to turn on media streaming for all your shared folders.

However, the Home Server can only stream to devices that support the Windows Media Connect protocol such as a PC with Media Player and Xbox 360.

More add-ins

It’s also a good idea to update Home Server with the latest patches and security fixes. Click on the Setting button on the top right corner. Look for the Update Now button under the General tab and click it.

This will download the latest patches and security fixes. There are also a number of community developed add-ins that you should consider installing. Here are a few of our favourites.

Advanced Admin Console (home-server-addins.com) For even better control of your Home Server, you can install the Advanced Admin Console which will create an additional tab in the Console window.

The handy tab will give you quick access to the server’s Command Prompt, Registry Editor, Start Menu, Recycle Bin, Administrative Tools and Task manager.

Disk Management (bit.ly/cCnGAX) As good as Home Server is at managing the multiple hard disks but you’ll still want to be able to see every possible information of your storage.

With Disk Management, you’ll be able to see detailed information about each disk including its capacity, real-time temperature and activity and a 3D wireframe representation of the server.

The 3D wireframe is not only cool looking but it also makes it easy to select any part of the hard disk that you wish to monitor.

Armed with this info, you’ll know exactly which drive to upgrade or replace before it’s too late.

LightsOut (bit.ly/8mBCS5) Home Server is meant to run 24/7 so that it is always available but you still should do your part for the planet by saving as much power as possible.

You can do this with the LightsOut add-in which can put the server in Suspended or Hibernation mode until a particular event triggers it awake such as a scheduled backup.

However, LightsOut comes in two flavours — a free but limited version and a full version which costs US22.90 (RM75).

My Movies (www.mymovies.dk) With so many movies and songs on your hard disk you’ll want a convenient way to sort them. Enter the My Movies add-in.

This nifty add-in retrieves community generated metadata for tagging movies with info such as movie summary, director and cast information, running time, genres and more.

You’ll even get high quality movie covers so you don’t have to browse your movies by text alone.

This feature is only supported if you access the Home Server using Windows Media Centre from any other computer.

The add-in also features extra functions such as DVD ripping but this has to be unlocked with a donation to the forum.

Related Stories: Media everywhere Network connected player

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