www.assassinserver.com

©Copyright 2012 by assassin @ assassinserver. All rights reserved. This guide and its contents are copyrighted by assassin @ assassinserver. This may be used for personal use by the purchaser only; users are forbidden to reproduce, republish, redistribute or resell and material from this guide without the permission of assassin @ assassinserver.

Table of Guides (with quicklinks):

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Windows Home Server 2011 Installation

WHS 2011 is a very affordable option for a sever operating system. With WHS 2011 you can backup all your client HTPCs on your network, restore entire HTPCs which are backed up, keep each computer on your network up to date, share photos/movies/tv shows from a central location, access all files from any computer on your network, get to your network remotely, and run programs and interface with your server easily from any PC or Laptop on your network.

Let’s get started.

The first screen you will see in WHS is this one. Select “New Installation”

Note: By default WHS requires a 160GB or greater hard drive for installation. If you wanted to change this so you could install to a 64GB SSD, for example, do the following. Please note that these steps are only needed if you are using an OS drive less than 160GB as required by WHS. If you are using a drive 160GB or greater in size skip the section below and skip ahead to where I show you how to install using a 320GB OS drive:

Option 1 of 2: As soon as you see the screen below hit “shift” and “F10” together to bring up a cmd prompt.

Now type “notepad.exe” without quotes then click file open and browse to sources/SKU/SERVERHOMEPREMIUM.def (you may have to select all files at the bottom so you can see the .def file).

From inside here you can change your amount of ram, number of cpu cores, HDD space, and processor speed to suit your needs. Save and close notepad.

Type “wpshell.exe” without quotes and hit enter => setup will restart with the new parameters and you can now install on a drive smaller than 160GB.

Option 2 of 2: Alternatively if the above method does not work for you I will show you an additional way to bypass the 160GB minimum requirement of WHS completely. For this example I will show you how to install Windows Home Server 11 on a 64GB SSD.

First, insert a blank USB drive into a bootable computer.

WHEN INSTALLING WINDOWS ONLY HAVE THE 64GB SSD PLUGGED IN!

I make it a habit to only have the OS destination drive plugged into the motherboard as this has created problems in the past where Windows will install the OS on the SSD, but somehow put the “System reserved” partition on a secondary storage drive.

Open up Disk Management (start- Right click on “Computer,” select Manage).

Find the USB stick you want to use, and format it to NTFS

Once that is done, create a document in Notepad, and paste the following (I have uploaded it to a Notepad file that you can download here):

[WinPE]

ConfigDisk=1

CheckReqs=0

WindowsPartitionSize=MAX

Save it using the following steps:

If you created this file yourself select “Save as type,” and in the file name line, type cfg.ini

Once this is done you will need to insert the USB drive in the back of the computer as usually before drivers are installed, a system will only recognize the USB slots directly attached to the motherboard (try to use the USB 2.0 slots preferentially as there are less issues with drivers having to be installed compared to USB 3.0).

When you boot up the computer, go into BIOS and have your system boot from the optical drive FIRST.

If done correctly, the installer will skip to the “Copying Windows Files” screen.

Once you see the screen above, PULL THE USB DRIVE! Or else when the system reboots during the normal installation phase, it will repeat the process of booting to DVD and will reinstall Windows.

Then continue with your server install as normal.

I have shown you now 2 different ways to install WHS to an OS drive smaller than the “required” 160GB. However, if you want to use a drive that is 160GB or larger please refer to the following instructions.

For this part of the guide I am using a 320GB OS drive that I am using for the OS. Select “Install”

WHS will now install

Windows will now show this screen. Choose your location

Verify the date and time. Change these if they are incorrect

Accept the terms and click Next

Enter your WHS serial code

Enter your Server’s name and password. Make sure to write this down as you will need it to log-in to your server to access your server

WHS will continue to install

And then will prepare you desktop

And then more installation

And then will update and prepare your server

Eventually your server will be ready to use

Your desktop now appears and you are ready to begin setting up WHS futher

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WHS Updates

The next step that I take is to update WHS. To do this let’s go to Start –> Control Panel –> and Windows Update. Select and install the updates.

