Windows Home Server and the Small Business

Kevin Royalty is a Microsoft SBS-MVP, who has been a promoter of Windows Home Server for use in small businesses when this operating system became available in the marketplace.  Recently, Kevin gave a presentation to the Greater Cleveland PC Users Group on the use of WHS v1 and Vail (WHS v2) in the home and in the small business environment.

For those who peruse WGS on a regular basis, you know the benefits of having WHS in your home.  To learn a bit of the thought process behind the use of WHS in the business place, check out this interview of Kevin by Dan Hanson of

A second video can also be viewed on the GreatLakesGeek website.  A couple of excellent PDF files are also available that provide a lot of interesting information on both WHS v1 and Vail.  Many of the points may be well know, and some points may not be.

A question could very easily be asked as to how a HOME server product could be important to a small business and the SBS industry.  Perhaps the following chart, from the US Census Bureau, can help answer that question.


With nearly 2/3 of the firms in the US having 1 to 9 employees, the need for a *simple* server product like WHS can easily be seen.  Who needs SBS 2003 or 2008 with the kinds of features (and maintenance costs) associated with these server systems when a WHS can fill the needs of this size of business.

It is a result of the visionary thinking of Kevin, and others, of the benefits of WHS in the business place that we find such current WHS v1 products as the HP Data Vault product line.  This is why we are seeing products like Aurora being developed.  To be viable in many a small business, one must reduce the initial costs, product complexity, and maintenance costs associated with a full blown server operating system.



  1. I was a consultant to a small company (2 employees) in 2008/2009. The owner had engaged an IT consultant to advise the company on the installation of a server. He had recommended SBS 2003 with a total cost of approx £8000 (plus support package).

    As an accountant, I was keen to see VFM and, being an IT enthusiast, already had WHS installed on an, admittedly old, repurposed PC at home. In late 2008, HP had an offer for a Mediaserver, apparently open only to employees, but seemingly available to all. For less than £300, my employer had a server.

    Files can now be shared between all the (now) five employees (myself included!). WHS has its annoyances (warnings for the slightest thing etc) and the mediacentric parts of HP's offering are of no interest. But it suits us well. All the more so since I later realised that, since we were in a serviced office and did not have a dedicated IP address, Exchange was probably overkill.

    Remote access is being handled by Hamaichi. Everyone is happy. The only thing I have to check is that the backups are mountable (my own home WHS having problems at the moment) but since no-one is storing files locally, the issue of backups is not such an issue

  2. We use WHS in our business, but only for server backup. We have 8 physical servers. We use backup exec with a LTO drive for nightly backups of our primary DC and Databases (about 50GB), but our file servers have well over 1TB of data on them, and tape is not practical in terms of cost and sheer backup time. To supplement the tape solution, I installed WHS to provide daily backups of all our servers. With an eSata HDD dock and the WHS DBDD add-in, I make an offsite backup of everything once a month (rotating a few 2TB HDDs). Because of the de-duplication functionality of WHS, I can fit over 2TB worth of machine backups in under 1.5TB of hard drive space, and since the offsite HD copy is being copied from the WHS backup database, and not the actual servers – I can run it during the day when the WHS is otherwise dormant. This also provides excellent protection against a deleted or overwritten file outside the shadow copy timeframe on our file servers. A solution like this using backup exec or other enterprise level software would probably cost around $10,000 in hardware and licensing, plus support. For WHS I was able to re-use an old server with just a storage upgrade – total cost $800!

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