Review: Windows Home Server is a powerful networking tool

For once, Microsoft hasn't 'dumbed down' a software package, says Preston Gralla

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You can also customize how and with whom those files are shared. Right-click a folder, select Properties, and the screen shown below appears. From here you can lock out users and give other users access -- and give full access or read-only access on a user-by-user basis.

WHS gives you the power to determine how files are shared.
 
WHS gives you the power to determine how files are shared. (Click image to see larger view)

The view-over-time function is another useful file-sharing feature. You can monitor each folder and see how much space it uses and how that changes over time. In this way, you can make sure that some folders don't grow out of control and threaten to overrun disk space. Right-click any folder, choose Properties, and the screen like the one shown below appears. You'll be able to see the history of the folder's disk usage over a week, a month, a year or for the entire time you've deployed WHS.

Monitoring a folder's disk use in WHS.
 
Monitoring a folder's disk use in WHS. (Click image to see larger view)

By the way, you're not stuck with only the shared folders that have been premade for you. You can create any of your own. In addition, each network user also gets a private folder on WHS. You can create as many private folders as you like.

WHS also allows you to stream media directly from the server -- music, videos and even pictures. That spares you the need to download files in order to play or view them locally. Any PC with Windows Media Player can received the streamed media, as can the Xbox 360. Media streaming isn't turned on by default, though. To enable it, click Settings from the Windows Home Console, then click Media Sharing, and select On for each type of media you want to stream, as shown in the figure below.

By default, media sharing isn't enabled in WHS; use this screen to turn it on.
 
By default, media sharing isn't enabled in WHS; use this screen to turn it on. (Click image to see larger view)
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