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on 28 July 2011
I have run WHS v1 for several years as well as a WHS2011 server throughout the beta stages for comparison; auto backups of all our 8 PC's for great peace of mind from both versions. WHS2011 works great for me, it's 64-bit and handles what goes on behind the scenes faster. Added bonus is that you can stream your music, tv recordings, films and photos to wherever you or family members happen to be outside home in acceptable quality. It's also much easier to customise than v1 if you want to use e.g. your family website domain instead of the usual xxxx.homeserver.com, or a different web background.

The lacking DriveExtender bemoaned by many v1 fans is not a problem if you're used to tidying up your files once in a while and just keep an eye out for how filled your disks are. If you really miss it that much, then there are at least three add-ins out there that add this functionality.

One minor issue is that 64-bit drivers for older printers etc. may be difficult to find. At the current price around £45, given the fact you actually get a Microsoft Server 2011 version with a home user-friendly interface, what's not to like?
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on 1 August 2011
For anyone wanting to have their PCs backed up automatically in a household, and to share their media inside and (securely) outside, this is a great product which, in the most part, builds on the great work done in WHS v1.

As another WHS v1 user of many years, I moved to 2011 when it came out and have not looked back. Yes, it does not have the drive extender technology - but although this was a good solution for adding storage when TB disks were unheard of --- and the extender technology was not without some fairly significant restrictions and some big issues to start with. For most users these days the capsacity is not really an issue - and as is stated in other reviews, there are at least three add-in products coming out that provide this functionality.

Having a full 64-bit server OS (which is Windows Server 2008 R2 with many of the features such as DNS, DHCP, etc. etc. usable for those wanting to do more with it) and a greatly improved remote media (and remote terminal) experience is worth the current limitations.
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on 23 December 2012
In July 2012 Microsoft announced the end of the Windows Home Server product line, the effective replacement for WHS 2011 being the far more expensive Server 2012 Essentials.

However I wanted a home server solution with basic file and print services, and the very low price of WHS 2011 persuaded me to buy this to run on a HP N40L server. The key feature of WHS 2011 is probably its excellent backup facilities, but I soon realised that this was OTT for my small collection of 3-4 PC's/laptops, the occasional copying of important files to an external USB disk being sufficient. Other facilities such as monitoring, streaming and access from the internet seem (at least in my case) to also be of little value, now commonplace, or rather old fashioned.

I then decided to mirror my data in order needed to provide some resilience against a disk failure. I configured a mirror of two 2TB drives, after one day the 'resync' was still just 18% complete and I faced the system being unavailable for another 4 days. At this point I purchased a Windows 8 Pro key and reconfigured the home server to run this instead. The server was back up and running (with a mirrored 'storage pool') after one long evening's work. Windows 8 Pro has better storage management capabilities than WHS 2011, and so far seems to meet my home server needs better than WHS 2011 did.
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on 31 August 2011
The main reason for buying this was I wanted the ability to stream my ever increasing video collection to my TV (a Sony Bravia) Which this software does perfectly.

Backing up networked Computers is as easy as clicking a few settings then let the software do its work, the interface is easy to use and well laid out. Having the ability to set up web access is a nice touch as you can stream Music, films and photo's any where there is an Internet connection.

The one thing I would say is if you are currently running WHSV1 this software doesn't add anything new, but if like me you are wanting to build a server this software is perfect.
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on 20 August 2011
I have installed a trail version of the software and I fell in love with the product. It is well designed and used windows server 2008 base software. It back's up and maintains your homes computers by giving you status reports on what the computers are doing. The main feature why I like the product is the ability to remote access and stream multimedia from your home server.

The package arrived within days with 3 disks and a licence key. The product is intended for OEM system builders only however if you have got a trial version of the product this should activate it also. For this price its great value
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on 15 November 2011
I have been using a Synology NAS drive for many years and it is excellent - however it's based on Linux and i'm more of a Windows guy so I decided to try this out.

A lot of people are slating this as they took away one of the main features of the previous version - the ability to extend available drive space by creating a drive "pool".

What this means is that if you have a 1TB Hard Drive and a 500Gb Hard Drive you can combine them into one 1.5TB hard drive but if one drive fails (less and less common nowadays admittedly) you will lose the data on both and so Microsoft removed it.

You can download an addon as well now (see [...]) that allows you to have this feature again so I say go for it.

With 3TB hard drives around and 4TB coming next year assuming Thailand recovers from their floods does it really matter though? Surely that's a big enough drive for most people - and you can just add as many more as your Motherboard will allow. I have 3 x 3TB Drives and 2 x 2TB Hard drives in mine but that is overkill for most!

With reference to the 2TB System Backup limitation..allow windows to do it's own backup of the operating system to an external USB drive and use the Robocopy Dos command to back up your important files each day. You can use switches /e and /xo with that command so it only backs up new or changed files. Excellent!

I have this installed on an 80GB Intel SSD with the aforementioned drives storing the data. The install will only allow you to install to a 160Gb+ hard drive but you can work around this using this guide:


Using this method you also get the Operating System installed as simply Drive "C". Installing it normally creates drives "C" and "D" just for the install.

Just make sure your USB Key is in the first USB slot (which is not mentioned in that guide) or for some reason it does not pick it up.

You can set up the server with a free domain (well sub domain) name supplied my microsoft (i.e. [...]) so you can access all of your media Pictures, Videos and Music through the internet from anywhere and it even streams them for you. You can even remote access computers on your network if you have allowed this.