Restart once this round of updates is complete

Now go back into Start –> Control Panel –> Windows Updates. Check for additional update and install them. Restart when prompted. Repeat this process until you have installed all Windows Updates.

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Installing Hard Drives in WHS

Now that you have WHS updated power down your server completely and connect the remaining hard drives for your server. If you have more hard drives than SATA ports on your motherboard you also will obviously have to install a SATA controller card at this point to increase the amount of hard drives connected.

Once you have booted your PC back up click on Start and then right click on “Computer” and choose “Manage”. From this screen select “Disk Management”. Here you can see the “C:” drive which is our OS drive which was partitioned automatically by WHS into a 60GB partition. Below you can see the first of 6 hard drives that I have now attached which is “Disk 2” in this screenshot. Disk 2 is a 3TB drive which is important to note as I will show you in a moment. The other 5 hard drives not pictured in this screen are all 2TB hard drives.

Now right click and select “Initialize Disk”

Now you can see all of the disks that are attached to your motherboard. For hard drives of 2TB or smaller we want to use MBR as our partition type. For hard drives 3TB or larger (like Disk 2 in this example) we want to use GPT as the partition type.

So here I have selected all the 2 TB drives to use MBR

and the 3TB drive to use GPT

Now select the first of your hard drives and right click on it to bring up this menu. Select “New Simple Volume” and then follow the screens.

Do not change the value. Keep it at the maximum volume size

Next assign the drive a letter. I usually let WHS do this automatically

Select what you want to label each volume . I have found it helps to be as specific as possible when labeling these drives as you will have multiple drives that are very similar. Select the other values shown here and click Next

Now you can see in the upper part of the middle column that our first hard drive has now been added.

Now do the same thing for the rest of your drives. Here is the 3TB drive that I am going to use as the parity drive.

Once finished you can see all the drives that I have added

And here they are again

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Controlling WHS From a Networked Computer

Now that you have WHS setup and running let me show you how to easily control it from another PC on your network.

First click the Start button and type in “remote” to bring up the “Remote Desktop Connection program. I right click on this and send it to my desktop and then drag it down to my toolbar as I use it regularly.

Here it is on the far right on the toolbar

The first time you open it make sure to write your server name exactly how it appears into the “Computer:” area

Fill in “Administrator” as the username and then for the password use your server’s password that you chose when you installed WHS. Tell WHS to remember your credentials and you won’t have to enter this information again

You may get this prompt with the first log-in. Click “Yes” and “Don’t ask me again”

This is what the desktop looks like on my laptop accessing the server. Notice “GoliathServer” in the top left corner.

The second time you log-in to your server this is the screen that you will see. All you have to do is hit “Connect” and 1-2 seconds later you are controlling your server.

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Installing the Intel Integrated NIC (Optional)

Please note: If you are using a motherboard with and integrated NIC other than Intel (Realtek, for example) —OR— have added a PCI-e or PCI Intel NIC card to your motherboard then you can skip this section as it is not needed for your installation.

If you bought a motherboard with the excellent Intel NIC integrated into the board hoping to use it for your server’s LAN you are going to be disappointed to hear that Intel does not recognize nor provide any drivers for the Integrated Intel NIC for WHS 2011. Fortunately I have figured out a way to install them anyway.

Assassin’s Custom Intel Integrated NIC Driver: Download here

After you have downloaded the file unzip it and save it in a location that you will remember.

First let’s go to Start –> Control Panel –> Device Manager and see the status of your NIC. Here you can see that the Ethernet Controller is not installed as it has an exclamation (“!”) point next to the device indication that there are issues with the hardware or driver.

Click on the Ethernet Controller to bring up this screen

Next tell WHS to “Browse my computer for driver software”

Point WHS to the location where you saved the file that you downloaded above and click Next

Windows will tell you it can’t verify the publisher. Click to Install it anyway

The driver has now installed

Here I have highlighted the Intel NIC driver that is now functioning properly

Congrats. You now have the excellent Intel NIC integrated and working in your server.

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Anti-Virus for WHS 2011

My favorite anti-virus program for HTPC is Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE). Unfortunately for people that use servers this is not available for use with WHS 2011 (You can try to install it but it will tell you the OS is not supported).  Instead the only antivirus options are paid (all are around $100) and not as lightweight as MSE which can be an issue as you don’t want it to bog down your system.

