Now you’ve started installing Windows Home Server add-ins your home server should become even more essential in your day to day digital life. But you ain’t seen nothing yet! WGS’ Wiki editor walks through our next Get Started guide which helps you set up remote access to your home server.

One of the main features of Windows Home Server (WHS) is to provide remote access to to your computers, your shared files and personal web sites. This is remote as in over the internet. Thus you can access your WHS from anywhere there is internet access. However, before you can do this there is some configuring and setup to do. We will walk you through the necessary steps.

Step 1: Set Up Your Home Server With a Static IP Address

An IP address is a unique address that is assigned by your router to every computer on your home network. Although it is unique, it may change each time the computer is rebooted. We need to set it up so that the Windows Home Server always has the same IP address. There are two ways to do this. The first, and preferred method, is by setting up a reserved IP address in the DHCP section of your router. This means that your router will always assign the same address to the WHS. How this is done is unique to each make/model of router so we cannot go into detail here. The second way is to to setup the IP address in the WHS itself. Further information on how to do this can be found in this wiki.

Step 2: Configure Remote Access

Open the Windows Home Server console by double clicking on the green WHS icon on your home computer’s task bar. Click on the Settings icon and in the list on the left hand side select Remote Access.

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Step 3: Turn On Remote Access

Click on the Turn On button under the remote access section. The home server will then attempt to configure your router by forwarding the proper ports and testing the remote access. If the router is configured correctly you should see that remote access is Available. If your router is not compatible, you may need to configure it manually. How to do this will vary with each make/model of router. However it is accomplished, you must forward ports 80, 443 and 4125 to the your home server’s IP address established in the previous section.

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Step 4: Set up Your Domain Name

In order to access your home server remotely you will need to establish a domain name. This is the name which will be used as the internet address, e.g. https://domainname.homeserver.com. However, before you can get the domain name you will need to have a Windows Live ID. If you don’t already have one, you can set one up at Windows Live.

Once you have established your Windows Live ID, click on the Configure button to start the Domain Name Setup Wizard.

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Click next to proceed with the wizard. Then enter your Windows Live ID email address and password.

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Accept the Windows Home Server Privacy Statement and Windows Live Custom Domains Addendum.

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Now comes the fun part where you get to chose your domain name. Enter your proposed domain name in the box and click Confirm. If your selected domain name is not available you will need to select another.

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If your domain name is available, click Finish and move on.

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If all goes well you will be notified that Remote Access is Successfully Activated.

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There are, however a couple more things you need to do after your domain name has been established. At the bottom of the remote access settings page under Web site settings you can set your default web site home page. Usually this will be the Windows Home Server Home Page. You can also set your Web site headline. This is a line of text which will appear at the top of your web site home page. It could be something like Welcome to Mike’s Home Page.

That’s it! Now you should open your browser and type in https://domainname.homeserver.com to test your home server remote access.

Step 5: Ensure Your Home Computers Are Configured For Remote Access

Certain editions of Windows have the ability to host remote desktop sessions (that is, you can control them remotely via Windows Home Server as if you were sitting in front of them). Generally, the more business-oriented editions have this feature enabled:

Windows XP Professional
Windows XP Tablet PC Edition
Windows XP Media Center Edition
Windows Vista Business
Windows Vista Enterprise
Windows Vista Ultimate
Windows 7 Professional
Windows 7 Enterprise
Windows 7 Ultimate

The feature is not available on Home and Home Premium editions of Windows which, quite frankly, sucks. Don’t blame the WHS Team for this as I know they’re frustrated about this too – it’s the core Windows team who have set it up this way.

Before you can use Remote Desktop to connect to a compatible computer via the Windows Home Server web page, it needs to be configured. It’s very easy to do however.

Open the Start Menu, Right Click on Computer and Select Properties

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The System Control Panel will appear (the above screenshot is taken from Windows 7 as an example).

Click Advanced System Settings

The System Properties dialog will now appear. Click the Remote Tab.

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Switch On Remote Desktop

You’ll see that in the “Remote Desktop” area, the “Don’t allow connecttions to this computer” option is checked. Change this to “Allow connections from computers running any version of Remote Desktop”. Then click OK, and you’re all set.

A big thank you to Etoa for writing this section of the Get Started guide. Next time, we’ll take a look at Windows Home Server’s Server Storage tab.