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All posts tagged "windows home server"

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

No Drive Extender? No HP MediaSmart!

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 12:30 PM

"More bad news for fans of little Windows servers for home. HP, makers of the MediaSmart boxes that defined the first release of Windows Home Server, has confirmed that it is canceling plans to support the next major release of the OS, codenamed Vail."

I can hardly say that I am surprised that HP is pulling out of the Windows Home Server market. Whether the removal of Drive Extender support in Vail is a good move or not, the negative buzz across the Internet makes it seem like no one is going to buy a server based on Vail. I do admit that Microsoft's decision has affected me and am already looking at alternatives to Windows Home Server and Drive Extender for my next NAS solution. Maybe Microsoft is right and with multi-terrabyte drives, drive pooling is not really needed anymore by the average home user. What I can see is that Vail no longer looks like a step above other NAS solutions and if my own needs were meager enough, cloud computing would even be enough.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Microsoft Ignites Customer Fury By Announcing Removal of Drive Extender Technology in Next-Gen "Vail" Product

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home News" @ 04:39 PM

"In a shock move, Microsoft today announced that it had abandoned development of Windows Home Server's Drive Extender storage technology. The announcement comes almost eight months into a public beta of the next version of Windows Home Server, codenamed "Vail", and will result in Vail, Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials (Codename "Aurora") and Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials (Codename "Breckenridge") shipping without Microsoft's advanced storage subsystem."

In a blog post earlier today, Michael Leworthy from Microsoft's Windows Home Server team dropped a bombshell: the next-generation Windows Home Server software, currently code-named "Vail", will not come with Drive Extender technology. The outage among WHS users has been swift and furious - the first post has racked up more than 130 user comments, and the second blog post - which strangely doesn't explain much of anything - is quickly gaining. As an avid WHS user myself, I find this extremely puzzling. Yes, Drive Extender has some technological limitations and quirks - performance wasn't always great - but the negatives were massively outshone by the positives: the ability to connect any sized hard drive you wanted, and have that hard drive added to the huge pool of storage on your server.

This simple, no-fuss approach is what made the product so incredible. I don't want to have to shell out big bucks for identically sized hard drives all at once to build a RAID array; I want to add bigger hard drives slowly over time when they become less expensive. Vail takes that key advantage away and replaces it with nothing - that's what's most puzzling about this: Microsoft isn't giving any concrete reasons for why it's being removed, and worse, they're not saying what they're going to replace it with. This is an epic failure of communication and leadership on the part of the Windows Home Server Team. I for one will continue to use my HP Windows Home Server for as long as I can because I have no desire to lose the functionality I currently have.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Windows Home Server, Why Do You Continually Fail Me?

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Talk" @ 08:20 PM

Through a series of weird circumstances, I decided that one of my my PCs - the one I use for my main media storage and TV viewing - needed to be restored. I figured that since I have my handy HP Windows Home Server, it would be easy enough to get the boot CD, restore from a backup earlier in the month, and keep rocking. Boy was I wrong! Read more...

Sunday, August 8, 2010

LaCie Releases Backup Server Powered By Windows Home Server

Posted by Andy Dixon in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 06:00 PM

"Following a brief preview at this year's Consumer Electronics Show in January, LaCie today announced the availability of the Windows Home Server-powered 5big Backup Server, a 5-bay appliance targeted at the small business market, offering centralised file-sharing, backup and restore for up to 10 PCs and 25 Apple Macs."

This beast which comes with 5TB or 10TB of storage is firmly aimed at the small business market, but can quite easily be used for the home if you want. It has LaCie's own backup software rather than relying on the WHS inbuilt backup, and this also includes the unusual feature of Apple Mac Time Machine backups for up to 25 Mac machines. Prices are in the range of small businesses rather than the home with a 5TB option including 3 year warranty costing $1,199.99 (US) or €1074.99.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

We Got Served Full Vail Preview

Posted by Andy Dixon in "Digital Home Software" @ 12:00 PM

"Want to know more about Windows Home Server Vail? The all-new version of WHS v2 has just hit the preview stage and We Got Served is loving it! You can find a huge preview of all of Vail's new features here in our Vail Preview Deep Dives, as well as walkthroughs, top tips and a couple of hidden secrets revealed along the way! Over at WGS Forums, thousands of experts and enthusiasts are sharing their thoughts on Vail - why not join them?"

We Got Served have obviously been preparing for the release of Windows Home Server v2 as they have posted a huge amount of information from hardware specs, full walkthrough of the installation and a complete run through of all the new features. If you're interested in trying this new version out then I strongly recommend that you check all the preview articles out that you find there. Make sure to make a coffee, you'll surely be there a while.

