Windows Home Server is here

Microsoft is finally shipping Windows Home Server, the latest addition to the Windows family. However, it’s an OEM-only product, which means that you can’t easily go out and buy a copy to install on an old PC that you happen to have lying about. You can, though, buy it pre-installed as part of a dedicated WHS box, which various companies such as HP are now shipping.

Windows Home Server is a superb idea, aimed at the growing number of households that have more than one PC. It’s a cut-down version of Windows Server 2003 (no sign of Vista here, thankfully), that helps to ensure that your digital household runs smoothly and efficiently. It’ll stream your collection of music and video files to other PCs, for example, as well as to devices such as your Xbox 360. It can even act as a Web server, allowing you and others to browse your pictures and other files via the internet from anywhere in the world, which is just wonderful if you want an easy way to keep in touch with relatives around the world.

In fact, all aspects of Home Server are accessed via a web browser so there’s no need to have a monitor or keyboard connected to the machine itself. Just hide it in a cupboard somewhere, plug it into your network, and access it from wherever you wish.

Perhaps the best feature of Windows Home Server is that it provides an easy way to ensure that all household PCs are backed up. Install the client software on all your machines, and they get backed up to your Home Server every night. If anyone loses a file, or even an entire PC, it can be recovered from the Home Server. So is this the backup solution we’ve all been waiting for? Not entirely.

If you’re going to go to the trouble of backing up every machine in your household, you need to be confident that you can recover data after just about every conceivable problem that might occur. Windows Home Server doesn’t fully deliver, in my opinion, because there is no off-site backup. So a disaster at your house, like a flood or a fire or a robbery, could mean that you lose all your precious data files and all your backups too.

http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/winfamily/windowshomeserver/default.mspx

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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2007-11-22: