WHS Pre Installation Checklist
The hints and tips below are intended to be a pre-installation checklist for a HP MediaSmart Windows Home Server installation for those people doing this for the first time. It is based on my experience installing an EX495 system in June 2010. I believe that most (if not all) of these tips should apply to earlier releases of the HP MediaSmart but I have no experience of those earlier pieces of hardware.
These tips are not necessarily in any particular order.
1. Decide on a computer name for your server.
Some people already have more than one WHS, so you may want to consider having some naming convention with numerics in it for expandability. Be sure to consider any benefit associated with having a “unique name”. Not being unique could give you DNS conflicts. For instance, using “server” is more likely to give you a conflict than “the_munster_family”.
For instance: ABC_SRV01 where ABC are your initials or something similar.
2. Backup all files intended to be moved to the WHS to an external backup drive BEFORE you do anything!
This allows you to keep an initial backup copy of all of your data BEFORE you do anything with WHS.
Backup of the WHS is probably another whole topic in and of itself.
One approach - Having more than one drive in the WHS (for most people) is probably the best way to go. Then turn on folder duplication. This tells WHS to keep a copy of “shared” folders with folder duplication turned on each physical drive. This uses double the space on your hard drives but gives safety of data. A failing hard drive can be switched and WHS will automagically rebuild the “copy” of shared folders on the new hard drive.
This backup could take many hours depending on how much of a packrat you are with data.
3. WHS mandates passwords that may exceed the complexity of the ones that you use for home use.
WHS (if Remote Access is turned on) INSISTS on minimum of 8 characters with a combination of letters, numbers and special characters (such as $ or # etc). Secondly, WHS will insist (and nag you) about any mismatches between your Windows logon password and the WHS password. Make it easy on yourself….change your Windows passwords to match the more stringent requirements of WHS. File access is somewhat simpler if your PC client logon name matches your WHS logon name.
4. Make a pass through your data files (make sure #2 is done first!).
Remove anything that you don’t need anymore. Everyone has saved stuff that they really don’t need anymore. If you need any of these deleted files back…see #2. This helps to reduce file backup requirements for the WHS.
5. Determine whether Remote Access (RA) is going to be used.
I suspect that most people would want this (so that they can logon to the WHS remotely). I did read one account of someone that did NOT want RA turned on (at least initially). WHS will need configuration to allow RA to function correctly. The author uses TZO and has found their support excellent.
6. IF RA is going to be used, decide on usernames and passwords.
In other words, who will be allowed to logon and what level of access they will have (i.e. read only, full access to various shared folders (i.e. directories)).
user1_public user1_private user2_public user2_private
Also decide on what name you want to use for your WHS name.
Logon usernames should MATCH the share names on the WHS (or vice versa <g>). This makes user authentication “seamless”.
This planning step allows you to plan your input to the WHS configuration dialog screens.
Currently available domain names are:
HPHomeLink.com HPHomePort.com HPHomeServer.com HPMediaSmart.com HPShare.net MyHPFamily.com MyHPHome.com MyHPOffice.com
So, your external address will whatever you decide followed by a “.” and one of the names above.
7. When shared folders are setup.
Ensure that file access permissions are set appropriately That is read only, full access etc. This keeps any private files private and allows family members, friends etc access to, for instance, pictures, videos etc.
NOTE shared folders can be drive letter mapped to: \\yourservername\users\xxxxxxxx
Where yourservername is the computer name for the WHS And xxxxxxxx can be any one of the shared folders that you set up.
8. Establish how backups are performed.
WHS allows you to set how often to run backup, how many backup files to keep (daily, weekly, monthly).
Backups, by default, run between midnight and 06:00. This can be changed in the WHS Console under Computers & Backup. PCs will obviously have to be ON or hibernated for backups to work. On the authors PCs, he has seen some odd problems with standby mode (possibly a BIOS dependency here). Even with hibernate mode, some "scheduler" programs that can wake up a hibernated PC don’t re-hibernate them again. Tracking down which programs can do this can be time consuming and difficult to do.
