A journey to .Net

Windows Home Server for developer

Thursday, 22 April 2010 22:47 by mBerube
(Also available in: français)

Last year, after the good comments of Scott Hanselman, I decided to try Windows Home Server, a light version of Windows Server 2003. It's a really integrated OS that allow easy file sharing between all home PC (music, photos, videos), easy and complete backup of all the connected machines and allow to backup all this on an external drive to put in a safe place in case the server is destroy, lose or stealed.

I installed it on a old machine (a 10 years old AMD athlon) and it worked pretty well (but I had some stability problem, mostly caused by aging componants). Also, I began to run out of space and IDE HD are hard to find and cost more than SATA. So, I decided to use a real WHS solution, the Acer Aspire Easy Store Home Server:

I used it for a week now and everything is fine. The transfer was very long (400 gb on a 100mb network takes time), that's a really quiet machine, thanks to Atom processor that consume less energy and runs cooler.

WHS come with a connector that allow basic administration of the machine. It gives access to all operations a home user requires. (BTW, MS sells WHS as a simple consumer product that everybody can setup. FALSE. You need some basic knowledge in Windows Security and networking. Geek required !).

It's also a product that can be really useful for a small developers team because WHS allow sharing and backup for up to 10 PC. As a dev, you surely know how to use RDP so you can connect directly to the box and do almost anything you can do in Windows Server 2003. Beware because WHS use a technology called Drive Extender that create a kind of "raid" where all the disks are added and shown as a big storage space:

Dont' use tools like that manage disks (disk management, RAID controller, defragmenter), let WHS do it and use shared folders to transfer your files.

There's 2 interesting things to do with your WHS:

  • WHS allow remote access to files using a web interface. You'll then see that IIS (6.0) is installed and fully functional on the machine and makes it a really good candidate for QA web site before putting them in production. If you need database, I installed SQLServer 2008 Express without problem.
  • That's also a really good place to put your source code repository. Personally, I use Visual SVN to manage my repositories and I've included them to a shared folder (that is included in my backup) so my SVN database is automatically included in my weekly offsite backup. Really great !

Finally, there's many Add-ins availables, mostly on We got served to add more cool features to your server. It's an interesting product and it relatively low price (less than 400$, OS included), makes it a simple and cheap solution for home and work.

P.S : I don' receive anything from MS to comment that product, I'm just a enthousiast user !

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Categories:   Easiest geek life | Programmer life
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