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    If you have recently purchased or installed your Windows Home Server you can use this checklist to go over various install issues.  If you have been running a server for a while you still might find some of this useful.  This is a long list and not every step is required to successfully setting up your Windows Home Server.  If you find errors or would like to add to this list please let me know.

     

     

     

    Before you Build/Buy

     

    Check your router, is it compatible with WHS UPNP? Wegotserved.co.uk has a list of compatible routers.

     

    Start organizing your data on your PC.  Photos, Videos, etc.

    Clean your “My Documents” folder.  Move photos and videos to appropriate folders.

    Decide if you want to put your “My Documents” on WHS user directory or store local.

     

    Cleanup your PC with CCleaner.  Not required but a good idea.

     

    Consider purchasing an external drive for your WHS.  With the external you can backup your shares to it for yet more redundancy.

     

    Think of a name for your server before you start.  HPServer, Server WHServer, Waldo, etc.

     

    Find a home for your WHS.  Somewhere with airflow, closet, desk, etc.

     

    Get all computers on the same workgroup.  Windows Home Server Install will default to "Workgroup"  This is not absolutely mandatory but it can make some situations easier.

     

    In the properties of the computer note the "Full Computer Name" and the Description.  Sometimes they can be something funny like DellCustomer, PreferredACERCustomer or something useless like this.  Put a description in each and a computer name that is meaningful.

     

    Collect all the usernames for each computer.  You will need to input usernames into your new WHS so this is handy to have.

     

    Clean these up on each computer as well.  No Admin, or USER1, etc.  Names or locations work best.  KitchenPC, KidsComputer, HP Laptop, etc.

     

    Take the time to update every computer in the network.  Make sure updates are turned on, Antivirus/Anti-Spyware is installed and up to date.

    Run a deep scan on each machine to ensure there are no infections.

    Not running anything, tsk tsk.  At least run a freebie.  AVG, Avira, Avast.

     

    http://free.avg.com/

    http://www.free-av.com/

    http://www.avast.com/eng/avast_4_home.html

     

    I also like to do a chkdsk /f /r on each pc as well as a defrag. (this is more cleanup, not required) Help on CHKDSK can be found here.

     

    Unbox / Build

     

    Check the http://homeservershow.com website under Home Builds for ideas and equipment lists that other listeners have used.  This is tried and true equipment.  You can also discuss and ask questions on these pages.

     

    Here are Microsoft’s minimum requirements for WHS:

     

    * 1GHz Pentium 3 or higher

    * 512MB of RAM

    * 70GB of storage space

    * 100 Mbps Ethernet card

     

    Here are the actual recommended requirements for WHS:

     

    * Pentium 4, AMD x64, or newer processor - prefer 64 bit processor even though WHS is 32 bit for now

    * 512MB of RAM

    * At least two internal hard drives with 300GB of primary (system) hard drive space

    * 100 Mbps or faster Ethernet

     

    Here are my recommended requirements for WHS installs:

     

    Intel Celeron or Core2 processor for power.  Use an Atom or Via C7 for power saving.

    2 Gigs of RAM.  It's not required but it's needed.

    Two hard drives, first one being 1TB The rest 1TB or larger.

    One Gigabit Ethernet port.

    DVD Reader - You can take this out after install or leave it in for ripping direct to your WHS shares.

    four or more SATA ports on the motherboard

    Multiple USB ports.

    1 eSata port for fast external drives.

    One External drive that is 2x larger than the data in your shares. (for share backups)

    Video, you can take the video card out after your done or leave it to tinker later.  Keyboard/mouse can be pulled as well.

     

    Check for compatibility with 64 bit OS and code.  The C7 is not and your homebrew workstation might not be either.  If you think that you will want to upgrade to future versions your gear must be 64 bit compatible.

     

    The following is the official list of operating systems that Windows Home Server will support (meaning these are the systems that the connector and backups will work on.  No Win 98, Me, or 95, get with it!)