Microsoft Announce Public Beta Of Windows Home Server v2

Posted by Andy Dixon in "Digital Home Software" @ 11:00 AM

"Many of you may already know that Microsoft has been hard at work on the next version of Windows Home Server. We are excited to announce today that the beta of this next version (code name "Vail") is now available. We invite everyone to check it out by downloading the software from the Microsoft Connect site. (English language builds are available now). We are releasing this Vail beta with one express goal: to solicit your feedback!"

Finally Microsoft have announced the public beta of "Vail", then next version of Windows Home Server. This is a much anticipated version that has the potential to improve on the already successful first release. The new version is based on Microsoft Server 2008, has a new dashboard, new way of using addons, full DNLA compliant Media streaming, a complete overhaul of the remote access site which now allows real-time video transcoding and streaming of media, and many more improvements. Click to read the full announcement from Microsoft and also for more details of how to download the software and try it out for yourself.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Going Green With a New Windows Home Server

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 08:00 AM

Since first hearing about the Windows Home Server operating system a few years ago, I've been intrigued with Microsoft's efforts in this space. I was fortunate to be included in the first beta, for which I used my old software/hardware testing computer, cobbled together from an assortment of parts. I called this my "Frankenbox"; the machine was a standard mid-sized tower with a 400 watt power supply, a 3 Ghz Celeron CPU, and 2 GB of RAM. When I deployed it as my Windows Home Server, I added a few new parts to it: an Intel gigabit Ethernet card, a SATA card for installing extra hard drives, and of course a bunch of hard drives. It's easiest to show the hard drive arrangement with a screen shot. Read more...

Monday, March 8, 2010

Windows Home Server Has It's Own YouTube Channel

Posted by Andy Dixon in "Digital Home News" @ 01:00 PM

"Whenever I'm confused on how to do something and am looking for some help, YouTube is one of the first places I go. Without fail, I can always find some form of video that gives me the answer I need. The Windows Home Server team has also seen the benefits of YouTube, and we thought it would be helpful and fun for our customers if we started making our own videos!"

The Windows Home Server team have announced on their blog that they have created a new channel on YouTube for their videos and tutorials. There are interviews with the WHS team members, overviews of what WHS is, and informational how-to videos. So if you don't have WHS yet and wonder what the fuss it about, or you are looking for a tutorial on how to use and get the most out of WHS, then check out the link.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Maximum PC Review The MediaSmart EX495 Home Server

Posted by Andy Dixon in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 07:00 AM

"Last year, HP impressed us with its MediaSmart EX487 (February 2009), a Windows Home Server that shipped with proprietary software we actually found useful. The EX495, this year's follow-up, is focused on improving accessibility and addressing user requests. This third-generation Windows Home Server isn't so much an overhaul of last year's machine as it is a calculated iteration; the same unassuming case packs significant hardware and software upgrades that are the most compelling reasons yet to adopt the Home Server platform."

The EX495 was released last year, but Maximum PC have now got their hands on one and given it a positive review, which I think we could guess was going to be the result based on other reviews out there. This has always been a home server I have admired for its small form, looks and features, but the limit of 4 disks (which I could live with), and the fact that the EX495 is not sold in the UK disappoints me. I mean don't HP want my money? Do they think we British can't handle the power of the dual core version? No, I guess not. Shame on you HP, I'll just be spending my cash on the parts for a custom one instead.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Backing up the Backups With Windows Home Server

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 02:00 PM

"Using Windows Home Server to backup computers on your local network is a great tool for your backup strategy. But what about backing up the data on the server itself? Here we take a look at using an external drive to backup some of your important data."

Remember, always make a backup before you destroy anything. What? You thought that one backup was enough? How silly! You need backups of the backups! Actually, depending on how important your data is, it makes sense to have multiple backups of your data, with at least one copy offsite. How-To Geek shows you how Windows Home Server can backup the data that is on it so you can move it somewhere safe. Backups are a pain, but in the real world, anything can fail, and having an extra copy of your information (and lot more of our important information is digital) could save you an incredible amount of time, hassle, stress, money, and part of your eternal soul. And do not trust the safety of the cloud! Even with privacy issues aside, whether it is Apple, Google, Microsoft or your geeky friend who lives down the street, they are the ones that hold the keys to your data, not you. Take responsibility and own your data!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

New Atom Home Servers From Tranquil

Posted by Andy Dixon in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 01:30 PM

"Tranquil PC today revealed updated versions of their three home server models, sporting new processors in the shape of the Intel Atom D510, increased RAM up to 4GB and all at a lower price than Series 1. The chassis will look familiar, but remember, as your mum probably told you, it's what's inside that counts."

