Another Happy User of Windows Home Server
A couple of months ago I bought an Acer Aspire easyStore home server for my home. It comes preinstalled with Windows Home Server. The configuration I bought has a single 1TB hard drive with the OS itself and plenty of room for backups and data; I also ordered another internal WD Caviar Green 1.5TB hard drive and an external 2TB Seagate hard drive.
The internal hard drive was faulty from the start, so I’m in the process of replacing it, but right now I’m working with 3TB of space, which is enough for my backups and most of my data. It’s really easy to add or remove drives, and you can do it without ever shutting down the server by simply opening the front door, removing one of the bays, inserting your hard drive (screw-less design – another bonus!) and you’re good to go.
One of the neatest things about this server is its form factor – it’s really small. I have a small storage cabinet that’s 30cm (1’) wide and about 70cm (2’4”) tall, and it hosts the home server, the cable modem, the router and the external hard drive without missing a beat.
If you know me personally, you probably know that I’m the (grumpy) system administrator for seven computers (two desktops, two media centers and three laptops), and ensuring the integrity of the data, performing timely backups, restoring them after installation problems and so on – can quickly become annoying if it’s not your day job… One of the primary objectives of buying the server was to stop worrying!
So far I’m very happy with my home server. I’m using it for backups – and because I have Windows 7 on all seven machines, there’s plenty of duplication which Windows Home Server detects – that’s why it’s currently using only 424GB of space for backups. I’m using it for shared storage – photos, videos, music and software installations. The one thing I’m not storing on the home server yet is recorded TV, because it usually doesn’t survive more than a couple of days before being deleted, and my media center’s 1.5TB of storage are more than enough to store plenty of recorded programs.
I’m also using the home server to remotely connect to my computers at home. When you buy a Windows Home Server, you’re automatically entitled to a sub-domain (under .homeserver.com, or other alternatives) that you can use to connect to your server. You can browse all the shared folders and remotely connect to any computer at home using Remote Desktop.
I look back at the last few years and realize that I’ve never been very good with backups. I have backups of the most important personal stuff on DVDs, and some of the work stuff is safely backed up by LiveMesh and SkyDrive. However, if one of my PCs at home suffered a major breakdown, it would take me weeks to restore it to a decent state. With Windows Home Server, restoring over a wireless N connection or a wired Gigabit connection is a matter of hours at most.
This definitely isn’t the freshest piece of advice you’ve ever heard, but if you’re not thinking about backups, it’s better to start sooner than later, and Windows Home Server is a good place to start :-)