By default MSE cannot be installed on WHS 2011 as this has been disabled by Microsoft. However, I have found 2 ways that MSE can be installed that I will discuss below.

Please note that many people will recommend that your server have ZERO or VERY LITTLE internet access. I find this very difficult to do with HTPC applications so although I don’t browse the internet on my server (which I DO recommend against) I do allow my server to have internet access as long as MSE is running. You will have to balance how you use your server with the internet and weigh risks and rewards in this decision. With MSE on board I am not opposed to a little risk since many of my HTPC applications need internet access.

METHOD 1:

The first way is to disable the OS limit that was imposed by Microsoft (thanks to ajhieb for this trick). This is now my preferred route as this will allow you download the most recent version from Microsoft and install it on WHS 2011.

First let’s download MSE from Microsoft here. Make sure to download the x64 bit version.

Next move your MSE download into its own folder.

Now highlight this folder and right click while holding down the shift key. This will open this menu. Select “Open command window here”

In the command window type “mseinstall /disableoslimit” [without the quotes of course. Also note the space after the word “install”]

This will now begin the installation process. I choose not to send any data to Microsoft.

After installation let MSE check your server

Here is a screenshot showing both the OS (WHS 2011) and MSE running

Tip: For discussion of other MSE settings see the end of “Method 2” below.

METHOD 2:

This method uses an older version of MSE that installs on WHS 2011 before Miscrosoft decided to restrict it. In testing this version I have only found 1 MSE security update that would not work and all others (so far) have installed and updated without any issue. I had run this on my server without any issues for well over a year with no issues at all.

The first thing you will need is the copy of MSE that I use that will install on WHS 2011. I have it for you here.

Open the folder where you downloaded the file and click it to begin installation

Interestingly there is no real installation process. It just shows up in your programs

Opening MSE for the first time gets you to this screen. Tell MSE to update

It will now update

Your MSE will now be up to date

Tell MSE when you want it to run a scheduled scan

Finally a quick work on the settings of the different types of alert definitions. Miscrosoft recommends that you leave these as default.

Unless you have a deep understanding of malware and their definitions, you should use the recommended actions to help protect your computer from threats.

In other words on this screen leave everything set at default or “Recommended action”

Congrats. You now have a lightweight and free AV running on your server!

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Add Your Server to Your Homegroup

This guide will show you how to add your WHS 2011 server to your Homegroup. First go to control panel and open the Homegroup screen

Join your network’s homegroup

Select what you want to share

Type your homegroup’s password (you will have to look this up on another computer on your network)

You have now joined the homegroup

You are now a part of the Homegroup

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Power Options

There are a few power options I like to change since this is a server that I would like to remain on 24-7.

First go into control panel and select the power icon

Click on “Change Plan Settings”

Here make sure that the server is set to never sleep (unless you want it to sleep for some reason)

I also make sure that the hard drive is set to never turn off as most green drives (or red) only use about 2-3 watts at idle. Feel free to experiment with having your drives “spin down” after a set amount of time (but personally I do not).

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Connecting Client PCs with Computer Connector

Adding client PCs to your WHS Server is actually quite easy. From each client PC (like your HTPC) type in the following address…

http://YOURSERVERNAME/connect

Obviously for this example our server name is GOLIATHSERVER

Next this screen will appear. Click to download the software

The software will now download for you. Click to install the software

Windows will now search your network for your server

Click next

Now sign in using your server password

Dashboard will now launch from your client PC

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WHS 2011 Dashboard

The Dashboard is the main control panel for WHS 2011. This is the mainscreen of the Dashboard. Let’s click on “Get Updates for Other Microsoft Products”

Select to use Microsoft Update

Next select “Set Server Backup” which will bring you to this screen. Click Next

Click the disk that you want use to backup your client PCs. If they don’t show up then click the box to “show all disks that can be used as backups”.

Here you can see the drives that are available for backup use. Follow the rest of the prompts to complete the backup process. Note that you want to use a drive that has adequate storage for backups. If you are using a small OS drive and want to backup your other PCs then you will likely need to use a larger storage drive instead of your OS drive.

