Wednesday, April 8, 2009

WHS: To Protect and Serve

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Vol. 2, # 66 - Apr 9, 2009 - Issue # 75 
 WHS: To Protect and Serve

  1. Editor's Corner
    • WHS: To Protect and Serve
    • Follow-up: This Old Computer
    • Quotes of the Week
  2. Cool Tools
  3. News, Hints, Tips and Tricks
    • BumpTop: 3-D desktop for Windows
    • Desktop in the Cloud
    • Now they want to make Vista against the law?
  4. How to: Using the New Vista Features
    • How to change the Vista folder template
  5. Vista Security
    • Scareware is on the rise
  6. Vista Question Corner
    • No sound after Vista wakes up
  7. Vista Configuration and Troubleshooting
    • Corrupted files when you download files from network share to offline folder
    • Red X appears on mapped network drive icon
  8. Windows 7 Preview Corner
    • Get rid of Windows Live Messenger on the Taskbar
  9. Fav Links
    • This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
  10. Product of the Week
    • Synch and Transfer iPhone, iPod, ITouch Files To All Your Devices!

My Antivirus Is Killing My Netbook - Now What?

Traditional antivirus products can be terrible resource hogs, literally grabbing hundreds of megabytes in RAM, and maxing out the smaller Netbook CPU. But you cannot leave Netbooks unprotected either. VIPRE Antivirus + Antispyware is the AV you want to run, with it's now famous low resource consumption and practically invisible malware protection. VIPRE now is officially the fastest antimalware on the planet! Get your 15-day eval here and experience VIPRE on your Netbook for yourself:

Editor's Corner

WHS: To Protect and Serve

We have a whole roomful of servers upstairs. They run our home network and they also emulate an enterprise-level operation, because when we need to write about Windows Server 2003 or 2008 or Exchange or SharePoint or managing your DNS servers, we have to be able to "walk the walk" as well as talk the talk. But our home is hardly typical when it comes to technology.

A decade ago, having a network of any kind at home was a relatively rare thing. In the 1990s, most households had only one "family" computer that was connected to the Internet. I knew some families back then, in which each spouse had his/her own computer but in most of those cases, they also paid for two separate phone lines and two dial-up Internet connections. It was possible to share an Internet connection with the proper hardware and software, but the typical home user felt networking was too complicated - and indeed, getting systems to communicate with one another, especially via TCP/IP, was much more complex with earlier operating systems than it is with today's.

As broadband connectivity became available and more and more households included multiple computers, home networking became first desirable and then almost a necessity. After all, when mom, dad, brother and sister all had their own computers and needed to get onto the Internet, buying separate accounts would get expensive - especially since DSL and cable accounts cost more than dial-up. And a single broadband connection provides plenty of bandwidth to support all four of those computers web-surfing simultaneously. Modern operating systems have the networking protocols installed by default (unlike earlier ones) and include wizards to guide you through the network setup process. And with networked computers, you can also share printers and transfer files from one system to another more easily.

Broadband ISPs quickly recognized that their customers were likely to share the connection and started providing routers by which you could connect multiple computers instead of just modems. Home networking became so common that builders started pre-wiring new homes with Ethernet just as they did with phone lines and CATV cabling. Then wi-fi technology came along and did away with the need to run cables throughout the house, removing another obstacle to home networking. Today many people who wouldn't be considered at all tech-savvy nonetheless have networks in their homes that, ten years ago, would have been considered very sophisticated.

It's no wonder, then, that aspects of business networking are making their ways into those home networks. Most home networks still use the peer-to-peer model of networking. That means individual computers are connected and function as "equals." Most businesses use the client-server model of networking. In its more complex form, that means a centralized server controls access to the network, requiring you to log on to the network itself rather than to a machine. In the Windows world, this type of server is called a domain controller, and from it you can manage other computers on the network. Running a Windows domain requires an expensive Windows Server operating system (Windows Server 2003 or 2008) that can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars, depending on the edition. Operating it also requires quite a bit of IT skill. It's not a feasible solution for the average home network.

