Almost everything that you need to do with your server you can do through the Windows Home Server Console. That’s what it’s there for.
But sometimes you want to do things with your server (de-fenestration doesn’t count) that you can only accomplish if you get into the server itself. Windows Home Server Console only goes so far. Logging on to the server with an Administrator account gives you full access to essentially everything in the server, and everything that Windows Server 2003 has to offer.
One little problem: You really can mess up stuff while you’re rummaging around inside the server. Even simple things like moving a file can have dire consequences if you aren’t extremely careful.
Be afraid. Be very afraid!
Most Windows Home Server servers run headless — no monitor, no keyboard, no mouse — and you might be intimidated into thinking that you can’t work directly with a server that has no head. In fact, using any computer on your network to get into the server isn’t difficult at all. Don’t let that put you off.
Just make sure you know what you’re doing once you get inside, and don’t go changing things indiscriminately.
Deciding to Break In
Windows Home Server runs on top of Windows Server 2003 — in many respects, it’s a program, just like any other program. But it has very deep ties into the internal workings of Windows Server.
If you can accomplish what you need to accomplish without breaking into your server, by all means do so. The Windows Home Server Console, which forms a common thread throughout this entire book, covers most of the bases. It’s a safe, insulated, supportive, nearly bulletproof environment that does everything most people need to do, most of the time.
Okay, okay. So I didn’t scare you away yet, did I?
In particular, Microsoft warns that monkeying around with any of these common Windows Server 2003 tasks can do irreparable harm to Windows Home Server:
Ø Changing files in Windows Explorer
If you go into your server and start clicking around on your C: or D: or E: drive, you may think that you know where you are, and where your files have gone, but you don’t. Trust me. To get into the server’s shared folders, always type the address into Windows Explorer’s address bar like this: \\server\Photos or \\server\SharedFolder.
Ø Setting access permissions
Don’t even think about setting folder or file access permissions by going directly into a folder on the server with Windows Explorer and using the Properties tab. You’ll end up locking everybody out of everything. If you can’t set the permissions you need with Windows Home Server Console, take my advice and throw away WHS.
Ø Doing anything with Disk Manager
The official warning, “Almost any change you make in Disk Manager will cause the storage system on your home server to fail, possibly resulting in data loss.” Don’t mess with Mother Nature Or Disk Manager.
Ø Create new shared folders or modify existing ones
Windows Home Server is very persnickety about how shared folders get set up, and how they are maintained. Trying to do any of that manually is folly.
Ø Changing users, user groups, or adding or deleting users
Windows Home Server keeps its own groups in its own way, and you don’t stand a snowball’s chance of getting all the details right. If you need to do something with users, work with Windows Home Server Console. If the Console can’t do what you need to do, then you’ve outgrown Windows Home Server.
We will continue this discussing, with in-depth feature review, in the upcoming article.