Requesting advice on how to use various machines at my disposal to create a home network RRS feed

  • Question

  • I've been trying to figure out how (or whether) I should set up a home network.

    Primary goals:
    - Backup files
    - Share a printer

    Secondary goals:
    - Remote administration/help
    - Easily monitor internet activity
    - Prep for possible integration with home theater
    - Fool around/learn something new

    I've got the following to throw at this:
    - Desktop with 3GB RAM (could upgrade) and 250GB HD
    - Desktop with 4GB RAM (could upgrade) and 500GB HD
    - Desktop with 1GB RAM (not willing to upgrade) and 160GB HD 
    - 2 laptops, LAN-connectable printer, 1TB external HD, and 3TB external HD

    Right now, everyone has their own computer, mix of XP and Win 7.  Printer and external HDs are new, ready to be hooked in.  My initial thought was to consolidate a couple people on one of the better desktops, and turn the older desktop into a WHS 2011 machine, not realizing that WHS 2011 has a 2GB RAM minimum.  Also, in reading a bit more, I'm not sure I would easily be able to leverage my external HD's in a WHS 2011 setup.  I guess another option would be to go with the original WHS software.

    Looking at my primary goals, it seems like I could upgrade the XP machines to Win 7, set up a homegroup, hook up an external HD to one of the boxes, and have other machines automatically back up to it.  As far as remote administration (i.e., family-requested tech support) goes, it doesn't happen all that often, and I could always use TeamViewer or something similar.  I'm now questioning whether it's worth it to proceed trying to make a network work.  Thanks.

    Monday, August 29, 2011 5:59 PM

All replies

  • Mark

    The full requirements for a WHS 2011 machine are:

    System Requirements

    Published: April 26, 2010

    Updated: March 30, 2011

    Applies To: Windows Home Server 2011

    • Windows Home Server 2011 server software is a 64-bit only operating system.
    • You can install the server software either manually or unattended.
    • System Requirements:
      • 1.4 GHz x64 processor.
      • 2 GB RAM
      • At least one 160 GB hard drive.
    • NTFS is the only supported file system.
    • Supported Networking Configuration:
      1. Your server computer must be connected via a network cable to a router.
      2. The router should be a UPnP-certified device, but it is not required.
      3. The router should be in the 192.168.x.x subnet, but it is not required.

    Client machines should be XP SP3 or above (Vista/W7) and if you want Remote Desktop capabilities for say providing support outside your local network you will need Pro or Ultimate versions.

    The advantages of a WHS 2011 in the environment I think you want are:

    • Simple and automatic backup on a daily basis of all your clients with bare metal restore capability
    • Centralised storage for client data so that each user can log on to a different client and have full access to all their data.
    • Central printer (albeit not formally supported on WHS2011 as you will need to work outside the Dashboard)

    Server backup (of the server itself, plus client backups and data) is limited (practically) to 2TB.

    Personally I would be more inclined to spend a bit more money to get a suitable server hardware platform rather than spending to upgrade XP to W7 on what sounds like relatively old hardware. That way you are also preparing for video streaming in the future (make sure your CPU is up to it).



    Phil P.S. If you find my comment helpful or if it answers your question, please mark it as such.
    Monday, August 29, 2011 6:53 PM
  • Thanks Phil.  Yeah, I've got all the system requirements down except the RAM.  I hear you about upgrading the server hardware, but it's going to take some convincing to spend much for anything.  I've got the W7 licenses needed to upgrade. You listed some good advantages, but compared to W7 homegroup:

    • Seems like I should be able to setup pretty simple/automatic backups for all machines (I have W7 Ultimate). Would go to an external HD, but don't see that as a huge deal.  Bare metal restore is definitely nice, if I need it, but the data is far more crucial.
    • Centralised client storage data would be nice for a couple things.  Don't think I can as easily get that in a homegroup as I could with WHS
    • Printer seems a wash between homegroup and WHS, maybe even easier with homegroup.  I inherited the printer and haven't set it up, but it has a LAN input, so it may not be part of a homegroup OR WHS.
    As far as prepping for video streaming, I do want to do that, but it's not something I feel like I need immediately.  However, if I end up going with WHS, I think you just pointed me to a good reason to use the most powerful current desktop as the WHS machine.  It already has a good CPU and graphics card.  Thanks again.
    Monday, August 29, 2011 10:41 PM
  • For the best video streaming performance you will need a processor that has a Windows 7 Experience Index of 6.0 or greater. Agreed about the printer - best to connect it directly to a network switch. Of course if you go with your most powerful desktop for the Server you will not need the powerful graphics card, if one at all (other than for setup and/or any subsequent troubleshooting). Good luck.
    Phil P.S. If you find my comment helpful or if it answers your question, please mark it as such.
    Monday, August 29, 2011 11:02 PM