This is how the backup clients look on my home network (note that I need to update the backup for my server OS drive)

Next select “Set options for Sharing” and choose how you want to share your media with people other than yourself or on other PCs on your network

Next select configure media settings. Select what you want here (these are not really used for HTPC)

Now let’s select “Users” at the top of the screen and add a new user. Here you can set their password as well.

Now click on “Computers and Backups”. Here you can see your server and as you add client PCs to backup they will appear here as well.

Now click on “Server Folders and Hard Drives”. Under the “Server Folder” look for the tab on the right you can click on “Add Folder” and add a folder to whatever hard drive you like.

Please note that if you also plan to use software that pools your drives (like FlexRaid) this step isn’t needed as the drives will be combined to one large “virtual drive”. If you aren’t using pooling software then setup your folders on the drives that you want them to appear on.

Name your folder and choose the drive you want that folder to be on

WHS will ask who you want to access the folder

You can choose to backup the folder if you like

Now you can see the new folder that we have added to WHS

Under the “Hard Drives” tab you can view your hard drives that are connected. Now on the right side of the screen select “Server settings”

Here you can tell WHS how you want to update your server. At the bottom note that you can select to activate Windows. Let’s do that now

Click “Activate Windows Now”

Activation is successful

You can join a homegroup here (or I will show you how to join a homegroup a second way later)

You also can turn on and off remote access with this screen

WHS will also alert you if computers on your network need to be updated, restarted, etc

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Remote Web Access

Another great thing about WHS 2011 is you can set it up so that you can access it from anywhere you have web access.

This requires a domain name and if you have a Windows Live ID (free) Microsoft will give you one for free.

The first step is to get a Windows Live ID. If you don’t have a Windows Live ID (like a MSN.com or Hotmail.com e-mail address) then you will have to sign up for one at this website. If you already have a Windows Live ID you can skip these first steps.

Once at the website you can choose any of the three options. For this example I am going to highlight the third option of “Sign Up for a limited account”.

Next create an e-mail and password

Accept the agreement

Continue to complete the process

Now that you have a Live ID let’s enter the remote access screen. You can either select “Set Up Remote Web Access” from the Home screen or Select “Server Settings” and then “Remote Web Access”. Make sure remote access is set to “On”. Both of options for accessing the remote access area are shown below

This will open the web “Domain Name Setup Wizard”. Click “Next”

Now sign-in to your Windows Live account. Click “Next”

Accept the agreement. Click “Next”

Now you can create your server’s website. Please note that many of the more common names are not available and you will likely need to choose something very specific and unique to get a name that will be available. Click “Confirm” to see if you desired name is available. Once accepted click “Finish”

WHS will tell you that your Domain Name is set up. Click “Done”

Remote access is now activated. Again click on “Done”

Now let’s make sure the settings in your server are enabled to be accessed remotely. Right click on “Computer” under the start menu and click “Properties”. Here select “Remote settings”

Under the “Remote” tab select “Allow connections from computers running any version of Remote Desktop (less secure)” and click “OK”

If you entered your web address at this point you will be greeted with this screen. Note that WHS will not let you use “Administrator” as the User Name as this would decrease security for your server. So instead you have to create user account(s) and tell WHS what access you want them to have. So let’s do that next in Dashboard.

Go to “Users” and select “Add a user account”

Enter all the details for each account. Create a log-in name (account name) and password that the person will use to log-in. Click “Next”

You can select what folder(s) you want each user to have access to and what level of access you want them to have for each folder. Once finished click “Next”

You also can select what links are shown once logged in. Click “Create Account” once finished

The account has now been created. Click “Close”

Here you can see our new User that we created and that they are allowed Remote Access

Now let’s go back to the web address that you made for your server at the first part of this guide and enter your user name and password. Click Enter (the green arrow)

Once you have logged on to your server’s remote website this is the main screen. From here you access any of the folder’s you created and shared in the setup process

Congrats! You now can access your server’s files from anywhere in the world!

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©Copyright 2012 by assassin @ assassinserver. All rights reserved. This guide and its contents are copyrighted by assassin @ assassinserver.

This may be used for personal use by the purchaser only; users are forbidden to reproduce, republish, redistribute or resell and material from this guide without the permission of assassin@assassinserver.

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