Windows Home Server Rocks

At the end of last year I picked up HP's MediaSmart Server because while playing the three computer Monte at home I managed to lose 10 years worth of documents which really shook me up. It's a small, energy-efficient, quiet little box running Windows Home Server and frankly it rocks. It automatically backs up my laptop, my desktop and my wife's laptop fully every night and it's pants-wearing-monkey simple to get setup.

I bought the 500GB version but decided I also wanted to move my entire video and music collection over to WHS so last week I picked up another 500GB drive from Amazon (via Giveness) and it arrived yesterday so last night I set about installing the puppy and suffice to say I have never had such an amazing experience installing any piece of hardware other than say an USB flash drive.

Installing a new internal drive is as simple as swinging open the front cover, sliding out a tray, popping the new drive into it and sliding it back in, all while the computer is still running. After closing the front cover I got a little prompt that new storage was available and asking if it should include it in it's "cloud" of storage. It was that simple. It took me longer to unpack the drive than to install it and I have every confidence that I could have easily walked my wife, mother or 2 year-old nephew through the same process.

On a site note, a lot of people give WHS a big "meh", saying you can easily duplicate all that functionality with free software and while that's entirely true I highly doubt it can be reproduced as easily or cheaply.

By easy I mean that I have confidence that even households without a power geek could quickly setup it up out of the box and that my wife doesn't need me around to do a complete restore or to pick individual files out of an old backup.

By cheap I mean that my time is money, every hour I spend fiddling with a backup server is an hour I'm not writing new and interesting code, spending with my wife or improving my XBox Live Gamerscore. Once WHS is running I don't have to do anything, no maintenance or patching since Windows Update takes care of all that. No monthly fee to a backup provider like Jungle Disk (though if you don't have a backup server I suggest you look at one of the S3-backed providers like Jungle Disk). No time wasted as I try to pull down a 4 gig image via the wire.

I continue to be impressed by WHS and the ability to hot-swap a new drive just bumped it up even further in my opinion. The fact that it's such a great product at 1.0 means it can only get better from here. In the future I'd like to see better integration with Media Center and I'm seeing all kinds of options if you combined it with Live Mesh.

For any household with multiple computers with data you just don't want to lose I can't recommend WHS enough.