One of the most demanded features of this home server is its ability to automatically back up data from home computers – not only files, but also full OS images so that you could restore your PCs back to life in no time at all. This feature requires that you install a client (it’s the same WHS Connector) on each PC, create a new user in WHS and set up the server part of it.
Particularly, the administrator can specify what disk volumes or folders to back up, filter out folders that shouldn’t be copied (e.g. folders with temporary files). The time period of this operation and the number of stored copies is specified in the system settings for all the clients simultaneously (you can remove old copies manually). To restore your files you can use the console or, if the system doesn’t boot up, the bootable CD. As there can be multiple copies, you first have to choose the necessary one. This opens up an Explorer window with files and folders as they were at the moment of being backed up. You just choose the required file or folder and write them to your computer’s hard disk.
It must be noted that the TS mini uses a special backup copy format and only allows accessing backups remotely via the management console.
Now that the data security issue is resolved, the next question is how to access your data remotely. This feature is implemented in a handy way in Windows Home Server – we’ve written above how to turn it on. The only thing left to do is to allow access for specific users.
Then, such users will be able to use his web-browser to download or upload files and create/delete folders. Copying and moving are not supported.
That’s not all, though. If a PC on your home LAN supports remote connection, you can use Windows Home Server and your browser to access the PC’s desktop. This works with Windows XP and Vista, but not with Windows 7 as yet. By the way, the TS mini can also be accessed via a remote desktop connection.
Microsoft’s network media services are supported, too. Files you want to stream must be stored in the folders Music, Photos and Videos in the following formats: jpg, bmp, png, tif, gif, mp3, wma, m4a, wav, avi, mp4, m4v, mpeg, and wmv. Sorting by folder is not available in WMP so you can only sort by date and rating (for photos) or tag (for all types of files).
Unfortunately, not all modern network players can see this kind of media server. You will only have no problems with Windows-based PCs and Xbox 360.
As for Windows Media Center integration, you can install a small plugin on a client PC which will add files from the WHS system into the PC’s media center and allow recording TV programs via network into the server’s folder. The media center’s menu will have a brief version of the WHS console.
ASUS offers the online data storage system ASUS WebStorage to its customers. Depending on the specific product, the user will be able to use it for a certain period of time. For example, the TS mini provides access to a 500GB storage for a year, so you can have a copy of all your data stored on the Web.
You can later purchase more time and storage space if you want to. Besides storing data, the WebStorage service offers a number of extra features like synchronization, Web-based data access (from mobile devices, for example), version control, antivirus protection, data encryption, multimedia support, shared access, etc.
Its integration with the TS mini means that you can choose folders whose copies are automatically created on the WebStorage. You can also enable/disable synchronization with MySyncFolder.
As we’ve mentioned above, the default server configuration doesn’t offer any tools to work with external storage devices, so the Xtor Manager module is most useful. It performs multiple functions. First, it is a file manager for moving files and folders between the internal and external disks and for deleting files/folders.
Second, it can make copies of files from external devices to the server. And third, it can synchronize external folders with the server’s shared folders. All of this works in manual mode. You can also use this manager to safely shut down external devices.
Unfortunately, the OS’s integrated monitoring tools are not very informative. Therefore ASUS added its ASUS System Web-Based Management module which allows monitoring the system’s health (like fan speeds, CPU temperature, disk status and memory usage), checking out the status of the services, loaded drivers and running programs. It offers a brief version of the device manager and a system log, too.
Besides monitoring in the console window, this module can send statistical data and notifications via email.