Windows Home {office} Server … interesting…


Graham Jones - MVP (Surrey, British Columbia)

Editor's Note: Got this on in the mail from my friend Graham who got it in the mail from our mutual friend Ron Demedash... I've tried to minimize "the telephone game" and kept his email intact as it came to me... It's a rather interesting use for Windows Home Server. I've got the HP MediaSmart system (with a ram upgrade installed) in my house now and I've had some form of WHS since it was internally called Q. 🙂

Remember - your milage may vary - do whatever is right for your friends ... and customers.

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Back in early February Kevin Bears came up from Redmond to talk on Windows Home Server (WHS) in Vancouver. We had a great turnout with 225 people in attendance. One of those people was my good buddy Ron Demedash who had travelled over specially from Victoria where he runs the IT Pro UG. Some of Ron’s consultancy business is aimed at the small office and he immediately caught onto the possibilities in that space. Recently Ron and I were emailing and he mentioned that some people are now using WHS in the office. So I asked him to send me some details and I have included what he sent me here. My comments are in (….).

“Windows home Server is for more than the home. Yes, that’s correct, WHS is now in the office!  If that sounds like a promo from Microsoft, well it’s not. It’s a comment from my wife’s doctor (specialist) who uses WHS in his office. He’s started to call it, Windows Home Office Server.  For months, on visits, we would chat about what’s new in the computing world (that’s right, a physician that knows more than their specialty and golf!) and I mentioned about being at the WHS event that Graham Jones ( VANTUG) had hosted. He was interested in what I had seen. I explained its ease of installation (true), the automated backup, (mostly true… does Vista 64 cause you heartache?) and it’s stability. [For Vista 64 you will have to wait for Power Pack 1].  What sold him, was that I considered it (at that time) the best approach for a small ( 2-5 workstations) system as a remote backup server.

A previous client (a GP) had a break-in. A desktop and the USB back-up drive were stolen. Fortunately all of the data was encrypted, so no confidentiality was breached. A significant selling point for him was that the WHS box could be set up somewhere where people are not likely to look. There aren’t many thieves who are going to start tracing wires or connections to find an extra box. A drive hanging off a desktop, while useful in case of a crash, isn’t useful in disaster scenarios, and a break-in, for a small business, certainly qualifies as a disaster.

On the next visit, I walk into the office, and he starts to sing the praises of WHS. He had taken an old box that he had lying around, dropped in the various software, using a USB drive copy of WHS (the only way to install - so much faster), and was up and running. The ease of installation was amazing (his word’s), and it did exactly as advertised… handled all of his back-ups (for 4 desktops) with no intervention on his part.  Something that other solutions advertised but did not quite deliver. Certainly not with the same low-cost and ease.

WHS even dealt with the encrypted data (patient records) seamlessly. (If you want to know how to deal with encrypted data, and not have the server grind for hours… contact me.)
And then just to sweeten the pot for him, I showed how you could use WHS to backup a laptop over the Net. More on that later, once I get the add-in finished. This sold his nurse as she does work for him at home and wanted to have a back-up copy on the office system.

We did a demo of the recovery option for some of his colleagues, using a spare box, and they were blown away (as much as any doctor can be) by the ease of restoring.  Drop in the recovery CD, answer a few simple questions, and away you go. No having to install an OS, no command strings,  it just works.

Now there were some things that they had to be restrained on. WHS is not a replacement for Exchange [there are 3rd part email servers that can be installed - hMail for example] but for 1-5 person businesses, it just works as advertised. With new add-ins being developed on a regular basis, Windows Home Server just keeps on getting better and better.

I’ve had some in the IT Pro field pooh – pooh WHS as a solution (mostly because the level of support needed is smaller and thus less support contracts), but they had better start to look to the future. For a very small business, WHS works.”

I will keep an eye on Ron’s progress with perfecting backup over the net, which is probably of interests to a lot of people.

Graham J.


Comments (2)

  1. Anonymous says:

    If you remember from a couple ( 1 ) ( 2 ) of previous guest blog posts, Graham out in Vancouver was talking

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