ReviewsReview of the P80 Add-in for Windows Home Server

Review of the P80 Add-in for Windows Home Server

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UPDATE (22/12/09):

that this version is no longer valid and this type of install IS NOT to be used when installing any of the versions 2.x.x. The latest version can be found here.

http://cid-3eccee382d93ca82.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/.Public/P80.2.5.4.zip

First I would like to thank Andrew for allowing me to be a guest reviewer here at Using Windows Home Server. Thanks also go out to the add-in Author of P80 Kris Rodenhausen for allowing me to review his brand new add-in.

About me. I’m just a whiskey drinking, Harley riding biker dude who enjoys messing with PCs and using Windows Home Server. I couldn’t write code if my life depended on it but I sure like pushing the hardware as far as it will go. So needless to say I break a lot of stuff and see the BSOD a lot and my WHS bails me out a lot. I consider my PC skills to be that of the average user. I only say this because this add-in does not install in the same way most do using the WHS Console. It is still very easy to install and use for the average user just like all well written software should be.

clip_image002

So just what is P80 and what can it do for you? In simple terms it is a website you view via your home page of your WHS that allows you to view various aspects of your WHS in one easy to use web page. While this add-in shows any information that you can already view in the console it does bring it all together in one central location and does show you things that would require you to remote desktop the WHS. As a bonus it showed me things I’ve always wanted to view or know but could never find using the console. Kris designed P80 to be light weight so it can be viewed even using a web enabled mobile phone. So with that said and as they fond of saying around here… lets set this pig on fire.

A quick check of system requirements.

  1. The free P80 software obviously. Support forum here.
  2. Whiist add-in used to create the P80 web site. Support forum here
  3. Administrator privileges on the Windows Home Server
  4. Windows Home Server with Power Pack 2 or 3. PP1 is not supported. Why isn’t your system fully patched anyway? I installed P80 on PP3 beta so I can confirm it does install and run without issue on PP3 beta.
  5. Optional but highly recommend to get the full use of this add-in: Auto Exit add-in. Support forum here
  6. Option 2: Crown Royal whiskey.

Now that we have all the tools the first thing to do is create the P80 website using Whiist. Open the WHS Console and click on the Manage Websites tab and click add. (Figure 1)

Whiist 11

Figure 1

The add website wizard will start, click Next. (Figure 2)

Web Wizard 11

Figure 2

Choose the type of content to create. Since we are creating a new website we will choose “Create a new website that can be accessed from the web” and click next. (Figure 3)

New Web Site 11 Figure 3

We need to give the new website a name. The website name MUST be P80 at this time. Kris hopes to be able to change this in later updates so you can name it what you would prefer. (Figure 4)

Name 1

Figure 4

We also have to create a folder to store the website in. Again the folder name must to be P80 and it must be in the software share folder. Click the Browse button then select the Software folder, click Make a New Folder and name it P80. Click OK. (Figure 5)

Folder 44

Figure 5

It should look like this when you get done. Click Next. (Figure 6)

New Web Site 2

Figure 6

Configure the new website by checking the boxes as shown. Click Next. (Figure 7) Configure 111

Figure 7

Here we have to give the new website a name for the Home page of the WHS. We also need to choose if we want the P80 website on the public or private side of the WHS home page. I choose private for the simple fact my friends who remote into my WHS have no need to see this. I also like custom looks to my stuff so I choose to changed the icon for the link by clicking on the Choose an icon link drop down menu and browse to the file of your choice. Click finish and we are done creating the P80 website. (Figure 8 )

Link 1Figure 8

If you choose to leave your web site on the public site of your WHS home page you are done. Since I choose to keep the P80 website private I needed to set the permissions to do that. While in the Manage Websites tab in the Console click on the folder for the P80 website and click Properties/Security and set them accordingly then click Apply and OK. (Figure 9) That’s it for creating the P80 website. Time to move on to the actual install of the P80 application/website.

