Site Re-Design NEW Layout

Just to let you know that over the next few days I shall be re-designing this site. By using a new layout it will be easier on the eye with a more pleasant colour scheme and with better fonts it should also be easier to read. No down time will occur and content will be posted as usual.

RC1 Installation Video

The guys over on the German MS Homeserver Blog have put together a video of the installation progress of the new RC1 build. Lights, action, camera!!!

Installing Connector on Home PC issues

If you are having problems installing the Windows Home Server Connector on your home PCs and having “join” issues, there is some great troubleshooting information to be found here.

Whats in a Name?

Well this is your site and I would like your feedback. What would you like this website/blog called. At the moment its “MS Windows Home Server”. Would you like it left like this or would you like another name?

A few examples to get you going:

  • MSWHS – The Server for the People
  • MSWHS – The Server 4 the People
  • MS Windows Home Server
  • Windows Home Server Blog

Or whatever else you can think of… and thank you in advance.

AntiVirus Software for Windows Home Server

While there is no requirement that you load Anti-Virus software on WHS, I personally think that it’s a good idea. With more people adding programs like uTorrent, eMule and ORB to their WHS directly, there is a greater chance of a direct infection especially when using Torrent or P2P applications.
A visiting guest with his/her laptop could also spread a viral infection on my home network again increasing the chance of infecting WHS.

F-Secure will be releasing an Anti-Virus package that integrates with Windows Home Server in the not too distant future.

 But what can we use in the meantime?

Since WHS is based on Windows Server 2003 we need an AV product that works on this platform and one that is able to scan the files in the WHS share and repair or quarantine them if necessary.

Some tried and tested programs include:

Symantec AntiVirus Corporate Edition 10. Only available in 5+ user packs @ £186.83. Expensive and not much good when we only need 1 copy.

Kaspersky Anti-Virus for Windows Server (also known as Kaspersky Anti-Virus for File Server) @ £225. Another expensive option.

NOD32 Enterprise Edition @ £154 for 5 Licences. The BEST paid for option at present.

Comodo AntiVirus. FREE but very hard to setup.

ClamWin, the open source anti-virus software. FREE but it does not have a TSR, but you can schedule scans to run and it works OK. Probably the best FREE option available.

This is what I have come up with so far. Unless YOU know better of course, in which case please let us know!

My RC1 Installation Adventure

Well I went from Beta2 to the CTP build and yesterday to RC1. The sata hard disks were discovered correctly and no additional storage drivers were needed as was the same with the previous two builds. I did not even have to generate a new product key as any unactivated ones unused from the CTP build will work.

During installation the following screen appeared.

Disk Consistency

After checking, it carried on without any problem. This is the same screen I got in the CTP build also!

Under one hour later and after numerous re-boots all was completed but I noticed that I did not have network access. A check of Device Manager confirmed my suspicion that the LAN driver was not installed along with an SM Bus driver as these were not present on the CTP build either.

 Device Manager

Being two popular drivers* I do hope when the product goes RTM that these drivers are on the installation DVD.

After I installed the Connector CD Software on my 2 Vista and 1 XP Pro machines the following error appeared when right clicking on the WHS icon in the taskbar and then selecting “Shared Folders”.

Windows - No Disk

If I had the Connector Software CD in the drive the error did not appear. After some head scratching and a re-boot of each client machine the error disappeared. So after the Connector Software CD install make sure to re-boot the machine!

I checked the Date & Time on the General Tab under Settings and noticed that even though the time was correct that it was set to Pacific Time (US & Canada) under Time Zone even though I had set UK for both items in the setup “Regional and  Keyboard Settings” screen during the server installation.

1UK Settings

I also had Windows Update On to install updates automatically but found that after several hours, pressing the Update Now button on the same tab still found “lots” of updates. Two re-boots later and all of them were installed.

Apart from these minor niggles, this is an excellent build and appears more “solid” than previous releases.

*LAN Device = Integrated Realtek RTL8110SC Giga LAN Controller.

*SM Bus = “Intel 82801G (ICH7 Family) SMBus Controller – 27DA” from an Intel 945G & ICH7 chipset.

Avoid Setup Errors

As reported from posters at Microsoft’s WHS Forum the WHS setup can fail will all sorts of errors where the root cause was either a corrupted download, an unverified burn of a DVD/CD, poor quality media, mismatched media (e.g. DVD-R used in a DVD+R drive) or malfunctioning CD/DVD-ROM readers.

In the previous Beta 2 and CTP releases the bootable setup DVD was changed from using the XP generation WinPE, to the Vista generation WinPE (WinPE 2.0). It appears that WinPE 2.0 is more susceptible to media failures than the older generation was. This could be due to its much greater memory requirements or the way data is laid out.

So what can you do to make sure that your install is error free?

Use a CRC check utility to verify the ISO file you downloaded was not corrupted. I use the FREE HashCalc.


My Windows Home Server RC –  Installation DVD.iso with the correct CRC32

These are the CRC32 Checksum Value’s (Meaning it was generated using the CRC32 algorithm). Make sure that they match. If not then part of the download is corrupted SO re-download.

Windows Home Server RC – Home Computer Restore CD.iso = 0x103F20B6
Windows Home Server RC – Connector Software CD.iso = 0xF7B64B77
Windows Home Server RC – Installation DVD.iso = 0x3E3EBF25

Use a DVD burning software package that supports verification (e.g. DO NOT use dvdburn.exe). If you use Nero, make sure you turn on the data verify option on the page before you start the burn. If instead you use my favourite Asampoo Burning Studio make sure that you “Change Options” from the “Burn a CD/DVD/Blue-ray Disc from a Disc Image” menu to allow the verify option also. Another good FREE program is ImgBurn, just make sure again that Verify is ticked.

Do not burn your media (especially DVDs) at “maximum” write speed. Use a lower speed setting in your burning software to reduce the risk of errors. I personally use half the speed for DVDs and 40x for CDs.

Use high quality media that is matched to your writer and reader and that you know works well.

Make sure that the machine has at least 512MB RAM. WinPE 2.0 in the mode we use it in (WIM) requires something well north of 256MB and will fail in obscure ways if there is not enough memory.

Check that the BIOS in your server is the most recent. In some cases, a PC will not boot any WinPE 2.0 based disk (including Vista RTM) until the BIOS is upgraded to the latest version.

Windows Home Server setup has been extensively tested. If you encounter any failures during setup, including notifications of corrupted or missing files, blue screens, or other faults it is most likely due to a DVD/CD problem.

Enable Customer Feedback

A request from the Windows Home Server Team from the email sent out to beta testers

We ask that you enable providing customer feedback information to Microsoft when you go through setup (or enable it later in Server Settings). We received VERY valuable data from Beta 2 and CTP via this mechanism and it is extremely important that any crash or failure you encounter get reported to us. For privacy reasons we cannot enable this feature by default now that we are this far along in our release schedule. Domains

You will be able to personalize the domain name you use to access your server remotely. By visiting Windows Live Custom Domains you can register a domain name that allows you to access your home server from a domain such as Microsoft says this service will be free and available for the RTM release of WHS.

Are you waiting to be accepted into the WHS beta program?

If you are one of the thousands who have applied to be part of the WHS beta program since the CTP version was released, you may not have to wait for much longer.

Todd Headrick, Product Planner for the Windows Home Server Team has said that the invites will be going out later today or tomorrow for all the people in the queue.