For the last few weeks, I've been setting my home network up with Windows Home Server. For a relatively cheap software investment, it's really a pretty good product.
Once you have it installed, there is a client CD or connector CD that you install on all your Windows based PCs in the house. This software basically "connects" all of your home PCs to the Windows Home Server.
Why do you want to do this? Well, Windows Home Server creates a "Shared Folders on Server" icon on your PC's desktop. You can set your client PC up to automatically put music, pictures, videos, etc. on the Home Server. All the stuff you don't want to lose is kept in a central location that can be easily backed up. With WHS Power Pack 3, you can even setup a Media Center to automatically archive recorded TV.
Most people that own Windows Home Server bought a special PC from HP, Dell or some other PC manufacturer with WHS pre-installed.
I just decided to install it myself on one of my "extra" computers.
I decided not to read instructions and just install it "blind". This was probably a bad idea. I assumed it would work like all the other Window's based operating systems and give you a C drive, a D drive, etc. All depending on the number of hard drives and other devices you have on your computer.
It "sort of" does this. If you want to look at it as a standard OS, it does exactly this. But, when you look at it from a "server" point of view, it installs the OS on a portion of one of the hard drives and sums up the remaining space for storage.
I decided to install the OS on an 80 gig drive and I installed a 1.5 terabyte drive that I intended to use for storage. WHS doesn't quite work that way.
Now, I have a machine with about 1.55 terabytes of storage. It added all the storage devices together, deducted the amount needed for the OS, and gave me the remaining for storage.
Further more, the storage defaults to being "duplicated on two drives". So that each bit of information sent to the server is automatically stored on two different physical devices. Thus, my setup only gave me about 50 gigs of usable storage until I went in and turned off the data redundancy.
Small drives on Windows Homer Server are basically a waste of electricity. Use the largest drives you have.
My next entertainment was misplacing my "connector" or "client" CD. I installed it on one computer. I installed it on the second computer. The wife came home and distracted me and I lost the CD. She may have eaten it. I'm not sure where it went.
Well, interestingly enough, WHS takes care of that as well. You can manually go to your WHS server from any machine in your house. You don't get all the bells and whistles, but you can access it.
You go to http://[whs name]:55000/. You'll get a screen that looks something like this:
The first entry says, "Windows Home Server Connector Setup" with a "Download Now" button. You click on "Download Now" and voila, the client software is downloaded and installed on the computer you are currently using.
WHS also has the option to automatically backup each client computer every night. It just happens automatically and gives you a backup of every computer in your house. The initial backup takes a while, but after the first one, it seems to go rather quickly. I haven't had to try a recovery yet, and I really hope I never have to. If I do, I'll make sure and post my experiences.