Web Prop 1

Figure 9

I mentioned that this add-in doesn’t install through the console like other add-ins. The Installation manual included in the zip file of the download says “Copy the Setup.exe file to the desktop, or anywhere, on the Windows Home Server.” That is almost true. If you try to launch the Setup file from a shared folder you will get a permissions error and the install will fail. Once I placed the Setup file on the WHS desktop it launched and installed without a problem. Kris has told me that he plans a re-write of the manual so I’m sure he will fix this detail.  Open up a remote desktop connection to your WHS with Administrator rights and browse to the Setup file and launch the install. Follow the prompts by clicking Next. (Figure 10)

Setup 1 Figure 10

Here we are reminded that we need to create a P80 website first using Whiist before you run the install. Since we’ve already done that we’re good to go. Next please. (Figure 11)

Setup 2Figure 11

Install? Yes please, thank you. Figure (12)

Setup 34

Figure 12

A bit more information. Cool I can view P80 using three methods. Nice to know. (Figure 13)

Setup 5

Figure 13

Finish? Run the P80 website? Sure why not, click Finish. Oops getting a 404 because IE doesn’t have any rights by default in WHS. No big deal since we be will viewing it with a web browser on a client anyway. (Figure 14)

Setup 6

Figure 14

That sure seems like a lot of work. Honestly though it takes all of five minutes to do. So lets take a look at the P80 website. Launch your WHS home page and click on the link to view the P80 website at which point you will be asked for the Users credentials so enter them and click OK. The first thing to do is configure P80. This windows pops up so you can do that the first time you launch P80. (Figure 15) Pretty simple and straight forward telling you all you need to know about each setting.

Config 1 Figure 15

Wow does this look cool! Here is the first page you will see after the configuration window closes.(Figure 16)

Summary 22Figure 16

Look at all of that information all in one place. P80 even interfaces with the ASoft add-in Auto Exit. Sweet, now I can use my mobile phones web browser and control my PCs on the LAN with Auto Exit laying in bed since I’m too lazy to get up and do it. There is a Beta 1 version 2009 at the ASoft website if you want to give it a shot. I’m running it and it works great and even has some new features.

Back to the information displayed on the Summary page. Information presented here is pretty detailed. This information includes Overall Health, Managed Volumes, Services on WHS (more about this in a bit), WHS Computers that Auto Exit can control and which ones are online and lastly Managed Disks. There are also links to return you to the WHS Console, which really takes you back to your website log in page since we are in a website and not the console directly, Edit Configuration and Error Log.

  • Overall Health: Displays Current State (health) of the WHS network and what the warning is if there is one.
  • Managed Volumes: Displays total drive space, used space, free space, size of Shared Folders, size of Duplication, Backup Start and Done by Times and the size of the backup database.
  • Services on WHS: Start and Stop services you choose to monitor.
  • WHS Computers: Displays all of the PCs being backed up by your WHS. Using Auto Exit you can control all of the LAN PCs, see the IP address of each PC, Online status, and what OS they are running.
  • Managed Disks: Displays each disk(s) Status ie Health, drive capacity, free space, used space, drive role ie system/storage ect. and location ie internal/external with connection type ie ATA/SCSI etc.

Moving on to the Services tab we can see all of the services running on the WHS. (Figure 17) Here you can pick out what services you want to monitor on the Summary page so you can start and stop that service. Most of this is information overload to me since I don’t know what most of these service are or what they do. But I did recognize a couple of them. Simply click the service you want to monitor and choose Add Service. You can choose an icon for the service if you want by clicking Browse and pick the start and stop icon you want. Click the Add Service button and P80 imports the icons into the image folder. To stop monitoring a service click on the service name and click Yes.

Watched 1

Figure 17

The next tab is the Disk Drives. (Figure 18) Once again it displays all of the same information as earlier on the Summary page, plus even more information. This includes:

  • Is Connected: True/False
  • Is External: True/False
  • Hidden: True/False
  • Used for Backup Database: True/False
  • Mount Path: if not part of the storage pool
  • QsmDisk
  • ID
  • System ID

Disk Drives 2Figure 18

The next tab displays the Shares information. (Figure 19) The lists of information presented include:

  • Name: Folder name
  • Description: Type the folder is used for
  • Path: Folder Location
  • Is Duplicated: Yes/No
  • Media Connect Enabled: Yes/No
  • Size: Folder size

Share 1Figure 19

Next is Users tab. (Figure 20) In this tab all the user information is displayed. You can Enable/Disable users by clicking the users icon. User information displayed includes:

  • Logon Name
  • First Name
  • Last Name
  • Password Strength and Enabled: Yes/No
  • Remote Allowed: Yes/No

Users 1Figure 20

The last tab is the Notification tab. (Figure 21) The information displayed here is all of the notifications since the last Refresh of the Summary screen. Note this page doesn’t not jive with the earlier Summary page because I forced these errors to show the report better.

