I’ve been using Windows Home Server for ten years now and this month was my last. It wasn’t because I didn’t find WHS to be a good product as I think it definitely was when it was released. The problem is that it has been orphaned by Microsoft and after another hard drive failed and took down the OS partition, I decided to move to something that would be easier to manage.
The Windows Home Server performed the following functions for me:
- Place to store files to serve as backups and for general access from any computer
- Backup of local home computers (full hard drive image)
- Plex Media server
With the QNAP TS-451+, I’m able to do all of those (although client backup will need to be done either by the OS or 3rd party software). The Plex Media will also be able to use some of the transcoding features of the quad core Celeron processor (for sending video to mobile clients). With 4 drive bays, I can have 32 TBs of storage. Right now I only have 11.5 TB and even a good chunk of that is used for mirroring of drives and system related functions.
I have a couple 4 TB drives in a mirrored setup and then a 2 TB and 1.5 TB drive that are not mirrored and serve as general space. On top of this, I have an external 4TB drive that I used for a periodic secondary backup of all important files (all files at the moment). I may move to a completely redundant setup in the future, but for now this will suffice.
My Plex server run well on the QNAP. I haven’t had any issues with it. I have a lifetime Plex pass, so I downloaded the latest version of the server (later than what is available from QNAP) and manually installed it.
So far I’m pleasantly surprised. I think management will be easier and hopefully it will be more compatible with other OSs. We’ll see.
For years now, Microsoft has released patches to its numerous operating systems on Tuesdays of each week (when patches are needed). Instead of having them come out on random days, IT administrators liked having a predictable release schedule. This made management of them a little easier (not much, but easier). At least predictable. So Patch Tuesday is when updates come (in large numbers at times).
With me being a developer (and playing video games in the evening), having a couple different computers is not that unusual. Couple that with us home schooling our four children and our demand for computing devices is pretty high. We also have a media center for the living room and a home server for file sharing and computer backups. All in all, it looks a lot like a computer lab around the office. So when a bunch of important patches hit on a Tuesday, my home server starts complaining (raising alerts) that I have machines that need updating. Even the home server (Windows Home Server 2011) needs to have patches installed. By Wednesday, I’m usually trying to tell each of the kids to install updates and reboot their computers.
You would think that it would happen automatically, but that’s not always something that you want. I don’t want anyone to loose school work and I don’t want the media center to update while recording a show. So usually that means checking the server alerts to see which machines haven’t completed the process and manually performing the update (and fixing any issues that might be unresolved). With the slow reboots on the old machines, it really makes me want to upgrade some hard drives to SSDs.
As much irritation as it creates, the whole process is a necessary one. In many households, updates go uninstalled and this will many times lead to a virus in the environment. The OS bugs need to be fixed, but unless you install these fixes then you leave yourself open to problems. Just remember, Microsoft will never send an update link via email. The only way that you should install updates is through the Windows Update portion of the control panel. To find it quickly, do a search for “Windows Update” from the Start menu. I know it’s a pain (believe me, I know), but you’ll save yourself an even bigger headache later.
I mentioned in my last post that Windows Home Server was a great backup option on the more expensive side of things. Of course “more expensive” is a relative term and the value proposition of the backup solution changes when you realize it’s real value. You certainly need to be able to save up the purchase amount, but take some time to contemplate the time and effort that would be required to reinstall your operating system, download system security updates, reinstall all of your applications, configure your email (favorites, settings, etc..) and then move your data back to your fresh machine. Not only is it not fun, but it’s a huge amount of work. That’s what got me excited about Windows Home Server and it’s promise of a complete computer backup solution for my computers.
Continue reading My Backup Plan – WHS
You remember all those photos that you took with your digital camera (or maybe scanned)? When was the last time that you made a copy of them? I’ll bet you may even have taken a few since the last time you backed them up. If it’s been more than a month since the last time you performed a backup of your data, then you need to seriously consider doing it now and coming up with a game plan for continuing the process. I thought I would share a few ways you can do that.
Continue reading Backed Up Your Data Lately?
I wear my geek badge somewhat proudly these days. Some of that has to do with geeks being a little more popular than in the past and secondly I can’t really deny it since the title fits me so well. Case in point, I have a Windows Home Server running at my house that backups the family computers (along with other tasks that are equally cool, yet not as impressive). What seemed like an unobtainable capacity ten or even five years ago is now getting to be commonplace. A few months ago I added a larger hard drive into my home server to hit a total of 1.25 TB (terabytes). The terabyte limit is something of a four minute mile for computer scientists. It’s not really a big deal for people just getting into the business, but it’s a neat milestone for me.
I will note that I still have a little over 400 MBs to go before I replace the next drive. By the time that limit is reached, I’ll be able to pick up a 2 TB drive for $100 (cost of a 1 TB drive now). By the way, when was the last time you backed up your computer? Just checking.