Canon Digital Photography Forums  

Go Back   Canon Digital Photography Forums > 'Sharing Knowhow' section > RAW, Post Processing and Printing > Computers
Register Rules FAQ Members List Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read



Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 8th of July 2008 (Tue)   #1
Greg_C
Cream of the Crop
 
Greg_C's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Posts: 12,592
Default Review - Windows Home Server (WHS)

I've recently set up a Windows Home Server (WHS). Based on Small Business Server 2003 (still has some of the SBS badging during install) it is targeted at the family that have several computers in the house and want a simple file share and backup functionality. A single WHS system allows you to connect 10 home PC's to it.

http://www.microsoft.com/windows/pro.../features.mspx

I've been starting to outgrow my storage solution. My primary machine is my laptop and I have been keeping the images that no longer fit on the laptop on a series of external HD's, one of which is stored off site. My storage needs have been growing at by about 30% a year. I've been thinking about how best to solve the space issue, I was thinking about upgrading one of the family computers in the house or buying a NAS. A friend put me onto a newly released Microsoft product called Windows Home Server (WHS).

Install
On my brand new box it took about an hour to install. You then have to install the Console app onto each of the home PC's, this only takes a few minutes. In about a hour and a half I was up and running.

Backup
Automated nightly backups to the server from all PC's connected to it. These start at a time of your choosing (default 12pm) and image your PC to the server. Incremental changes are then saved on subsequent nights. You then choose to how long to keep the daily, weekly & monthly backups. It does a cleanup every Sunday and removes any older backup or ones you've flagged for deletion. I haven't had to test this out and hope I don't, but from my research on the web it's a simple process. You can restore a complete image or individual files and folders. It's smart enough to recognise that the OS and other files on multiple PC's don't need to be backed up individually so this saves a lot of space.

PC Recovery
This is very simple from the backup and a supplied recovery CD. The recovery CD is also stored on the server as a ISO so you can burn a copy. You could loose a HD in a machine, install a new one and then recover from your last backup without having to reinstall all of your apps. Obviously you miss out on any speed advantages you'd get from a clean install but it's quick and easy. You can even upgrade HD this way, ever wanted to replace a HD but didn't want to go through the pain of re-installing all your programs?

Drive Extender
This is a very cool part of WHS. WHS reserves 20Gb of the Primary partition for the OS, the remainder of this drive and all other drives become part of a pool. To all other machines on the network the server appears to only have one drive. You can plug in a new 500Gb HD, go to the admin console tell the server that the new drive is to be part of the pool and you now have 500Gb more storage. The server will then try to Balance the load on the drives in such a way that the Primary partition is used as little as possible. This Primary partition is called a landing zone and is the area where you copy your files to. This is quite a complicated area and is fully explained in the Technical Brief at the bottom of the page.

Duplication
One of the first things I did after switching on the server was to copy my photos to it. If you have two or more hard drives on your home server, WHS ensures files stored in shared folders are automatically duplicated to multiple hard drives. In my two 500Gb HD WHS system I have copies of the images on both HD's, but to the other networked PC's they appear only one. The thing I like about this is the are not encrypted in any way, I can remove the 2nd HD and plug it into another machine and all the files are there.

File Sharing
Share areas are created for the users you add on the server. I have my music on the server and this is shared to my son's XBox, which is in turn connected to the Home Theatre. The achieved digital photos are stored on the share area of the server and my Image Management DB IMatch has been repointed to look for them there. For now I've copied my IMatch DB and are running it as a test version. In this version I've re-mapped all of my normally offline to the share area on the server. Access time for jpgs is good over wireless to the laptop. Raws are a little slower. I wouldn't store the IMatch DB on the server until the Power Pack1 is released due to the Data bug (see below). The Power Pack also had a easy method to back up the WHS machine itself to external HD's. Currently I have a external HD that is my off site backup so this will slot in nicely to my workflow.

Remote Access
An area that I haven't explored is remote access. WHS can be configured to allow remote access via the net. Your files on the share would be available to you from anywhere in the world with a internet connection. You can also manage the WHS and connected PC's via a ActiveX control in IE7. I have been using Remote Desktop to get into the server also but for most things I can simply use the Console on my laptop to look at the server.

Webserver
Another area that I haven't explored yet. A basic Webserver is built in also. You can setup <domain>.homeserver.com in a couple of clicks.

Addins
There are a growing number of addins available for WHS. There is one that will automatically upload photos in a given folder to your Flickr account. Drop a new file into this folder and it loads to Flickr. Another adds missing mail server functionality. Others extend the Media sharing funtions such as TiVO, or add Torrent functions to the console.

