What is Windows Home Server
Windows Home Server fills a gap that has been growing as more homes become two computer homes (or three, or four, or ten!). The home computer used to be a single machine sitting in the den or other room that all family members shared. Now, each family member may have their own computer. Even that was fine before family members started using some of the same things like photos, printers, Internet connections, and so on. What has developed is the need for a server for the home, and that is where Microsoft Home Server comes in.
Microsoft Home Server is designed to handle a lot of those shared functions that have been jury rigged in homes across the country. Instead of going into the office to plug your laptop in to print, or buying a more expensive network ready printer, the Home Server can act as a print server. Same thing for scanners, fax machines, and other devices. Even more, Home Server can act as centralized file storage. Now, Mom can edit some of the Christmas photos while Dad is at bowling and then, the next night, Dad can edit some of the other photos while Mom is at bowling, all without having to somehow synchronize the files first by email, key drive, or additional Internet services. And, when it comes to backups, Windows Home Server can make sure no one loses that critical work project, term paper, school report, or Timmy’s first steps video.
Windows Home Server backs up every home computer each day. The backups are image based so restoring a lost system is a snap. Now, Dad can let Junior download all the games he wants. If the system crashes, it is easy to restore, without losing Junior’s science project. Supposedly, Windows Home Server even knows if you have duplicate files on more than one computer and only backs that file up once. That should save you tons of space on your Home Server.
With most families now owning a digital camera, there are lots of photograph files to be stored. Of course, not everyone needs to have all the files on each computer, but sharing them back and forth while keeping them in sync without redundant copies can be burdensome. Now, just like at work, a network drive allows you to store all the camera downloads in one place so that each user can just download the ones they currently need to their local hard disk. The same goes for music and video files as well.
Files can be shared with the whole family, or only with certain family members or even just one person. So, Mom and Dad can both have access to the finances files while little Jenny can keep her Webkinz files private.
No longer does the computer in the office have to be turned on in order to use the printer. Windows Home Server will act as your print server, your scan server, and your fax server. The Windows Home Server even comes with a website that allows you to get at your files when you aren’t at home.
Believe it or not, the Windows Home Server may actually be smaller than your other computers, even your laptops! Because it doesn’t need a monitor, speakers, keyboard, mouse, the Home Server can be very compact. You can stick it on a shelf and leave it there without every really noticing it.
- We’ll dig deeper, but it looks like Windows Home Server cannot also be your Media Center as well. That means you kind of need two Windows Home Servers. One will be your data home server and the other your media home server.
- Frankly, there are a lot of solutions available for free to handle a great deal of this functionality. On the other hand, those solutions tend to only be accessible by those with a certain degree of technical savvy and may come with their own downsides.
Microsoft Home Server should be an interesting entrant into the home computer user market. We’ll see how the people respond.