Windows Home Server in depth review!

Discussion in 'Vista News' started by Jason, Oct 17, 2007.

  1. Jason

    Jason

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    When Microsoft announced Windows Home Server earlier this year, it was greeted with a mixture of curious disdain and eagerness. Some questioned what the product offered over existing solutions, while others welcomed it with open arms. It's at once hard to explain and easy to understand what Windows Home Server is, but it's worth getting to know the newest addition to the Windows family.

    Over the years, we've cobbled together our own "home servers" using a variety of platforms and hacks to get the functionality we desired. Others have taken advantage of consumer-level storage devices such as Infrant's ReadyNAS or Data Robotics' Drobo to back up files and serve up media. These were haphazard at best, as it required piecing together both hardware and various software applications into a patchwork solution.

    Windows Home Server is available through the following distribution channels: <UL><LI>As a complete hardware/software solution. <LI>As OEM software for system builders. </LI>[/list]

    Joe and Jane Public will likely walk into their local big-box electronics retailer and buy prebuilt machines that will have Windows Home Server already installed and configured for use. The test hardware we've used for this review is discussed in further detail later in this review, but for those of who want to roll your own, take a look at the Budget Box recommendations in our System Guides.

    For those of you that were waiting on the OEM release, Microsoft is famously tight-lipped about system builder release dates and pricing, but several North American retailers have it in stock and ready to ship. As we noted, pricing has fluctuated as retailers look for the sweet spot, but it looks like our estimates of $150-200 weren't too far off the mark. <H3>What Windows Home Server is</H3>

    At first glance, Windows Home Server seems built to scratch an itch that doesn't exist. When Microsoft set out to make the business case for Windows Home Server, it quickly focused on a very specific target market: "Households with a broadband connection with 2 or more 'active' PCs that are sharing the internet connection." Additional research showed that on average, the majority of these households also had a digital camera, color printer, and a game console, but less than 20 percent reported feeling secure with their backup solution.

    With Windows Home Server, Microsoft wants to simplify how your files and backups are stored. So far, so good, but what about the additional features: remote access, media sharing, etc.? Are they a tacked-on afterthought, or does Windows Home Server make everything play nicely together? <H3>What Windows Home Server is not
    </H3>

    If you're expecting something along the lines of Microsoft's enterprise products, then don't get your hopes up. In developing Windows Home Server, the team kept the scope lean and mean, instead allowing users to extend functionality by the use of add-ins. As a full-fledged media server, however, users coming from purpose-built platforms like Windows' Media Center Edition, SageTV, or MediaPortal will find Windows Home Server's feature set a little bare-boned.

    Small businesses might salivate at the prospect of a ~$200 price tag for a storage and backup solution, but Windows Home Server is definitely targeted towards the consumer. The 10-user limit doesn't leave much room for growth, and its feature set pales in comparison to enterprise offerings like Windows Small Business Server. Those of you with LTO or DLT systems at home might not be content with Windows Home Server's backup methodologies, but for the majority of users, it should be more than adequate. <DIV class=Body><H3>Computer backup and restore</H3>

    Once your Home Server and client PCs are set up, backups will happen automatically, and you can restore a whole computer or an individual file or folde
     
    Jason, Oct 17, 2007
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