Pros
Ease of setup
Ease of backup & restore
Adding extra storage is a breeze

Cons
In the initial version there was a data corruption bug Knowledge Base article. This was addressed in Power Pack 1.

Conclusion
I'm very impressed by the ease of use and features. It suits my current needs and has the ability to grow as my needs grow.

Further Reading
Microsoft Technical Library
We Got Served An excellent resource for WHS information.

Microsoft Technical Briefs
These are well worth the read to get an insite into the technology behind WHS. The drive extender is very interesting.
Remote Access
Media Sharing
Drive Extender
Home Computer Backup
Home Networking
__________________
Greg
Blog | Photogallery | 1DmkIV + other stuff
Sanity is a madness put to good use.



Last edited by Greg_C : 17th of May 2009 (Sun) at 05:10. Reason: Added link to Microsoft Technical Library
Greg_C is offline   Reply With Quote
This ad block will go away when you log in as member
Old 8th of July 2008 (Tue)   #2
coalcliff
Goldmember
 
coalcliff's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: On the coast, near Sydney, Australia
Posts: 3,515
Default Re: Review - Windows Home Server (WHS)

Cost
__________________
My Gear
Damian More you learn the more you can forget.
coalcliff is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 8th of July 2008 (Tue)   #3
NerdyNigel
Member
 
NerdyNigel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Posts: 382
Default Re: Review - Windows Home Server (WHS)

Good job Greg, glad it is running well.

Cost is $225AU
__________________
Nigel
Website and Blog
http://nknphotography.com.au
Flickr
NerdyNigel is offline   Reply With Quote
This ad block will go away when you log in as member
Old 8th of July 2008 (Tue)   #4
tommykjensen
The Admin Dane
"Nobody is safe!"
 
tommykjensen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark.
Posts: 20,889
Default Re: Review - Windows Home Server (WHS)

Good work.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg_C View Post
Webserver
Another area that I haven't explored yet. A basic Webserver is built in also. You can setup <domain>.homeserver.com in a couple of clicks.
Thats a bad thing because this means even more badly run and maintained websites on the net.

Quote:
Cons
Data corruption bug (fix coming in the Power Pack1, in beta testing now) Knowledge Base article. When certain programs are used to edit or transfer files that are stored on a Windows Home Server-based computer that has more than one hard drive, the files may become corrupted. Microsoft is aware of only a very small percentage of users who have confirmed instances of this issue and believes that most users are unlikely to be affected. Microsoft has established that this issue may occur when one of the following programs is used to edit, transfer, and save files to the home server.

This is a biggie and is likely to scare people away, from my research it's possible to work around this issue until the Power Pack1 is released.
This is definately a bad thing too.
tommykjensen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 8th of July 2008 (Tue)   #5
Greg_C
Cream of the Crop
 
Greg_C's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Posts: 12,592
Default Re: Review - Windows Home Server (WHS)

Quote:
Originally Posted by coalcliff View Post
Cost
My box cost about AU$1100 and this included the WHS ($225). WHS allows you to connect to 10 PC's.

On the We Got Served forum there seems to be a few people that have put one together on a old PC or stuff they have laying about.

In the US there seems to be a growing market for WHS boxes, HP seems to be the leader in this. I didn't look for a out of the box solution here in Oz but I don't think they are common.
__________________
Greg
Blog | Photogallery | 1DmkIV + other stuff
Sanity is a madness put to good use.


Greg_C is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 8th of July 2008 (Tue)   #6
coalcliff
Goldmember
 
coalcliff's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: On the coast, near Sydney, Australia
Posts: 3,515
Default Re: Review - Windows Home Server (WHS)

thanks for that.
__________________
My Gear
Damian More you learn the more you can forget.
coalcliff is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 29th of October 2008 (Wed)   #7
jaykkub
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: San Diego, CA
Posts: 173
Default Re: Review - Windows Home Server (WHS)

Does anyone know if there's a way to get WHS to backup a Mac computer on the network? Is their an add-on program that'll do that?
__________________
Oliver J. Smith
http://www.flickr.com/photos/oliverjsmith/
Canon 5D Mark II | 16-35mm f/2.8 L | 24-70mm f/2.8 L | 50mm f/1.4 | 85mm f/1.2 L | 135mm f/2 L | 200mm f/2.8 L
jaykkub is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 29th of October 2008 (Wed)   #8
Matthew62024
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Indiana
Posts: 264
Default Re: Review - Windows Home Server (WHS)

I got this from here http://forum.wegotserved.co.uk/index.php?showtopic=3339

"WHS will *only* back up NTFS basic partitions. So it will not backup up the OS X or bootcamp partition. At all. You can however use time machine to back up to a network share on the WHS."

