[Blogs] Beelzeblog - WHS and me!

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CT Droid

CT Bot
Ever since hearing about WHS (Windows Home Server, in case you didn't know), I've been interested in it. Our house seldom has less than computers on at all times, and right now usually runs 4. So, it seemed about time that our house had a "server" to handle some of the normal duties that interconnected PC's have. And ok, I'll be honest...it's just cool to think that I run a "server" for my house, regardless of if it's actually serving anything or not..it just SOUNDS cool, ok??

I've put off trying WHS up to this point, though, because I wanted to hear some feedback on whether it was worth the while. And I'm glad I did, as apparently there were some rather nasty issues with data corruption early on. But I guess they've fixed those.

Mainly what I'm interested in is the backup WHS provides to all networked PC's. There are currently 4 PC's that we run often enough to desire that kind of protection for:

1) My main PC
2) My wife's main PC
3) CQC Server
4) Kitchen touchscreen PC

Up until recently, #3 and #4 were consolidated, but after about a 2 month long battle with system instability, I decided to remove one possible source of that stability...my wife's web browsing. :lol: I honestly don't blame her for any of the problems I had, so it was more of an issue of her getting mad if I took down the CQC server for maintenance and then she could pull up allrecipes.com. So I gave her her own dedicated machine.

Another reason for getting WHS is just to have a central repository for items that all computers will use. The CQC install package is one example that every computer needs to get at fairly often. Our pictures is also a good example, as several computers will access them for various purposes, not least of which is the photo slideshow screensaver. Sure, I could simply set a shared directory on the CQC server PC, since that's always on...but from what I understand, WHS handles this overall just better.

The 3rd main reason is that WHS touts being able to make use of your spare HD's laying around. Well, those I have plenty of, and it'd be nice to put them to work instead of just sitting them on shelves.

I have no lack of spare/older PC's laying around, so whenever I discover a need for one, I just resurrect it and move on. For now, I'm trying the WHS 30 day eval, and for that, I just brought up another PC and threw a hard drive in it and see how it does. If I decide to move forward with getting the actual version, then my plan is to install it on the CQC server, and consolidate those 2 functions, so we'll still have only 4 PC's total going on in the house.

One of the issues I realize this brings up, which I have not fully tackled yet, is the power cost in all this. These older PC's are awful handy, in that for things like WHS, CQC, and touchscreen web browsing, they have more than enough power to handle all that. But there is a power cost that I fear is not insignificant. Once things have stabilized, I plan to do some measuring to see just what running each of the two 24.7 PC's is costing, and see if an actual purchase of a lower power PC would be justified.

Last night I began the process. I pulled out my previous desktop machine, which is the same overall system as my CQC server (my wife's previous desktop machine.....we always have twin machines. Makes things a lot easier). Asus A7N8X, Athlon 1.2Ghz, 1 GB RAM, and a 160 GB hard drive (for now). After a few tries with a spare DVD drive laying around, I determined that the DVD drive was indeed bad as I had suspected. So I pulled a spare from my main desktop PC and began the install process.

It took quite a while...maybe upwards of 2 hours. It required a little bit of interaction to answer various questions, but otherwise just ran on its own. I had to install my network card drivers, and that was almost a hiccup, as the driver install failed because it wasn't one of the approved versions of windows (XP, Vista, 2k, etc). So instead of using the network card setup program, I just installed the drivers manually from the XP directory. And...it appears to have been successful.

It was past midnight by the time it was done, so I didn't play with it much...that waits for tonight. But I was able to go to my CQC server, and type in the web address of the WHS machine, and the port indicated in the help, and it brought up the WHS connector install screen....more on that later! But it just means it was working!

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