Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Windows Home Server makes losing hard drives “inconvenient” not Devastating

Windows Home Server

[This post brought to you courtesy of David Belanger]

Windows Home Server Saves an Exam!

David and his significant other, Janet, installed a Windows Home Server about 8 months prior to this story.  The server was configured and setup correctly providing many different functionality to the home.  Home Server excels in providing centralized storage of music, videos and pictures, providing remote access via the web to all these items, and streaming them around the home.  However, the most amazing feature of Home Server is the “set-and-forget" backup solution.  By simply installing the client-side code, the client computer wakes up every night and backs up the client computer to the home server.  After 8 months of things running completely fine, David and Janet had completely forgot that computers were being backed up.

As just this past school term was coming to a close and it was exam season.  Janet had been taking some online courses in which the exams were take-home and to be completed over a number of days.  Unknown to Janet, she had a RAID0 (or “stripped”) hard-drive solution in her client computer.  As we all know, RAID0 is built for speed, not for redundancy, and during one of her multi-day take-home exams, one of the drives crashed, causing the computer to be un-bootable.  Janet was awe-struck, at the risk of losing a few days of work on her exam, this could cost her the course and the money she had sunk into it!

Windows Home Server came to rescue.  David had a spare disk on the side, replaced the bad disk, re-configured the RAID0 drive.  When the hardware was ready, he placed the Windows Home Server Recovery DVD in the drive and booted into the Home Server Recovery Environment.  Selecting last night’s backup from the home server, Janet's computer was up and running in less than 30 minutes. And while some work was lost, most of it remained, allowing Janet to focus on passing the course.

David was able to replace the disk under warranty, but bad news struck a second time.  Only a few days after the new disk arrived, the other disk in the RAID0 died, requiring the process to be repeated!  When Janet finished her exam and handed it in, she explained this story to me and explained how it was “inconvenient" that two drives died in the span of a week, all during finals.

I remember when losing a hard drive was the end of the world, now, it’s just inconvenient.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Monday, July 20, 2009

Windows Home Server Power Pack 3 – BETA Announcement

Windows Home Server

This past Friday, the Windows Home Server team released the beta of a new Power Pack, Power Pack 3.  Power Pack 3’s focus is to make the current version of home server work better with Windows 7 client computers.  Below outlines the specific details of the features added to Power Pack 3.

Windows 7 Backup & Recovery

Windows Home Server performs a full image-based backup of Windows 7-based computers, allowing for a complete computer recovery in the case of a hard drive failure, or restoration of a single file or folder in the event of accidental deletion or loss.  After the Windows Home Server Connector software has been installed on a computer running Windows 7, Windows 7 Backup warnings will be suppressed and users will no longer receive a notification to back up their computer.  Windows Home Server can back up Windows XP SP2 or later, Windows Vista and Windows 7-based computers. 

WHS Backup Tab

Windows 7 – Backup
Windows Home Server completes an automatic image-based backup of Windows-based computers every day.

Windows 7 Libraries

Power Pack 3 Beta will add Music, Photos and Videos shared folders on the home server to Windows 7 Libraries making the content available for applications such as Windows Explorer, Windows Media Center, Windows Media Player and other applications that use Windows 7 Libraries.  This allows users to quickly access all their content in one organized place that is always available, searchable and expandable.  Users can also search a specific library without having to know where the files are stored. 

Windows 7 Libraries

Windows 7 – Libraries – Pictures
Windows Home Server content is automatically added to Windows 7 after installing the Windows Media Center Connector software.

Windows 7 Libraries

Windows 7 – Windows Explorer Jump List – Music Library
Users access the libraries through Jump Lists by simply selecting Music, Videos or Photos.  All content is accessible from one organized location.

Windows Search

Windows Search 4 has been included with Power Pack 3 Beta to improve query search times, indexing times and reliability. If users are searching across multiple computers, extended remote discovery increases the efficiency of searching across all document libraries.  Files encrypted with Encrypting File System (EFS) are now supported with search.