We Got Served is a great site and has many answers for WHS questions. I searched around the forums for a bit and found that.

So it sounds like the simple answer is that it will, just not like it does Windows PCs. You need to use the apple program to backup the Mac to a shared drive on the WHS. This may be even better since then you could turn on duplication for that shared folder and duplicate your Mac backup. As far as I know you can't easily backup your Windows PC backups on WHS.
__________________
40D with BG-E2N grip | XTi with BG-E3 grip | 430EX
EF 100-400 F4.5-5.6 L IS | EF 70-200mm f4 L IS | EF-S 17-55mm F2.8 IS | EF-S 18-55mm Kit Lens | EF 50mm f1.8

Last edited by Matthew62024 : 29th of October 2008 (Wed) at 18:33.
Matthew62024 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 29th of October 2008 (Wed)   #9
NorCalAl
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Paradise, CA, USA
Posts: 966
Default Re: Review - Windows Home Server (WHS)

I ordered this from MS about three weeks ago. They offer a six month trial install. I have a decent extra machine to install it on and I'm patiently waiting for the install to arrive. I have a NAS unit (a Linksys NSLU2) with a 1.25gb on it, but it's pretty flaky. I'm hoping to get something more stable for backups. Asking for stability from MS is a crapshoot, I know, but I can hope!
So Greg, are you saying if there are multiple drives that it basically acts as a raid setup with the multiple copies of the directories? Can you pick and choose which directories it does this with or are you essentially going to only have half your drive space? I don't really mind that, but I'd like to know.
How does it show up on your network? Can you map drives to it or is the console install the only path to the box?
__________________
Gear List

Nikon, the dark adventure begins...
NorCalAl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 29th of October 2008 (Wed)   #10
Matthew62024
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Indiana
Posts: 264
Default Re: Review - Windows Home Server (WHS)

1. I currently have 2 x 1TB drives installed and the duplication option does duplicate the files meaning you have half the storage space. You can turn duplication on or off for each shared folder. I don't know if the space duplication takes up changes if you have more then 2 HDs, maybe someone else can answer that.

2. Stability hasn't been an issue for me with my WHS. I have had it running for over a month now (I know thats not real long) and no problems yet. I don't use the WHS as a "PC" meaning I don't browse the net, listen to music, or play games on it. It sits in the corner or the room with no monitor, mouse, or keyboard. I only connect those items if I need to but haven't had the need to since getting everything set up. I think this is a good stable build and as long as you use it as a server and not a PC you shouldn't have a problem.

3. The shares can be mapped as drives. I have the default folders (Public, Photos, Music, and Videos) and my user folder. Each separate user has their own user folder for their personal items. The console install is to manage the server. You don't really use it to get to the share folders. You just use it to set up the share folders, manage backups, manage users, and such.

Overall WHS is a great option if it works for you. I love it and have a Buffalo Terastation that WHS is replacing. It is a "sever" which has more options then a simple NAS like the linksys or buffalo option. I built the PC and bought the OS for around $850 which was less then a new Buffalo Terastation with 2GB of storage so I think it is a better deal.

One thing to know is that their is no easy way to go from the trial to a full copy of WHS. The only option that I know of is to re-install the OS. This will not delete the share drives, but will remove all your settings and users you have set up. It works, but is not the best way it could of been done. I wish you could just enter the new key and be done with it. I decided to format my whole computer after my trial and start over new, share drives and all.

Hope that helps.

Edit: Also wanted to point out that the original post is a little old so I don't know if you will get a reply from Greg.
__________________
40D with BG-E2N grip | XTi with BG-E3 grip | 430EX
EF 100-400 F4.5-5.6 L IS | EF 70-200mm f4 L IS | EF-S 17-55mm F2.8 IS | EF-S 18-55mm Kit Lens | EF 50mm f1.8

Last edited by Matthew62024 : 29th of October 2008 (Wed) at 19:46.
Matthew62024 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 29th of October 2008 (Wed)   #11
NorCalAl
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Paradise, CA, USA
Posts: 966
Default Re: Review - Windows Home Server (WHS)

Thanks much Matt! I didn't know about the trial version to full copy issue. Go figure MS for that one. But the rest sounds promising. I may just order a full version and not wait for the trial to get here.
__________________
Gear List

