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RIP, Windows Home Server

It was a good idea, I’ll say that. But Windows Home Server (WHS) never really caught on with consumers for a variety of perfectly legitimate reasons, and when the most recent (and just second) version of the product appeared last year sans Drive Extender, I suspected, like many others, that the end was near. Today, it’s official: Windows Home Server has been cancelled by Microsoft.

I use Windows Home Server 2011, the current version, as the center of my home network. This was the subject of some controversy, as WHS 2011 lacked the Drive Extender technology—which provided data replication and single pool of storage functionality—that many felt was the entire point of the product.

I understood the frustration around the demise of Drive Extender but disagreed (still do) that its lack undermined the central point of this server. In my September 2011 review of Windows Home Server, I highlighted the product’s key features—automatic and centralized PC backups, automatic server backup, home network health monitoring, content storage and sharing, and remote access—and my adoption of a cloud backup service called Crashplan.

But my big contribution to the discussion around WHS 2011 came a few months earlier in I'm Betting On Windows Home Server 2011. There, I argued that the product’s automated server backup functionality, while not as elegant automatic as Drive Extender, was good enough for my use. And my experience since has certainly justified that opinion: WHS 2011 has been rock-solid and has always worked well.

(If you’re curious about the original WHS version, be sure to check out Windows Home Server: A Look Back, which chronicles everything I wrote about that product version, dating back to the first mentions of a Longhorn-era project called “Quattro” from 2007.)

So now what?

For the short term, I’ll continue using Windows Home Server 2011. As noted, it’s worked well and will no doubt continue to work well in the future.

But looking ahead, I’m starting to think about changing things up. The obvious route, of course, is to use a Windows 8-based PC as a “home server” of sorts, a centralized location for my data and media sharing activities at home. I first wrote about that possibility in Replace Windows Home Server ... With Windows 8? back in March.

But I’d like to take it a step further than that, and perhaps rethink my home data storage needs. I’ll mull this over in the weeks ahead. Again, there’s no rush.

Rest in peace, Windows Home Server. 

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