Print 58 comment(s) - last by jacarte8.. on Jun 14 at 9:06 AM

Microsoft moves one step closer to the RTM for Windows Home Server

Microsoft's Windows Home Server is progressing nicely and has achieved Release Candidate stage. Microsoft states that the new build will be available to over 100,000 beta testers along with people who wish to sign up now and test the software.

For those not familiar with Windows Home Server, it is a software application that can be installed on any PC in a home network to allow other networked computers access to files. Users can also have secure web access to files from anywhere in the world with a secure Internet connection.

There will also be hardware products branded as "Powered by Windows Home Server" that simply plug into your home router to provide access to files. Microsoft likes to tout that new internal or external devices added to a Windows Home Server device won't be treated as F:, G:, H:, etc. Instead, total available space will be increased by the size of the hard drive added and divisions between physical hard drives will be transparent to the user.

The first question to spring to many potential users mind is how a Windows Home Server is different from a Network Attached Storage (NAS) device. Microsoft responds with:

More than just storage, Windows Home Server uniquely provides pre-defined shared folders, such as "Music" or "Photos" making it easier to organize and find your files. Windows Home Server also features simple storage extensibility, and built-in search capabilities... Also, in a Windows Home Server device with two or more hard drives, you can elect to duplicate folders. This prevents you from losing any photos, music, or other files stored in a folder that has "duplication" enabled, if a hard drive fails.

Pricing for Windows Home Server devices will be set by OEMs and will be available in the second half of 2007.

You can head over to the Paul Thurrott's Supersite for Windows to get an overview of Windows Home Server.

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What Will ISPs do When They See a Server?
By DaveLessnau on 6/13/2007 12:10:57 PM , Rating: 2
I don't know how this Home Server works, but I wonder what the various ISPs will do when they see these servers inside of homes. My ISP, Cox, says that you can't have a server if you have a standard home account. According to them, if you have a server, you have to have one of their business accounts. If the ISPs can see these Home Servers, there's going to be some wailing and gnashing of teeth.

RE: What Will ISPs do When They See a Server?
By Aikouka on 6/13/2007 12:24:01 PM , Rating: 2
I highly doubt they can tell unless your server is receiving outside traffic (HTTP requests, FTP connection requests, etc), which the point of this seems to be more internal than external anyway.

RE: What Will ISPs do When They See a Server?
By FITCamaro on 6/13/2007 12:40:07 PM , Rating: 2
Which it will be receiving since you can access files from anywhere in the world.

My question with this is how is it different than the shared folder that already exists in Windows? And setting up a simple FTP server gives you the same access. You just have to forward the port to somewhere besides port 80 so your ISP doesn't get upset and find out.

RE: What Will ISPs do When They See a Server?
By cochy on 6/13/2007 1:40:52 PM , Rating: 2
Well for one it's a web based application so people don't have to bother with FTP servers. Keep in mind this product is being marketed to the mainstream Windows users, not the technically savvy users.

RE: What Will ISPs do When They See a Server?
By Oregonian2 on 6/13/2007 2:17:35 PM , Rating: 2
But for the world-access part, I hope it's providing a VPN or something equivalent not matter what it's called.

By cochy on 6/13/2007 6:23:06 PM , Rating: 2
Microsoft said it's secure so I assume it's SSL over http. It's just a web app that grants access to files. I don't think it will be creating any sort of VPN.

RE: What Will ISPs do When They See a Server?
By fic2 on 6/13/2007 1:57:48 PM , Rating: 2
How is it different than a NAS? Is it just a pretty interface on top of a NAS?

By cochy on 6/13/2007 6:24:30 PM , Rating: 2
Again, there's more to Windows Home Server than file storage. It's an extensive backup utility plus it monitors health of other Windows machines and such. It does a lot. Plus it's easy to add more storage to it where as a NAS it all depends on what you got.

By Spineless on 6/13/2007 7:36:58 PM , Rating: 2
WHS is probably one of the coolest and most useful products to come out of MS for awhile. Some like to compare the new file storage mechanism to RAID but it's not. RAID is a much lower-level mechanism. The mechanism they use is based on the data that you are storing on the drives. The coolest part about WHS has to be the ability to dynamically add new and replace old storage. Pop in a new 500GB drive to replace that "aging" 200GB drive without even having to take the server offline.

For redundancy, you can choose which folders to make redundant. And it then balances those files across the drives. Granted it doubles the amount of data stored vs going with RAID 5, but it gives you much easier management. For the target audience, adding an additional drive to make up for this difference will be cheaper than RAID array expansion.

I have a Windows Server 2003 domain at home to manage all of my family's computers, but this is going to make it so much easier.

By crystal clear on 6/13/2007 12:37:36 PM , Rating: 1
They simply charge you more-thats it.

Take it or leave it attitude.

RE: What Will ISPs do When They See a Server?
By cochy on 6/13/2007 1:36:46 PM , Rating: 2
My ISP, Cox, says that you can't have a server if you have a standard home account.

Well thats' ridiculous. Most ISPs will block port 80 and 25 (web and smtp) to prevent people from hosting web and email servers. However the web based component of Windows Server will most likely listen on a non-standard port so your ISP can't block it.

Furthermore unless you're on an unlimited account you have a limited amount of bandwidth otherwise you are charged extra.

Lastly if you are not using your internet connection for commercial purposes your ISP shouldn't have any problem with what ever services you are hosting (legal of course). If they give you grief over having a Windows Home server or web server just change ISPs.

RE: What Will ISPs do When They See a Server?
By DaveLessnau on 6/13/2007 3:05:08 PM , Rating: 2
Just for completeness, here's item six in Cox's Policy statement for their home internet service:

Servers. You may not operate, or allow others to operate, servers of any type or any other device, equipment, and/or software providing server-like functionality in connection with the Service, unless expressly authorized by Cox.

RE: What Will ISPs do When They See a Server?
By cochy on 6/13/2007 6:28:26 PM , Rating: 2
Oh well, lame ISP. Anyway Windows Home Server HTTP server is secure meaning that the traffic is encrypted. Your ISP will never know you have a Windows Home Server.

By jacarte8 on 6/14/2007 8:56:55 AM , Rating: 2
You really know nothing about IP traffic if you think the ISP doesn't know you're running a server if your traffic is encrypted.

Https means they *probably* can't see the content, however it will generally take place along port 443, so if your IP address is serving connections across port 443, Cox will (if they're interested) know that you're serving across it.

In my experience though, ISPs don't care if you're serving data, but you'd better not be using a ton of bandwidth trying to do so...

By jacarte8 on 6/14/2007 9:00:20 AM , Rating: 2
The reason they'll never know you're running Windows Home Server is that in that TOS, it doesn't mean you can't run a server Operating System on your home network...

The TOS means you can't host data and serve it to the internet as a whole. If you limit the server use to when you're away from home and don't advertise its availability, you'll be ok.

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