In the near future, Microsoft is planning to release a new, lower cost version of Windows Server called "Foundation Edition," but that is still aimed primarily at businesses. However, there is already a product on the market for home users who want some of the benefits of client-server computing without the cost and hassle factor.

In its simpler form, client-server networking means data is stored on a server instead of being scattered on the hard drives of all the desktop machines. That makes it easy to access from any of those computers, and also makes it easy to secure and back up. Windows Home Server (WHS). It can be used as a media server for families that have a lot of recorded TV, music, video, photographs, etc. or as a file server for home-based businesses. You can find out more about it on Microsoft's WHS web site at

In addition to storing your data in a central location, WHS automatically creates an image backup of the supported desktop computers on your network (up to ten machines) every day. These can be computers running Windows XP SP2 or SP3, Windows Vista (including X-64) and Windows 7. Earlier Windows versions, Linux computers and Macs running OS X 10.4 and higher can connect to the home server and access its files and media but are not automatically backed up. The Home Server also functions as a remote access server so that you can connect to it across the Internet when you're at work, at a friend's house or on the road.

I first wrote about WHS in our sister publication, WXPnews, back on March 13, 2007. WHS was in private beta at that time. Since then, several hardware vendors have marketed their incarnations of WHS. For example, HP offers a couple of different models of their MediaSmart server that run WHS, with prices as low as $499 for the EX485 with a Celeron 2.0 GHz 64 bit processor, 2 GB DDR2 RAM and a 750 GB hard drive. You can get it from a number of retailers, including Amazon:

Although the WHS operating system isn't sold as a retail package, it's also possible to build your own WHS machine and you may get more "bang for your buck" that way. One way to get a copy of the software is to have an MSDN or TechNet subscription. Another is to buy a "system builder" copy, which can be found for around $100-$150, depending on the retailer. Tiger Direct sells it for $109.99 here:

If you just want to take it for a four-month test drive, you can download a 120 day free evaluation version from the Microsoft web site at

Last summer, Microsoft released Power Pack 1 for WHS, which makes some improvements to performance, power management and remote access, adds backup of Home Server shared folders and adds support for computers running Windows Vista 64 bit operating systems. If you already have a WHS computer without the Power Pack and you don't have automatic updates enabled, you can download the Power Pack here:

WHS is easy to set up and use - after all, that's the whole point: to take the complexity out of running a server. WHS is designed to be used as a "headless" server; that is, you don't need a monitor on the WHS machine itself. You configure the server from one of the desktop computers that's connected to your home network, after plugging the WHS machine into the network and installing the WHS Connector software on the desktop computer. Your WHS-based network can have up to 10 user accounts and each user gets his or her own Shared Folder on the server, for storing documents and media. By default, each Shared Folder can only be accessed by its owner. Digital media can be streamed from the WHS computer to any of the computers or to an Xbox 360 or other supported digital media receiver that's attached to your home network. There are even third party add-ins that enable home automation and mobile phone solutions through your WHS computer.

Many small business users will find WHS a cost effective alternative to "real" server software. WHS even supports RAID, whereby a system with two or more hard drives can be made to create a "mirror" or duplicate of one drive on the other so that if one drive fails, you still have a complete copy of the drive. You can add more external drives via USB, Firewire or eSATA.

If you're interested in building your own Home Server, you can find detailed how-to instructions in this article:

How do you feel about running a server at home? Are you doing it already? Is it something you'd like to try? Or do you think it's a needless luxury? Does WHS offer what you need for your small company, or do you prefer to spend more and get a server OS that was "built for business?" Are there features you'd like to see in the next version of WHS that aren't there now? What functionalities and price point would make you want to buy it? Let us know your opinions and thoughts at

Follow-up: This Old Computer

In last week's editorial, we examined the question that we all must face when our computers start to get outdated: should we move on to a new one bought off the shelf, remodel (upgrade) the old one, or custom build one? Quite a few of you weighed in with your answers.

Like my dad with his Ford pick-up, several readers said they'll continue to use their current systems, either as primary or secondary computers, until those systems stop working. Joe M. said, "I have a Dell Dimension that came with XP. I upgraded to Vista and now have Windows 7 beta on it. It works just great and I don't have any plan to replace it any time soon. As long as it works, why spend the money?"

