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Microsoft Windows Home Server Unleashed (2nd Edition) Paperback – Apr 5 2010
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About the Author
Paul McFedries is a Windows expert and full-time technical writer. Paul has been authoring computer books since 1991 and has more than 70 books to his credit, which combined have sold more than three million copies worldwide. His recent titles include the Sams Publishing book Windows 7 Unleashed and the Que Publishing books Networking with Microsoft Windows Vista and Tweak It and Freak It: A Killer Guide to Making Windows Run Your Way. Paul is also the proprietor of Word Spy (www.wordspy.com), a website devoted to lexpionage, the sleuthing of new words and phrases that have entered the English language. Please drop by Paul’s website at www.mcfedries.com or follow Paul on Twitter at twitter.com/paulmcf.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
When you think of the word server, you probably first imagine either a massive mainframe hulking behind locked doors in the bowels of some large corporation, or a powerful and very expensive desktop-like device full of esoteric hardware that helps itand perhaps a few others like itrun the network of a medium-sized company. The common thread here is that we've always thought of servers as business machines. With the exception of a few hardcore geeks and technical writers (not that the two designations are mutually exclusive), having a server in your home seemed, well, excessive. What home needs the power of a server? What home can afford the expense of such a high-end device?
But then a funny thing happened: times changed. All those one-computer households suddenly became two-, three-, and even four-computer households; broadband became nearly ubiquitous, and of course every family member wanted a piece of the new pipe; we began digitizing our media en masse, and we wanted to share that media with other members of the family and with other devices scattered around the house; and we discovered wireless computing and became addicted to working and playing anywhere we wanted. The result has been an explosion of home networks over the past few years.
However, it didn't take long for amateur network administrators to learn something that their professional counterparts have known for many years: the larger the network, the more you need some device in the middle of it all to coordinate activities and offer a central repository for data. And our home networks have started to become quite large, with multiple computers, multiple devices such as wireless access points and network attached storage drives, and increasingly massive files, from multiple-megabyte digital audio files to multi-gigabyte digital video files. Suddenly we, too, needed a powerful machine in the middle of it all to keep things humming.
It helped significantly that extremely powerful computers had became extremely inexpensive, but one big problem remained: a server computer needs a server operating system. Unfortunately, the only choices here simply weren't reasonable or practical choices for the home: the powerful but expensive Windows Server 2003 or Windows Server 2003 Small Business Edition, or the various flavors of Linux, all of which are far too complex and arcane for the average home network.
However, the last piece of the puzzle fell into place when Microsoft announced Windows Home Server to the world in January 2007. Now we all had access to a server operating system that was designed specifically for home networks; we had access to a server OS that was easy to configure, simple to use, inexpensive, and could run on a variety of hardware; we had a server OS that not only did the usual server tasksstore data and manage usersbut that also went much further with automatic backups for every computer, streaming media, and easy-to-configure access to any desktop from the network or from the Internet.
Welcome, then, to Microsoft Windows Home Server Unleashed. My goal in this book is to take you beyond the basic Windows Home Server Console interface and into the tremendously powerful behind-the-scenes features that enable you to get the most out of your investment without requiring an advanced networking degree.
Who Should Read This Book
For a book like this, it doesn't make much sense to have a "typical reader" in mind when writing. First, there's just no such thing as a typical reader, so you'd be writing for an audience of none. Second, home networks are as varied and unique as the families who use them. There are simple two-computer homes; there are large one-computer-per-person households; there are families who qualify as media powerhouses that create, share, and play audio and video incessantly; there's the home-office crowd who use their network for work as well as play; and finally there's Alpha Geek family with one person who's juiced not so much about Windows Home Server itself, but about getting his hands on the powerful Windows Server 2003 engine that comes with it.
In this book, I've tried to keep all these different families and situations in mind, and there's lots of content here for everyone. As a general rule, this book is for anyone who wants more from Windows Home Server. If you want to learn more about how Windows Home Server works, if you want to get more out of the unique features in Windows Home Server, and if you want to know how to use the powerful but hidden server features that are also part of the Windows Home Server package, this book is most definitely for you.
How This Book Is Organized
To help give you a sense of the overall structure of the book, the next few sections offer a brief summary of the six main parts of the book.
Part I: Unleashing Windows Home Server Setup
Part I takes the advice of the king in Alice in Wonderland: "Begin at the beginning." You get a bird's-eye view that describes what Windows Home Server is and what you can do with it (Chapter 1); you learn how to install Windows Home Server, just in case it didn't come preinstalled for you (Chapter 2); and you learn how to set up Windows Home Server for networking and how to troubleshoot basic network woes (Chapter 3).
