DIY: Windows Home Server

I’ve extolled the virtues of WHS in the past.  Now it’s time to show and tell.  This will show you how to take an old computer and turn it into a Windows Home Server of your very own. 


A computer with at least 1 GB RAM (…a functional one, I’m not a magician)

A copy of WHS

A couple of big hard drives

A basic understanding of how to connect things inside the computer (don’t worry, there will be pictures…)


1.  We’ll start by adding the drives to the old computer.  Keep in mind that there are as many different kinds of cases out there in the world as there are annoying kid shows on Nickelodeon.  I’ll just show you how to connect them, you’ll have to figure out how to mount them yourself….


This is the back of a SATA drive.  It has two connectors that we need to be concerned with.  The longer flat black connector (circled in red) is the power connector.  This connector will usually have a couple of different colored wires and you can trace it back to the power supply.  The other is the data connector (circled in blue).  This connector is usually a single wire and needs to connect to the motherboard.  These connectors only go on one way (the right way) and shouldn’t need to be forced at all.  It should look something like this when you’re done.



The data connector on the motherboard side should also go on only one way and should connect easily.

2.  Ok, now we need to set the PC to boot to the CDROM drive.  Once again, every PC is different in how you set this.  Right when you power the machine on, it will tell you how to get into the “BIOS” or Setup.  Try the delete key, F2, F9, F12, Escape it could be almost anything.  Once you get into the setup screen look for Boot or Boot Device or Boot Order, then set it to your cdrom.

3.  Put the WHS disc into the drive and away we go.  It will boot and go through some things and you will finally see a screen like this:


Click Next and you’ll see:


Next again.


Next.  (Seeing a pattern?)


Next.  (Isn’t IT work fun…no wonder tech support guys are always grumpy.)


Click “I accept the agreement” and then Next.  (Ahhh sweet variety)


Now you get to do some actual typing!!  Enter your product key, then click Next.


On this step you must tap into your creative mind.  Name your server whatever you’d like.  DaffyDuck, TheMatrix, Mordor, I’ve seen them all.  Don’t use spaces though…


Click “I acknowledge that all data on these drives will be lost” and then next.  (All data really will be lost.  This is the point of no return.  Any information from your PC’s former life will be completely gone after you click Next and then Yes).


Of course we’re sure….


Now click Start and then go have a sandwich or something, because it’s going to be a while.  It will reboot about a million times, go through various stages of set up and then will finish.  You shouldn’t need to do anything until your screen looks like this:



3.  So the last bit here is to configure the password and answer some questions.


Choose a strong password with upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols.  As it tells you in this screen, it’s very important to remember this password.  You’ll be using it every time you connect to the server.


This screen asks you if you want to do Automatic Updates, probably a good idea.  Click “On” then the forward arrow.


This one’s up to you….


As is this one.  (Although this will suppress those annoying Send/Don’t Send messages when something goes wrong…)


This is the FINAL screen!  It’s telling you to use the “Windows Home Server Connector” CD to connect one of your other computers to your spiffy new home server.  We’ll go over that and more in PART TWO of this fabulously long post.  Stay tuned….

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