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.
- Install Windows Home Server directly on the Hardware
- 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
- Installed Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise Edition
- Setup all of the network and machine name information (no domain) – turn off TCP Offload
- Updated the drivers on the system to the latest
- Updated the system to the latest
- Setup Hard Drive Configuration
- System Drive (80 gig partition on the 320 Raid Set)
- VM Host Drive(220 gig partition on the 320 Raid Set)
- 4 600 gig partitions for each of the 4 data drives (labeled Storage 1, 2, 3, 4)
- The 2 USB drives will be used as backup drives only
- Added the Hyper V Role to the server (dedicated one of the NIC’s to Hyper V)
- 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.
- Launch the Hyper V Management Console
- Create a new virtual machine with the following configuration
- 3072 MB ram
- 100 Gig VHD on the D: drive
- Virtual Processors – 2
- Automatic Start Action – Always start this virtual machine automatically
- Automatic Stop Action – Save the virtual machine state (this should provide for quicker restarts, start ups)
- 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.
- After about an hour and a quite a few reboots we finally have a desktop
- Turn off TCP Offload for the VM network adapter
- Update time. It appears there are close to a 100 updates (including the 3.5 sp1 framework).
- Install Antivirus. Going with ClamWin here too.
- 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).
- Started VM up and added the 4 drives to the server storage using the Windows Home Server Console
- Once this was completed I was showing 2.2 TB free storage space
- I setup some user accounts and the shared folders (setting the duplication option for critical files
- I copied the original data from external drives back to the server
- 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.
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.