by Colin Huckstep on March 20, 2007 in Windows
We have a look at the beta version of the Home Server software, which youâ€™ll be able to purchase separately or as part of a Home Server bundle from PC makers like HP. With its combination of features and simplicity, this is one future home networking product thatâ€™s worth looking forward to.
Windows Home Server is a product from Microsoft, introduced at CES this past January, scheduled to be released around the holiday season of 2007. WHS is designed to be a â€œheadlessâ€ network appliance, meaning there will be no monitor, mouse, and keyboard attached to the system.
Microsoft has two distribution models for the product.
- 1. A tightly integrated hardware/software solution from system manufacturers such as Dell and HP.
- 2. Software available for system builders and technology enthusiasts.
For most of the public sector, the first model is likely to be the method for obtaining a Windows Home Server. These complete hardware/software solutions will come pre-built from manufacturers, usually in small, aesthetically pleasing cases. WHS will be preinstalled and configured on these machines by the manufacturer; all the consumer has to do is install the client on their home computers. The second model is for PC enthusiasts that prefer to â€œroll their own,â€ so to speak.
Essentially, Windows Home Server is designed to be a central repository for all of your householdâ€™s important data and media files. Currently Windows Home Server is in the closed beta stages, and for the purposes of this preview I will be working from WHS Beta 2. That being said, the features I talk about in this article are still subject to change in the final RTM version.
- 1. Home Computer Backup and Restore
- 2. Centralized Storage
- 3. Home Network Health Monitoring
- 4. Remote Access
- 5. Media Streaming
Without further ado, letâ€™s take an in-depth look at what the future may hold for the home networking enthusiasts out there.
Windows Home Server has fairly modest minimum hardware requirements.
Minimum Hardware Requirements
- Processor – 1GHz Pentium III or higher
- RAM – 512MB RAM
- Hard Drive – 80GB Internal Hard Drive
- CD/DVD – Any Bootable DVD-ROM Drive
- Network – 10/100 Network Interface Card
I decided to test the Windows Home Server using close to the minimum system requirements. As I said before, Microsoft plans to release this in a standalone software form that can be purchased by enthusiasts — if you have some low-end or old hardware lying around, it might be a good candidate for WHS. I have a fairly modest Dell Dimension B110 (I had been using for a Windows 2003 Server) that I thought would be a good candidate for this project.
Test Bed: Dell Dimension B110
- Processor – 2.5GHz Celeron D
- RAM – 512MB DDR PC3200
- Hard Drive – 80GB PATA UDMA/100
- CD/DVD – Internal DVD-ROM
- Network – On-board Intel Pro/100 VE
If you system supports booting from a USB device, you can install Windows Home Server using a USB DVD drive. After the installation there isnâ€™t much need for the DVD drive in the system anymore.
If you donâ€™t have a system available but want to use WHS, the hardware requirements arenâ€™t strenuous, and a basic desktop machine can fit the bill. I configured a Dell Dimension E520, with a 2.8GHz Celeron, 160GB HD and 512MB of RAM at dell for around $480. If youâ€™d rather build your own server, I was able to configure a system with an AMD Sempron 3400+ (1.8GHz; Socket AM2) with a 250GB SATAII HD and 512MB RAM for $310 after shipping. As you can see, a home server can be done fairly well on the cheap if you donâ€™t already have an older system around. Because WHS is still in the Beta stage, I was unable to get prices for custom built systems from OEMs like Dell and HP.