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This is the knowledge base wiki for Amahi the home server. Please add or edit any information in this Wiki that you feel is lacking, missing, or needs improvement.

Contents

  • 1 Installation
  • 2 Troubleshooting
  • 3 Post-Installation
    • 3.1 Remote Access
    • 3.2 Greyhole
    • 3.3 Networking
  • 4 Additional Functionality
  • 5 Community Tutorials
  • 6 Roadmap & Development
  • 7 Contribute
  • 8 Related Links
  • Introduction to the Amahi HDA, or Home Digital Assistant, “like a PDA, but for the home”
  • Minimum Hardware Requirements
  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
  • HDA Admin How To
  • HDA OS Migration Guide
  • Amahi Video Tutorials
  • Community Feedback
  1. Current stable release: Amahi 11, Fedora 27.
  2. Amahi one-click applications are typically updated for the latest stable release ONLY.
  3. This wiki is built to provide support for the stable release primarily.
  4. Registration in this wiki is subject to manual approval due to spam considerations.
  5. Maintenance Support ONLY indicates all Amahi updates (i.e. platform, applications, etc) have been halted.

Installation

  • Fedora 27 / Amahi 11 (officially supported release)
  • Maintenance Support ONLY:
    • Fedora 25 (New Install / Amahi 9 to 10 Upgrade)
    • Fedora 23 (New Install / Amahi 8 to 9 Upgrade)
    • Fedora 21 (New Install / Amahi 7 to 8 Upgrade / Unsupported Install Methods)
    • Fedora 19 (Express Disc / Full DVD / USB Install)
    • Ubuntu 12.04.x LTS
    • Fedora 14
  • Amahi Virtualized (NOT fully supported)

Troubleshooting

Refer to the troubleshooting page for assistance.

Post-Installation

  • Terminal Scripts: Useful command line scripts.
  • Linux/HDA Commands: Commonly used commands for Linux and Amahi.
  • Storage and file sharing: Setup & manage users and shares and access between them.
  • Access Shares using Windows (XP/Vista/7/8), Mac OS X, and Linux systems.
  • Post Install Hardware Changes: Steps for changing hardware on your Amahi server (i.e. mother board, network card, etc).
  • Adding additional hard drives to your HDA: Use the Amahi Disk Wizard application for Amahi 8 or greater. The manual guidance remains available for all other Amahi versions.

Remote Access

Accessing your HDA from anywhere on the network

  • Virtual Private Networking (VPN): Access from outside your network.
  • Secure Shell (SSH): Key-based access to your HDA.
  • Virtual Network Computing (VNC): Access from inside your network (e.g. if your HDA is “headless”).
    • Ubuntu
    • Fedora

Greyhole

Redundant Storage Pooling for your files

  • Greyhole: Overview of Greyhole.
  • Greyhole Wiki: External Greyhole Wiki site.
  • Storage Pooling: Overview of what it is all about.
  • Greyhole Log: Amahi application for your HDA that monitors Greyhole activity.
  • Mounting Shares Locally: How to mount shares locally on the HDA for managing data safely.
  • Greyhole landing zone (LZ): Explained and how to work with it.
  • Updating Greyhole: How to upgrade to the latest version of Greyhole.
  • Moving Data Out of Greyhole: Removing drives and data out of the storage pool.
  • Reconnect Greyhole Storage Pool: How to add existing Greyhole data drives to a new installation.
  • Greyhole UI Application Transition Guide: Move from manual Greyhole install to the Greyhole UI application for Amahi 7 or greater.

Networking

Using your HDA to manage your home network

  • Local Area Network (LAN): Internal networking
    • Set Static IP Address: How to assign static IPs to your network devices.
    • Turning off DHCP Server: Shows how to turn off DHCP Server on your HDA.
    • Change IP Address: Change IP address of your Amahi server, Network Gateway, and DHCP Server Range.
    • Single Network Dual HDA Setup: Configure and use two HDAs on the same network.
    • Adding an HDA networked printer: Guide to set up a print server on your HDA.
  • Wide Area Network (WAN): External networking
    • Hosting a web site: Display your own web site on the internet from your Amahi home server
    • Changing DNS provider: Change from OpenDNS to your Internet Service Provicer (ISP) or other third party provider.
    • Configuring OpenDNS: Configure OpenDNS to filter or block web sites.
    • Punching DNS Holes: How to assign IP addresses outside of your network for your home domain.

