Saturday, March 3, 2007

Windows Home Server

I finally found a great excuse for retiring Windows XP Home Edition and re-purposing my old Pentium III (1 GHz) computer based on the ASUS P3V4X motherboard. I installed the Beta 2 version of Windows Home Server on Pegasus.

The minimum hardware requirements for Windows Home Server are: 1 GHz Pentium III (or equivalent) CPU, 512 MB or more of RAM (Pegasus has 2 GB of memory), 80 GB of disk space, 100 Mbps (or faster) Network Interface Card, and a DVD drive.

It is obvious that Windows Home Server is based on Windows Server 2003 technology because there are references to "Windows Server 2003 for Small Business" and "Windows Server 2003" during the installation.

It took a little over one hour and numerous normal restarts (I lost count) to install Windows Home Server. Part of the reason may be the number and size of the disk drives on Pegasus: one Western Digital 100GB. one Western Digital 120GB, and four Maxtor 250GB hard drives.

The only additional driver required during the Windows Home Server installation was the driver for the Promise Technology Ultra133 TX2 HBA, and this could have been installed later.

Windows Home Server cannot be installed in a dual-boot setup because it requires control of all disk drives in the system. At the beginning of the installation, a warning is displayed that all files on all disk drives will be deleted!

One of the nice features of Windows Home Server is that it manages all of the system's disk drives as a single "Server Storage" which means that one does not have to be concerned about where to store files on the server.

Windows Home Server automatically creates the following Shared Folders: Music, Photos, Public, Software, and Videos. Additional Shared Folders may be created with varying degrees of User Permissions.

Another great feature of Windows Home Server is the ability to "Enable Folder Duplication" for any Shared Folder. When this feature is enabled for a Shared Folder, Windows Home Server automatically duplicates the folder on different physical disk drives to prevent data loss in case of a disk drive failure - a software-based RAID solution!

This software-based RAID solution has advantages over hardware-based RAID solutions. For one, it doesn't require the use of disk drives with the same specifications, e.g., disk capacity. It is also easy to expand Server Storage by adding internal and/or external disk drives!

In fact, Microsoft recommends disabling hardware-based RAID on your Windows Home Server if it is available.

I was surprised that Windows Home Server did not have the correct driver for the Netgear GA311 Gigabit PCI Adapter which is based on the Realtek RTL8169/8110 NIC. Not a big problem. I downloaded the driver from the Realtek Web site and Windows Home Server connected to the network immediately after installation.

The only other driver I had to install was the driver for my NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra video card which really is not needed for Windows Home Server.


Because Windows Home Server is intended to be a "headless" server, i.e., Windows Home Server operates without the need for a monitor, keyboard and mouse once it is installed and set up.

Windows Home Server is intended to be controlled and operated remotely from other computers in the network!

Pegasus has now been relocated to my "server closet" alongside my Windows 2000 Advanced Server (Centaur) which hosts my Web server for

One security hole in servers is the use of the Web browser on the server. I never use the Web browser from my servers. I was glad to see that Windows Home Server restricts the use of Internet Explorer from Windows Home Server - even Microsoft's MSN is not a trusted Web site by default in Windows Home Server!

Windows Home Server has other very interesting features which I will be exploring in the coming days. My experiences with Windows Home Server will be shared here.

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