Technology: Home Network/Home Server

Since retiring, one of the things I miss is not having the server and networking resources for my computers being supplied and supported by someone else. Thus, I need to become an IT person again. I never was an IT person, but at times had to be an underground IT person when I needed more than the company provided. So, my current needs now that I am retired is a home network, system to back-up (restore) my computers and replicate my image files/database. I am tired of the sneaker-net method to replicate my image files/database. I currently have two computers for image processing (Lenoveo/ThinkPad W700ds and Lenovo/Thinkpad W510) and one for travel (Microsoft Surface Pro). A while back, I looked at the Window Home Server. The original version of Windows Home Server (WHS) was based on Windows Server 2003 R2. HP provided a hardware/OS/software package version called HP MediaServer. Microsoft released a new version Windows Home Server 2011, but indicated that it would be the last release. HP did not provide an upgrade to the 2011 version, and decided to end their MediaServer product line.

The interesting thing is that you can still purchase new 2009 versions of the HP MediaServer. I decided to try one out with the understanding that it may be a dead-end. The HP MediaServer (EX 490) arrived. It is a headless computer (no monitor, no keyboard, no mouse). Everything is controlled remotely. It came with a 1 TB hard-drive (3 empty hard-drive slots). I plugged it in, connected it to my one computer network, and loaded the client software on my computer. Within a short time it was up and running, and configured to do daily backups of the computer it was connected. The three hard-drive slots only support hard-drives up to 2 TB. I tried adding a 3 and 4 TB hard-drive and the computer only recognized half of the space on the drives. Right now the system will support and backup my two Windows 7 systems, but not my Windows 8 Surface tablet.

Although, HP does not support upgrading the system there is a vibrant internet community of Windows Home Server users. I found methods to upgrade to Window Home Server 2011, and Window Server 2013 Essential. There is also someone that is building a monitor/keyboard/mouse cable to facilitate upgrading the headless computer. I like the idea of having a WS 2013E server. I may go this DIY route, because I really do want a real server managing my home server/networking needs. I miss not having a full SQL server, not having SharePoint. Downside, I do need to get back into the IT support business.

Next item of business is setting up the home network (hardwired vs WiFi), connection to the Internet, bridging the internet connection to all of the devices, Firewalls, etc). Microsoft is discontinuing the TechNet subscription program. I had it before when I was doing my underground IT work, and just signed up for its final year. A lot I need to relearn/refresh on as I set up and optimize my home server and network.

Author: David Mathre

I am a scientist by training (Eckerd College, BSc; Caltech, Ph.D.). I worked for 27 years as a Chemist in the Pharmaceutical Industry developing processes to manufacture medicines for human and animal health. I now spend my time as a photographer and world traveler. My interests in photography include the natural world, wildlife, landscapes, skyscapes, and seascapes. I have traveled to over 50 countries over the last 10 years, often on Semester at Sea voyages. While at home in New Jersey, I spend time on a home renovation project and expanding my wildflower garden/meadow.

One thought on “24-August-2013”

  1. Hi David. Nice to hear that you’ve got an EX 490 in your network now! I’ve been running an EX 495 since they first came out, so I’m interested in hearing your experience upgrading to newer software and modifying the hardware. –Dan

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