Home > Hyper V, Virtualization, Windows 2008 R2, Windows Home Server > Setting up Windows Home Server in a VM on Win 2008 R2

Setting up Windows Home Server in a VM on Win 2008 R2

I have been running Windows 2008 and Hyper V since the day it was released.  It has been very solid and worked well for my needs.  I have now decided to use Windows Home Server for the media and family capabilities it provides. I had some decisions to make and hardware played a factor.  The server I am running is a custom built PC with plenty of power.  It used to run 5 virtual machines (Servers) so I am looking forward to the speed it should provide.

Server Specifications (Hardware)

  • Antec P180 Case with 5 120 MM fans (yes it’s quiet too)
  • ThermalTake 600W PS
  • Intel Core 2 DUO E6600 Processor
  • Asus P5B Premium Motherboard with Dual OnBoard Gigabit NIC’s
  • 8 Gigs of DDR 800 RAM
  • 2 x 320 gig SATA 2 Seagate Hard Drives (Raid 1 for System Partition)
  • 4 x 640 gig SATA2 WD Hard Drives
  • 2 x 500 gig USB Seagate External Hard Drives

Whew – that’s almost 4 TB of storage space.  This should be sufficient.


I have narrowed down my choices to the following two options.

  1. Install Windows Home Server directly on the Hardware
  2. Install Windows Server 2008 R2 x64 with Hyper V on the hardware and run Windows Home Server in a VM

I decided to go with option 2 for since WHS is 32 bit only and has a 4 gig Memory limit, is based on Windows 2003, and may limit the future expansion of the server with other virtualization needs.


Below are the main steps I took to implement the above mentioned scenario.

Install Base Operating System

  1. Installed Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise Edition
  2. Setup all of the network and machine name information (no domain) – turn off TCP Offload
  3. Updated the drivers on the system to the latest
  4. Updated the system to the latest
  5. Setup Hard Drive Configuration
    1. System Drive (80 gig partition on the 320 Raid Set)
    2. VM Host Drive(220 gig partition on the 320 Raid Set)
    3. 4 600 gig partitions for each of the 4 data drives (labeled Storage 1, 2, 3, 4)
    4. The 2 USB drives will be used as backup drives only
  6. Added the Hyper V Role to the server (dedicated one of the NIC’s to Hyper V)
  7. Made other personalized configurations
Drive Letter Size Name Usage
c 80 System Host OS Drive
d 220 VM VM OS Location
e 600 Storage1 VHD Storage Location
f 600 Storage2 VHD Storage Location
g 600 Storage3 VHD Storage Location
h 600 Storage4 VHD Storage Location
m 500 USBStorage1 External USB Storage (backup)
n 500 USBStorage2 External USB Storage (backup)

Note:  Have to say I am pleased to see R2 has a newer interface similar to Win 7.  Pretty nice.

Additional:  Anti Virus for Windows 2008 R2 was hard to find.  I didn’t want to pay hundreds of dollars for a server grade license.  I use NOD32 4.0 Personal edition so that didn’t work either.  After a while of searching I found ClamWin.  This is an open source AV project that does work with 2008 R2.  The link is here: ClamWin Free Antivirus

Setup Windows Home Server in a Virtual Machine

Note: During the initial setup the UI response was slow in the VM.

  1. Launch the Hyper V Management Console
  2. Create a new virtual machine with the following configuration
    1. 3072 MB ram
    2. 100 Gig VHD on the D: drive
    3. Virtual Processors – 2
    4. Automatic Start Action – Always start this virtual machine automatically
    5. Automatic Stop Action – Save the virtual machine state (this should provide for quicker restarts, start ups)
  3. Install WHS in the VM (from ISO if possible – faster install) – I have a folder on the D drive with OS images in it for any virtual machine I am using.  This makes for easier maintenance down the road.
  4. After about an hour and a quite a few reboots we finally have a desktop
  5. Turn off TCP Offload for the VM network adapter
  6. Update time.  It appears there are close to a 100 updates (including the 3.5 sp1 framework).
  7. Install Antivirus.  Going with ClamWin here too.
  8. Shutdown the VM and added (2) 590 gig virtual drives and (2) 500 gig virtual drives to the Virtual Machine (Storing 1 on each of the physical drives listed above (e-h).
  9. Started VM up and added the 4 drives to the server storage using the Windows Home Server Console
  10. Once this was completed I was showing 2.2 TB free storage space
  11. I setup some user accounts and the shared folders (setting the duplication option for critical files
  12. I copied the original data from external drives back to the server
  13. I then installed the connector server on my home pc’s.

I have the 2 500 gig USB externals.  I am not sure how I am going to implement those at the time of this writing.  They will be used for backup – just not sure if it will be connected directly to the VM or to the host system.

** Update

For the external USB drives I added them to the host OS (500 gigs each) and created a 300 gig virtual drive on each one.  I set these up in Windows Home Server as drives to backup WHS to.  Now I have a backup that backups up the main shares from the main disk array to the USB drives.

