Setting up a server: Windows Home Server


I am pondering what would be the best solution for setting up a small server at home. The server would server two options: 1) Shared file storage for other computers in the house (i.e. pictures, music, video) and 2) Automated nightly backup of all the workstations and laptops in the house.

About a year ago we ran gigabit Ethernet throughout the house, so the server would be located in a remote location and will perform backups overnight.

There are a couple of ways to run this, but with Windows Home Server around the corner I was wondering if it would be go the Home Server route, or use Windows XP with good recommended backup software.

Do you recommend Windows home server or general Windows XP with backup software and a standard RAID1 application?

Many thanks for the advice in advance.

Kind regards
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  1. Well in terms or reliability it goes freebsd, linux, windows for servers. Personally I would set up a ubuntu with samba and rsync. You can set up a custom partition set up from the start to create the raid 1. I realize it's not easy to learn linux but it is free and runs very efficiently. It looks like your going to have to learn from scratch anyway. You can do this with an old computer. I suggest like a PIII with 254 mb ram then load it with a couple high capacity drives.
    If you feel you truly need windows you can setup xp pro with it's free nt backup utility if you don't mind the archives. I have a friend who uses syncback which I think requires you to map network drives with two notebooks shouldn't be a big deal. Personally I think windows home server will be a waste of money when you can set up a server under pretty much any OS. I'd be willing to bet they'll be charging a premium for it too.
    A good NAS will also provide all of this functionality that you listed if your not into DIY linux servers I think it's a good compromise between ease of configuration and price.
  2. There goes the Linux boys telling ya to do something completely off the wall. :)

    Windows Server 2003 has the same reliablity as any current flavor of Linux. So your Server wouldn't be bad.

    You don't necessarily need a server for what you're doing. You could easily use a spare computer with RAID 1 or some form of redundancy of information. Even using external USB drives would be an option.

    You would need to set each computer to back up to the 'server' - You can download xcopy or robocopy from Microsoft if you want a nice copy utility to manually copy everything for you instead of doing an image type backup.

    Basically you're looking to back up your data on another computer with realiability. You didn't mention running DNS, WINS, or DHCP with it so the Server software is not really needed. A simple Router will cover your basic needs at home.
  3. Hi,

    Correct, I see no need for DNS,WINS or DHCP given that our basic router in conjuction with a switch do that just fine. I also don't see the need to run a printer server, given that our main Printer (HP LJ4) has a NIC as is connected to the LAN anyhow.

    With Win XP (or Server) what would be a good automated backup utility? I know Win XP has a basic one built in, and I could probably do something as simple as run scripts every night that copy all the files.

    But I would like to look at other off the shelf solutions for network backups. I would prefer NOT to install client software on the workstation machines.
  4. Hey just saying winxp 2003 server is fine but $150 to back up files is a bit much. Then there is also antivirus subscription. I am a linux guy and even I admit FreeBSD has the record for the longest running server without down time. I just don't like having to reinstall an OS because a virus or malware jumped around the network or having to restart for a windows update. Linux is just set and forgot until something hardware goes. There is even a gui now for file sharing in ubuntu so if learned rsync you would be all set out of the box. It's not off the wall don't knock it till you try it the only time you have to restart is if you choose to update the kernel.
  5. @Brw: I've tried it and where it counts for me, it lacks. Microsoft isn't better, but it does what I want it to do in a faster fashion than Linux currently can do.


    You'll most likley have to install a client on each computer unless you wanted to buy something like ArcServ/Brightstor for $700, then share out the drives on all computers and manually set it up to create those back ups.
    Not recommended in your case.

    You can pick up something like SecondCopy for $20 a copy to create a backup, but its like Robocopy with a GUI.

    Your main concern in backing up a PC is to get the vital data files - You shouldn't be concerned about backing up System information. If the computer dies, you can rebuild it and copy the data files down. That's how that will work for you.

    You can though work with RIS (Remote Installation Services). Running this would create an image of the computer as often as you wanted, but it is time consuming and space wasting for the needs. But should the computer die, you boot to network and the computer will be restored. Granted, the hardware has to be nearly identical to make it work.
  6. Can the RoboCopy be used just with an XP network? Or does it need to have Windows Server 2003?
  7. Yeah, its just a standalone exe. Its a step up from regular copying.

    Its a really nice program to mirror files and such.
  8. This topic has been closed by The_Prophecy
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