Additional Functionality

  • Apps Gallery: The repo of Amahi one-click applications (NOTE:Convenience fees may apply; log into Amahi website to purchase).
  • PRO and NINJA plans: Provided users with additional Amahi benefits for a small monthly fee.
  • Monit Web Interface: Amahi application to monitor and control status of your HDA services.
  • Creating web apps: how to make your own web apps, with your code or other’s code
  • Calendars: How to use the calendar server in the HDA, including Outlook and iCal sync.
  • Backups: How to backup/restore Windows XP, Windows Vista/7/8, Ubuntu Linux, and Mac OS X.
  • Automatic Database Backup: Automated daily backup of HDA databases.
  • RAID: Configuration guides for RAID 1 and RAID 5.
  • Password protect Applications: Provides password protect for your Amahi installed applications.

Community Tutorials

Contributed by the Amahi user community

Roadmap & Development

The core team ONLY supports Ubuntu and Fedora development at this time. All others are being supported by the user community.

ACTIVE: Released or Development In Progress

  • Fedora 27 (Current official release)
  • Fedora 34 (development)
  • Maintenance support ONLY
    • Fedora 25
    • Fedora 23
    • Fedora 21
    • Fedora 19
    • Ubuntu 12.04.x LTS
    • Fedora 14

INACTIVE: Unsupported or Development Stopped

  • Fedora 15, 16, 17, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33
  • Ubuntu 12.10 or newer
  • CentOS 5, 6, 7, or newer
  • Scientific Linux 6.1 or newer

Categories

  • Featured
  • All
  • Media
  • Backup
  • Business
  • Educational
  • Games
  • Beta

Greyhole UI

Greyhole is an application that uses Samba to create a storage pool of all your available hard drives.

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2.8 / 20 ratings

Disk Wizard

Disk Wizard is an application to manage the disk drives and partitions.

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3.2 / 20 ratings

Plex Media Server

Plex Media Server for Amahi serves your media to all of your Plex clients. OSX, iOS, Android, Medialink enabled LG HDTVs and the LG Smart TV Upgrader.

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3.2 / 20 ratings

Amahi Time Machine

Amahi Time Machine is an App that provides a backup facility that is compatible with Mac OS X Time Machine or similar AFP-based backup tools.

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3.0 / 10 ratings

Amahi Sync

Amahi Sync is an app that easily allows you to automatically synchronize, share and back up files online. Once installed, any device can add files.

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3.2 / 20 ratings

ownCloud

ownCloud provides universal access to files via a browser or WebDAV. Easily view and sync your contacts, calendars and bookmarks across all your devices and enables basic editing.

Check your OneDrive storage to see how much space you’ve used, and free up space if you’re getting close to your storage limit.

Go to Manage Storage, and sign in with the Microsoft account that you use with OneDrive.

Select Empty recycle bin to permanently delete the files in the bin and free up space.

Select What’s taking up space, to view large files and photos, and delete the ones you no longer need.

Check your current plan and upgrade to Microsoft 365, or redeem a OneDrive code to get more storage.

Learn how to upgrade and manage your amahi server storage

You get 5 GB of free storage when you sign up for OneDrive, but you can always buy more or sign up for Microsoft 365 to get more storage.

If you have questions about a Microsoft 365 subscription that includes a OneDrive storage plan, go to Office.com to learn more or contact support for Office.

OneDrive storage and billing questions

Here are some common questions about storage and billing. Select any topic below, and it will open to show more info:

If you bought additional storage in-app, but you cannot see it, follow these steps. Please note it may take 48 hours for storage purchases to show.

Go to Manage storage, and check if the additional storage is visible.

If not, sign in to your Microsoft Account purchase history, and see if the order is there.

Lastly, check your credit card, or payment provider to see if the purchase went through.

Get the most current information about available OneDrive storage plans at OneDrive Plans.

For information about Microsoft 365 subscriptions, see Office 365—Choose your Office.

OneDrive storage plans and pricing can differ by country or region. Visit the Storage plans by country/region page for the latest plans and pricing.

