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Coming Home to Windows Server, Part 22

Nov 2, 2009 9:38 AM, By Eric B. Rux

Home Server Maintenance


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Figure 1

Windows Home Server has been out for some time now (two years next week). If your server is anything like my server, it has plenty of cobwebs that need to be cleaned out. The servers I manage at work are closely monitored 24/7/365, but to be perfectly honest with you, sometimes my Home Server gets neglected. So this month, we’re going to review the areas that should be checked to keep your server running in tip-top shape.

The first step is to log onto your Home Server’s console. Do this by right clicking on the house located in the System Tray (the area near the clock). Once you are logged in, click on the icon in the upper right-hand corner. Depending on how you purchased your Home Server, this icon may be the Computers & Backup icon, or it might be a vendor specific icon (such as from HP, etc.).

Figure 2

In my case, I have an HP MediaSmart Home Server (running Windows Home Server). If you have a similar screen, then you will want to ensure that you are running the latest and greatest HP MediaSmart Software. Do this by clicking on “Check for updates”. This may take a few minutes. If an update is found, take this time to install it.

Next, click on the Computers and Backup icon. This may be the first icon in the upper left-hand corner if you have a Home Server from another vendor, or if you built your own. If you haven’t been keeping track of the nightly backups of the computers on your network, then this screen may shock you. Does your screen look like Figure 1? If so, then now is the time to figure out what is wrong. There may be PCs listed that you no longer have on your network, or there may be a problem with the backup itself.

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After the nightly backups are running correctly again, take a look at the next tab: User Accounts. Whenever an employee leaves a business, his or her account is immediately disabled (and eventually deleted). The same policy should apply with your Home Server. If someone from your family or (or small business) no longer needs access, then you need to disable the account immediately. Take the time now to disable any accounts that no longer need access. Right click on the old account and choose “Disable”, as Figure 2 shows.

Now we need to look at the Shared Folders tab. In case you forgot, a Shared Folder is how you grant access to the Home Server’s hard drive space. There are two things you need to check while you are here: Duplication and User Access. If you have more than one hard drive in your Home Server, then you can turn on Duplication for one or more Shared Folders. Doing so ensures that your data is stored on multiple hard drives. If one of the drives were to fail, your data would still reside safely on another physical drive. Double check that the Shard Folders that you want protected have Duplication set to “On”.

Figure 3

To check User Access, right click on each Shared Folder and choose Properties, then click on the User Access Tab. Check to ensure that only the users that need access to the data have Full or Read access. Everyone else should be set to None.

Finally, it’s time to check the Server Storage tab. Take note of the “Status” column and ensure that each drive is healthy. On the right-hand side of the screen, verify that you have plenty of free disk space available, as Figure 3 shows.

The last check is the Network Health tab. This tab is dynamic and will either say “Network Healthy”, “Network at Risk”, or “Network Critical”. If it says anything other than Healthy, then you need to click on it and investigate each issue. Most of the issues I’ve come across are backup warnings (no backups in X days), backup errors, or other messages, such as a PC firewall has been turned off.

Depending on the health of your Windows Home Server, running through this entire checklist from beginning to end could take a few minutes to more than an hour. Once you are done though, you can feel confident that you have done everything in your power to keep your Home Server running as smoothly as possible. You will also know what it’s like to be a System Administrator!

Until next month, have fun with your Windows Home Server.



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