Part II: Unleashing Windows Home Server Configuration
The four chapters in Part II show you how to get everything configured and connected so that you can start to take full advantage of what Windows Home Server has to offer. You learn how to set up and manage user accounts (Chapter 4); I show you how to add various computer typesWindows Vista, XP, and 98, as well as Mac and Linuxand various devicesincluding Windows Mobile and Xbox 360to the Windows Home Server network (Chapter 5); you learn how to configure various Windows Home Server settings, including the computer name, the password, and various startup options (Chapter 6); and I delve deep into the new Windows Home Server storage system to show you how the system works, how to add, repair, and remove storage, and more (Chapter 7).
Part III: Unleashing Windows Home Server Networking
Part III is the biggest section of the book, with eight chapters focused on various aspects of networking with Windows Home Server. You learn how to share files and folders (Chapter 8); connect to other computers, both over the network and over the Internet (Chapter 9); stream and share digital image, audio, and video (Chapter 10); use Windows Home Server's computer backup and restore features (Chapter 11); monitor your network (Chapter 12); and implement network security (Chapter 13). I close this section with two chapters that take you well beyond Windows Home Server's core capabilities: Chapter 14 shows you how to use the built-in web server to create powerful and flexible websites, and Chapter 15 shows you how to download, install, configure, and use Windows SharePoint Services to run collaborative sites for your family.
Part IV: Unleashing Windows Home Server Performance and Maintenance
Part IV takes you into some of the features of Windows Home Server that are less glamorous but are still crucially important: performance tuning (Chapter 16), system maintenance (Chapter 17), interface customization (Chapter 18), and problem troubleshooting (Chapter 19).
Part V: Unleashing Windows Home Server Advanced Tools
The four chapters in Part V take your Windows Home Server knowledge to a higher level with in-depth looks at some advanced tools and features. You learn how to use the Windows Home Server Registry (Chapter 20); how to use the command-line tools (Chapter 21); how to use power tools such as the Control Panel, the Group Policy Editor, and the Computer Management snap-ins (Chapter 22); and how to create Windows Home Server scripts, including scripts that control the incredibly powerful Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) interface (Chapter 23).
Part VI: Appendixes
To round out your Windows Home Server education, Part VI presents a few appendixes that contain extra goodies. You'll find a complete guide to the important TCP/IP protocol (Appendix A), a primer for setting up a home network (Appendix B), a glossary of Windows Home Server terms (Appendix C), a complete list of Windows Home Server shortcut keys (Appendix D), and a list of online resources for Windows Home Server (Appendix E).
Conventions Used in This Book
To make your life easier, this book includes various features and conventions that help you get the most out of this book and out of Windows Home Server:
Throughout the book, I've broken many Windows Home Server tasks into easy-to-follow step-by-step procedures.
Things you type
Whenever I suggest that you type something, what you type appears in a bold monospace font.
Filenames, folder names, and code
These things appear in a monospace font.
Commands and their syntax use the monospace font as well. Command placeholders (which stand for what you actually type) appear in an italic monospace font.
Pull-down menu commands
I use the following style for all application menu commands: Menu, Command, where Menu is the name of the menu that you pull down and Command is the name of the command you select. Here's an example: File, Open. This means that you pull down the File menu and select the Open command.
Code continuation character
When a line of code is too long to fit on only one line of this book, it is broken at a convenient place and continued to the next line. The continuation of the line is preceded by a code continuation character (¬). You should type a line of code that has this character as one long line without breaking it.
This book also uses the following boxes to draw your attention to important (or merely interesting) information:
Note - The Note box presents asides that give you more information about the current topic. These tidbits provide extra insights that offer a better understanding of the task.
Tip - The Tip box tells you about Windows Home Server methods that are easier, faster, or more efficient than the standard methods.
Caution - The all-important Caution box tells you about potential accidents waiting to happen. There are always ways to mess things up when you're working with computers. These boxes help you avoid those traps and pitfalls.
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Inside This Book(Learn More)
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Let's start out talking about who this book is for -- geeks. It's chocked full of helpful information, tweaks and "behind the scenes" information about Windows Home Server. The author not only tells you about what it can do out of the box -- but how you can extend it to bring out its full potential, such as creating shared calendars or your own internal (and external if you wish) family website to display vacation photos, journals, etc. You'll even learn how to use SharePoint technologies to extend WHS in a way that makes it seem as if you've been doing it for years!
The book is also good for those amongst us who are comfortable with computers, but want to take that next step. Who see the value in setting up a home network and using Windows Home Server, but want to do more than just share files and automate backups. It's for the Geeks-in-Training, and you couldn't ask for a better training manual.
The book itself is filled with 800 pages of information about Windows Home Server and home networking. You'll find out everything you need to know to get WHS up and running in your house -- regardless of whether you bought the software and installed it yourself or an "out of the box" appliance with WHS already installed. And don't worry if you are still running Windows XP, 2000 -- or even Millenium Edition in some cases! For many of the examples on how to use WHS features the author covers a variety of operating systems -- including Linux and Mac!
