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Windows Home Server - April 2007 CTP Release

A close-up look at the April 2007 beta release of Microsoft's Windows Home Server software
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1 of 25 Ed Bott/ZDNet
Take a close-up look at the April 2007 beta release of Microsoft's Windows Home Server software.
After you plug in the Home Server, running the Connector software detects the server and lets you set up a new connection. If this is the first time you've run the connector, the wizard walks you through a seven-step setup process.
Read the full review here: Microsoft hits a home run with Windows Home Server
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As with all Windows versions, you'll need a product key to activate the software. If you skip over this step, you can run for 30 days before being required to activate.
Read the full review here: Microsoft hits a home run with Windows Home Server
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The default name for a new server is this prosaic suggestion. You can choose a more colorful or descriptive name as long as it takes no more than 15 characters.
Read the full review here: Microsoft hits a home run with Windows Home Server
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The master password grants access to the Windows Home Server console program, which allows you to configure accounts, manage shared folders, and set up remote access and backup options for PCs on the network.
Read the full review here: Microsoft hits a home run with Windows Home Server
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During initial setup, the server checks for required updates and installs them automatically. Updates can include signed hardware drivers, security fixes, and new versions of program components.
Read the full review here: Microsoft hits a home run with Windows Home Server
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To manage server settings, you log on to a console window, which occupies a fixed size. The ever-present tray icon is color-coded (green is healthy, red means a problem) and displays balloon-style notifications.
Read the full review here: Microsoft hits a home run with Windows Home Server
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Icons at the top of the console window let you display computers, work with user accounts, and manage folders and drives. The Settings button in the top right corner opens this tabbed dialog box for more detailed options.
Read the full review here: Microsoft hits a home run with Windows Home Server
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You can manage user and server passwords from this tab. Passwords for the server and for any account with remote access privileges must meet the "strong" password criteria.
Read the full review here: Microsoft hits a home run with Windows Home Server
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Access to files in shared folders and remote access from outside the network are controlled through permissions granted to each user account. If the account name and password match your logon credentials, access is seamless.
Read the full review here: Microsoft hits a home run with Windows Home Server
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The server continually monitors settings on each PC that has joined the network and reports problems (missing or out-of-date antivirus software, a failed backup, and so on) by changing the shield icon from green to red. Click to reveal more details.
Read the full review here: Microsoft hits a home run with Windows Home Server
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By default, all volumes formatted as NTFS are scheduled for automatic backup. You can remove a volume from this configuration by clearing the checkbox shown here.
Read the full review here: Microsoft hits a home run with Windows Home Server
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There's no need to back up temporary files, page files, and other system files that are created on the fly by Windows, so they're excluded. If you'd prefer to make backup sets even smaller, you can exclude other folders as well.
Read the full review here: Microsoft hits a home run with Windows Home Server
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By design, Windows Home Server is an always-on device. Connected PCs are backed up in the wee hours of the morning, and once a week the server cleans up outdated and unneeded backup files.
Read the full review here: Microsoft hits a home run with Windows Home Server
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The Computers & Backup window shows the status of every computer on the network. Grayed-out entries are currently offline. Buttons on the command bar let you select an individual computer and then manage its backups.
Read the full review here: Microsoft hits a home run with Windows Home Server
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Double-clicking any computer name opens a window that shows all available backups. Double-click an individual backup entry to view these details and mount the backup index in an Explorer-style window.
Read the full review here: Microsoft hits a home run with Windows Home Server
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This status window shows how much space is in use for personal folders and for shared folders containing music, photos, and other common data types. It also displays any drive-related problems in the Status column.
Read the full review here: Microsoft hits a home run with Windows Home Server
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From this dialog box, you can change the name and description of any folder. With Folder Duplication on, Windows Home Server creates duplicate copies of each file on multiple drives; if a drive fails, you're protected against data loss.
Read the full review here: Microsoft hits a home run with Windows Home Server
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You control access to each folder on the server by settings permissions here. If you want a networked PC to be able to view pictures but not edit them, set access to Read. Note that the Guest account access is disabled by default.
Read the full review here: Microsoft hits a home run with Windows Home Server
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For the built-in shared folders containing music, photos, and videos, you can turn on sharing. With this option enabled, devices like an Xbox 360 or Roku Soundbridge have full access to media files in that location.
Read the full review here: Microsoft hits a home run with Windows Home Server
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When you add a new hard drive (internal or external), Windows Home Server prompts you to add its full capacity to the shared storage pool using this wizard. The pane on the right shows how much storage is available before adding the drive.
Read the full review here: Microsoft hits a home run with Windows Home Server
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The Add a Hard Drive wizard provides ample warning that it will completely reformat the new drive and wipe out all data on it. If you click the Finish button here, the drive is formatted and available for backups and shared folders.
Read the full review here: Microsoft hits a home run with Windows Home Server
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Compare the server storage pie chart on the right with the one in the previous screen. In this case, plugging in a USB drive added nearly 200GB of extra storage in just a few minutes.
Read the full review here: Microsoft hits a home run with Windows Home Server
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The Web Site Connectivity button at the top of this dialog box allows you to open the server and PCs on the network for access via the web. Access requires a user name and a strong password. This wizard automatically configures a UPnP-compatible router.
Read the full review here: Microsoft hits a home run with Windows Home Server
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Registering your e-mail address with the Windows Live Custom Domains service lets you create a fixed name that allows remote access even if your ISP changes your IP address.
Read the full review here: Microsoft hits a home run with Windows Home Server
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During setup, these quick tests allow you to confirm that the connection is live. If you encounter problems (as indicated by a red X), you can zero in on troubleshooting steps with relative ease.
Read the full review here: Microsoft hits a home run with Windows Home Server

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