To see how much OneDrive costs for you in your country, visit OneDrive Plans.

Here are some key points regarding our OneDrive subscription service:

To view your current storage usage or buy more storage, open your Storage page.

When you initially sign up, you get 5 GB of storage for free. If you need more space, buy OneDrive Plans with a higher storage limit.

Note: Storage that you buy replaces your initial sign-up storage. For example, if you have 5 GB from sign-up and you buy the 100 GB plan, your storage limit becomes 100 GB, not 105 GB.

Important: If you upgrade from OneDrive +100 to Microsoft 365 Family or Personal, you must cancel the OneDrive 100 GB subscription at Services and subscriptions. Read Cancelling a Microsoft subscription for more information.

All plans are billed from the day you buy the subscription. Our storage plans are billed on a monthly or yearly basis, and set to automatically renew the subscription at the end of each billing period and charge your payment method. When you cancel, you can simply stop the auto renewal process and continue to use your storage as normal until the end of that billing cycle, or you can cancel now and get a refund.

If you exceed your remaining storage space when the subscription expires, you’ll still be able to view, share, and download files on your OneDrive, but you won’t be able to upload files until you buy more storage or free up space.

You also can downgrade your subscription, if you decide you need less storage.

Microsoft 365 subscribers can buy up to 2 TB of OneDrive storage. Subscribers have the option to buy additional storage above their included 1 TB base in 200 GB increments. Check OneDrive Plans for additional storage pricing, and for information about Microsoft 365, see Office 365—Choose your Office.

Why can I only see 1 TB with Office 365 Home?

With an Microsoft 365 Family subscription, you get a total of 6 TB storage: that’s 1 TB (or 1000 GB) per user.

You can share your total storage around and have use of more than 1 TB by sharing folders between users and adding the shared folders to your own OneDrive.

To manage your Microsoft 365 subscription, visit your Microsoft account portal.

How do I update my billing information or payment method used with my subscription?

Go to Manage Storage on the OneDrive website.

Select Manage next to your storage plan to go to the Microsoft account site.

Select Services & subscriptions.

In the OneDrive section, select Change how you pay and then select another payment method or select Add a new way to pay.

Note: To update your billing information for a payment method, at the top of the page, select Payment & billing > Billing info or Payment options, depending on which information you want to update.

When will my subscription expire?

To see when your subscription expires, view your Account Services & Subscriptions.

Can I prepay on a monthly plan?

You can’t prepay for multiple months, but monthly plans renew automatically, so you don’t need to worry about remembering to pay each month.

Why hasn’t my storage updated?

It can take up to 24 hours for storage allowances to be updated after purchasing more storage or a subscription.

Can I share my storage?

Sharing is limited in basic or “storage only” OneDrive. Limits reset after 24 hours, but you can upgrade to a Premium subscription to get increased sharing limits and more sharing features.

If you have an Microsoft 365 Family subscription, you can share this with 5 other people. Each person you share with gets 1 TB storage. Each person can share folders, so that you can all benefit from your maximum storage.

Why is my OneDrive account frozen?

Your account may be frozen if:

Your subscription or Samsung bonus has expired or renewal has failed. View your Microsoft account information.

Your storage is full. View the largest files on your OneDrive, delete some files and folders, and empty your Recycle bin.

Why hasn’t my storage updated?

It can take up to 24 hours for storage allowances to be updated after purchasing more storage or a subscription.

Post by nixel » Sun Oct 23, 2016 12:20 pm

Okay, I’ve read these:

And I even installed Amahi (Fedora 23, and I guess Amahi 9, the latest available) , and checked a few things. File sharing works, web UI works, Fedora 24 works. But I noticed that it was clearly messing up with my network setup, then I read that I have to turn off my router’s DHCP. Or turn of Amahi’s DHCP but then there are limitations. So this brought me to this topic.

I have some questions. And things to clarify.

