Planning for life after Windows Home Server

Microsoft recently announced that with the upcoming release of Windows Server 2012 there would not be a new version of Windows Home Server (WHS). WHS-specific functionality, such as media streaming and DLNA support, will be included in Windows Server Essentials 2012. Great, but it costs $425. Additionally, Windows Server 2012 seems like it will be less home-centric than WHS. This makes it a less attractive option for home users as a storage option.

I loved WHS. I am running WHS on a Dell Inspiron Zino HD with a 4-bay Drobo connected for storage. It’s easy to setup and works well with not only all our computers but also other devices in our house such as our multiple Xbox 360s. Completely transparent and hands-off experience.

While WHS is still usable and will have support until around 2016, I’m starting to consider alternatives that could take it’s place sooner rather than later. I have already moved my personal files to SkyDrive (did so before the WHS announcement). Thinking it might be a good idea to migrate my wife’s files onto SkyDrive too. This takes care of our personal files,  but I still have to figure out what to do with our personal media: movies, music and pictures. Not only do I need a centralized location for our media files but we have to be able to access them from any device in our house as well. This is why WHS was the perfect solution for us.

Here are the alternatives solutions I am looking into:

– PogoPlug Series 4 with a 1TB USB 3.0 WD My Book Essential (just purchased both)
– LaCie NetworkSpace 2 (found it in my box of “retired” gadgets)
– A SOHO NAS device such as the Drobo FS or a Synology Diskstation (last resort because of costs)
– Replace WHS with Ubuntu Server (or Amahi Home Server)

Over the next few months, I will be testing the alternatives to decide which one to go with and share my findings here. I can understand Microsoft wanting to streamline their server line, but WHS is one of those unsung products that will be missed.

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