On Microsoft Windows Home Server

I am not quite sure why  would any one purchase a computer that serves solely as a home server or put $190 to get a copy of Windows Home Server. It seems a little bit odd to me that Microsoft is actually trying to allure average home users to get some sort of server systems for their homes. In the grand scheme, the idea does sound good. As Microsoft puts it:

"This fall, families will have a new way to organize, share and protect photos, videos, music and so much more. For families with multiple PCs, now it’s easy to protect, connect, and organize the way you keep and share your family’s most important memories—all in one central place."

According to the above advertisement and Microsoft’s OEM only licensing strategy for the time being, it seems that the home server is geared towards average users. But how much does it really benefit the average user as the majority of them simply do not have the technical expertise to grasp the true meaning of a "server" system or simply do not care.

I am afraid that by having a home server at home without a thorough understanding of the ramifications of the pros and cons and the security risks associated with such a system, the end result is bound to be disastrous. For example, many users who periodically backup their precious family albums on CD or DVDROMs (which I know plenty of average Joes do) might think that the home server is a safer place to keep ALL their data and ignored the fact that a single point failure could be more catastrophic then losing a couple of CDs.

Also, no matter how secure the home server is claimed to be, it doesn’t help the situation when typical users know almost nothing about the security. How do you really explain what a security setting means to the end user? Even though the default settings might be very secure, it does not prevent ignorant hands changing them and render even the most secure system useless. And worse, these 24/7 home servers could become an idea place for those malicious hackers to place their code and thus turn these servers into zombies.

For the experienced users, I simply do not see the point of paying that much money to just have a server of their own. Already, a lot of high-end users are utilizing some flavor of Linux or BSD systems as their home server, or just use one old Windows machines (Windows shared drives/folders work pretty well for most of the people and they are not difficult to setup at all).

Last but not least, if I spend that much money for a "server" system, I would at least expect that I could use it to set up a web server for personal use (e.g. host your own website), but my understanding is that Microsoft is reluctant to give the full power of IIS to you because they could charge a lot more for the real server versions. So, in the end, you might be able to have the system manage a few concurrent web requests, but that would certainly be its limit.

So, to me you will be much better off getting two 500GB harddrives for the money you would be putting into this Windows Home Server. At least you can make your backups multiple times and store the drives safely somewhere else… off line of course.

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