This article is the second of a three part series of the building and setting up a Windows Home Server for a remote location. My parents bought a vacation home and I am going to build a WHS to run and watch the house while they are not using it. The WHS will control the lights, sprinklers, and cameras in addition to the regular duties of a Windows Home Server.
This WHS will be my fourth WHS system that I monitor and my second WHS home build. I am choosing to build because I had previously bought OEM WHS software from Newegg that should have been used for another installation. Since I already have the software, I bought an Inspiron 530 from the Dell Outlet and will use that for the WHS. Size is of no importance on this install and the larger case will actually be of benefit as you will see later in this article series.
Since I have already written articles on each facet of this installation this series will focus on the process of working your own system, planning and configuration.
- WHS OEM software
- New or Used PC (that meets or exceeds minimum WHS requirements)
- My Standard Six Add-Ins
- mControl Add-In
- Assorted Insteon Power Modules, PowerLinc and Irrigation Controller
- Linksys Internet Home Monitoring Camera
- Uninterruptible Power Supply (pretty much mandatory for remote locations)
- NEW ADDITION – HP MediaSmart Connect x280n
- NEW ADDITION – Windows Vista Premium Upgrade
- Six Pack of Beer (not shown, optional as always, but preferred for this installation)
Links for Equipment and Add-Ins
- WHS Admin Console http://www.homeserverland.com/downloads/m/whsaddins/14.aspx
- WHSBDBB http://www.homeserverland.com/downloads/m/whsaddins/23.aspx
- WHS Disk Management http://www.homeserverland.com/downloads/m/whsaddins/7.aspx
- Remote Notification http://www.homeserverland.com/downloads/m/whsaddins/44.aspx
- Grid Junction http://www.kentdome.com/gridjunction
- AutoExit 2009 http://www.asoft.be/
mControl Software http://www.embeddedautomation.com/EAHAmControl.htm
Insteon Modules http://www.insteon.net/advanced-automation.html
Linksys Camera http://www.linksysbycisco.com/US/en/support/WVC54GCA
Miller Genuine Draft http://www.mgd.com/
Lets touch some hardware!
Due to the fires close to our home AND work (JPL) we will not be setting a pig, or anything else for that matter, on fire this week. As I wrote this article in the garage I had to constant drone of helicopters and the smell of smoke. We truly appreciate all of the work emergency services have done to keep us safe. This shot is taken from my driveway.
Recent Addition of HP MediaSmart Connect x280n
You may have noticed I added a few components to the Equipment Needed list. I caved in and ended up buying a 50” LG plasma from Sears (you may have seen the deal) for the vacation home. I now want to connect the plasma to the network. Since I cannot afford a HTPC for up there right now I am going to use the HP extender I had in the spare bedroom. The HP extender was used for about sixth months and then replaced with a Studio Hybrid (HTPC) last March. The HP extender is a nice little item but has some limitations such as not being able to play DVD files from my WHS. You can use the Extender for music, viewing your own videos and even watch Hulu.
I also ordered a copy of Vista Premium so I can upgrade my travel laptop and activate the Windows Media Center on the HP. Windows Media Center is a must for any extender and the HP model needs a Vista WMC PC on the network to support WMC.
The HP extender is no longer made by HP and is no longer available but was a pretty cool product. You might be able to find one around. You can learn more about this product at:
Since I am going to be doing this install off-site I am going to do as much as I can ahead of time. The PC I bought was from the Dell Outlet and I will power it up and make sure it works as a regular PC first. I need to verify that it has the right amount of RAM, correct processor and that the 250GB hard drive is ok. I will also crack the case, add a second drive (I have an old 200GB ready) to the system and make sure the system recognizes the drive.
BEFORE YOU START COMMENTING ON THE SIZE OF THE DRIVES:
This WHS will control the vacation home via mControl and not serve as a significant storage device. The 250GB hard drive is more than enough storage for this purpose. The 200GB secondary SATA drive that I will install in the case (recycled from a NAS) is more than enough to back up the system and store a few Bill Murray movies. Both drives being in the case leave only one power supply and makes for a simple unit.
Secondary Drive Installation
I am going to spend a few minutes and install the secondary hard drive. Below is a quick video of the installation.
All new Dell system hard drives come with a recovery partition that has all of the factory settings safely hidden from consumers. This is only used when your system is really flipped up and is accessed by hitting Ctl+F11 during start up. I would not suggest ever trying this by the way. WHS made the need for this obsolete. I am now going to delete this partition prior to WHS installation.
The partition is now unallocated. The amount will be added back to the drive space when I load WHS.
Now that the partition has been deleted I am ready to start the installation.
Final Check Prior to Windows Home Server Installation
A few things to know, and have ready, for your system before installing the WHS software:
- Have the basic drivers ready (on USB since the DVD drive will be in use)
- Know the make, model and drivers of your network card
- Have your hard drive information and SATA locations
In addition, remember that if you are installing the OEM WHS software chances are it is Power Pack 1 so make sure you verify the WHS version before you access any release documentation or instructions. WHS will update the software once your server is up and running so do not worry about Power Packs during initial set up.
Further WHS release documentation can be found at:
There is not a whole lot else you can do before you install the WHS software. The WHS will erase and replace your current OS so make sure you have taken everything off the drives or backed up prior to installation. You also may want to check and delete the partitions of old drives you may use.
Mental note: In my first home build (SB Server 2003) I actually just pulled the original drive out and put in a new drive. I stored the original drive and just installed the OS on the new drive. When I stopped using the PC a year later I just put the original drive back in and after some automatic updates it worked like it never left the case!
Windows Home Server Software Installation
While I have the PC on the bench I will install the WHS software before I get on location. I could wait until I get there but since everything is already hooked up I will install the software now.
You might need to have the network card drivers (AFTER the WHS loads) so I will install WHS first and then install the drivers once I get there. I will then shut down and pack it back up for the trip. I want to make sure I take a USB stick with the drivers AND the WHS installation disc with me. The DVD package has the Microsoft license and activation numbers so I will keep that with the unit.
I insert the WHS DVD and reboot. After hitting F12 a bunch of times, and then booting from the CD drive I am finally ready for the installation.
WHS verifies your Storage Drivers. You should see your drives here now just as I see my two drives. If not, use the Load Drivers button to load drivers from your drive manufacturer.
Enter the WHS Product Key from the outside of the DVD case.
Name your WHS. No spaces so use a hyphen.
The installation will verify you know what you are doing. Erase it already! Next!
I thought we were installing but apparently not! Click on Start.
Once the installation really starts you will see all sorts of screens that pop up and even a timer that is not really accurate. The system will reboot about five or six times and will seem to stall when the Framework and .NET installs but just leave her alone and she will eventually finish!
My Server installation took 44 minutes from start to finish. I then clicked on the arrow a couple of times to Exit the installation process and then shut down. Your installation would continue and take you to the network connection process. Since I am not connected to my final network I will shut down.
Professional installation instructions from Microsoft can be found at:
Or you could read our How To article here on Using Windows Home Server.
Time To Pack It Up
I have done as much as I can without being on-site. The next time I start the WHS I need a network connection and router. I also need to take the spare Vista laptop with me and reinstall the WHS Connector. It would be nice if the WHS Connector could recognize different WHS!
Now that everything is ready to go I can pack it all up for the trip.
I will be back next week with the third article where I walk through the on-site installation.
Viva WHS. Seriously.
See you next Friday night,