Shaun agrees: "I'm still running a PC that is 5 years old now - An Athlon XP 3000 processor an AGP graphics slot along with PCI (yup plain old PCI) slots. Over the years I've upgraded the hard drives, RAM, graphics cards and added USB 2.0 via PCI cards and a decent creative soundcard. Of course, every time I go shopping I see the latest PC's with so much more functionality but, at the end of the day, my PC works great. It's not like I run memory or graphics intensive games on it - I just use it to putz around on the net so, until the good times return, this is how it will stay."

Blake S. said, "I still have an old P3 on a Tyan Trinity (S1854) mobo. It would make sense to me if I simply got a new computer. However, I would like to get a fairly high-end processor to prevent buying another one for several more years. Once I purchase a new computer, I will most likely use my old one for FTP, Asterisk and various other things that aren't too CPU intensive for personal use. It'll run until it dies."

Kim S. had this to say: "I just bought a new PC - my previous one started with Win2K, added RAM, another hard drive, replaced nearly everything in the case over the last6 years. The only thing in the case that was original was the power supply! .. My new custom one (last one was custom too) is set to last me 5-6 years (waiting for Win 7, running Vista Basic, couldn't get Win 7 Beta to work), bought the basic box w/ the fastest Core 2 Duo processor & FSB speed, 4G ram. Added an external 1 TB hard drive and a 2nd optical DVD RW drive for cheap. I'm good to go... I think!"

Tony D. prefers to upgrade. He said, "I'm a big proponent of the "Remodel" strategy. I really like having the manufacturer warranty to lean on for the "burn in" period. The custom systems have a separate warranty for each component, and when you end up with a mismatch you're stuck. I'm writing this missive on a 5 year old Compaq that started life with 256 MB of RAM and a 40 GB (slow!) hard drive. It now has a whopping 3/4 GB of RAM and about 500 GB of disk space. I also added a DVD burner."

Joanne went the custom route: "I now have four computers sitting on or under my desk ... My XP system, vintage 2001, worked well for me until 2008, when the old processor and the 2GB of ram would no longer process the 2+ GB graphic files I was working on. My husband and I put together a Vista x64 system and were able to get a very powerful setup for far less than retail with all the custom components I wanted."

Mark N. voices this common frustration with buying a "customized" machine from a major hardware vendor: "I've looked numerous times at the usual places and configured them to what I wanted, but always cancelled out of them. I found that a bit difficult, like if you want option A, you had to get the "media package" which would include stuff I didn't want, or if you want option A, you could not have something else that you wanted."

Some of you have taken that opportunity to go with a whole new form factor. Mary L. wrote: "I ditched my desktop about three computers back (a matter of real estate mostly) and went laptop, which for the most part precludes any serious upgrades. I run the laptop usually until I do something remarkably stupid (my last winner was dumping a glass of orange juice into the keyboard!) and then buy a new laptop, but usually not top of the line. A step or two down. My costs feel reasonable to me, and I usually end up with a new machine every two or three years."

John T. did the same: "When my old desktop computer got a little aged I bought a laptop to replace it. I am not a gamer so things like super speed, tons of RAM and a high end video card were not necessary. I will be buying another laptop when this one gets too old. I have had to take it out with me on occasion, which I would not be able to do with a desktop computer. It came preloaded with Vista, which has run quite fine."

Tommy has this recommendation: "My experience has shown that the best way and cheapest way to jump from a old slow computer to a much faster one containing all the goodies you mentioned is to buy a reconditioned one from Tiger Direct .. . I have bought many computers, all reconditioned, inspected them inside and out, and have never found and problems. They are very clean inside, and perform as well as any computer listed as new for a fraction of the cost from Dell, HP, Gateway etc. And they are all name brand computers."

Finally, Jim G. points out that "Right now you can have the fastest processor available but it's not going to access the files on the hard drive any faster than an older processor because of the seek time limit on the hard drive. Accessing the internet is dependent on internet connection speed not the computer. Sure, systems do respond quicker now but how much money do you want to pay for another fraction of a second? Paying $800 for a top line processor for another nanosecond is ridiculous. Unless the other parts including the motherboard itself is designed to operate in conjunction with the processor, you are just wasting your money."

