How To's & GuidesHow To Install Windows Home Server

How To Install Windows Home Server


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Continuing our series of “How To….” guides, this one is all about how to install the Windows Home Server software.


Before you install Windows Home Server, you should ensure you have the following available:

  • A computer capable of running Windows Home Server.
  • A mouse, keyboard and monitor, all connected to the computer.
  • A working network connection connected to the computer.
  • The Windows Home Server installation DVD (or a USB stick with the WHS software on).
  • A Windows Home Server product key which you will need during the installation.


Your computer must support being able to boot from DVD or USB stick, otherwise the installation will not be able to take place. You may need to go into the BIOS of your computer in order to set the boot priority so that the DVD or USB stuck is first in the list. Consult the documentation that came with your computer if you are unsure how to do this. The other option is to choose the boot device when the computer starts up – again, check your documentation on doing this.

You should then see a screen displaying Windows is loading files…. (that means it working so far). If you don’t see this, then try again making sure you are booting from either the DVD or the USB stick.

Installation 1

Setup will then initialise – this may take a moment or two so be patient.

Installation 2

You should now be presented with the Welcome to Windows Home Server Setup screen. This step is simple – all you have to do is click Next to continue.


You will now need to select your Regional and Keyboard Settings and click Next to continue.


The next screen is called the Load Additional Storage Drivers screen. You need to ensure that all of your hard drives are listed on this page, for example mines shows a single 75GB ATA drive attached. If all of your drives are shown just click Next to continue.


If for some reason one or more of your hard drives is not displayed here, then it might be because you need to load an additional driver. If this is the case, click on the Load drivers button and then locate the Device Driver File. Click once on the relevant Device Driver File and click Open to continue.

When you have loaded the additional Device Driver File or files your hard drives should all now appear in the list. If this is the case then just click Next to continue. If they are still not shown then check all the connections inside the computer (sometimes it is as simple as a loose cable) and see if there are any updated device drivers on the manufacturers website.


The next screen that is displayed is the Select an Installation Type screen. Ensure New Installation is and click Next to continue.


The next screen is the End-User License Agreement (sometimes referred to as the EULA). You should read through this carefully and then assuming you agree to it (and if you don’t then you won’t be able to install and then use Windows Home Server) click the I accept this agreement radio button and then click Next to continue.


You will then be asked to enter your Windows Home Server Product Key. The Windows Home Server Product Key should be located either inside the DVD case or on a sticker on the actual computer if you have purchased a Windows Home Server computer. Type in the Product Key carefully and then click Next to continue.


The next stage is to actually name your Windows Home Server. By default the Home Server name is SERVER and you could quite easily just leave it as that, although it would actually be better for you to name it something else so that it means more to you.

Type in a new, or leave it as SERVER and click Next to continue.


The next screen to be displayed is the Formatting Hard Drives screen. This screen will list all of the hard drives and volumes and remind you that all the data will be lost on those drives when the installation begins and the drives are formatted. In order to continue with the installation at this point you need to select the I acknowledge that all data on these drives will be lost box and then click on the Next button to continue.


You will be then asked once again to confirm that you are sure you want to continue and that all data on those hard drives will be deleted and lost, so click Yes.


Right, you are at the last stage now before the installation actually begins. You should now see the Ready to Install Windows Home Server screen. All you have to do now is click on the Start button to begin the actual installation.


The installation will now commence – this could take a little while so again, be patient.

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When the installation is complete, you will see the Windows Home Server Welcome Screen.

Installation 14

The next thing you need to do is configure Windows Home Server, so click here to go to that how to guide.

Andrew Edney
Andrew Edney
I am the owner and editor of this site. I have been interested in gadgets and tech since I was a little kid. I have also written a number of books on various tech subjects. I also blog for The Huffington Post and for FHM. And I am honoured to be a Microsoft MVP since January 2008 - again this year as an Xbox MVP.


  1. Andrew, What version of home server do I need? I have seen 2003 version gfor $99 on Ebay.I do have a spare PC at home. My home network will consist of 3 desktops(XP Home), 2 Laptops (one Vista and one XP), 2 inkjet printers and one external 1TB drive.

    • Andy

      There is only one version of Windows Home Server. It is based on the Windows 2003 codebase.

      There is a new version planned for some point next year, but no real details are public yet.


  2. Hi Andy,

    I have experience with Server03, but am just re-setting up my first WHS. I noticed that the setup automatically partitioned the hard drive and dropped the shares home on the 2nd partition. I'd like to make the 2nd physical drive (500GB) the shares home…how do I make that change so that each new user has their share setup like that?



    • Alan

      Forget everything you know about Server03 and how partitioned drives work as its completely different in WHS.

      There is no concept of partitioned drives in the same way as normal Windows OS, only a system drive and a storage pool. Every drive is added to the storage pool and every users folders and files are stored in that pool.

      There is no way to change that, and frankly you wouldnt want to as this is where WHS does its magic.


  3. Hi Andy,

    I have a desktop computer that I would like to convert to a server, using WHS. Is there really anything special I need to know? Am I limited in HDD size only by what the motherboard can handle? As it is an older Dell Dimension 3000, would I be better served getting an actual server setup, for power-usage issues?



    • Rocky

      It should work, although if you really want to be serious about it may want to consider something more current and that is expandable,

      But it will work 🙂


  4. I have a system running XP pro that I want to upgrade to windows home server. Any idea if my current data will be affected (I have 9 drives on the system)?

    • There is no upgrade from XP. XP is a desktop operating system and Windows Home Server is a Server operating system.

      WHS needs to be installed cleanly in a system that meets all the requirements.


  5. I understand that. I was wondering if anyone knows if I have to back up all my additional drives with the data on them. I know I'll have to wipe my primary drive with the OS. It's just that when I built this machine XP Pro was the best OS I had access to to use as a server

    • When the drives are added to the storage pool they are formatted.

      You could not add them to the pool but the WHS wouldn't use them.

      You could buy an additional drive and then do one drive at a time by copying the data to WHS then adding each drive to the pool, but that will be time consuming.


  6. I have a Dell Poweredge 2400 server running at 866 Mhz. Is this too slow, or being as it is a server, will WHS run OK on it? Thanks, it is hard to find anybody to answer questions like this.

    • Jon

      It "should" work, although it will be quite slow. I wouldnt recommend doing anything to taxing with it like video encoding.

      You will need to ensure you have Windows 2003 drivers for your hardware as that is what WHS is based on.


  7. Iam trying to install Windows Home server, as far as I get is the Windows is loading files. It stops and says, Bad or failing I/O device. I tryed it on another computer all differnt hardware same thing. Also I can load Windows 7 on this machine with out a glich. What is going on?

  8. Andy, I recently aquired a Siemens Home Server and would want to install Windows Home server without deleting or formatting my drives in my local computer. is it possible to go about it?

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