As the amount of data created and consumed in homes grows exponentially, it makes sense to centralize and protect it. However, does that need to involve an expensive and complicated business-class server or even a network attached storage device? Or can the humble Windows 8.1 PC fill this role and more?
This article updates and significantly extends our earlier guide, Building a home server with windows 8. We show how to install and configure your Windows 8.1 computer as a full-featured home server. Detailed walkthroughs cover media streaming at home and on the go, configuring family user accounts and shared folders for all computers in the home, and remotely accessing and protecting the server desktop from anywhere. In addition, we dive deep into storage management with a look at Windows Storage Spaces, RAID Array management and third-party pooling applications like StableBit DrivePool.
You'll need a PC that can run Windows 8 -- preferably one with plenty of system memory (though Win8 will work with 1GB). Most recently built PCs are suitable, though if you plan to use your server to remote desktop into the home, you should opt for a fast CPU and a solid graphics card. A wired LAN connection is also important for networking.
The Windows 8.1 installation process will ask you to give your new home server a name and create an admin password. The password should be a long and complex mix of characters that is difficult to guess and includes digits and special characters. The system will then start setting up the Windows Home Server components. You'll be asked if you want to enable the drive extender feature, which lets you add drives to your Windows Home Server and allows those drives to be accessed by other PCs on your home network.