First of all, what I want to use my NAS\Amahi\Home Server for:

  • File sharing. I want it just to sit there, and I want to be able to browse to it from other Windows, Linux machines and preferably Android\Windows phones and tablets. Ideally I want to just browse through Network. Right now I have an HDD attached to my ASUS AC66-U Router, and it’s enough in terms of how I use it. I just want a much bigger and faster space than a USB drive, and a RAID for data protection, to securely store a lot of data there, including both work stuff and family archive and media. Being able to access it from the net like a cloud is nice too, but not required. If required I can write a simple online file browser with python and flask.
  • Home assistant server, HASS + Voice Assistant. I plan to integrate some smart home solutions, using python Home-Assistant running from Raspberry Pi, and I want to use this Amahi server (or not amahi ) to run my own voice assistant. Sort of like Amazon Echo, but of my own development, with internal processing of commands, some of which require more horsepower for faster replies than Raspberry can provide. From simple commands of contacting HomeAssistant to turn lights on and off, turning and browsing music with voice, to searching and downloading books by their names, generating charts of some stuff, tracking faces from a few video cams.
  • SVN, Perforce server. I have a few projects, and I need to run SVN or Perforce server for them, for me and a team of a few people.
  • Music server. The voice assistant UI is web based, it sends commands to the flask server, python code processes it and does something. In this case – turning on\off music. It would be nice to run some music server, which could either turn music from the server’s own speakers (thus – some main speakers connected to it), or stream music through a web-player or DLNA to other devices. Actually I think DLNA could be better. Or making it like a local online radio, streaming same music simultaneously on multiple devices, to allow to have same music in different rooms, by just turning the local player on\off..
  • Movie server. Nothing fancy for this, just network-access to video files from VLC or something is enough.

I don’t need a ‘pretty’ name for it. It’s just a server for a small family, we can remember the required internal ip address, and I can also just make a redirection from my site’s sub domain to external ip, thats quite enough for me.

Now, the server is pretty big itself, it can overheat and make it’s fan go really loud, right now I don’t want to spend a lot of money on some silent solution. I want to be able to safely turn server machine on and off at any time, I don’t necessarily need it to run 24\7, thus I don’t want to move all DHCP serving on it. I want to let my router do what it does best – being a router, it’s a fairly good one, ASUS AC66-U, so far it’s working perfectly for quite a lot of devices. And replacing small silent router with a huge (comparatively, it’s just an old ATX size desktop PC) loud Amahi server. Well, does not sound good to me either way.

So, what features will I lose if I turn off DHCP? What about DNS?

And the main question is: taking everything above in account, it’s required functionality and desire to turn off Amahi’s DHCP and DNS – would there really be any benefit from using Amahi over just installing Fedora or Ubuntu (since HASS will run from Raspbian, which is also Debian, I think Ubuntu might also be a better choice here, I think. ), and installing Samba, some cloud sharing server, some music\DLNA server and library (Mopidy or something), etc.

Thank you very much, I really hope to get an answer here, and I’m sorry if there is too much information, or if it’s all available somewhere. I was browsing Amahi’s site and wiki for a few days now, and most of the detail I need are very vague or scattered. I do have some experience with Linux, but I’m only starting to work with it. But I’m fairly good with Python, and I am actually interested in learning a bit more (but not going hacker-crazy, it think) about Linux and how it works. So I am actually not even scared about setting up my own servers, so far Amahi looks more like a blackbox to me, and with such home server I don’t really want a black box, i’d just buy some prebuilt NAS in that case.

Dear Lifehacker,
I’m ready to take the plunge and build my own home server , but I’m not sure which route I should take. I’ve seen guides for FreeNAS, Amahi, and even regular ol’ desktop Linux, but which should I use? Does it even matter?

How Can I Build a Quiet, Low-Powered Home File Server?

Dear Lifehacker, I like the idea of having a networked backup, streaming, and torrenting home…

Sincerely,
So Many Servers

Dear So Many Servers,
You’re right, there are a ton of options out there, and we’ve written about many of them in the past—but we’ve never really compared them to one another. So, here are a few of our favorite options, and how they differ from one another (so you can decide which is the best for you).

Amahi: Simple and Does Almost Anything

If you’re looking to build a home server, Amahi is probably the place to start. It’s easy to set up, easy to manage, and supports a ton of different apps, including Plex, Crashplan, Transmission, ownCloud, OpenVPN, SABnzbd+, Sick Beard, Couch Potato, and many, many more . All the apps are available one-click installers through Amahi’s interface, but most of them cost a few bucks—but it’s worth it for the convenience.