The screenshot below is an example of searching across a music library where files are located in multiple places:  the home computer Music folder, the home computer Public Music folder, and the home server Music shared folder.  Users can add other locations to Windows 7 Libraries. 

Windows 7 Search

Windows 7 – Libraries – Music – Searching for Aerosmith music content on the home server
Searching for content in the library folder will not only search the home computer but also search the home server. 

Power Pack 3 Beta makes Windows Home Server compatible with netbook computers that have small screen sizes and low resolution.  A home server makes a great storage and backup solution for ultra-portable computers. 

Windows Media Center Enhancements

Last March, Power Pack 2 added functionality that allowed Windows Media Center and Media Center Extenders to easily access the content on a home server.  Power Pack 3 Beta builds on this functionality.  When the Windows Home Server Connector software is installed or updated on a Windows Media Center computer, the next time a user starts Windows Media Center they will be prompted to install the Windows Media Center Connector.   Users will notice a new Home Server selection in Windows Media Center menu. 

Windows 7 Media Center
Windows Media Center view – Home Server

TV Archiving

The TV Archive tile in Windows Media Center will give users the option to move recorded TV content to the home server in a variety of resolutions.  The recorded TV shows are archived in the correct resolution for the type of device that will be used for playback.   TV Archive is optimized for Windows Media Center computers, Windows Mobile-based phones, and the Zune player, however, any device capable of playing WMV files can take advantage of this feature.

  • TV – Original Resolution
  • Windows Mobile – 320 x 240, 500 Kbps, .WMV
  • Zune – 640 x 480, 1500 Kbps, .WMV

Users can select individual TV shows, a series of shows, or all TV recordings to automatically be moved to the home server.  Because Windows Home Server storage space can be easily expanded, users can keep all the TV shows that they want in their collection.

Media Center TV Sharing

Windows Media Center view – Home Server – TV Archive view

Console Quick View

Console Quick View allows users to see statistics about the home server through Windows Media Center and Windows Media Center Extenders.  This is a convenient way to view many aspects of the home server without needing to access the Windows Home Server Console.  This feature allows users to view and monitor a number of home server indicators:

  • Storage – Pie chart listing the percentage allocation of the home server storage
  • Drives – List, size and health of hard drives installed on the home server
  • Backup – List of computers being backed up and their current backup status
  • Shared Folders – List of Shared Folders by name with health status and duplication status
  • Media Counters – Count of music, photos, videos and recorded TV files on the home server
  • Health – Health of the entire home network
  • Home Server – System information of the home server’s hardware and manufacturer info

Windows 7 WHS Console View
Windows Media Center view – Home Server – Console View

Be sure to follow Windows Home Server on Facebook and Twitter.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Windows Essential Server Solutions at WPC 2009

If you are at World-Wide Partner Conference and haven’t yet stopped by the Core Infrastructure Booth, we’re having a great time and meeting TONS of partners and ISVs.  We have plenty of collateral to give away as well as a Home Server a day!

Feel free to browse on over to to my photo share to see the pictures I have snapped, or you might want to see what you missed (or not) in the SMB Session on choosing which server is right for you with Dean Paron

Remember, Live updates on Twitter both @WindowsSBS and me @SeanDaniel as well as follow Windows SBS on Facebook.

Monday, July 13, 2009

WPC SMB Session: Which Server is Right for you

Here at WPC, we just finished our first SMB Session by the Leadership teams of Windows Small Business Server 2008, Windows Essential Business Server 2008, as well as Foundation Server.

The session was a great success and its already posted (with Pictures) over at the Official SBS Blog.


The session was a great success!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Join us at WPC, Virtually or in Person!


It's summer, so it's time for the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC).  During this annual event, Microsoft and the Windows Server Solutions Group share strategies and visions for addressing the challenging economy, saving customers money, and helping partners and customers compete confidently. Keynotes include Steve Ballmer, Stephen Elop, Kevin Turner, Allison Watson, Bob Kelly and many other executives who will share their vision for the company and its partners.

The Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference held July 13-16 in New Orleans, is an annual gathering where Microsoft Corp.'s partner community will network and build connections, share best practices, and learn new skills and techniques.  For those of you, who are unable to join us in New Orleans next week, we've created new social networking assets so feel free to follow WPC virtually on our team blogs, Facebook and/or Twitter. (For links see below)

Learn about all the Windows Server options for SMB by attending our session CI003 Windows Server Portfolio for SMB: Which Server Is Best for Your Customer (and You!) on Monday afternoon at 3:30-4:30 in Room 255-257 in addition to visiting our Exposition Hall booth # 621 and you can enter to win one of 6 HP MediaSmart Server EX485 (ERP $599) Windows Home Servers.  The Windows Server for SMB sessions are Windows Essential Business Server 2008 and the free IT Network Health Scanner for SMB session on July 16th from 12:30 - 12:50PM and the Windows SBS and Windows Home Server Client Backup session on July 16th from 2:30 to 2:50PM. Simply drop your business card into the fishbowl on your way in the door or at the booth and we will choose one winner per day at the booth and one winner at each session. Sorry this Sweepstakes is only for event attendees, you must be present to enter.

Hopefully we'll get to see many of you at WPC this year. The best part of this conference is the time we spend with our partners and we are looking forward to meeting with as many of you as we can. Please use the WPC Connect to create a meeting request to request a specific meeting or simply drop by the booth to meet the Windows Server for SMB team including: Dean Paron, Eric Watson, Eric Kidd, Russ Madlener, Nick King, Leslie McGuire, Katharine Pike, Becky Lymberis, Vikram Ghosh, Cecile Charlot, Jonas Svensson, Kannan Iyer, Murali Sangubhatia, Sean Daniel, Lingan Satkunanathan, Cassie Hicks, Eduardo Melo, Brijesh Ramachandran, David Fabritius, Moira Whidby and Brent Reeser.

We hope to see you in New Orleans next week!

Resources to Follow Virtually or while you’re there:

WHSTeam Blog, On FaceBook, or on Twitter.

SBSTeam Blog, On FaceBook, or on Twitter.

EBSTeam Blog, On FaceBook, or on Twitter.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Add the Recycle Bin to My Computer

Windows 7


My favorite blog LifeHacker has alerted me on how to add more items to My Computer.  Specifically you can go to Tweaking with Vishal for all the details.

Essentially, you can add more items to the My Computer view, including the Recycle Bin!  All you do is add a specific GUID into a specific place in the registry. 

Remember! That editing the Registry could cause problems or unsuspecting things, so be careful!

To make the tweak, simply:

  1. Click Start, then Run and type in Regedit.
  2. Navigate to the HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\MyComputer\NameSpace key
  3. Then with NameSpace selected, on the whitespace right-click, point at New and select Key.  Add the GUID of your choice below:
    1. Recycle Bin - {645FF040-5081-101B-9F08-00AA002F954E}
    2. Control Panel - {21EC2020-3AEA-1069-A2DD-08002B30309D}
    3. Run - {2559A1F3-21D7-11D4-BDAF-00C04F60B9F0}
    4. Search - {2559A1F0-21D7-11D4-BDAF-00C04F60B9F0}
    5. Flip 3D - {3080F90E-D7AD-11D9-BD98-0000947B0257}
    6. Internet Explorer - {871C5380-42A0-1069-A2EA-08002B30309D}
    7. Administrative Tools - {D20EA4E1-3957-11D2-A40B-0C5020524153}
    8. Network Connections - {7007ACC7-3202-11D1-AAD2-00805FC1270E}
    9. Printers - {2227A280-3AEA-1069-A2DE-08002B30309D}
  4. Then simply open My Computer, or if it’s open, press F5 to refresh

If it didn’t work, make sure you don’t have any spaces on either side of the GUID and that you include the {} brackets.

Nice speed saving tip for you!