Over at WeGotServed, they have news that Tranquil have announced the release of three new Windows Home Server devices, the most powerful of which you can see pictured above. As you can expect from Tranquil, these new servers have low power consumption and silent CPU cooling which means it can sit hidden in your living room without you hearing it, yet have the power to handle all your Home Server needs.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Sync Your Media Center, Zune And Windows Home Server

Posted by Andy Dixon in "Digital Home Software" @ 02:00 PM

"Windows Home Server was a large part of CES this year. I was pleasantly embraced by all you fellow Windows Home Server users and I joyfully shared the new features sets that Power Pack 3 empowered your home server with. The beautiful thing about our booth is the ability to walk everyone step by step, on how to take advantage of these new features. For those of you who were not at CES, I'd like to take the time to share with you those steps that I shared with CES attendees. One of the key scenarios that got a lot of interest at the show was how a Zune music player can benefit from having a Windows Home Server around as well. This post goes into more detail about why and how it all works together."

When Microsoft released Power Pack 3 for Windows Home Server, there were a number of new features added that perhaps not everyone realised was included. This article from The Windows Home Server blog, explains how to make full use of one of those features if you have a Media Center PC, a Windows Home Server and a media player such as the Zune. The ability to access your music, videos and pictures on both your Media Center PC and your Zune is nice, but to be able to record your TV shows and automatically create a copy compressed especially for the Zune so you can watch them on the go is brilliant. No more having to encode the TV shows specifically for the Zune, just record your show on the Media Center as normal and one extra copy encoded correctly for the Zune or other media player of your choice will be made. If you didn't know about this, then take a read and see how easy it is.

Friday, November 27, 2009

58% Off an HP LX195 MediaSmart Home Server

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Events" @ 10:44 AM

"Automatically back up and protect your digital memories, centralize your media and content for sharing with friends and family, and enjoy your digital media while at home or away with the HP LX195 MediaSmart Home Server. The LX195 is the first HP MediaSmart to be powered by the efficient Intel Atom processor, which helps use less energy and save you money on your electrical bills. A Sleep Mode conserves energy and saves you money in more ways than one. The built-in sleep mode consumes only 3W of power, and the server can take on many of your PC's responsibilities, enabling you to turn off your individual computers to further save energy and money."

People, this is an AMAZING deal! Amazon normally sells this for $472, but it's on sale right now for $199, a whopping 58% off. This is a full-fledged Windows Home Server, with all the awesomeness that entails, but it's aimed at someone who doesn't need ungodly amounts of storage right out of the box - it has 640 GB of storage, and no internal storage bays for expansion. It has four USB ports though, so you can easily expand it using external USB hard drives. This isn't the right product for everyone, but for $199, this is a great product for anyone that doesn't have lots of digital media but has multiple computers and is looking for an easy way to keep them backed up. I believe that Windows Home Server is a truly fantastic product that should be in every home, and I've never seen such an affordable way to do it...and what a gift this would make!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Windows Home Server Power Pack 3 Released

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Software" @ 11:00 PM

Windows Home Server Power Pack 3 was released yesterday, so if you own a Windows Home Server, log into the console and run a Windows Update to grab it. My initial experience with it was a bit bumpy - after the install, which I kicked off by using Windows Update on the server via the console, my Windows 7 systems were reporting that they needed to update the client software. Fair enough - except that the installation gave me errors and wouldn't complete. I also noticed that my Windows Home Server shared folders weren't accessible on the network. I did a remote desktop session, installed a Windows Update that I saw, then rebooted the Windows Home Server. After that, everything started working again. If it matters, I didn't beta test Power Pack 3 - it's a stock Power Pack 2 system.

One of the new features is shown above - you can see the status of your Windows Home Server storage inside Windows Media Center. How useful is this? Well, it's faster than logging into the console I suppose, though not by much. Of more interest is the libraries integration with Windows 7, assorted bug fixes related to Windows 7, improvements in search from Windows Search 4, and a TV archive system that will move your TV shows from the computer they were recorded on to the Windows Home Server - and it will transcode them to either a Zune-friendly or Windows Mobile-friendly format along the way. Cool! I have to say, it's great to see the Windows Home Server team continue to improve the product on a regular basis, and all for free.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Windows Home Server Power Pack 3 BETA Available

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 02:00 PM

"We are pleased to announce the Windows Home Server Power Pack 3 Beta which improves the Windows Home Server experience with Windows 7 and Windows Media Center by providing the following new features: Backup and restore of computers running Windows 7, Windows 7 Libraries integration, enhancements for Windows Media Center, and better support for netbook computers."