However, if there’s anything you can’t do through Amahi’s interface—or if you don’t feel like paying the one-click installer fee—you can install a more traditional Linux desktop over Amahi’s base OS and do it yourself. So basically, if you can do it on Linux, you can probably do it with Amahi, making it a perfect solution for a wide range of people. If you’re a regular home user, start with Amahi first. Check out our guide for step-by-step instructions.

Turn an Old PC Into a NAS, VPN, Media Streamer, and More with Amahi

If you have an old computer with some life left in it, or you’re building a do-it-all home server…

FreeNAS: Enterprise-Grade RAID Support

FreeNAS is a very popular home server operating system. While it will work for a simple home server, it’s really more geared toward the advanced crowd—to the point where it’s probably not ideal for most users (at least compared to simpler options like Amahi). Its most recent version, 9.3, did away with the low-resource UFS file system in favor of ZFS only. ZFS is a fantastic solution for RAID setups, but it requires a lot of resources —including at least 1GB of RAM per TB of storage you have installed. That can add up to a lot.

So, while FreeNAS has a ton of useful plugins for programs like Plex, Subsonic, Crashplan, Transmission, and others, it’s not ideal for most home users. If you plan on setting up an enterprise-grade server in your home, FreeNAS is a great option, but most casual users would be better off with one of the options below. Check out our guide to FreeNAS for the basics.

Turn an Old Computer Into a Do-Anything Home Server with FreeNAS 8

You’ve heard the word “server” thrown around a lot, but usually in the context of web sites or…

NAS4Free: Serve Files and Serve Them Well

If you want something similar, but a bit easier to use—and better for low-powered machines—you can try NAS4Free instead. It’s essentially an old version of FreeNAS that’s still maintained by the community, and it’s great for simple or advanced file servers on, say, an old computer. It doesn’t have plugin support like FreeNAS and Amahi, but if you’re just looking to serve files across your network, it’s a decent option. Check out Ars Technica’s comparison of FreeNAS and NAS4Free for more in-depth differences between the two, and our guide to NAS4Free for information on setting it up.

Turn an Old Computer into a Networked Backup, Streaming, or Torrenting Machine with NAS4Free

At its most basic, Network attached storage, or NAS, is a great way to share files on your local…

You automatically get 5GB of free iCloud storage for your photos, videos, files, and more. If you need more iCloud storage, you can upgrade from any of your devices.

Learn how to upgrade and manage your amahi server storage

Here’s how it works

Choose from a total of 50GB, 200GB, or 2TB. You can even share the 200GB and 2TB plans with your family. Your storage is upgraded immediately, and your monthly payment date reflects the purchase date for your plan. If you upgrade from one paid plan to another, we’ll cancel your existing plan and charge you the prorated cost* of your new, larger plan.

You’re billed every month for your storage plan unless you downgrade or cancel your plan. Each month you’ll get an email to remind you of your upcoming payment.

Apple One

With Apple One, you can choose a subscription plan that includes 50GB, 200GB, or 2TB of iCloud storage. If you need more iCloud storage, you can buy more for a total of up to 4TB.

Apple One subscription plan availability varies by country or region.

Upgrade your iCloud storage from any device

Whether you’re on an iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, or PC, upgrading your iCloud storage is simple. Choose your device below and buy more in just a few quick steps.

How to upgrade on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch

  1. Go to Settings > [your name] > iCloud > Manage Storage or iCloud Storage.
  2. Tap Buy More Storage or Change Storage Plan.
  3. Choose a plan.
  4. Tap Buy and follow the onscreen instructions.

If you’re on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with iOS 14 or iPadOS 14 or later, tap here to upgrade your iCloud storage.

How to upgrade on your Mac

  1. Choose Apple menu  > System Preferences, then click Apple ID. If you’re using macOS Mojave or earlier, you don’t need to click Apple ID.
  2. Click iCloud.
  3. Click Manage in the lower-right corner.
  4. Click Change Storage Plan or Buy More Storage, and choose a plan.
  5. Click Next and enter your Apple ID password.

How to upgrade on your Windows PC

  1. Open iCloud for Windows.
  2. Click Storage.
  3. Click Change Storage Plan.
  4. Choose a plan, then click Next.
  5. Enter your Apple ID password, then click Buy.