And I loved this comment from Bo H.: "There are two kinds of hard drives - new and full."

Thanks to all of you who wrote this week!

'Til next week,
Deb Shinder, Editor

PS: Did you know this newsletter has a sister publication for XP users called WXPnews? You can subscribe here, and tell your friends:

And for IT pros, there's our "big sister," WServer News, at

Look for the VistaNews fan page on Facebook!

Quotes of the Week

I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it. - Thomas Jefferson (1743 - 1826)

You are young, my son, and as the years go by, time will change and even reverse many of your present opinions. Refrain therefore awhile from setting yourself up as a judge of the highest matters. - Plato (427 B.C - 347 B.C.)

Don't hit at all if it is honorably possible to avoid hitting, but never hit soft! - Theodore Roosevelt (1858 1919)

Keep The Bad Guys Out With The Sunbelt Personal Firewall

Why do I need a firewall? Together with antivirus and antispyware, a firewall is a "must" to protect your computer. PC Magazine gave the Sunbelt Personal Firewall a "Very Good" rating with 4 Stars and a conclusion of "good protection". Check out the Reviews on the site and it will be clear why you need the Sunbelt Personal Firewall to protect your PC. One good example: Unlike the Windows XP and Vista Firewall, you can tell the Sunbelt Personal Firewall to look carefully at the data leaving your browser, so that sensitive information like your credit card numbers, email address, bank account, social security number and PIN code do not get stolen by hackers!

Cool Tools


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Ever use a download manager? You might not know what your missing, try this one!

Rip DVDs for your iPhone, iPod touch, Apple TV, or iPod Video Nano. Bundle includes video converter too! Free Trial:

Advanced Vista Optimizer does a great job tweaking Vista for Max performance.

Eliminate your online traces with CyberScrub. Privacy equals security.

GoodSync is an easy and fast way to backup and synchronize your emails, photos, iTunes, MP3s, and other important files.

Your Uninstaller! 2008 takes the place of the clunky Windows Control Panel "Add/Remove Programs" and offers many other useful functions

Kill the background tasks belonging to (legitimate) software that run all day. Why? To get your speed back!

I need a real program for autofilling my passwords, shipping info not a toolbar widget. Roboform is the real deal!

News, Hints, Tips and Tricks

BumpTop: 3-D desktop for Windows

Vista and Windows 7 have improved the look of the Windows desktop, but it's still, well, flat. How about a more three dimensional view that lets you stack or pile things on top of each other? A new program called BumpTop runs on XP, Vista or Win 7 to give you such an interface. It's not true 3-D, but it does give you a different perspective. It's a free download, although is also a $29 premium version with extra features. Note that it's still a little rough around the edges and some people have reported issues, but if you want to give it a try, you can download it here:

Desktop in the Cloud

For those who are intrigued by the cloud concept but maybe haven't found Windows Live or Google Apps to be as complete a solution as they'd like, you might want to have a look at the icloud beta. It gives you a complete Vista-like private desktop complete with sidebar gadgets and chock full of applications (word processing, slideshow, money manager, calendar, IM, mail, movies, photos, games, etc.). Signing up for the service is free and easy - no invasive registration form is required. Check it out at

Now they want to make Vista against the law?

In general, I like the Texas legislature. But we have some loony lawmakers here, just like everywhere else. Recently a state senator proposed an amendment to the budget that would ban state agencies from installing Vista or buying computers with it preinstalled, unless they get special written approval. Since when is the choice of operating system a matter that requires legislative action? My only consolation is that if this guy is busy pursuing such silly legislation, maybe he won't have time to address more important issues where he could do even more harm. One nice thing about our state is that they only meet every other year, so we only have to put up with legislative nonsense on odd years. And sometimes it gets very odd, indeed. Read about it here:

