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Acer Aspire easyStore AH341-U1T2H Home Server (Black)

1 rating: 5.0
Computer & Accessories

The Acer Aspire easyStore Home Server brings your digital home together with an easy and reliable way to store, share and access files, photos, music and videos anytime and anywhere. Enjoy a centralized digital library of all your files from multiple … see full wiki

1 review about Acer Aspire easyStore AH341-U1T2H Home Server...

The Hub For Your Digital Life

  • Jan 31, 2011
  • by
Rating:
+5
Over the years I had used various data storage solutions for purposes of accessing my files from any computer on my home network, including having a dedicated folder on one of my computers for file sharing and attaching hard drives to the network router. All of these setups had many limitations, not least of which was the fact that I had been unable to access those files remotely over the internet when I was not at home. Most of the "professional" servers had been overkill for my needs, the Linux server would probably require more skills than I was willing to invest into acquiring, and the cloud storage never really appealed to me. So I was really excited when Microsoft released their Home Server operating system, and had been looking around for a system that would serve my needs. When Acer released this home server I thought I had finally come across a perfect balance of price and performance, and over the past year that I owned it that impression has been largely justified. This is a very good and reliable machine and in my opinion is a perfect no-frills server for home or small office.

Unlike some other Windows Home Server (WHS) machines on the market right now (like for instance HP EX490 1TB Mediasmart Home Server (Black)) the Acer WHS does not come with any additional manufacturer's software that helps with sharing of media files. This can make accessing those files a bit awkward, since the regular web interface is very clunky. Fortunately there are several ad-ons that can be used for smoother access to your media files.

The setup was a bit tricky. The home server doesn't have a keyboard or a monitor of its own, and the entire setup has to be done from a networked Windows computer. In order to do this a special WHS console has to be installed. I have been able to install and use this console from Windows XP, Vista and 7 machines and for the most part it has worked without a glitch.

One of the great things about this machine is its small size. It fits very neatly on my desk, and it sits inconspicuously in a corner. This also a very, very quiet machine and you actually have to make an effort to hear if it's working or not. The only time it makes even remotely noticeable noise is when large amounts of data are being written on the hard drive.

The front of this WHS has a USB port that can be used for backing up external USB storage at a press of a button. I have used it to back up one of my 4gb thumb drives, and the backup was really straightforward and fast.

Adding additional hard drives is also very straightforward. The server has four internal slots for inserting additional hard drives. They can be accessed easily by opening the little "door" on the front of the server and then pulling out one of the hard drive trays. Adding a new internal hard drive could not be any more straightforward, as it does not require use of any tools or specialized technical knowledge. I have added Western Digital 1 TB Caviar Green SATA Intellipower 64 MB Cache Bulk/OEM Desktop Hard Drive WD10EARS and as soon as I had it inserted it was recognized by the operating system. In order to be used, however, it needed a quick formatting. Unfortunately the operating system only allows it to be used in its entirety ass either additional storage or backup, with no options for more complicated setups. The addition of external USB drive is even easier, and I was able to successfully add Western Digital WD Elements 1 TB USB 2.0 Desktop External Hard Drive WDBAAU0010HBK-NESN.

One of the cooler ad-ons is the service that helps you connect your WHS with your TiVo. I have been able to transfer programs from TiVo TCD648250B Series3 HD Digital Media Recorder onto WHS, and .mpeg file from WHS onto TiVo.

WHS is by far the most stable version of Windows that I had ever used. I have been able to keep my server running for several months at a time without noticing any decrease in performance, and the only reason I even had to restart it was because I had installed some new software. I have also been able to access it from almost anywhere, including from different continent. The only bottleneck is your home internet connection, and if that fails you will also be unable to access your files.

In order to use this WHS to its full potential I had to resort to several freely available add-ins. In my opinion, the most important one of these is the one that allows you to use web folders with WHS. Web folders allowed me to mount WHS directories directly onto any of the computers that I wanted to, and treat them as if they were part of the local directory tree. By avoiding the clunky web file interface, I was able to significantly increase the usability of WHS. The most impressive aspect of this add-in was the fact that I was able to access and manipulate files on my WHS as if they were local files from a computer that was literally half a World away. This in my opinion is one of the greatest strengths of WHS, and I wish this add-in would come by default. As it is I had to invest some time searching online for the way of implementing it. Another problem with this feature is that the way to mount WHS filesystem on a remote computer depends critically on the operating system that you are running. Even the exact sequence of steps matters a great deal, as you sometimes have to remove the "old" mount manually before you access it again after your computer has been in hibernation.

I have also been able to run certain media sharing services on this WHS. These allowed me to stream music and video in real time to any device that supports this service. This was great, especially when I was able to stream my entire music collection to my iPhone. As long as I have an access to wireless internet (whether WiFi, Edge or 3G) I was unconstrained by the size of my iPhone's storage in terms of how many of my music files I had an access to.

Backups of this WHS are relatively easy to perform. The only problem seems to be large files, which would cause the whole backup to stall or even cease. Most of these files that I had to deal with were video files, so I am not exactly sure if it is the size of files or their type that causes this problem.

Overall, this is by far one of my favorite technological acquisitions. This WHS has become the hub of all of my digital lifestyle. It is a very good machine and well worth the investment.

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