Windows Home Server offers a wide variety of tools to help you simplify your digital life, and the availability of these tools should factor in to your organizational strategy, including centralized storage, and integration into Windows Vista’s search on your client machines.
Centralized and Easily Accessible Storage
Windows Home Server’s Shared Folders feature provides you with a reliable centralized location to store your files. By keeping your files on your Windows Home Server, you make them accessible from any computer on your network, and with Windows Home Server’s remote access feature, you can retrieve any of your files from any Internet-connected computer.
Predefined Shared Folders
Windows Home Server ships with some basic shared folders predefined. There are shares for Music, Photos, Software, and Videos. A predefined Public share can also be used to share files with unauthenticated users in your home, like visitors. Each user also gets their own share in which to keep personal files. The predefined shares can offer a basic starting point for your organizational scheme.
The predefined shares may not fit into your organizational plan, but they are a good starting point.
User-Defined Shared Folders
Windows Home Server also allows you to define any number of user-defined shares. This is the place where you will want to create any top-level categories in order to facilitate your organizational strategy.
Each user that is set up on Windows Home Server receives his or her, own personal shared folder. By default he or she is the only one allowed to read or write to that folder. Personal shares provide a location for individuals to store the data they would otherwise keep in their client profile’s Documents folder or on their desktop. The added benefit is that they will have access to all of the files in their private share no matter what computer they log in to, and if you have enabled remote, they will also be able to access their personal files remotely via the Internet.
You should encourage the members of your network to put files that are useful to all users into the appropriate shared folders so that everyone can have easy access.
The same ideas for organization that apply to the common shared folders can be applied to individual private shares. You can encourage use of a good organizational scheme, and each person will probably have his or her own unique idea of what that is.
In general, information can be more useful if more people have access to it. When discussing your organizational plan with your household, try to include this idea that the entire household should put important non-personal data into the common shared folders.
In most homes, everyone shares the traditional real-world tools. The hammer lives in a drawer in the kitchen, or a toolbox in the garage, and everyone knows where it is and can use it when they need it. You should remember that Windows Home Server is itself a type of tool, meant to make it easier to manage your digital life. Likewise, some of the information that you keep on your home server is useful for everyone, just like a tool. By keeping information centralized and accessible to all, your home might end up being a bit more open and productive.
Windows Home Server also includes search technology, derived from Microsoft’s Windows Desktop Search that are stored on the server will be indexed so that they can be quickly searched by keywords file type, or even on common metadata like tags, titles, and so forth. It is this ability to search metadata through WHS or Vista that makes the manual effort of tagging files worthwhile.
This search functionality is even available over the remote web interface, so you should be able to quickly locate the files you need, even when you are away from your home network. On a client computer that has the Windows Home Server Connector software installed, you will even get search results from the server when you use Windows Vista’s search box from the Start menu.
As technology changes and more parts of our lives become digital, you may have to adjust your strategies considerably to suit your requirements. You have to strike a balance between sticking to it and being flexible enough to react to the changing demands of your digital life.