I am a tech guy, and therefore am an early adopter of Windows Home Server and this was the first book to hit the bookshelves on this amazing new software from Microsoft. I was just expecting to get a book that walked me through WHS and its basic features, but what I got was a reference I could use to really tear into it. It's not a book you read cover to cover, but rather one you refer back to each time you are ready to try out something new and push the envelope.
If you are thinking about getting Windows Home Server, do yourself a favor and add this book to your bookshelf. You will soon find that you are extending Windows Home Server to do new things and bringing your home network to life by adding useful features that brings the entire family into the digital age.
A lot of the Windows Home Server is easy to use because it goes through an interface called the Windows Home Server Console. Just the same, not all of the pieces of the Console are easy to understand at a lower level, and that's where Windows Home Server Unleashed comes in. My particular favorite section, however, is the chapter that discusses exactly how WHS manages files, folder replication, and storage: this is (to me) a weird way to do things, and the explanation helped my understanding greatly.
I'm writing this review in Feb. 2010. There is a new Edition of this book scheduled to come out in early April. If you're interested in a good reference, I feel this is the one. However, if you can wait, I'd suggest you do so because the newer version will cover the newer configuration of Windows Home Server, probably with more details on Power Pack 3.
- covers all of the essential, including system requirements, installation, setting up, maintaining and troubleshooting WHS
- has additional tips on optimizing WHS
- uncovers many undocumented features to really bring out the power of WHS
- provides nonWHS related information on TCP/IP, the Windows Server 2003 underlying operating system, and running your own website
- can be difficult for nontechies to read since it assumes a certain level of knowledge of using Windows and also uses certain technical terms without explanation. Even ones that are explained, like a stack or layer, use an explanation that is technical in nature
- sometimes the instructions are redundant in that the book will repeat verbatim a 12 step process that was just covered a page before but with only 1 change in the steps
Bottom line: A great reference book for intermediate users.
Specifically, don't look for help on any of the following:
1. Building or adapting your own hardware platform for WHS. Not a word.
2. Installing WHS software. Not a word. The book assumes you bought a complete box ready to boot up.
3. Add-ins. As far as this book is concerned, the subject doesn't exist.
4. Running other applications on WHS. There is a whole chapter on installing Windows SharePoint Services, (a business-class server app, the usefulness of which in the average household is not clear to me) but that's it. No help on trying to figure out what will work and what won't.
5. Backing up WHS itself. Backing up shared folders is briefly covered, but not a word on backing up the backup database even though Microsoft published a procedure a couple of years ago and a very handy add-in "BDBB" automates the process. And nothing on selecting and connecting an external hard drive to use for backups. (When you're backing up several hundred gigabytes, the speed advantage of eSATA over USB 2.0 is quite significant)
6. Security. Should you install antivirus software? Sorry, no help there. But a whole section on auditing if you want to detect malicious users in your household, along with some standard advice on securing household PCs.
All of the above is not to say the book does not contain a lot of useful information, but the claims that it covers everything of interest are more than slightly exaggerated. There's also a good deal of bloat in the form of excessively detailed step-by-step instructions on working through windows dialogs, along with a lot of stuff on registry editing, VBS scripts, and command-line arguments for those who enjoy doing things the complicated way rather than clicking a few buttons. There is a page-long vbs script provided, for example, to tell you how much free space you have on a hard disk. I guess both kinds of stuff are there to support the claim that the book supports beginners through advanced technical users.
I'm still looking for a comprehensive WHS reference.
McFedries' writing style is fluid, polished and lucid. He never gets lost in his own detail, even though many of the subjects covered in this book lend themselves to meandering. McFedries stays unerringly on topic - and that is a quality to be praised and appreciated.
Particularly so here, for Windows Home Server (WHS) is a somewhat simplified version of Windows Server 2003, a very potent and complex server platform. Even though WHS weasrs a very pretty face for home users, its internal plumbing is still very complicated.
Effortlessly, McFedries walks the reader through the less complex WHS interface and use - and then explores the deeper roots. He really accomplishes this very well.
There are about 750 pages of text on WHS and related subjects and around 80 pages of appendices.
In 23 chapters, McFedries tells you everything you need to know about installing, administering and using WHS. The level of detail is very impressive. The author covers related subjects that may not interest everyone and may be well beyond the competence of many, such as running a SharePoint Site on WHS, working with the WHS Registry and scripting WHS. That's not a complaint: it's as compliment. Everything you really might need to know about WHS is to be found between the covers.
McFedries has turned out a remarkably lucid technical book on an inherently complex subject. If you're considering installing or have installed WHS, you should really consider this book. It's the only book I've bought about WHS and the only one I can see needing. Excellent.