     

    All Vista

    Windows Vista Operating Systems which include:

    Windows Vista Home Basic

    Windows Vista Home N (European Union only)

    Windows Vista Home Premium

    Windows Vista Business

    Windows Vista Business N (European Union only)

    Windows Vista Enterprise

    Windows Vista Ultimate

    Windows XP Operating Systems which include:

    * Windows XP Home with SP2

    * Windows XP Professional with SP2

    * Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 with SP2 and Rollup 2

    * Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 with SP2

    * Windows XP Media Center Edition 2004 with SP2

    * Windows XP Tablet Edition with SP2

     

    Windows 7 is also working, i have it installed on my eee netbook and it works great.

     

    HP MSS Owners and Self Builds.  Keep it simple.  Do the install with only one hard drive.  HPMSS, the bottom drive that came with the unit.  SB's, I would go with a minimum of 500 gig on your C drive.  WHS will partition a 20 gig system drive and use the rest for data.  You can add drives later.

     

    The HP MediaSmart Server is hot swappable with the power on.  It works, use it but be sure you use the drive removal wizard in WHS first if removing drives!  If you are adding drives, just pop it in after WHS has booted up.  Everybody else, add drives with the power off!  Always.

     

    If you are installing the HP MSS sometimes the install bar will stick on a percentage and you swear that it's locked up and

     

    stuck.  Give it time, be patient.  It almost always will finish.  Don't turn it off.

     

    Install

    Home Builders

    Check for compatibility now.  Check your mobo documentation to make sure you can run Windows Server 2003.  Also, check the manufacturers website for storage drivers.  If you find these for server you are good to go.  If your board is compatible with anything older than 2003 server you are usually good as well.

    You may have trouble with newer PC's if you want to recycle them as a WHS.  There may not be a storage driver for PC that will work.  If you are unsure, get a spare hard drive and download and install the trial of WHS.  This will allow you to test the system before making a decision on whether to use the recycled pc or go with a build list.

     

    Also check for a network card driver.  Your not going to get very far without it!

     

    Check your mobo documentation and bios for RAID.  If you have RAID on your board you need to turn it off.  This might be a good time to check your mobo to make sure it's completely up to date.  Check your bios rev and compare to the manufacturers latest release.  Check the latest release notes for fixes and see if they pertain to you.  Sometimes it's better to not fix what’s not broken.  Just because there is a new release doesn't mean you need to install it.

     

    You must boot from the CD.  You can't upgrade from any other OS.  There are other methods of install that we can cover later.  You don't get many choices in the install.  Beware that the drive you install it on will be completely wiped away.  If you are installing to a server with multiple drives make sure all your drives show up on the list.  If not it means you have a storage driver issue.  Start hunting down that driver.

     

    During the install portion don't sit and wait, get back to organizing data!

     

    First Boot, it's password time.  It will ask you for a password that it will tie to the administrators account.  If you remote desktop into the machine this is the password therefore it needs to be a very strong password.

    Mix numbers, symbols, upper and lowercase letters.  The requirements are this:

    It must have at least 7 characters, and it must have three of following four criteria: uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.

    There is also a reminder phrase for the password.  If you type in the wrong password when you try to get into the console it will immediately pop up the reminder.  Be aware of that if you make the reminder to close to the actual password.

     

    Customer Experience Improvement Program

    I recommend turning this on in order to help the WHS team.  It furthers product development and in no way exposes you or your data to any insecurities.  Turn on error reporting as well.

     

    Do not lose the WHS DVD's!  Keep them in a safe spot.

     

    MediaSmart owners will have a shorter install and you do the install from your pc and not at the server itself.

     

    Sit back, let it install.  Maybe you should go back to cleaning up your photos directory.

     

    Updates.  Before you get rolling on connectors, users, and configuration make sure your server is up to date.  In the Windows Home Server Console click settings.  In the middle right of the console screen is the Update Now button.  Click and follow directions.  Install all the updates it recommends.  If you get lost the update button is on the General tab.  It's the tab that Settings will always start with.

    If you need to reboot go ahead and reboot.  Go back into WHS console, Settings, General tab and click it again.  Do this until there are no more updates.  Make sure Windows Update is On.  Click OK.