Learn more

  • When you buy more iCloud storage, your upgrade is billed to the Apple ID that you use with iCloud. See or change your Apple ID payment information.
  • If you reach or exceed your iCloud storage limit, just buy more storage or make space available. You get 1GB of free storage with web-only access to iCloud.
  • With Apple One, you can bundle your iCloud storage with Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, and more for a low monthly price. Learn how to sign up for Apple One.
  • Discover what iCloud backs up.
  • If you have more space in iCloud than you need, you can downgrade or cancel your storage plan at any time.

* We’ll charge you the cost of the higher-tier plan minus the prorated cost of your previous plan.

Information about products not manufactured by Apple, or independent websites not controlled or tested by Apple, is provided without recommendation or endorsement. Apple assumes no responsibility with regard to the selection, performance, or use of third-party websites or products. Apple makes no representations regarding third-party website accuracy or reliability. Contact the vendor for additional information.

This exam retired on January 31, 2021. For currently available options, please refer to the Browse Certifications and Exams page.

Candidates for this exam are IT professionals who implement the Windows Server 2016 core infrastructure services.

Candidates have already earned an MCSA: Windows Server 2008 or MCSA: Windows Server 2012 R2 certification. This exam covers key aspects of installation, storage, compute, networking, and identity functionality available in Windows Server 2016.

Part of the requirements for: none

Related exams: none

Important: See details

Schedule exam

70-743: Upgrading Your Skills to MCSA: Windows Server 2016

Languages: English, Spanish, Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), French, German, Japanese, Portuguese (Brazil)

Retirement date: 01/31/2021 **

Candidates for this exam are IT professionals who implement the Windows Server 2016 core infrastructure services.

Price based on the country in which the exam is proctored.

All objectives of the exam are covered in depth so you’ll be ready for any question on the exam.

Skills measured

  • Install Windows Servers in Host and Compute Environments
  • Implement Storage Solutions
  • Implement Hyper-V
  • Implement Windows Containers
  • Implement High Availability
  • Implement Domain Name System (DNS)
  • Implement Network Connectivity and Remote Access Solutions
  • Implement an Advanced Network Infrastructure
  • Install and Configure Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS)
  • Implement identity federation and access solutions

Two ways to prepare

Learning paths to gain the skills needed to become certified

Learning paths are not yet available for this exam

Instructor-led courses to gain the skills needed to become certified

Upgrading Your Skills to MCSA: Windows Server 2016

This five-day, instructor-led course explains how to implement and configure new Windows Server 2016 features and functionality. This course is for information technology (IT) professionals who want to upgrade their technical skills from Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2012 to Windows Server 2016. This course presumes a high level of knowledge about previous Windows Server technologies and skills equivalent to the Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA): Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2012 credential.

This course is not a product-upgrade course, detailing considerations for migrating and upgrading students – specific environment to Windows Server 2016. Rather, this course provides updates to student’s existing Windows Server knowledge and skills, as they pertain to Windows Server 2016.

Audience profile

This course is for IT professionals who are experienced Windows Server 2012 or Windows Server 2008 system administrators, with real-world experience working in a Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows Server 2008 enterprise environment. Additionally, students should have obtained the MCSA credential for Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2012, or they should have equivalent knowledge.

Additionally, IT professionals who plan to take the Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) exams might be interested in this course, as preparation for the MCSA exams, which are a prerequisite for the MCSE specialties.

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Microsoft’s Windows Home Server (WHS) is an interesting product to help families and small businesses store, organize, protect, and access files for up 10 PCs. Among providing network-attached storage (NAS) functionality, it enables quick and easy backups, remote access, media streaming, and more.

However, WHS requires at least $100 for the operating system and a decent PC to install on, or $350+ for a pre-built server. Additionally, the newest version, Windows Home Server 2011, lacks one useful feature (Drive Extender), and now the server only runs on PCs with a 64-bit processor. Plus, Microsoft announced this version will be the end of the Windows Home Server product line.

Here we’ll review three different alternative solutions to Windows Home Server that are not so expensive and performance-hungry. Some may not even cost a dime if you install on an old PC. On the other hand, you’ll likely find them not as well integrated with Windows desktops.

