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Coming Home to Windows Home Server Part 33

Nov 1, 2010 10:02 AM, By Eric B. Rux

Installing Vail and moving your life to the new server.

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Windows Vail

Figure 1. the client for Windows or a Mac can be downloaded and installed. Note that XP is only supported if you are running Service Pack 3. (This shouldn’t be a problem as you should be running SP3 anyway.)

Last month, I introduced Vail and the many features that we're going to be discussing in this column. This month, let's start at the beginning of the list with hardware requirements installation and a simple migration.

According to the Getting Started Guide for Windows Home Server Code Name "Vail", this new version of Home Server has some very specific hardware requirements. Most notably is the absolute requirement of a 64-bit CPU. This by no means is difficult to acquire ( has more than 90 64-bit CPUs for sale, for example). However, this does mean that any kind of in-place upgrade of your OEM V1 Home Server is probably out of the question. Because of this, Microsoft didn't even bother to provide a direct upgrade path. To make matters worse, there also isn't an easy way to migrate to Vail; you will have to do it manually.

If this causes you to think twice about Vail, don't. It really isn't that bad. I’ll walk you through it. (If you purchased or plan to purchase an OEM Vail server, you can skip the installation section below.)

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Coming Home to Windows Home Server Series
Welcome Home! In this series, Eric B. Rux—Windows Home Server MVP—breaks down the Windows Home Server (WHS) with useful tips, new add-ins, problems solvers, and the latest news. ...


First, start with the right hardware. At a minimum, you will need a 1.4GHzx64 processor, 1GB RAM, and at least one 160GB (or larger) hard drive. Note that these are minimums—not the recommended hardware. Consider using two or more very big hard drives (500GB or larger) to utilize folder duplication and protect your data from a disk failure.

The setup itself is very similar to a Windows Vista/7 or Windows Server 2008 installation. I did notice that the setup will fail if a network connection is not detected. The reason appears to be because the installation downloads and installs updates during the installation. In addition, it is very important that you do not name the new Vail Home Server the same name as your old V1 Home Server (you can never have two computers on a network with the exact same name). Therefore, having the network cable plugged in during the installation lets the setup routine verify that the name you choose is unique.

The installation can take an hour, depending on your specific hardware. As soon as it is complete, you're ready to start migrating from your old Home Server to the new one.


As with version 1 of Home Server, each client computer (XP, Vista, Windows 7, etc.) will need to have a client installed so that they can communicate with the Home Server. This enables the Home Server to backup each client computer, and it provides for easy remote access. Unlike version 1, the setup is much easier. Instead of trying to find the CDs that came with your Home Server or remembering the \\server\share path of the installation files, simply point your browser to http:///Connect.

As Figure 1 shows, the client for Windows or a Mac can be downloaded and installed. Note that XP is only supported if you are running Service Pack 3. (This shouldn’t be a problem as you should be running SP3 anyway.)

The installation can take quite a while if .NET 4.0 has to be installed, and your computer will restart a couple of times, so be patient.


As I mentioned earlier, there isn't a direct upgrade or migration path to Vail. There is hope that a third-party may come up with a migration utility, but until then, you're on your own to do it manually.

For this step, I recommend that you log on to the server console. Use Remote Desktop, or log onto the server directly if it has a keyboard/monitor/mouse. Be very careful and never make any changes unless you know exactly what you are doing. Most of the time, you should use the dashboard to perform administrative tasks, but this is an exception to the rule (my exception, not Microsoft's).

To copy the files from your old Home Server to the new Vail Home Server, navigate the network to find the old server. For me, the easiest way to do this is to press the Windows Key (near the space bar) and the 'R' key at the same time to bring up the Run Command. Enter in \\OldHomeServerName and click OK. Start with Music, and copy all of the folders to the new Home Server. Depending on how many albums you have, this could take minutes, hours, or if you have teenagers, even days.

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