I have been wrestling with whether to invest in a Windows Home Server (WHS). While the positives are pretty apparent: backups, remote access, low power consumption; I have not found a lot of information on cons. Further, I have been unable to locate a definitive answer on whether WHS will work with a Windows media extender. Finally, I am not sure which direction to go: buy or build. HP's MediaSmart Server seems to have gotten a lot of positive buzz, while this guide for building a green $400 Windows Home Server seems pretty promising.
closed as off topic by Sam Jan 19 '12 at 11:35
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Disclaimer: I work for Microsoft, although not on anything remotely related to the Windows Home Server team... just sharing my personal experiences.
I have had a Windows Home Server since it was first released, initially a frankenbox (that was loud and sucked a lot of power), and now an HP MediaSmart EX470. It is the only server that I love. It definitely works with Windows Media Extender... I use it to store all my movies, and then I play them through my XBOX 360 onto my TV downstairs.
If I were building/buying another Windows Home Server, I would still stick with the HP. The server is tiny and silent, with room for four internal hard drives, along with 4 more USB and 1 ESATA drives. HP also invests in adding some additional software that does cool things such as centralize your music collection from all the PCs in your house, act as an iTunes server, act as a Time Machine host (in case you have any Macs in the house), has a custom verson of Twonky Media to stream media to all sorts of devices, and provides offsite backup to Amazon S3. Beyond the hardware (which is really nice), HP really goes out of their way to make it a killer experience.
If you do go with an HP, get the one with the smaller hard drive and then buy the rest of the drives on your own. It is much cheaper, and you'll be able to load it up with much larger drives (I'm rocking nearly 4TB right now! ;)
microsoft allows you to download a 120 day trial of windows home server. i'd recommend downloading that and running it in a virtual machine to see if it does what you need before buying the system