Nikon, the dark adventure begins...
NorCalAl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 29th of October 2008 (Wed)   #12
Matthew62024
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Indiana
Posts: 264
Default Re: Review - Windows Home Server (WHS)

The trial is worth playing with, but I wouldn't take the time to transfer everything you have over to the server if you are going to want to start fresh with the full copy. Let us know what you think when you try it out.
__________________
40D with BG-E2N grip | XTi with BG-E3 grip | 430EX
EF 100-400 F4.5-5.6 L IS | EF 70-200mm f4 L IS | EF-S 17-55mm F2.8 IS | EF-S 18-55mm Kit Lens | EF 50mm f1.8
Matthew62024 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 30th of October 2008 (Thu)   #13
Greg_C
Cream of the Crop
 
Greg_C's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Posts: 12,592
Default Re: Review - Windows Home Server (WHS)

I went straight for the full version and skipped the trial. Mine has now been running happily for 4 months now. I don't have my server running 24/7 though. I usually turn the server on over the weekend when I do most of my shooting ie to backup what I have shot.

Effectively I have three copies of my photos on the server. I have duplication switched on for my photos and my recent photos are backed up up to the server also. Of course two copies of these are on the same physical drive.....

I'm going to add 1Tb disk to the system very soon.
__________________
Greg
Blog | Photogallery | 1DmkIV + other stuff
Sanity is a madness put to good use.


Greg_C is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 8th of November 2008 (Sat)   #14
Greg_C
Cream of the Crop
 
Greg_C's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Posts: 12,592
Default Re: Review - Windows Home Server (WHS)

I added the 1Tb disk to the system today. Totally painless experience, the hardest part was move the internals aside to fit the new HD into the spare drive bay. Once I powered up the system first the first time after the new drive was installed I loaded the Console app from my Laptop and went to the server storage tab. The new drive had been recognised by the system and it asked me if I wanted to add it to the Pool. After about a minute I had 1Tb of extra space. As you can see in the first screen cap I still have three spare bays to add extra drives.

Here's a couple of screen caps
This is the console app that you run from your PC's
This is a Disk Management Add-in (free) that gives you a different view of your system storage.


The Standard Storage Window, you can see the % of storage space used by Shares, Dup, and PC Backups etc.
__________________
Greg
Blog | Photogallery | 1DmkIV + other stuff
Sanity is a madness put to good use.


Greg_C is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 21st of November 2008 (Fri)   #15
bphillips330
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: ohio
Posts: 622
Default Re: Review - Windows Home Server (WHS)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg_C View Post
I added the 1Tb disk to the system today. Totally painless experience, the hardest part was move the internals aside to fit the new HD into the spare drive bay. Once I powered up the system first the first time after the new drive was installed I loaded the Console app from my Laptop and went to the server storage tab. The new drive had been recognised by the system and it asked me if I wanted to add it to the Pool. After about a minute I had 1Tb of extra space. As you can see in the first screen cap I still have three spare bays to add extra drives.

Here's a couple of screen caps
This is the console app that you run from your PC's
This is a Disk Management Add-in (free) that gives you a different view of your system storage.


The Standard Storage Window, you can see the % of storage space used by Shares, Dup, and PC Backups etc.

I have to look at this option! is there a way to use lightroom and have lightroom use teh datafiles from another computer?
__________________
Body : 50D and 400/xti + grip
Lenses: 50mm 1.8 II / Tamron 17-50 f 2.8 / kit len /
70-200 f2.8L IS!!!! / Canon 1.4 TC II / Sigma 70-300mm dl Macro super
Flash: 580 exII
A whole bunch of other goodies.
bphillips330 is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
SD900 with windows 2003 server karnacker Small Compact Digitals by Canon 1 27th of February 2007 (Tue) 09:42
20D and Windows Server 2003 jhzafrani RAW, Post Processing and Printing 6 19th of February 2006 (Sun) 10:28
EE installation on a Windows 2000 Server with IIS ggreene Version 1.0-1.5 discussion 1 7th of June 2004 (Mon) 10:45
Running EE on Windows server mickeyjuice Version 1.0-1.5 discussion 5 8th of December 2003 (Mon) 15:28


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 08:33.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.6.12
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
This forum is not affiliated with Canon in any way and is run as a free user helpsite by Pekka Saarinen, Helsinki Finland. You will need to register in order to be able to post messages. Cookies are required for registering and posting. HTML in messages is not allowed, plain website addresses are automatically made active by the board.