How to Guides, News, Windows

Building a Windows 8 Home Server: Introduction

[infobox title=’This Feature Has Been Updated’]We’ve now published a comprehensive update for this series. Check out our 890 page guide Building a Windows 10 Home Server, available now at WGS Store.[/infobox]

 

If you’ve followed We Got Served, or the home server scene over the last five years you’ll know that Microsoft have spent a lot of time, effort (and probably not enough money) bringing products like Windows Home Server to market.

Windows Home Server, much loved by geeks, tech enthusiasts and other ne’er do wells is a capable solution for the connected home – centralised file sharing, media streaming, first class computer backup and easy remote access to boot. But the product has failed to win mass adoption – the kind of adoption the original product (and product team’s) ambition deserved.

Why? Well, there’s the expense of buying dedicated hardware, perceived complexity of hooking it all up to your network, and – cripes – someone in Marketing called it a Server. Windows Home Server, and its successor, Windows Home Server 2011 were brave and partially successful attempts to both simplify and enhance management of the digital home. But the future is here already.

There has been a reasonable level of debate around these parts as to the future of Windows Home Server. Will there be a WHS 2012, 2013 or 2014? Here’s the thing: even if there is, maybe it’s not really required. Because we have Windows 8 – Microsoft’s latest version (or in their words, re-imagination) of the Windows client operating system.

Yes, a client. Not a server.

No doubt you’ll have heard of it, and many of you may have already tried it out. Millions of words have already been written about Windows 8 and tablets, Windows 8 and smartphones, Windows 8 and touchscreens. I’m not going to talk about any of that. Journalists, commentators and industry pundits are already arguing about the merits of Microsoft’s new “Metro” user experience. That’s not the focus of this series, either (but we do have a point of view on that).

In this series, Building a Windows 8 Home Server, we’ll dig into the lesser-known corners of the new Windows 8 operating system to uncover a wonderful secret. That the future of Microsoft’s home server push is alive and well and about to land on millions of desktops and devices later this year.

Don’t get hung up on the name. You don’t need Microsoft’s Marketing department to come up with a product branded Windows 8 Home Server to build a Windows 8 home server. You just need a few hints and tips from us, a copy of the Windows 8 operating system, a few recommended apps and some time. Oh and if, like me, you see the launch of Windows 8 as the chance to buy some new hardware, that’s okay too – though not strictly necessary! We’ll walk through the basics, and stretch into a few more advanced ninja moves – but it’s always step by step throughout.

I’m delighted to be your guide to Microsoft’s latest release of Windows, and whilst we’ll take a slightly different path than most through the ins and outs, ups and downs of the OS, I promise it’ll be a great adventure. How will a Windows 8 client stack up against Windows Home Server v1 and WHS 2011 as the hub of your connected home?

Let’s find out!

 

[infobox title=’This Feature Has Been Updated’]We’ve now published a comprehensive update for this series. Check out our 890 page guide Building a Windows 10 Home Server, available now at WGS Store.[/infobox]

Previous ArticleNext Article
Terry Walsh is the founder of We Got Served. He started the community in February 2007 with a mission to help families, tech enthusiasts everywhere figure out the technology needed to run the modern home and small business. He's the author of a number of guides to Windows, Windows Server and OS X Server and runs his own successful publishing business. Born and raised in Liverpool, England, Terry has been awarded Microsoft's prestigious Most Valuable Professional Award each year since 2008 for his work on We Got Served.
  • blatantninja

    I’m just moving to WHS2011 myself after a nasty v1 server crash (recovered but don’t want to deal with that again!). As I use FlexRAID now, the loss of drive extender doesn’t bother me. I’m game for trying a Windows 8 Home Server, but there are two primary things it will have to accomplish: client machine backups (including itself) and remote access. After a nasty crash on my HTPC, it was amazing to just pop in the WHS recovery disk, client a few buttons and then have it restored like nothing had happened in abut 20 minutes. If you can make that happen with Win8, I’m intrigued! If not, I’ll have to stick with WHS.

    • See answer below! We’ll take a look at some third party apps that can deliver this, but it’s definitely a weakness in Windows 8 Client vs WHS v1/2011

  • djplong

    The number one thing that a Win 8 Home Server has to do for me is backups. I have to be able to do a bare-metal restore, just like I could with the original WHS.

    • BMR will be one of those tasks that those favouring a Windows 8 “home server” solution will have do do via a third party app. As we’ll talk about later in the series, data backup is much advanced in Windows 8 vs Windows 7 courtesy of File History but BMR in Windows Server still rules the roost,

      • Just want to add my +1 to this topic. BMR is huge for me.I still run a V1 and am looking forward to your series.

  • Destry

    Personally, I don’t see the benefits of WHS2011 or W8HS. WHSv1 was just so much easier to use. Install the connector and all the drives were mapped automatically. I didn’t have to set up shares and backups worked perfectly. I’m downgrading my WHS2011 server to WHSv1 this weekend.

    • Yep, I get where you’re coming from. WHS v1 is a great platform.

      There a couple of things to consider – firstly, device support on WHS v1 is now definitely showing its age. Driver support, and especially support for 3TB drives are reasonably big gaps in WHS v1.

      Next, and more seriously, Microsoft end support for WHS v1 (from memory) early next year – that means that from a security perspective, it’s going to be a tough sell.

        • Florisz

          Does this mean I loose my DNS, ‘xxx.homeserver.com’, url in WHS v1 jan8th 2013!?

      • boggy4062

        Can you imagine Ford or Toyota releasing a product and telling the customers 5 years later….”Screw off, it is not supported any more”… even after selling only 10K units? Really?I am way not to eager to get the politicians involved in this, but if software industry cannot regulate themselves, maybe the government should. Just saying. If MS wants to cut cost,it should provide comparable solution (features and price) new nearly $500 Windows Essentials is WAAAAAAY off. IMHO.

    • infinidim

      I am staying with WHSv1 until I see which is the best option for me. I had a test WHS2011 but had so many issues with it that I decided to to sate with WHSv1. It’s easy, it works and I have no issues so I can’t see a reason to change currently.

  • rbinkerd

    Will my favorite “backup utility,” RoboCopy, work on Windows 8?

  • jm9843

    I’m looking forward to this series. A power surge prompted my migration from WHSv1 to WHS 2011 and I found it to be extremely lacking. I won’t go into the specifics, but would advise any prospective users to pretty much avoid it at all costs.

    When I had another recent hardware failure, I took it as an opportunity to jump ship to the Windows 8 consumer preview. It was an easy decision based mostly on the presence of Storage Spaces and Windows Media Center. It’s been mostly smooth sailing so far, but I haven’t come up with a client backup solution similar to WHS. It’s admittedly a low priority for my usage.

  • graememartin

    After trying the Win8 server solution, I think I’ll go back to WHS2011 as I have a house full of Win 7 premium machines that won’t backup to a network drive.
    I’ve tried the VHD route to create a network drive that Win 7 premium can use for backup but that failed.
    Any suggestions?

  • JC Carter

    I have a EX490/5 (cant remember, its the celeron with 2gb) running WHS. This is a POS. It doesnt appear to be related to the HDDs, the CPU or the memory, as they are seldom stressed, its the WHS OS that seems to be causing the garbage. What ‘upgrade’ would you recommend for this. Total replacement (I like the size/shape etc but if I have to, I will replace), or replacing the OS, such as to the later WHS release, Win8 or Ubuntu.

Like it? Share it.

Share this post with your friends and followers.
Subscribe to We Got Served

Get the latest news and reviews from We Got Served in your inbox. Simply add your name and email address below. You can unsubscribe at any time.

x

Send this to friend