FreeNAS

FreeNAS is a possible free alternative if you primarily want just NAS functionality. This gives you a place to centrally store and access your files, instead of using simple shared folders. It also lets you stream media to computers, gaming consoles, and mobile devices via the UPnP, Apple, and Xbox (with plug-in) protocols. Plus, it features a torrent client to manage BitTorrent transfers.

Keep in mind that installing and using FreeNAS is best for technically inclined individuals. It’s not as plug and play of a solution as WHS.

FreeNAS is an open source project released under the BSD License. It can be installed via a LiveCD on a variety of 32-bit and 64-bit PCs and architectures. Pretty much any old PC will work. Just make sure it has a bootable CD-ROM, network adapter, and a drive big enough to store your files. The newer (FreeNAS 8.x) version requires a USB or compact flash drive with at least 1 GB. You might get away with using as little as 192MBs of RAM.

Amahi Home Server

Amahi Home Server is a free open source solution, and offers closer functionality to that of WHS. In addition to providing NAS, it offers backup and media streaming features. It has disk pooling, similar to the Drive Extender feature removed in WHS 2011. Amahi also has a few features not found in WHS: a VPN server and calendar, and Outlook synchronization and sharing.

The Amahi Home Server is generally user-friendly for average users, more comparable to WHS than FreeNAS.

Keep in mind that you can use add-ons to extend the functionality of both WHS and Amahi.

The system requirements for running the Amahi server are a bit less extensive compared to WHS. An old PC that you’ve retired in the past few years should work. You need a PC with at least a Pentium 3 (32-bit or 64-bit) processor running at 1GHz or more. The recommended amount of RAM is 512MB or greater, and the minimum disk space needed is 4GB. The PC must have a CD, DVD, or USB Boot drive, with DVD preferred. One network adapter is required to connect the server to the router.

The Amahi server installs on top of Fedora, a Linux distribution. Thus, you must install the Fedora OS first using the Amahi instructions. Once installed, you’ll run the Amahi installer. Lastly, you can disable the DHCP server on the network router because the Amahi server provides one. Then you can access the setup utility and dashboard via a web browser from other computers on the network. You’ll want to set up users and shares, and check out the plug-in apps.

TonidoPlug

The TonidoPlug costs $99 and is part of a newer type of device category gaining popularity in the past few years: plug computers. These are tiny, low-power, low-cost computers, about the size of a battery charger, usually serving as a home server and NAS device. When plugged in and running, they consume about the same amount of energy a regular desktop PC does in sleep mode. They usually run headless and are accessible via a web-based interface.

Like the Amahi server, the TonidoPlug is pretty user-friendly for average users, also comparable to WHS.

TonidoPlug offers NAS functionality to store and access your files on the local network and Internet via a web browser, network shares, or WebDAV. For access from mobile phones and devices, they offer apps for the most popular platforms. TonidoPlug can stream media to some UPnP/DLNA-compliant devices, such as the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

TonidoPlug is a modular solution that adds functionality through the use of apps. Some apps are preinstalled, and others can be added to customize your server. The Backup app lets you back up your files and folders, Torrent lets you manage your BitTorrent transfers, and Photos lets you easily share pictures with friends. Workspace is a web-based Personal Information Manager (PIM) that can store your contacts, calendars, tasks, and files, and help in team collaboration. See the App store for even more apps.

The TonidoPlug uses a GHz ARM processor loaded with 512MB of DDR2 memory and a 512MB flash drive. It has a USB 2.0 port to plug in a hard drive, printer, or other USB device. Multiple USB devices can be added by using a USB hub. It also features a Gigabit Ethernet port, for connecting to the local network and Internet.

Typically running Linux, plug computers can be customized and loaded with even more open-source applications. The TonidoPlug apps, for example, run on top of the Ubuntu Jaunty Linux distribution. To conserve resources, it lacks the graphical user interface for the OS. However, you could still install third-party Linux packages with the apt-get commands via SSH.

Conclusion

We discussed three different cost-saving alternatives to using Microsoft’s Windows Home Server (WHS):

  • FreeNAS provides basic NAS and media streaming functionality, but is best for more technically inclined individuals.
  • Amahi Home Server provides even more functionality than WHS, and is designed more for the average user.
  • The TonidoPlug costs about the same as the WHS software, but is a computer itself already preinstalled and ready to go.

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