Home Network Vision

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I’ve had a project on my list for a long time to get my home network in order and follow the same principles I’ve been advising my clients to follow for years. However, I’ve always been time and cost constrained and not been able to find the right mix of products to satisfy my needs. A friend of mine turned me on to Windows Home Server a couple years ago and it solved many of my problems in one fell swoop. I’ve now created what I believe to be a pretty cool home infrastructure for entertainment and computing.

Below is a physical diagram of my network architecture at my house.


Like most homes today, I have a broadband router hooking me to my ISP. My ISP allows traffic on port 80 and my router allows that traffic to be sent to my Home Server so I can access the Home Server web site, get to files, stream media and access my other machines

In addition, I only use 100 megabit or Gigabit switches along with a single G wireless access point (soon to be N hopefully).

All my client machines are basically access points for documents, images and other media on the home server. Those machines are all running Windows 7 which has fantastic new capabilities through its Libraries features.

Technologies Used

  • Windows Home Server
    • The technologies I use to ensure I am driving towards my eHome vision rests with Windows Home Server. This is a fantastic product and is easily affordable. Basically, it circumvents the need for me to have redundant storage units (like RAID) which have high cost, low manageability and recovery time for the average home user. Windows Home Server gives me remote access to all machines on my network, backs those machines up, represents an easy way to increase storage and offers redundancy in case of multiple drive failures, etc.
    • I basically collected all the smaller hard drives attached to machines throughout my house and stuck them all on a home server (custom built using a really old Dell Dimension with 1 GB of RAM) and created a combined 4 TB pool of storage.
    • Now, I store all my media (backed up DVD’s, music (including Zune subscription music), photos, digital home videos from my Xacti camera (no more tapes! Records right to SD card!) and documents here.
  • KeepVault Add-in for Windows Home Server
    • KeepVault charges $100 a year to backup folders on your Windows Home Server. It scans your home server, asks you which folders it should monitor and then backs them up as they change. If you need to restore files, from any machine in the house, you can open the Windows Home Server Console and access your cloud storage files and restore them to the home server with a few clicks.
    • Even if my home server flames and dies, as soon as I rebuild a new home server, I can install the KeepVault add-in, access my backups an start downloading my preserved files to the home server (i.e., photos, music, movies, etc.)
  • Vista SP1
    • Each client machine has Vista SP1 installed with all its new network copy glory. I can use any of these machines to:
      • Access and stream music and movies
      • Work on documents
      • Manage the home server and network infrastructure
      • Download and add new movies and music

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