Notifcations 1Figure 21

There is one more bit of information and that is displayed back on the Summary tab. As it’s name suggest this is an error report for any issues P80 might be having. It’s always nice when the report looks like this. (Figure 22)

Error Log 1Figure 22

That’s all of it and is it a lot. Does this add-in show or do anything you can’t see or do in the console? Yes and no. It does add some functions that are not easy to control like turning services on and off and being able to monitor them. P80 allows you to control the PCs on your LAN from any web enabled device that can display a website. This could be handy if you get a remote alert via other add-ins that maybe a reboot of the PC might fix. Probably the biggest reason to use the P80 add-in though, corporate firewalls blocking the ports needed to remote into your WHS so you can get to the Console. This is in fact why Kris wrote P80 because he couldn’t get past his work place firewall. Since P80 runs as a website through Port 80 (hence the name) he is now able to view all the information and more that is in the Console plus control his LAN. For that reason alone this makes P80 must install if you have the same problem that Kris had. Then add in the fact P80 brings a lot of system information into a simple to use website so you don’t have to click through a bunch of tabs in the console that installs easy, is stable and I think P80 is a keeper.

P80 has a very nice GUI, tons of system information that is well thought out and displayed. The attention to detail is very evident and it just shows how much hard work Kris put into building the P80 add-in.

Kris has more planned for P80 to come. I can’t tell you much about it at this time because of a NDA (I’ve always wanted to say that :)) But I can tell you it will use a TED (The Energy Detective) and if I had to guess he will pull the monitors information out of the unit via the TED software so it can displayed in the P80 website. By judging from the P80 add-in this is going to be a cool addition too.

With that… I think this pig is cooked. Now where’s the whiskey at?

fasthair

18 COMMENTS

  1. You have out done yourself, absolutely fantastic

    great management and informational

    now part of my req, add-ins list

    • HI Toximityx,

      First you really should post this issue in the support forum link to at the start of this post and maybe Kris can help you with this issue. If it is a bug I know he would like to know about it. I know he wates to know these things.

      Having said that I'll try to help.

      The UNC share does not exist makes me thing your software folder has either got moved or missing on the shares on your WHS. Just thought of something. Since your are French I have to wonder if your software folder name isn't spelled different then in English and the setup can't find the folder because of this. Matter of fact I just Bing translated the word software to French which is logiciel. I'll bet this is the problem.

      Other then that head over to the support forum and post this and see if you can't get some help there.

      fasthair

      • You got it.. In French the directory is ServerLogiciel ..

        This install will not work for anything but English at the moment then until I fix that.

        Sorry about that.

  2. 1. Do you have a folder on your windows home server called:

    localhostsoftwareP80 ?

    2. Did you run Whiist first before running the setup file?

    3. Try running the setup.exe file in another folder, like on the desktop.

    4. Are you running PP2 or PP3, as PP1 is not supported.

    5. You are runing this on the windows home server via remote desktop or some other method and not on one of your client pcs?

  3. I'm back,

    In fact my name File is in French as "Logiciel" and thus incompatible .. is the only flaw ..

    I will bring the forum ..

  4. Hi, when i try to open the p80 the internet explorer shows up with Service Unavailable.

    Any Ideas?

    Thanks

  5. A Note from the author of P80:

    I have taken the download links down due to security holes in the current setup.

    I will have a new version up when the new installer is completed.

    Rejoice – the new installer will be like all other addons. You will install P80 through the remote console. No more steps to get confused on and no more hassles.

    Sorry for the inconvenience but this is the best thing to do at this point.

    If you currently have P80 installed, make sure you have the site as private(public or private side of the whs site does not matter) and that you select which users you want to have access to the site.

    If you selected to have P80 on the private side of WHS site then you will have to logon twice to get into P80. Again sorry for this inconvenience

  6. None of this is required for the current version of P80. In fact doing this procedure with Whiist will actually cause the install and config to have problems. You need none of it, P80 automatically created the weblink on the WHS home page.

    • HI Bob,

      I should have added an update to the post about this but didn't think to do so. As you stated the new version does all of this and all of the installer issues have been fixed at this time. The latest version is 2.5.4

      Thanks for posting this,

      fasthair

  7. Fasthair: Please update this review or make a note that these procedures will break the current version of P80.

    I would prefer it gets updated but thats up to you.

    I noticed homeservershow.com linked to this post a couple days ago. So people still come here…

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