For those of you using Windows Home Server, Power Pack 3 looks to be a very useful update. Most of the features seem to center around usability and better integration with the home network. Features like offloading Media Center recordings to the server, and an improved Search across computers make taking the plunge that much more tempting. Overall, it is nice to see Microsoft committed to improving Windows Home Server for free no less. While many (Read: Google) are touting the power of the cloud, there is a time and a place for having your 10TB of data safely tucked away at home. Has anyone with Windows Home Server tried the Power Pack 3 beta yet? Do you regret investing in Windows Home Server?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

HP MediaSmart Server LX195 Goes Live

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 01:30 PM

"We gave you the early scoop on the single drive, Intel Atom powered LX195 and now the folks at HP have refreshed their MediaSmart Server page with an overview, gallery, and detailed specs on the product."

I'm guessing that either HP thinks their MediaSmart EX series servers are not selling enough, or they're trying to increase sales, because they've now released the LX195. Sporting an Atom processor, 1GB of memory and a 640GB hard drive, it definitely is a cut back version of a Windows Home Server. Still, I would much rather go for one of the EX models as they offer more expandability and capabilities. The only way I could add more storage to the LX195 would be with external drives, and that does not seem to be the most ideal solution for me. Also, the Atom, as admirable as it is, would severely limit what add-ons I could put on the server, which pretty much make me think of the LX195 as an expensive NAS.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

We Got Served Launches Windows Home Server Add-Ins Site: Home Server Plus

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Articles & Resources" @ 01:06 PM

"Today sees another new chapter in the development of We Got Served, with the opening of a new website that will be solely dedicated to Windows Home Server add-ins. Home Server Plus ( is a new resource for the Windows Home Server community that builds on the collection of add-ins we've hosted here at We Got Served with a whole host of new features to make finding, installing and using Windows Home Server add-ins easier and more enjoyable."

I've always been a bit surprised that the Windows Home Server team didn't launch their own site for Add-Ins, but it looks like the folks from We Got Served have stepped up to perform this role for the Windows Home Server-using public. Bravo!

Monday, April 13, 2009

HP's Forthcoming MediaSmart Windows Home Server Software Update

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Software" @ 04:33 PM

"HP Video Converter allows your home server to automatically convert videos placed in you Video shared folder into mobile quality and high quality H.264 (MPEG-4) files, for playback on a wide range of mobile and other playback devices such as iPods, iPhones, digital media receivers and games consoles. It will not, however, transcode copy protected DVDs or videos with DRM security."

HP MediaSmart Windows Home Servers have, since the beginning, had a fair amount of "secret sauce" added into them - they do more than any other Windows Home Servers on the market today. This new update from HP adds a variety of software services beyond video conversion: streaming to iPod Touch and iPhone hardware, remote video streaming, improved media collection, and a few fixed. The update should be out later this month, and it's only for owners of the new HP EX485/487 models, not the older models.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Windows Home Server Team Announces Power Pack 2

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Talk" @ 07:40 AM

"We are pleased to announce Windows Home Server Power Pack 2. Power Pack 2 fixes known issues and adds new features to improve the Windows Home Server experience. Enhancements include: Improvements to remote access configuration, enhanced functionality for computers running Windows Media Center, and content streaming support for Windows Media Center Extenders."

This adds some special sauce to integrate better with the Windows Media Center client that most of us running Vista have, and some remote access improvements. I'm especially pleased to hear about the latter because at least once a week the Windows Home Server clients on my computers will give me pop-up warnings that my router is no longer configured to accept incoming connections - and this is without me changing a single thing on it. I purposely went with a Linksys WRT54G for compatibility reasons, so I don't think it's the actual router. The update will be available via Windows Update on March 24th - today - so your server should be pulling it down at some point today.

What I'm not sure about is what happens for those people that have an HP MediaSmart PC - does the update still come down, or does HP have to release a modified version of it?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Upgrading HP EX470 and EX475 MediaSmart Servers

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 08:00 PM,2171.html

"Although the new generation of HP MediaSmart Servers offers more memory and a somewhat more powerful CPU, with bargain prices like those for refurb units readily available (not to mention even lower prices on used units), you can apply some modest hardware hacks to these older servers. You’ll wind up with a system that’s as good or better than the newer, more expensive models, while saving some money in the bargain."

The HP MediaSmart Servers are among the more popular and prominent Windows Home Server incarnations. Recently, HP released the EX485 and EX487 models, bumping up CPU power and memory making the EX470 and EX475 look like capable but weak workers. Tom's Hardware has come to the rescue with a guide on how to bring your old, decrepid server up to scratch. The tight fitting components of the MediaSmart servers don't make it easy, so this isn't for the timid. But the extras, especially the memory, can certainly be worth it. Windows Home Server is not the only NAS solution available and it certainly is not the cheapest, but it is really easy to use and with add-ons, it can serve a lot of extra uses as well.

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