One of the most flexible and economical features about WHS is the way it handles storage. Using a technology known as Drive Extender, WHS makes it incredibly easy to increase your storage capacity. Simply plug in additional drives, whether they are internal or external, and the server will automatically allocate the new space.
You dont need to partition or format the drive or remember which drive letter you stored your data on. Its all seen as one large storage space, regardless of whether youre using one drive or six drives. The same is true if you want to remove a hard drive from the system. WHS handles everything automatically -- including moving any data that may be stored on that drive to another drive (assuming you have enough free space).
So for example, if you have two hard drives in the server and folder duplication enabled on your Clients folder, WHS will create a copy of the Clients folder on both hard drives, updating each one in real-time. You will only see the one folder, avoiding confusion while providing redundancy.
Add and Restrict Users
You can easily add and remove users and grant them specific privileges. You can configure individual user accounts to access only the shared folders that they need access to, and not the files that dont concern them. For instance, a part-time employee doesnt need access to accounting records, but he does need access to client files. WHS lets you manage this easily. It is also very simple to add or remove systems to your WHS.
You can associate a maximum of 10 systems and 10 user accounts to your WHS at a time. Should you need more then 10, I would seriously suggest you invest in a real server running Microsoft Small Business Server.
Small and Compact Design
A variety of vendors, including IBM, Acer and Hewlett Packard, offer dedicated WHS hardware platforms. They dont require a keyboard, monitor or mouse and are very quiet and unobtrusive. They also have a very small footprint, so you can place them almost anywhere. The only thing the server requires is power, good ventilation and an Ethernet cable running to the router.
Best of all, they are very inexpensive. For example, the Acer Aspire AH340-UA230N Home Server currently sells on Amazon for only $393.97. For that price you get a system powered by an Intel Atom processor 230, plus 1TB of storage.
If youd like something a bit beefier, then I suggest the HP EX495 Mediasmart Home Server. At $659.99, the HP EX495 is powered by an Intel Pentium Dual Core 2.5 GHZ processor and comes standard with a 1.5 TB SATA 7,200 RPM hard drive.
Both of these systems come with multiple USB 2.0 ports, one eSATA port, gigabit Ethernet, 2GB of RAM and three additional hot-swappable drive bays. This makes it incredibly easy to add storage to your system as its needed. Depending on which model you choose, the maximum storage capacity will range from 7TB to 9TB -- more than enough to meet the needs of any small business.
If youre currently running without a server and money is tight, investigate the possibility of adding a Windows Home Server to your network. It could be one of the best business investments you make.
Ronald Pacchiano is a contributing writer for SmallBusinessComputing.com.
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