How to build your own Windows Home Server rig

Recycle an old PC or build out a bare-bones system with Windows Home Server

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Step 5: Install WHS Connector on your PCs

To manage your server from a client PC and to enable automated backups for your PCs, install the Windows Home Server Connector software on every Windows PC on your network. (There is no version of the Connector software for Mac or for Linux machines; they connect to the server using the tools in their own operating system.)

If you purchased a packaged copy of Windows Home Server, you'll find the Connector software on a separate disc. If you downloaded your copy, you'll find it in both the Windows Home Server folder and your server's shared software folder.

1. Copy the entire folder to the client PC, double-click the file "whsconnectorinstall.exe," and follow the instructions.

2. Once you've installed the Connector software on a client PC, you can open the Windows Home Server Console from that machine by double-clicking the Windows Home Server icon in the Windows taskbar.

Windows Home Server Console

The Windows Home Server Console

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3. Enter the Windows Home Server Console administrator password that you created previously, and the console will appear, showing the status of each machine that has the Connector software installed and that has access to the server.

Only one person -- whomever you've designated to administer the network (probably you) -- needs to know the WHS Console password.

Step 6: Set up automatic backups

Next, configure Windows Home Server to automatically back up each of the Windows computers on your network. Once you've installed the Connector software on each machine, you can configure all of them from just one PC.

1. Open the Windows Home Server Console, click on Computers & Backup in the top menu bar, right-click on the computer you want to configure and choose Configure Backup from the pop-up menu.

2. When the backup configuration wizard appears, click Next.

3. Windows Home Server will examine the computer and report on the hard drives that it finds. Place a checkmark next to the volumes you'd like backed up and click Next.

4. Windows Home Server will automatically exclude some files (e.g., the contents of the Recycle bin) from the backup. You can add any other files you don't want backed up by clicking the Add button and browsing through the content on your drives. When you're finished, click Next and then Done at the next screen. Repeat this step for each of the computers on your network.

5. If you want to control additional details about how and when backups are performed, click the Settings menu (at the top right of the console menu bar) and then click Backup in the window that appears. From within this menu, you can specify a time window during which backups will be performed, manage how long backups are retained and delete old backups (although Windows Home Server will also manage backups automatically). Close the Settings window when you're finished.

Step 7: Configure users and shared folders

You will also need to establish a user account (with a log-on ID and password) for each person who will connect to the network. You can also create a Guest account, which has no log-on requirement. Only one person at a time may log in as a Guest. If you enable the Guest account, consider restricting it to certain shared folders and limiting even that access to read-only status.

Note: In addition to being limited to serving 10 PCs, Windows Home Server is also limited to 10 user accounts -- 11, including the Guest account.

Managing user accounts

Managing user accounts

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1. Click on User Accounts in the top Windows Home Server menu to start the User Account Setup wizard.

2. Decide whether or not you want to activate a Guest account. (Again, if you do so, we recommend limiting the Guest account's access.)

3. Click the Set Policy button if you wish to change the user password policy from its default value of medium strength (passwords must have at least five characters, but there are no other restrictions). Click OK when you're finished.

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