Set up Windows 8 as a home server

Set up your PC as a home or small business server to save time, money and storage space while sharing your data.

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To configure media sharing, turn on any PCs and other devices you want to be able to stream media to or from. For your Windows 8 server and other Windows PCs, open Windows Media Player, select Stream on the toolbar, and choose "Allow remote control of my player" and "Automatically allow devices to play my media".

And then select "More streaming options", where you can choose which PCs and devices are allowed access.

Access your files remotely with SkyDrive remote fetch

To access files on your Windows 8 server (or any other PC) when you're out of your home or office, Microsoft provides the SkyDrive remote fetch feature. Once you install the Windows desktop app onto your PC you can remotely access any file on it via the SkyDrive website or on your mobile devices.

You can download documents and files, preview photos, and play videos. You can also copy files to your SkyDrive drive so you can more easily share it among your devices or with others.

Backing up your "server"

Since you'll be storing most of your files on your Windows 8 server, you should ensure you have a good backup solution in case files become corrupt or accidently deleted. Though Microsoft removed some backup features (like the ability to create complete backup or to backup files from any location) in Windows 8, its new File History feature provides a more automated and user-friendly solution.

Once you connect an external drive and enable File History, it automatically saves snapshots of all files in your Libraries. By default it's set to save snapshots every hour for changed files. So if a file becomes corrupt, deleted, or you'd like a previous version of the file you can restore it.

To include your Storage Space(s) in the File History backup you'll have to add them to an existing shared Library or create a new Library, which you may have already done earlier in order to share your Storage Space(s) to your HomeGroup.

When you're ready to enable File History, press the Win key to go to the Start screen, type "File History", select Settings on the right, and then open File History.

Bonus round: Backing up other PCs to the "server"

There's one last trick you should know about: you can also use your Windows 8 server as a backup location for your other PCs. If you have other Windows 8 PCs and are using HomeGroup for sharing, you can enable the "Recommend this drive" option in the Advanced Settings of File History on your "server" PC.

That way you don't have to hook up an external drive to each PC you want backed up with the File History feature; it can simply be backed up to the server via the network. For PCs with Windows 7 and earlier you can also utilize their automated backup systems and just point it to the network location of your impromptu server PC. If everything is working correctly, you should be master of your digital domain and have full control of your own small network with media streaming, data sharing and data redundancy at basically no extra cost. 

This story, "Set up Windows 8 as a home server" was originally published by PCWorld.

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