I also installed IDrive online backup in WHS via the desktop and have it backing up the main shares (accessible directly through windows explorer) that I need offsite.

All in all I am pleased with the quality and thought put into this product (WHS).  It seems very user friendly and most of all – functional.


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  1. Tony Johnson
    November 8, 2009 at 11:10 am

    Nice guide, just what I was after…

    Would there be any reason why you would not want to run WHS as a virtual machine? e.g., Are there any increased risks of data loss from a virtual storage pool?

    I have 2 servers, my WHS and a 2k8r2.. and think this is a great and pactical solution for consolodation… but are their any increased risks to either platform????


  2. Tony Johnson
    November 8, 2009 at 11:17 am

    I should add, my current WHS is made up of 1x500gb as the primary disk, 2x750gb used as the storage pool, and a non pooled 1.5tb media storage drive…

    SHould I leave the drive configs the same…?? The 500gb disk for 2k8r2 & Virtual OS (WHS, Win7, XP etc..)… and the 2x750gb each virtual disk for the storage pool??

  3. tsells
    November 8, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    There are always risks when you have one technology rely upon another. The key with anything is to have a good backup system in place where the only thing lost is time and not data that cannot be replaced such as pictures, documents, etc.

    For me Hyper V has been extremely stable. I was running a domain / dns controller, SQL 2008, Oracle 11g, a 2008 Web Server, and TFS 2008.

    In this setup – if one of my physical drives crash – then it will take a single virtual drive with it. This is not a problem if you have folder duplication turned on in WHS as the data is duplicated on two different virtual drives (which are on two separate physical drives). Any critical data I have backed up in two places (one set goes to the external USB drives and the other to IDrive online backup). So if something happens like a fire – all critical data is online. If something happens locally to a drive – I should be able to recover easily.

    In your setup – if Hyper V fails then you should be able to recover the Virtual Hard Disks (.vhd) and rebuild the server then reattach the VHD files to a new virtual machine. If WHS crashed – it’s considered just a VM to Hyper V and shouldn’t affect the host OS.

  4. Tony Johnson
    November 8, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    Thanks for your advice.. I will have a dabble over the next few days… You can never have too many backups :-)

  5. Oscar Bautista
    November 29, 2009 at 2:49 am

    Can someone please give me some highlevel direction. I am making an attempt to setup a Virtualized Server environment in my house. I have a Server with a Intel Xeon E5520 Processor, 8GB of memory, Controller supporting RAID 1 or 5, three 250GB Hot Swap Hard Drives, Single Port NIC.

    I plan to set up a Web Server, TFS, DNS, SQL Server, Domain Controller. I may also set up Windows Home Server for features available for my home computers. Ultimately, I’d like to also set up the Web Server Front End in a DMZ.

    I have Windows Server 2008 64 Bit Enterprise. Can someone please tell me if my hardware is sufficient? If not, what do you suggest I pick up? Any information or tips in terms of topology and hardware/software recommendations is very much appreciated.

    Thank you,

    • tsells
      November 29, 2009 at 9:36 am

      I would definitely recommend a RAID 1 setup – you may need to get another drive. 250 gig are kinda small for what you are wanting to do if you plan to use the windows home server as well. The other specs are fine.

      VM 1 – Domain controller and DNS (512 mb ram allocated)
      VM 2 – TFS and SQL Server (3072 mb ram allocated)
      VM 3 – Web Server (2048 mb ram allocated)
      VM 4 – Windows Home Server (1024 mb ram allocated)

      With the 4 vm’s that gives you 6.5 gig ram allocated with 1.5 free (move it around, save for later, etc). The host system should have nothing else installed on it other than the virtual server (I recommend Hyper V). You need to make sure Hardware Virtualization (VT) is turned on in the BIOS. Try to add the hyper V role. It will fail if you do not have sufficient hardware.

      Key Tips

      - take snapshots of the machines after everything is up and running
      - try to put the VM’s on different drives from the host system and separate them from each other based on disk utilization (Note this requires more hard drives)

      • Oscar Bautista
        November 29, 2009 at 11:19 am

        Thanks for the comments. I havent bought the server just yet. I will be doing that this week. Besides picking up another 250 GB Hard Drive, do you think the number and size of the drives is okay? The same thing with the amount of RAM? I want to make sure I pick up enough.

        Do you know if Window Server 2008 Enterprise supports Hyper V?

        With regard to backing up, you suggested RAID 1. With this setup, will all Hard Drives/VM’s back up to a single Hard Drive or will they need to be partitioned? Trying to picture the setup.

        If I decide to set up an ISA Server, do yo suggest another VM/Hard Drive for that or how would you configure that?

        Thanks so much for your comments. They are very much appreciated.

      • tsells
        November 29, 2009 at 8:47 pm

        If you haven’t bought the items yet I would suggest upgrading the hard drives to at least 500 gig a piece. Prior to the setup in this post I always had each drive in raid 1 (mirrored) so anytime I lost a drive I didn’t lose data or setup time. In your case – I would recommend raiding the drives if possible too. The setup I have above is achievable since I have numerous drives laying around and I am using Windows Home Server for the bulk of the server. I do run other VM’s on here – but they are small in size. As far as memory goes – I would be really surprised if you needed more than 8 gigs of ram – although if you could go 16 gigs – why not if it’s cost efficient.