How to: Using the New Vista Features

How to change the Vista folder template

Vista tries to determine what types of files you have in a folder and display them according to the file type. For example, if Vista thinks the files are photos, it will display them as thumbnails with columns for name, date taken, tags, etc. But sometimes it has a hard time figuring it out and uses the wrong template. You can easily change that by following these steps:
  1. Right click the folder and select Properties.
  2. Click the Customize tab.
  3. In the drop-down box under "Use this folder type as a template," select the type of items you have in the folder (for example, Documents). You can also choose whether to apply the template to all the subfolders within the folder.
You can also set a default for all new folders to be displayed without a template by editing the registry. Here's how:
  1. Start the Registry Editor
  2. Go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ Software \ Classes \ Local Settings \ Software Microsoft \ Windows \ Shell \ Bags
  3. From the menu, click Edit > New > Key
  4. Name the new key AllFolders (and keep this key selected)
  5. From the menu, click Edit > New > Key
  6. Name the new key Shell (and keep this key selected)
  7. From the menu, click Edit > New > String Value
  8. Name the new value FolderType, right-click it and choose Modify. Enter NotSpecified as the Value data
  9. Close the registry editor

Vista Security

Scareware is on the rise

Today even the least tech savvy computer users know that they need some sort of anti-virus and anti-spyware protection when they connect to the Internet. "Scareware" makers prey on that little bit of knowledge and large dose of fear to trick users into buying their products. We're not talking about legitimate ads from real security vendors warning of the dangers of going unprotected - these are the folks who exploit users' desire to do the right thing in order to get them to install programs that are supposed to be protecting them - but in fact are malware. Read more here:

Vista Question Corner

No sound after Vista wakes up

I put my Vista laptop to sleep or hibernate when I'm not using it to save power BUT when I resume using it, I no longer have sound. There's a red X on the sound volume icon in the system tray. I have to restart the computer, which sort of does away with the whole reason for sleep/hibernate (to restart faster). Can you help? - Jan K.

This is actually a known problem and Microsoft released an update to fix it, but that update didn't always work - so now there is an updated update! We hope they got it right this time. You can find the link to download it here:

Vista Configuration and Troubleshooting

Corrupted files when you download files from network share to offline folder

If you download files from a computer across the network to an offline folder on your Windows Vista computer and there is a loss of connectivity, you may find that the downloaded files are corrupt. There is a hotfix available from Microsoft to fix this problem. To find out how to get it, see KB article 947900 at

Red X appears on mapped network drive icon

You might see a red X on the icon for one of your mapped network drives in Windows Explorer on your Vista computer. However, you can still access the drive. This happens under certain circumstances because of an error in the Shell32.dll file. You can resolve it by installing the latest service pack. Meanwhile, there is no impairment to functionality, and restarting the computer should fix the problem temporarily. To find out more, see KB article 938062 at

Windows 7 Preview Corner

Get rid of Windows Live Messenger on the Taskbar

Windows 7 doesn't come with the IM client installed. As part of the new trend to cut out the "bloat" of extra applications that you might or might not want, they've made it - along with Windows Live Mail, Windows Photo Gallery and other apps that came with Vista - a free download from the Windows Live web site. If you've installed it, you may not like the way its icon is always open on the Win 7 taskbar. You can run it in the system tray instead. Just close Messenger completely. Then find it in the Start menu, right click it and select Properties, and click the Compatibility tab. Check the box labeled "Run this program in compatibility mode for" and select Windows Vista in the drop-down box.

Fav Links

This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff

Disclaimer: VistaNews does not assume and cannot be responsible for any liability related to you clicking any of these linked Web sites.

Product of the Week

Synch and Transfer iPhone, iPod, ITouch Files To All Your Devices!

Cucusoft iPhone/iTouch/iPod to Computer Transfer is an easy to use utility designed to help you backup all your files from your iPod, iPhone and iTouch devices. Recover lost or missing music or backup and restore all of your iPod,iPhone, iTouch content; including your favorite songs, videos, photos, play lists and more. If you own an iPod, iPhone or iTouch, this is a 'must have' software utility designed to keep your content safely backed up. Never lose a favorite song, photo or video again. VistaNews readers can download the free trial version here.

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