Let us now pick up the discussion right where we had left off in the previous article and continue our WHS setup endeavor. Just before we start, don’t forget to download your evaluation copy of Advanced Vista Optimizer here.


1. The setup program starts automatically and first loads some files from the DVD into memory. This process can take a few minutes. You will first see a screen indicating that Windows is loading files.

2. Next you will see a Microsoft copyright screen, and then you will see a Vista-like background with a message indicating that the setup program is initializing. After this process completes, you are presented with a GUI (graphical user interface) installation screen. At this initial prompt there is nothing to do but click “Next”.

3. The following screen shows the hard drives that Windows Home Server has detected. You will hopefully see all of the internal hard drives you have hooked up to your Windows Home Server machine.

If the drive where you want to install Windows Home Server is not displayed, you will need to locate drivers from the manufacturer of your hard drive interface in order to use the hard drive.

Certain drives or drive controllers, especially hardware RAID devices, will not be recognized automatically.

NOTE: (You do not need to worry if drives that you plan to use to expand your storage pool are missing. Drivers for these may be automatically loaded after Windows Home Server is installed, or you can add them after Windows Home Server is set up.) Your hardware may have come with a driver diskette that is compatible with Windows Server 2003. (This is the operating system that Windows Home Server is based on, so those will be the drivers that you will need.)

Otherwise you may have to go to an Internet-connected computer and download the drivers from the manufacturer’s website. After you have the drivers on floppy, CD-ROM, or USB memory stick, click the Load Drivers button and follow the instructions to select the correct driver. After you load any necessary drivers, click “Next” to continue.

4. The next screen shows a drop-down list with only one option. This is the screen that would have an option to do a restoration install if you already had secondary drives with Windows Home Server files on them.

Because this is a new installation, just leave the default option selected and click “Next”.

5. Select the language and keyboard layout that you prefer and click “Next”.

6. The next screen is the End-User License Agreement (EULA). The important thing about the EULA is that it outlines the license that you have purchased. Software is not like traditional goods where you actually take ownership when you make a purchase. Instead what you have bought is the right to use the software, or a license. It is a good idea to read the EULA so that you understand the terms under which you are allowed to use this Microsoft software product.

After you are comfortable with the EULA, click “Next”.

7. You are now asked to enter the 25-digit product key that came with your Windows Home Server license. This is usually printed on a sticker that is attached to either the case or the paper sleeve that the DVD was packaged in. After entering the 25-digit product key and clicking “Next”, you are given the opportunity to change the name of your server. The default name for a home server is SERVER.

Accepting the default name is fine if you only plan on having one Windows Home Server machine on your local network. If you have another device that is using the network name SERVER, if you want to provide a name that is more descriptive of the function of the server, or if you just want to give your server a more creative name, you can enter it here.

For example, if you plan to have two Windows Home Server machines on your network, one for family files and another to be used by home business computers, you could name the first one FAMILY and the other BUSINESS.

8. The next screen is a very critical step to understand. You will have another chance to review the hard drives that the Windows Home Server setup has detected. Before continuing, you have to select a checkbox to confirm the fact that all existing data will be erased.

In a typical consumer operating system installation, like for Windows Vista, you will have the option of whether or not to erase the primary hard drive, and secondary drives are not even touched by the installation.

Windows Home Server uses a technology called Drive Extender to enable file duplication, and this technology requires low-level control of all hard drives. Before continuing, you should review the listed drives, and double-check that you have backed up any data that was previously on the drives.

9. You have now made all of the necessary decisions for your Windows Home Server installation. All that is left is to click the Start button. The Windows Home Server installation is now entering the most time-consuming stage.

While the hard drives are formatted, files are copied, drivers are installed, and the system is configured, the installation will cycle through a sequence of screens showing the benefits of your new Windows Home Server. During the installation, the system may have to reboot several times. At the conclusion of this process, you are presented with a Welcome screen.

10. After you click the Welcome button, select a password for your home server. Selecting a strong password that you can remember is very important. Remembering complex passwords can be a challenge. A good method is to use a sentence or phrase to create a password.

For example, if you use the phrase “Sally makes lots of money in the summer!” you can create the password “Smlo$its!” by taking the first letter of most of the words, and replacing the word money with a dollar sign.

You must enter the password twice, and you can enter a hint that will help you recall the password if you forget. Although writing down passwords is generally not a good practice, you should consider writing down your Windows Home Server password and storing it in a safe location. You may not use this password very often, and passwords that are not used are forgotten very easily.

Once you have set up your server, the Connector software, and your user accounts, you may go weeks or even months without needing to use your home server password, and because it is required for administration of the server, you will want to be able to find it!

11. After the password screen, you are prompted to configure Automatic Updates for your server. It is best to leave this option on, but if you want to be responsible for manually checking and installing updates on your server, you may choose to turn it off.

12. Next you are prompted to select whether you are willing to participate in Windows Home Server’s Customer Experience Improvement Program. This program allows the Windows Home Server software to share anonymous data about how your server is utilized with Microsoft. Microsoft uses this data to help the product team understand what features are used and how the system performs so that they can make better decisions about developing updates and future versions of Windows Home Server.

You need to decide whether you are comfortable sharing this information with Microsoft. The information that is shared is very benign, but it is still a personal choice.

13. The next screen prompts you to turn on or off Windows Error Reporting. Windows Error Reporting automatically sends data to Microsoft whenever the Windows Home Server experiences a crash. This information is used by Microsoft to help them locate bugs so that they can be fixed via updates or in future versions of Windows Home Server. While this information is very useful to Microsoft, there is a slight chance that personal information can be included in the error report. Some crash reports may include references to files or even personal information that was present in memory at the time of the crash. Microsoft works hard to protect this information, and they promise to use it only for the purpose of fixing the software, but you must decide whether you are comfortable automatically sharing problem reports in this way.

14. After you click the forward arrow one last time, you are presented with a fairly standard Windows desktop. Internet Explorer will open to display a warning message about interacting directly with your Windows Home Server desktop.

15. You may notice an alert on the desktop indicating that you need to activate Windows. Windows Home Server activation can be handled from a client computer through the Windows Home Server Console, so there is no need to act on the alert now. If you don’t plan to leave a monitor and input devices attached, you can shut down your server from the Start button, disconnect the unneeded peripherals, and then power your server back on. Otherwise you can just log off, also via the Start button.

That’s it! Your Windows Home Server is now operational – awaiting your command every step of the way, you wish to undertake. Don’t forget to DOWNLOAD your evaluation copy of Advanced Vista Optimizer to keep your Windows Home Server smooth and optimized!

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