9. Check to see whether your router supports UPNP.
I’m not sure how “universal” this reallyis …somewhat like “universal remote controls” <g>. YMMV. In theory, routers can be setup by the WHS Install (to enable port forwarding for the ports that Remote Access will use to go to the WHS). The author’s router (LinkSys WRT610N) supports UPNP, but I still had to go into the router and setup port forwarding for ports 80 (HTTP), 443 (HTTPS) and 4125 (Windows Remote Desktop) to the IP Address of the WHS (under Applications and Gaming in the WRT610N router).
10. Possibly “reserve” a fixed IP Address for the WHS in your router.
Assuming that your router has implemented this feature!!! Port forwarding for ports 80 (HTTP), 443 (HTTPS) and 4125 (Remote Desktop) in routers forwards requests for those ports to the WHS. Having the same IP Address reserved for those port forwards will simplify your life IF you lose power to your router.
In the WRT610N, you can just check a box next to the dynamically assigned IP Address for the WHS. This should keep the same IP Address over power failures for the port forwarding. NOTE on the WRT610N, after checking the box and saving the settings, I note that the check box does not stay selected. I’m not sure whether this is a problem or not. I suspect that most users are better off with fixed IP Addresses for home installations. Note that in the author’s WRT610N checking that box does NOT seem to show the check box after the settings have been saved. This enables the router to “assign” the same IP Address to the specific MAC address of the router itself.
11. Copy your data files to the WHS.
Once your data files are copied to the WHS and also backed up to an external hard drive (see #2), delete them from your current source location. See also topic #2. This ensures that you won’t accidentally open a file from the “old” location.
12. Go into any program that keeps a Most Recently Used (MRU) list.
Clear the list out. After all, you have deleted the “old” file locations, haven’t you?
13. Consider adding the WHS Backup Database-Backup.
This is available from http://www.mediasmartserver.net/add-ins/.
This add-in will allow you to backup the WHS client backups to another hard drive (you don’t really want to lose all those family pictures, do you?). Typically, this backup will be done to an external hard drive. The author has used a Fantom 2TB ESATA drive..it is much faster than USB2! The ESATA drive plugs directly into the rear ESATA port on the WHS. This will need a ESATA external cable (both ends of the cable are the same connector type).
14. Add-Ins can be installed by copying the appropriate .msi file.
into \\yourservername\software\addins on the WHS.
You can find WHS addins at:
http://www.mediasmartserver.net/add-ins/ http://whsaddins.com/ http://mswhs.com/category/add-ins/ http://www.homeserverland.com/downloads/m/whsaddins/default.aspx http://forum.wegotserved.com/index.php?/forum/21-windows-home-server-add-ins/?s=7f4a8fef209067b4357f9e487cbdb29d
and probably many more.
Check reviews on addins before trying them (it’s the least that you should do!). Don't install a bunch of these all at the same. Be judicious and try one at at time. That way, you can minimize any possible impacts if any of the addins do not work for you.
15. Decide if you wish to enable WHS “folder duplication”.
With more than 1 hard drive is in the WHS chassis (say 2 in this example), folder duplication keeps a copy of each selected file (i.e. those that the user selects for duplication) on each drive. Therefore, if one hard drive fails, it can be removed via the WHS console, physically removed from the WHS chassis and replaced and then re-activated. WHS will then “re-image” the selected folders onto the replacement drive automatically. This operation might also take a while.
16. Use a UPS.
Plug your WHS and router (at least) into the battery backed up side of the UPS. BEFORE you buy a UPS, determine how many pieces of hardware that you need to plug for battery backup and how many just for surge protection. Determine how you intend to use your UPS, how much runtime you need on battery power. In the author’s case, I use it more for small spikes in the electricity feed for the power company. Personally, I use only American Power Conversion (I have no financial interest in APC)…I just believe that they are the best manufacturer. Go to www.apcc.com. They have a calculator on the website where you calculate what Volt-Amp requirements you have based on what device that you intend to plug in.
17. Backup times.
From doing "manual" backups on my EX495 system, I observed the following transfer rates:
a. EX495 via ESATA to a Fantom Green Drive of ~ 4GB/Minute (Computers & Backup tab in the WHS and then using my server name). b. EX495 (using the WHS Addin BDBB to the same drive) of ~11GB/minute (WHS\Settings\WHS BDBB\Backup tab).
I'm not sure why the difference in transfer rates. These were clock timed and using the GB amount reported by the WHS.