I’ve been running a Windows Home Server for about 2 years now using a low cost VIA based home built system, and I’m very happy with it. Just a few examples of how useful it’s been:
- I’ve used it to rescue my laptop twice from a corrupt C: drive
- Temporarily rollback my laptop to a point 9 month earlier to find a lost email
- Restore the family gaming machine more than once due to excessive build up of internet “plug ins”
- Create a set of bootable images for my various test servers so I don’t have to update to the latest OS as my master CD/DVD is getting old
Though the backup capability is nice (I have a lot active PCs in my house), the real value of WHS came home to me when I needed to find some old emails from 9 months back that I thought I’d kept when upgrading my laptop from Windows XP to Vista. My home server had been configured to keep both the old XP backups I’d been making regularily up until Nov 2009, then it was keeping a new set (under the same PC name) for the newer Vista Operating system I’d installed.
Here’s the steps I went through to get my now Windows Vista laptop temporaily reverted back to it’s Nov 2009 Windows XP state:
- Manual/instant backup of my current laptop
- Insert WHS provided Home Restore CD and reboot my laptop
- Let the restore program boot up (which can take up to 5 minutes….)
- When asked to select which machine, select the version of my laptop that contained the Nov 2009 Windows XP backup
- Click restore and let it run through it’s 1.5 hr process of copying everything back to my hard drive (blowing the exiting Vista copy away)
- Reboot the laptop back to it’s Nov 09 state and recover the needed files onto one of the WHS network directories I needed
- Reboot again with the Home Restore CD and restore the Vista backup I’d made earlier
A long winded process that took several hours (actually left some of it running over night on the last restore step), but it did the trick and worked pretty nicely. Of course, not as nice and instant as the Apple Time Machine (which wouldn’t have been able to go back to a prior OS install), but achieved the same functionality.