Recently I wrote about my five Core Add-Ins for my standard Windows Home Server installations and I am about to add a sixth Add-In to the list. The AutoExit Add-In is one of those rare gems that does not get a lot of attention. This Add-In can save you a lot of time and frustration on your home network.

Asoft About Screen

Background

I am one of the luckiest men on Earth. My wife lets me purchase all of the computer equipment I want. We have two work laptops (VPN networked but not a part of WHS for security reasons), two personal laptops, a photo editing workstation, a laptop in the garage and a HTPC (Home Theater PC) all networked via gigabit to my homebuilt WHS. There are only two of us which means at any given time five of the seven Dell PCs are not being used. Each one has a purpose and I would not change anything, however, keeping them all backed up is a pain in the ass. Is my WHS not doing its job? Let me explain…

We try to save electricity so whenever the PCs are not in use we have them turned off. While the electrical savings add up, so do the WHS warnings about these systems not being backup. The warnings are more of a nuisance since they do get backed up on the weekends when I turn them all on. Some days I am on every computer but some days I am only on one or two. With WHS I can access my movies and media from any PC in the house and even if I do start a PC I will not leave it on all night just to backup. Here is my weekly backup protocol…

I wake up on Saturday morning and head right to the office. I press the power button on my main workstation. I then spin my chair around and press the button on my personal laptop. I then walk out to the kitchen, prep my wife’s coffeemaker and walk out to the garage to press the power button on the garage laptop. I grab a Diet Coke from the garage fridge and walk back inside to the living room where I press the power button on the Hybrid. I walk back the office, set down the Diet Coke and by this time the main workstation is ready for my fingerprint. I repeat the entire walk logging in to each system. Now my house is not big so I am not really complaining about the walk but I would love a better process.

Upon my return to the office I log into the WHS console and back each system up remotely. Once all of the backups are complete I run the WHS BDBB, walk out to the living room and watch Enterprise on my Moxi DVR (not networked) until my phone beeps me when backup warning clears or my wife wakes up, which ever comes first. Unless I am out of town I do this EVERY Saturday. Should I use mControl for the coffeemaker? I could start the brewing from Windows Media Center. Maybe in another article…

Mental Note: You do not have to log in to Windows to start the backup. You can start the backup as soon as the PC becomes available. I log in to each PC to make sure I have latest automatic updates.

Earlier this week Andrew Edney posted a quick update about an Add-In that allows WHS to control your Windows PCs.  I decided to put all other topics on hold until I could get this Add-In reviewed. I cannot wait to see what this Add-In can do for my system and for yours!

Equipment Needed:

AutoExit Add-In from http://www.asoft-ware.com/

Two Beers (optional as always)

Add-In Description

Information about the Add-In comes directly from the ASoft website at http://www.asoft.be/

The website says the following about AutoExit:

  • Shut down your machines over the Windows Home Server network.
  • It can be used to shut down, reboot machines in your home network from within the console.
  • Wake On Lan is also supported, this enables you to easily boot up machines remotely.
  • You can put the machine into hibernation, sleep, log off the user or lock the machine.
  • The server can also be shut down from the toolbar now.
  • You can execute these actions per machine or for all machines.
  • Changes in AutoExit 2009 (minor update):
    – Wake On Lan all clients.
    – Send a message to all connected clients.
    – Warn users when the server is going down.
    – Support for Windows 7.
    – Possibility to the Wake On Lan port to send to.
    – Possibility to enable easy logging on the client side.”

As I mentioned earlier, I first became aware of this Add-In when the AutoExit update was posted by Andrew at:

http://moviesgamesandtech.com/2009/08/12/new-version-of-autoexit-add-in-for-windows-home-server/

Ok, AutoExit looks like a great Add-In, but is it worthy of changing my “Favorite Five” to a “Standard Six”?

Lets set this pig on fire!

Download and Installation

Downloading is easy. This Add-In works like a regular Add-In so save the file to your Software/Add-Ins folder. Just click on the following link:

http://www.asoft.be/

Once you have completed the download open the WHS console and Install the Add-In.

WHS Add-In Screen

Once the WHS console has restarted you can log in to WHS and verify that the installation is complete.

Configuration and Setup

Most of the configuration of this Add-In is done on each machine you want to control from the WHS console. When you first access the Add-In from the WHS console you get the following message:

AutoExit Dialog Box

Unless you need a reminder, click on the “Don’t show this dialog again” check box and click on OK.

WHS Console with Dialog Box

I am going to go to each PC and run the “autoexitclient.exe” file on each system. Below I am doing screen shots of the XP machine in the garage.

During the download and installation a new folder was created called “AutoExit” with the client installer file. Open the Shared Folders on Server and navigate to the \\XXXXX\Software\AutoExit folder. Double click on the file and follow the installation instructions.

AutoExit Client Screen

Once you have completed the installation click on Finish.

AutoExit Setup Complete

My garage system is running XP Home so I will not be able to use the remote desktop function of the Add-In on this system. The system will still respond to the other functionality of AutoExit. Right mouse click on the tray icon and choose Diagnose to see information about your system.

AutoExit Diagnose

Once I have installed the software on the garage PC I go back to office and the WHS console and see the status of this machine on the network. I have omitted the IP address and the MAC address from the pictures. WHS Console AutoExit

I right mouse on the PC and get a list of actions for this system.WHS Console AutoExit

The status of the PC only shows if the PC is online and does not tell whether the PC has had the AutoExit client software installed. You can right click on each machine but it will not control the system until the client package is installed. Interestingly enough the Remote Desktop option does work with systems that support Remote Desktop Connections (RDC).WHS Console AutoExit

Mental Note: The Remote Desktop function from within the Add-In does not require the the Add-In software to be installed first so if your system supports Remote Desktop then you can actually remote in to install the software and save yourself a trip to the PC!

I log in to my HTPC from within the AutoExit Add-In.AutoExit RDC

Through this RDC, I navigate the PC to the server folder and run the AutoExit software.AutoExit RDC Installer

Once the installation is complete you can control your systems as needed and as defined by the operating systems. As you can see below, my wife never leaves her laptop on overnight so this Add-In will be of great benefit to our network and WHS.

WHS Console AutoExit

Everything seems to be working well with the connections however I did experience some issues with the XP machines when they would Hibernate instead of sleeping. Asoft states in their documentation that this is a Windows issue and not from the Add-In. I just unchecked the Hibernation button on the XP machines and they now do not Hibernate when directed to go to sleep.

The Wake On Lan function (WOL) is also available but will not be discussed in this article. I am not going to touch your BIOS and you probably should not either. To enable my WOL I am using DCCU 3.0 from Dell since my five laptops are all Latitude series machines.

For more information on the Wake On Lan functionality please see the Guidelines document in the AutoExit folder and then your manufacturers documentation.

There is also as cool message feature but I doubt I would use it.

AutoExit Message

Conclusion

For anyone with multiple systems in their home network this Add-In is a must. AutoExit is not just about the “Exit” but also about the ease of access to all of your systems. I am going to add AutoExit to my core list of starting Add-Ins for my future installations. Thank you to Asoft for such a rockin’ Add-In.

I would have named this Add-In AutoConnectRemoteOffShutSleepDesktopExitLogLockandSend, (ACROSS DELLS) but that is just me because I am a Dell guy. I guess AutoExit works too.

See you next Friday night,

Timothy Daleo