Rosher Consulting

Software Consulting and Development Services

How to send your Windows Home Server to sleep via the Home Server Console

I have my Home server configured to wake up for a couple of hours a day to perform backups and then go back to sleep again, which is made possible via the excellent LightsOut add-in. However I also occasionally use my Home Server outside of these hours by sending it a WakeOnLan (WOL) request to wake up as I can’t physically switch the machine on as it’s up in the loft out of the way.

Once it’s up and running, the question then becomes how do I send it back to sleep again? The most obvious answer is that I can remote desktop into it and send it to sleep there, but that’s a bit long winded especially when you’ve most likely got the Home Server console open anyway.

My solution involved two third party applications, the first is PowerOff which allows you to control the power state of your pc and the second is Advanced Admin console, which is a Home Server add-in. Once setup with these two applications you’ll be able to send your Home Server to sleep simply via a toolbar button.

Here’s the steps I followed to get this functionality:

  1. Download PowerOff and copy it over to your Windows Home Server.
  2. In the same place where you copied the PowerOff executable, create a batch file called ‘PowerOff.bat’.
  3. Edit this file and enter the following (don’t forget to change the folder location to where you copied PowerOff):
    1. D:\shares\Software\poweroff.exe standby –immediate
  4. Save the batch file and close it.
  5. Download Advanced Admin console and copy it to your Windows Home Server add-ins folder.
  6. Start the Windows Home Server console.
  7. Click on ‘Settings’ and then go to the ‘Add-ins’ section.
  8. On the ‘Available’ to install tab, select the Advanced Admin console and install it.
  9. Once the add-in is installed, log back in to the Home Server console.
  10. Switch to the Advanced Admin console add-in.
  11. Click the drop down arrow at the far right of the toolbar and click ‘Customize…’.
  12. Switch to the ‘Custom shortcuts’ tab and click ‘Add Shortcut…’.
  13. Browse to where you created the ‘PowerOff.bat’ file and then click ‘Next’.
  14. Name the shortcut ‘Sleep’ and then click ‘Finish’.image
  15. Click ‘OK’ to exit the settings dialog.
  16. Now when you click the drop down arrow at the far right of the toolbar, you should see your new ‘Sleep’ shortcut.image

If you click on your new shortcut your Home Server will go to sleep. When you choose the command, it may appear as if your Home Server Console has locked up, it hasn’t, the Home Server is just doing its thing and after a while the Console will say it has lost its connection to the Home Server, meaning your Home Server is now asleep!

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My ‘Franken-build’ Windows Home Server

I’ve just recently put together a Windows Home Server machine to backup all of my photos, music and so on as well as all of the machines around my house. It’s custom built rather than off the shelf, hence why it’s called a ‘Franken-build’, which is a term I first heard on the Home Server Show podcast to describe a custom build.

Why Windows Home Server?

If you see my post here you’ll remember that I purchased a NAS box about 18 months ago and have been using that to backup most of my content. Unfortunately I never really used it to its full potential as I had it waking up for an hour a day, doing the backup and then going back to sleep. I didn’t use any of the extra features such as the iTunes server or BitTorrent client and it was also lacking in a couple of areas, performance being the main one but also minor things such as not supporting Wake-On-Lan.

After upgrading my TV/File server again I had even more spare parts lying around so in the course of deciding what to do with all these bits I thought why not give Windows Home Server a try? There’s a free 120-day trial edition available from the Microsoft website, which is more than enough time to decide if you like it. It only took me a week to decide to replace my NAS.

Components

Here’s the initial list of components I had to work with when I first setup with the trial edition:

  • Athlon XP 2000
  • MSI KM4M-V Motherboard
  • 1gig ram
  • Seagate 80gig IDE
  • Seagate 160gig SATA
  • Old 350w power supply
  • Random spare DVD drive.
  • Intel 1gig NIC

I also have a Sempron 3000 CPU lying around which I would have rather used for this build as it’s faster and more efficient, but unfortunately it’s not compatible with the above motherboard and the motherboard that I do have for it doesn’t support S3 standby whereas I know the MSI board works really well with S3 because it came from my old Media Center prior to the Quad Core upgrade.

I didn’t have a case to put any of the components in so I just laid everything out on the table and connected it up, using a couple of wires to bridge the power connector so I could start the machine up. Windows Home Server was then installed, which took about an hour and I then proceeded to setup and install various add-ins so that I could test to see if it would suit my needs, which mainly involved the ability to wake up and go back to sleep at a pre-determined time.

Once I was happy I then decided to order a licensed copy of Home Server, along with a case to house it in and a new more efficient power supply. I ended up ordering the following:

  • Asus TA-D31 case
  • Antec Earthwatts 380w PSU

The Build Proper

As per usual everything turned up nice and quick from eBuyer, so I shut down the Thecus NAS for the final time and removed the drives in preparation for the build. Here’s some pictures of everything prior to starting:

The parts arrive IMG_5044 IMG_5048

IMG_5045

I put everything together in the new case, started her up and then proceeded to install the full licensed copy of Windows Home Server. Unfortunately with Windows Home Server you can’t upgrade the trial edition to a full licensed copy, you have to re-install from scratch, which I wish I had known about before spending the time to setup the trial version.

After finishing the install I noticed that there seemed to be some issues with the OS hard drive, every now and then things would appear to stutter and lock up so I decided I’d just use a different hard drive and re-install again. Unluckily for me the second hard drive I chose had exactly the same problem, so this time I borrowed a drive from the kitchen PC and used that instead, this time after over 3 hours spent installing WHS it was third time lucky and everything was working ok!

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Once everything was up and running, I could then proceed to copy all of my photos, videos and music over as well as installing the WHS connector on all of my PC’s so that they are regularly backed up, which is a nice added peace of mind considering that they weren’t backed up at all before.

Even with the low spec of the WHS machine I’ve been getting decent performance copying files to and from it, certainly much better than I ever achieved with the NAS. Write speeds have been around 40MB/s across the network and read speeds have been between 50-60MB/s.

The WHS has now been running for a couple of months and has performed flawlessly during that time, I’ve even purchased some new 1.5TB hard drives to up the storage to 3.5TB, which has meant that I’ve now got the space to back up my DVD collection as well as everything else. Overall I’m really pleased with the machine and would heartily recommend a Windows Home Server to everyone that has multiple computers in their house!