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How to: Build Your Own Windows Home Server

Think of a home dedicated server as your ultimate backup solution for movies, music, data, and photos. With most of our day spent online, data hoarding is an unconscious habit. Learn how to setup and build your own windows server. As we all know, digital media comes with the dangers of wear, tear andcrash.
Don’t miss: Reusing an Old PC as a Server

A Windows Home Server is not only a backup failsafe but can also become an interface to stream your content over your small home network. The how and why is covered by this tutorial.

The Best Things about Windows Home Server
Easy backups – Easy data redundancy through backups for 10 Windows PCs can be configured. WHS syncs one copy of each file disregarding the number of copies in multiple computers. Data backup can be made selective for individual drives or specific folders.
Shared access – Create user accounts and give shared access to your friends and family over the network.
Remote access – Remote access the WHS over a network address using the in-built Console Connector client software.
Stream to any device -The Windows Media Connect UPnP server software allows any compatible digital media receiver (like the Xbox 360, PS3, or Windows Media Player 11) stream movies and music off the home network.
Extend and expand – Add or replace storage devices seamlessly as WHS automatically formats new storage devices and treats all drives as a single unified storage space.
The Hardware - The Maximum PC tutorial recommends building your own as it will be more customized and you can also scavenge parts from old computers. Here’s the hardware list.

Total Cost: $860
Building your Home Server:

Step 1: Prep the case

The Antec 200 is a budget case with six 3.5-inch drive bays and easy expandability with an external easy-swap SATA bay and an adjustable fan speed switch.

2. Install the parts

Installing the components is about care and alignment. It should be done on static free surface. The tutorial details the steps from fixing the CPU on the motherboard to inserting the RAM modules and finally mounting the drives. If you’ve never built a computer before, check out our beginner’s guide.

3. Wire and connect

With all the components in place, the attachment of the SATA data and power cables comes next. Wiring is all done with the plugging in the other components to the motherboard connectors and the chassis outlets. If you choose to self host for your small business setting up a server to keep your Microsoft products integrated properly is key.

4. Install Software

Windows Home Server can be installed using an external optical drive or a bootable Flash Drive. The installation is simple and user friendly. The basic installation is followed by networking the other PCs. The networking also involves setting up the WHS Connector password on client PCs. This is the time to install all the latest updates and patches for WHS.

The Settings console is where most of WHM management takes place. Configuring the WHS settings involves scheduling backups, setting up user accounts, deciding on the shared folders for media streaming, checking out the Disk Management features and installing and managing third-party add-ins. Here are 5 essential add-ins available which make WHS do a whole lot more.

5. Accessing Your Server

A server is typically not stand alone. There are four ways to remote access and manage your server.
Manage it from the Console software
Browse shared folders from Windows Explorer by typing in the network URL.
Using the domain for remote access.
Using Remote Desktop in the client PC to access WHS’s desktop.

6. Tweaking for Maximum Performance

Optimize the performance by tweaking settings for speed, automatic syncing, handling video formats and other enhancements. A home built server based backup solution can be designed around your needs. As this tutorial shows, it is not too difficult. Alternative home server options like HP MediaSmartLX195 and Acer easyStore H340 are also worth a look. But all home server options provide one common denominator – peace of mind.

Are you thinking of setting up your own server based backup solution? What are the specs you are looking at?

If the idea is appealing, take a look at some of our previous posts about data backups.
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