A New Kind of Home Computer: Windows Home Server Preview

@ 2007/09/04
But home users don't need the same kind of server that business users need. Home users won't be running or need to be running their own SQL server or email server, but what about centralizing the location of everyone's media files? Or a web server for letting the relatives see all your photos? Or a backup suite that actually backs files up somewhere else than to the hard drive of the machine in question? And how about something that doesn't require a MSCE degree to run? Over the last two years Microsoft has been once again retrofitting the Windows Server 2003 kernel (previously refit to serve as Windows XP Pro x64) to be the new server that can do all of the above.<br>
The result of those two years of effort is a very interesting product that we'd consider the most interesting Windows product to come out of Microsoft since Windows 2000, and yet at the same time it comes with the quirks that are undeniably Microsoft. As we'll see WHS can offer a lot of value to the market Microsoft is shooting for, but can it overcome the difficulties of forging a new market, and fighting against its own deficiencies? Let's take a look under the hood of Windows Home Server and find out the answer.

Comment from jmke @ 2007/09/04
Furthermore, the storage pool is almost completely dynamic, in direct opposition to most JBOD/RAID setups. New drives can be added to the storage pool without disrupting the server, allowing the pool to be easily and continuously expanded to meet the data retention needs of the server. Drives can also be removed from the pool with a little more effort, as WHS can be informed to move all of the data off of a drive (assuming there's space elsewhere) so that the drive can be disconnected without interrupting the pool. While this isn't a completely new feature as various *nix systems have implemented similar features, this is the first we've seen it on Windows, and certainly in the running for the easiest to use implementation of such a feature.
Nice feature to have

Finally, WHSDE has a very interesting data protection feature that in many ways is a poor man's RAID 1, and yet smarter at the same time. By default WHSDE is constantly balancing all the drives so that no single drive is storing a larger percentage of data than another, so in the case of a drive failure the data lost will be an equal fraction of the data. More importantly however folders can be marked as needing additional protection (folder duplication), at which point WHSDE will make sure that the contents of that folder are on at least two separate drives when doing its balancing act. This is what makes WHSDE a poor man's RAID 1, as this balancing isn't done in real time and there's not immediately a copy of every single bit, but it's also smarter because this kind of protection is possible even among mismatched disks, disks on different controllers, external versus internal disks, etc. It offers slightly less protection than RAID 1, but as a tradeoff it's a lot more forgiving too.
This is genius though to include by default

On the server side, anyone familiar with corporate backup software will undoubtedly find themselves at home with WHS. Along with scheduling backup times and triggering backups, administrators can exclude folders (but not files or file types) on a per-machine basis, view a list of backups, and manually purge old backups.
ugh, not on file type? 600mb avi files backupped too ? :/

There are a few caveats with the backup features of WHS that bear mentioning however. First and foremost only machines running Windows XP SP2 or Windows Vista x86 can be backed up. Older versions of Windows are not supported, and more surprisingly x64 versions of Windows are not supported. The WHS development team has cited the need to write drivers for the backup/restore abilities as the reason for the latter limitation, as they did not have the time to write a good set of drivers for both x86 and x64, so x64 support is not included for now. Unfortunately we don't have a good idea when such support will arrive; the development team for WHS is working on writing a version of the software for x64, but they are not saying when it might be ready.
keep away from 64-bit for home use, what's new?