You may need to port-forward the ports 80, 443, 4125 and 3389 on your router. 3389 is only needed if you want to remote desktop into your server and this is not recommended accross the internet.

The setup under Server Setting tries to configure your router for you.

It's great - buy it.

For £45 you cannot go wrong either! if you don't like it ebay it lol.
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on 15 January 2013
I've been running WHS 2011 for over 12 months. I installed it on an HP Microserver (great machine - amazing value). This sits in my loft and is connected into the network via cable.

I've been running my own small business for 12 years and have always been very keen on backing-up. I don't need a full business server - so have always relied on tape or external hard drives to keep my data backups safe. Frankly it's been a pain - and there's always been the need to check everything on a regular basis.

As I work from home - over the past few years - the network now includes my children's laptops, a newly acquired Mac and other assorted PCs.

So that's the background.

Installing WHS 2011 was a cinch. Installing the connector software on each PC (and Mac) was also really easy.

I now have a system that 'intelligently' backs-up each machine, gives me a central network location for movies, music and pictures AND monitors everything to let me know when laptops are being used, when they need updates or if any 'errors' on particular PCs occur.

I can also access the server from outside the network securely - so if I'm away from home and have forgotten a file - I can get at it.

I don't use it to stream media - or do other complex server 'things' - but, quite frankly, it's been a complete revelation. It just works. Backups, monitoring, storage.

I would recommend a book (bought from Amazon) called "Home Server 2011 Unleashed by Paul McFederies". It helped me get the most out of the software without introducing a vertical learning curve.

The are two downsides. The first is that MS have dropped the product. I personally think this is daft - as it's time has really only just come. The number of households with multiple PCs is on the rise - and whilst Windows 8 can do the job of WHS 2011 in many areas - it's just not as good. The replacement (Server 2012 Essentials) is ten times the price - adding features that I simply don't need. But - as usual - MS will continue to support this product for a good few years.

The other issue is more technical - and MS are promising an upgrade to WHS 2011 that will solve this problem soon. Currently WHS 2011 will not backup any disks running the new GPT system. That means many Windows 8 computers - or even newer Windows 7 machines. It all depends on how it has been setup. Check the web for more details.

Other than that - it's a complete steal at this price - and gives me real price of mind.
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on 5 May 2013
Its good to see WHS 2011 being so affordable. Server software, even without support included, are very expensive. For a small server like what WHS is about - home and small offices, is an insult, as you have several windows licences already on the client machines, and an affordable server solution is likely to keep you with Windows for the clients. WHS 2011 is the exception - not sure the pricing when it was newly out - but it sure is well priced now.

Its old, but that is not always the case. Windows 7 is more expensive to buy than the new Windows 8. As for Office software, Microsoft Office 2007 and 2010 are still very expensive to buy - the former over 6 years old, that is a dinosaur in computer terms. If you want a good office software without the big price tag that is not Open/Libre office, you will need the 10 year old Microsoft Office 2003 which is quite affordable now.

I was considering Windows 7 Professional (or gambling with W7HP) mostly for a backup server but also to power an information display; glad I came across Windows Home Server 2011 as I have saved a considerable sum of money in the process.

I was surprised how simple and easy installing the OS was and how well compatibility was with devices. It has its own OS string, and I will be honest one installation refused to install drivers due to not recognising the OS, despite looking like Windows 7, and having similar device driver compatibility... I got round it by ignoring the wrapper setup program and installing the driver manually.

I am considering purchasing more instead of Windows 7 (do not approve on Windows 8) for non-user client computers.
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on 11 October 2011
I bought the 2011 version because it was cheap. I have had and used WHS v1 for over a year. WHS 2011 has been a disappointment,it has constantly produced esoteric errors in the event log for which the Microsoft Help and Support Centre could provide no additional information, thus spending a disproportionate amount of time searching for solutions. The system and drivers were fully up to date. Having to manually decide where backups go and where shared folders are positioned so as not to exceed the capacity of the individual storage disks is something I could do without. On the plus side the remote access is better than v1 but I don't think this outweighs its shortcomings. I got so fed up with it at the end of September that I reverted to v1. On balance it remains a disappointment.

Update October 2012 I thought I'd try again and have installed it on another computer. The nuisance of not having the equivalent of Drive Extender as in v1 is still there but this time after 3 weeks running and backing up a win8 PC and an old XP laptop it seems much better behaved with no event log errors that cause concern. The desktop is better than v1 as I mentioned before and setting up remote access proved relatively trouble free. On the basis of these last three weeks I might be inclined to raise it's star count by one or possibly 2.

Further update Jan 2014. I bought another copy of WHS 2011 and installed it on another machine so now I have two servers. After a year or so running two servers in parallel I am very pleased with the software. It has now proved to reliable and crash free and only reboots after the monthly Microsoft updates. Running it with Stablebit DrivePool has proved to be solution to the removal of DE from WHS 2011. I have managed to do two complete bare metal restores on two separate machines successfully and this basis I now believe it warrants 4 stars.
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on 12 December 2013
I've been running Ubuntu Server for the last year on my HP Microserver. After the latest Ubuntu upgrade came out, I dutifully installed it, but sadly something went wrong and it managed to make a mess of the software I was running.

Deciding it was time for a clean start, and being slightly bored of doing everything via the commandline (yes, I know I could have installed a distro with a GUI), I decided I'd give WHS a bash. With the exception of the multitude of hotfixes that I needed to download after installing (come on MS, I know you're closing the doors on WHS, but a service pack would be lovely ...), everything is working nicely, and it's nice being back in familiar territory when it comes to server management :-)
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