    HPMSS users have to do updates as well.When you open the console HP users will have a MediaSmart Server tab in the top left of the console.  This tab presents all the HP software that was bundled with the WHS.  In the top left of this tab is the updates section, click Check for updates.  Again, do this as many times as needed until there are no longer updates to install.  Quick Note:  One of the HP updates includes two Add-Ins.(Newer HP Hardware will include these in the install)  PVConnect and McAfee Antivirus for WHS.  You will get a "Network At Risk" notification when Add-Ins are present in your Add-In share and not installed.  Don't install just because of this.  Don’t install any updates just yet.  You can click the Network at Risk button on the console and check the box next to each add-in.  It should turn your health status back to green.

     

    Create user accounts for everyone in your household. Ensure that every PC in the house has a username and password.  Make sure they match the ones just created on the server.

     

    Connector Time - Install one.  Usually on your main pc.  Don't worry about the lappy or the kids computers just yet.  If you just installed the HP MSS the connector was installed on your pc as part of the server setup Install the connector on all PC's in your house.  Think about what is on each PC before you install the connector and do a backup.

    If you do a backup first thing, are you going to create redundant data on your WHS?  yes, I know more than one copy is a good scenario but think it through first.  Lets say you have 100gigs of dvd rips on your workstation.  You, do an instant backup and it backs all of that data up.  You then copy that data to a WHS share.  You then turn on duplication.  Now you have a copy of it on the workstation, you have a copy of it in a backup, and you have two copies of the data on two different hard drives with drive extender duplication turned on.  That's four copies!  Wait, you recall that external drive that is supposed to attach to the server?  Yes, it will hold share backups.  Now you have 5 copies.

    Maybe you want to transfer the data to a share, turn duplication on, and then do a pc backup.

     

    Most pc's in the house will not need to access the console and/or use the administrator password.  Don't give it out freely.  But they still have to have the connector installed in order to get backed up.  The install also places a shortcut to the shares on the desktop.

     

    A big question you need to ask yourself now.  Do I map the "My Documents" folder to the WHS or not?  You can also map My Music, Videos, etc.  Help on changing My Documents targets can be found here.

     

    Decide what is more important to you at this step.  Getting backups of all computers or transferring your data to the WHS shares.  Backups will run at night or you can do manual backups after you install the connector.  Turn on Duplication for each share that you would like WHS to make multiple copies of.  In Settings, Remote Access, Turn on websites, and establish your domain name.  Do this for remote access to your WHS.

     

    Start transferring data to the shares from PC's in the house.  Let WHS work for you while you sleep.  Start a transfer and then go to bed!

     

    The morning after.

    Check the console to make sure all PC's were backed up.  Does a PC in your household have multiple drives in it?  Make sure they are backed up as well or you have the option to exclude the multiple drives.  You can also exclude certain folders in a backup.  Do this by going to the Computers and Backup tab, right click the computer in question and click Configure backup.

     

    Add your external drive.  If you add it to the drive pool you will lose all data on it.  If you want to use it as a share backup you have the option of formatting it or keeping it like it is.  Don't take chances and be ready to lose that data.

     

    Backup your shares to the external drive.

     

    Check your storage level under Server Storage.  Do you need more drives?

     

    TCP/IP Config

    A static address is not needed for your WHS but most enthusiasts do assign a static IP address to the server.  If you don't go ahead and make a DHCP reservation for the address.  You can find this in your router setup.  Usually in the LAN section or DHCP section.  Find the hostname of your server and note the ip address.  Somewhere in this section you should be able to "reserve" the IP address for this hostname.  That means when the server boots up again it will always grab this IP address and no other device will be able to grab it either.

     

    Instruct family members how to use the shares, remote access, etc.

     

    Now, you can start reading about Add-In's.  Don't get in a big hurry to start using them.  If you have something you would like to accomplish with an Add-In go ahead and install it and use it.  Try not to experiment very much by installing a ton of Add-In's.  Research and read about them before installing.  Just remember you have all your precious data on your WHS.

     

    Did any of this sound difficult or like to much work?  Just remember.  This product was designed to come into your home and install easily and manage easily.  This is just a guide.  Some may say it's an enthusiast guide.  It at least gets you thinking about the pc's in your house.  Don't let all these steps deter you from moving ahead with WHS.  If you didn't do a single step in this guide, at least you have a home server and you’re doing backups right?

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