About 30 days ago I began the process of installing a Windows Home Server in my house. After what is now referred to as the "Great Hard Drive Crash of April 2007" by my wife, it was clear to me that I needed to address the data recovery/disaster recovery plan for my house a little bit more in depth, a Home Server was my second step, the first was Mozy but that's another post.
The "Windows Home Server" operating system is currently only available OEM to System Builders or via online resellers which resell such OEM products. Creating a Home Server was both no problem what so ever, and obviously System Builder material at the same time. The OS install reboots multiple times, identifies itself as Windows Small Business Server 2003 for portions of it, and otherwise is not "polished" for retail delivery.
On the other hand, the experience once it is installed is fantastic. This software has many useful features, but the big one for us was the dynamic storage system. You can create a virtual storage system from many smaller drives which have no restrictions on them, they can be any size, speed, interface, etc you happen to have.
In my case the first portion of storage was the remainder of my boot drive, which the system automatically partitioned and handed over the largest segment of (all but 30gb) to storage. Then I added 2 USB hard drives. A few weeks later, after some traveling, I added another drive from a system I was no longer using bringing the total storage to 0.98 TB, not bad. Well during the recent Black Friday sales here in the US I picked up a new 1TB My Book from Western Digital, installed that and brought the server to 1.98 TB.
It was this upgrade that made me write this post. I was anxious, I did the upgrade in the middle of the night while several people in my house were watching videos from the Home Server. I had to add a USB hub, so I had to unplug one of the drives in the array. Instantly every box on the network was notified of a drive failure on the Home Server, but despite that there was no interruption of either video stream that was running. I then plugged in the drives, added the additional storage, and started pulling a video file myself to take the load to 3 simultaneous video feeds. There was a touch of slowness during the next 5 minutes as the server sought to balance the storage, but nothing horrible. My house has 4 laptops, 3 desktops and a the home server currently and I must say that it handles this admirably.
My only gripe? They need a 64 bit version of the Home Server client software. I'm aware of the hacks to get this installed, but it doesn't get the backups running and that is key.