  6. Brian Cox
    December 11, 2009 at 1:26 am

    I was under the impression that you want your primary WHS Drive to be the largest drive of all the WHS drives for performance purposes. Is this correct?

    • tsells
      December 11, 2009 at 11:10 am

      The only consideration that I am aware of here is if you have the drive too small – some file copy operations for large files may file due to the location of the temp storage for the file server. Microsoft recommends the system drive be at least 80 gig. It has been fine for me thus far. No performance issues at all.

  7. Oscar Bautista
    December 11, 2009 at 2:10 am

    What are the thoughts around having four 2TB drives. One for the Host and the other 3 set up in a RAID 5? Of course – this would mean that the VM’s would be on RAID 5 drives (essentially in 4 TB of space since 2 of the 3 drives would be the be usuable).

    Any pros or cons around that kind of set up?

    Thanks again.

    • tsells
      December 11, 2009 at 11:12 am

      I think hosting your data drives (shares in WHS) on a raid platform is redundant and unneeded. In WHS you can choose which folders you want to have duplicated (across multiple drives) so if you do have a hard drive failure – you don’t lose any duplicated folders. When the drive drops off WHS will automatically move the data to another drive to ensure duplication is constant. I would set them up as a standard drive and maybe use one for a WHS backup drive and the rest for shared storage.

  8. Brian Cox
    December 11, 2009 at 8:32 pm

    I have 3gb ddr2 installed right now. When I create a new VM it only lets me use 894 max… Any idea why that is. The bios is recognizing 3gb…

    • tsells
      December 11, 2009 at 9:20 pm

      I believe the recommendation for a Hyper V server is 2GB of ram for the host system. I normally leave between 512mb and 1 Gig free for the host. Do you have another VM that has been created that has been suspended instead of powered off? I would check to see if you have any other services that are using RAM.

      • Brian Cox
        December 11, 2009 at 10:12 pm

        It is a clean install of hyper v. I am trying to set up my first virtual machine.

      • Brian Cox
        December 11, 2009 at 10:17 pm

        Interesting…. I just added another 2gb for a total of 5gb and it now shows 4606mb available… So I guess Hyper-V by defaults take 1gig or so…

  9. tsells
    December 11, 2009 at 10:32 pm


    The server has been running solid now with no issues. I haven’t noticed any performance issues at all with the setup. I currently have the following VM’s installed with the Ram that was allocated in parenthesis.

    TFS Server with SQL 2005 (3072)
    2008 Web Server with IIS (1536)
    Windows Home Server (1536)
    2003 Web Server with IIS (1024)

  10. Brian Cox
    December 12, 2009 at 3:48 pm

    This may be a dumb question, but is there a way to hook the hyper v server machine up to a monitor and run win 7 on it as well as hyperv that is running whs? I have a desktop that I use and then this WHS now running inside hyperv as a virtual machine, and my fiance is wanting a computer, so I would like to be able to use this machine to fill her needs as well. Thanks for your time.

    • tsells
      December 12, 2009 at 9:02 pm

      The only way you could do this would be to create a Windows 7 Virtual Machine and open that locally (on the machine with the monitor). There are other possibilities such as dual booting but maybe a complicated setup and you wouldn’t have access to your server when Windows 7 was booted up.

      • Brian Cox
        December 12, 2009 at 9:04 pm

        How do I open a virtual machine locally on the hyperv server?

      • tsells
        December 16, 2009 at 9:54 pm

        You have to do it through the hyper v console manager or a Remote Desktop session.

  11. Oscar Bautista
    December 22, 2009 at 9:39 am

    Can you tell me what turning off TCP Offload does?


  12. David Cole
    August 3, 2010 at 9:52 pm

    Question (old post of yours I know). But I assume you didn’t come from an existing WHS installation? You were starting again from scratch?

    I’m looking at converting my WHS server to Wk28 and reinstalling WHS as a VM. But concerned at what to do with my storage drives and the WHS system drives – ie how to clear them so I can install w2k8 and make sure I don’t loose any data.

    • tsells
      August 3, 2010 at 10:49 pm

      The only thing you can do safely is transfer the data to other drives. This becomes a problem for me now since I have about 3 TB worth of storage on the Server – note that all of it is in virtual hard drives on top of Win 2008 R2. It has been stable since the post. I even swapped out two of the drives for WD Green 1.0 TB drives without issue. Just used WHS to detach each drive one at a time and then swap out as they became free. It’s more management but I get more out of one server than I would have. Plus I’m saving energy – and money.

      • David Cole
        August 3, 2010 at 10:58 pm

        The storage drives I’m happy with, the main one I’m concerned about is storage data that may be on the 2nd half of the primary drive (where WHS is installed) – you can’t remove this drive, or really know what is on it.

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