How To's & Guides Windows Home Server – Configs and Tweaks – Part...

Windows Home Server – Configs and Tweaks – Part 1

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After you have the Windows Home Server initial setup and configuration done, it’s time to do some tweaking and customizations. (If you purchase(d) the HP MediaSmart, the defaults are not bad. But, where would we be without tweaks and customizations.)

For this guide, I’ll assume that you are a newcomer to WHS, with basic computer skills. You will need the Connector on at least one Windows PC. If you haven’t installed the Connector on more than one computer, wait until later.

Part I

1. Update your system from both MS and HP.

2. Install WHS Connector on each computer in the house, including all Apple Macs.

3. Configure Power Management for sleeping, (HP MediaSmart).

4. Set Backup Time Interval.

5. Set Password Policy for better security.

Part II

6. Install your first Add-in, Advanced Admin Console.

7. Configure static IP (for advanced users).

8. Configure some other good settings.

9. Configure Automatic Update time.

10. Set up user accounts, and guest users.

11. Configure Duplication.

12. Configure iTunes Server and Media Collection for iTunes (HP MediaSmart)

Updates:

After the initial setup, Log on the WHS. We will get the latest updates from Microsoft, which will include Internet Explorer 8. (Not that we’ll be using IE on the WHS, but, it’s part of the update, and if you don’t install it, you may experience issues.)

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On the WHS Console, click Settings. Under General, click on Update Now. During this process, you may need to reboot the server, and/or restart the console, and re-login.

When it is all done, we’ll update the HP software, assuming that you have an HP MediaSmart Server.

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From the WHS console, click on the MediaSmart Server, then Server Summary and under Software Updates, Click for more details.

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You should see Automatically download and install updates is selected. If not, select it. Down below, you’ll see Check for updates. Click it. If there are updates, then update your system. Click OK to finish. Again, there may be rebooting, and or re-logging into the WHS Console.

Install WHS Connector:

You already installed the WHS Connector on one PC. Go ahead now, and install it on all of the Windows XP and Vista computers, as well as Apple Mac computers. Wait until now, so that any updates to the software will be on all of these computers.

Configure Power Management (HP MediaSmart):

From the WHS console,

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click on the MediaSmart Server, then Server Summary and under Power Management, click Click for more details. If you want the server awake 24 hours per day, then make sure that Enable Daily Sleep Time is NOT checked. If you want it to sleep, then select the box, and configure a sleep schedule.

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We change this so that the WHS is awake when we want it to. It wakes up reliably, not like me. I am likely to be using it at the default time it sleeps, so I change it. Think about what time you want the server to be available in the morning. Select a Wake Up time two hours and 5 minutes earlier than you want to have the server available, then click OK. We do this so that the Microsoft updates can run 5 minutes after it wakes up, and backups can run after that (we’ll configure those schedules later). Click OK when you are finished.

Review the Server Summary screen from time to time, and make sure that all of the boxes have green checks, especially in Hardware and Storage.

Set Backup Time:

We’ll set the time that we want the WHS to back up the computers in the house.

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On the WHS Console, click Settings, then Backup. Remember that we set the wakeup time, and Microsoft updates prior to the backup time. Your WHS will be available during backups, however, it might run a little slower than normal. After you configure the start time, pick an end time 2 hours prior to when you set the WHS to sleep. We don’t want a backup running when it goes to sleep. Also, I decided that I want 3 monthly, 4 weekly (1 month), and 7 days (1 week) of backups. After you set this, click Apply.

Set Password Policy:

We want to make sure that our passwords and those of all other accounts are good. Under Settings, click Passwords.

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Move the slider to Strong. Click Apply. We do this so that passwords are less likely to be guessed or hacked, both from inside the house (e.g. the kids), and from outside (if we turn on remote access).

Stay tuned for Part II.

Michael Peelehttp://
Michael Peele has been an IT manager for more than 11 years, with a current day-job at Georgetown University, in Washington, DC. Michael is a self-proclaimed "advanced novice" or "power user", and feels that he is the target audience for Windows Home Server. He beta-tested Windows 95, and is a general early-adopter (not much of a beta-tester, though), he purchased Vista 64-bit early on. He has a wide range of experience in technology management, and works as an independent consultant, periodically, primarily for IT Management and IT Security services. He has presented at numerous conferences and written several articles (primarily university-related). Many years ago, he worked on a team writing a hint book for id's Quake. Michael has a number of qualifications, including a MS in Technology Management, BS in Electrical Engineering, and multiple certifications, such as the Project Management Professional (PMP), is Board Certified in Security Management (CPP), and is considering other IT certifications, such as A+, Network+, Security+, SSCP/CISSP, and some Microsoft certifications, but hasn't had reason to sit for the tests.

5 COMMENTS

  1. I have a brand new Mediasmart EX470 server. For some reason the console screen of my server looks a bit different than the one in this tutorial (screens 2 and 4 from the top). Do I have a different version of the server software or have you installed some add-in components that make the difference?

    • The EX470 is an older model, even though it may be new.

      I believe that the software from the EX470 and EX485 and the newer models are a little different. I have the HP software version 2.5, which I don't believe is available for the EX470, yet.

      • Thank you for this clarification. I suppose I just have to wait until the coming HP update comes available in December.

  2. Thanks for your article. I'm a WHS newbie with an HP EX490. I checked "Enable Daily Sleep Time", but the server went to sleep 3 hours earlier than the time I set. I double-checked that the time and the time zone on the server are correct. Do you have any idea what my problem might be? Thanks in advance!

    • Sorry, I'm not much of a technical troubleshooter.

      I had a problem where the server would go to sleep at 2am Eastern each night, regardless of what time I told it to sleep. I think there may be a bug in the code for sleeping. Now, I don't have it sleep.

      As a basic troubleshooting, make sure that you have updated both Windows updates and the HP updates, and reboot.

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