Windows Home Server Vail Installation Guide

We are going to describe how to install Microsoft’s Windows Home Server code name “Vail”. We will discover how to obtain the install file, and then how to install and configure the Vail Home Server.


The current Windows Home Server Vail Preview is an early beta version of the next version of Windows Home Server. It is not feature complete and as such, certain features illustrated may not be in the released version. Similarly, additional features may be missing and only incorporated in the final release version of Vail. At present, Vail is released for testing purposed only. We stress that you should not replace your existing Windows Home Server v1 with Vail at this point. Vail is subject to change and moving your real data onto Vail without proper backups elsewhere is asking for trouble and could lead to serious data loss.

Getting the Vail Software

The software for Vail is distributed through Microsoft Connect. There are three files that are downloaded to your computer. These files are in ISO format and must be burned onto optical media. The following explains how to burn a DVD for the “InstallDVD.iso” disc image file using Windows Explorer in Windows 7.
The software for Vail is distributed through Microsoft TechNet. There are three files that are downloaded to your computer. These files are in ISO format and must be burned onto optical media. The following explains how to burn a DVD for the “InstallDVD.iso” disc image file using Windows Explorer in Windows 7.
1. Place a blank DVD disc in your CD/DVD device.
2. Click the “InstallDVD.iso” file and then click the Burn disc image option in Windows Explorer.VailBurnImage
3. Click the Burn button in the Windows Disc Image Burner window.VailDiskImageBurner
4. Click the Close button when the burn is complete.VailDiskImageBurnerDone

5. Remove the DVD from the optical drive and label it “Vail System Disk”.
Repeat this process for the “RestoreCD.iso” and “SrvRecovery.iso” files except use a blank CD for these images.

System Requirements

  • Windows Server “Vail” server software is a 64-bit only operating system.
  • 1.4 GHz x64 processor.
  • 1 GB RAM
  • At least one 160 GB hard drive.
  • Product keys are not required for this release.
  • NTFS is the only supported file system.
  • Supported Networking Configuration:
    a.    Your server computer must be connected via a network cable to a router.
    b.    The router should be a UPnP-certified device, but it is not required.
    c.    The router should be in the 192.168.x.x subnet, but it is not required.

Installing Vail

Vail’s system requirements are stricter than what is required for Windows Home Server version 1. Vail requires a minimum 1.4 GHz x64 processor; 1GB of RAM, and at least one 160 GB hard drive.
Before starting the installation do the following.
  • Disconnect any hard drive that is connected by USB or firewire;
  • Make certain that all internal hard drives are to be dedicated by Vail.  Disconnect any internal drives that are not to be part of the WHS drive pool;
  • The server name defaults to “SERVER”. If preferred, determine a descriptive name for the server; and
  • Determine a password for the server.
Before you install Windows Server “Vail”, set your BIOS clock to match the time and date for the Pacific Time Zone (PST) regardless of where you are located in the world. After successfully installing Windows Server “Vail” and joining client computers, do not reset the time, date, and time zone on the Dashboard for another day.
If you do not set your server time to PST, you should not use the server or connect computers to it until the number of hours pass that equals the difference between your time and PST.
Windows Home Server code name Vail is installed using the DVD made with Windows Explorer’s Image Burn option.  The installation of Vail only takes three steps, booting from the Vail System Disk, choosing “New Installation” option, and acknowledging the initial hard drives in the storage.
Step 1. Insert the Vail System Disk DVD into the server’s optical drive and boot from the CD/DVD drive.BoottoDVD
The next screen indicates that the Vail server installation is loadingInstallStarting
Step 2. This is a new installation of Vail.  Choose the “New Installation” option.vail-newinstall
Step 3. Confirm that the hard disk drives that are displayed are to be used by Vail.  The Installation process eliminates all data on these drives and formats them for use by Vail.  Click the “I understand that if I click Install, all files and folders on my primary hard drive will be deleted” box and click the Install button.vail-disk
The Installation Progress screen displays the progress of the Vail installation.vail-install-process

Configuring Vail

After the Vail server software has been installed, five screens gather information regarding locale, license, product key, server name and password, and setting.  The configuration of the Vail server takes only six steps.
Step 1. The Locale window gathers country, time and currency, and keyboard information.  Enter the appropriate information and press the Next button.vail-config1
Step 2. The software license window describes the terms of using the Vail server software.  After reading the terms, click the “I accept the license terms…” option and click the Next button.vail-config2
Step 3. Enter the product key that has been assigned to you for this installation of Vail and click the Next button.vail-config3
Step 4. The Personalize your Server window gathers the server name, password, and password hint.  The default server name “SERVER”, can be changed to any unique name on the local network.  Write the server name and password on a piece of paper and store it in a safe place.  Enter this information and click the Next button.vail-config4
Step 5. Click the “use recommended settings” option to automatically keep the Vail server software up to date and give Microsoft information of anomalies that may be found with Vail.vail-config5
The next window displays the progress of configuring the Vail server.vail-config6
Step 6. The last window indicates that the Vail server is ready to use.  Press theClose button to continue.vail-config7
The next process is to add workstations to the Vail server.   This is a similar process used by Windows Home Server version 1 where an Internet browser is used to connect the workstation to the server except that the URL has been simplified.  The URL is “http://<ServerName>/Connect” where <ServerName> is the name given to the Vail server in configuration step 4.

Supported operating systems for home computers

The Windows Server Code Name “Vail” Connector software connects your computers to your server. “Vail” then automatically backs up your computer, monitors its health, and enables you to configure and to remotely administer the server.
The following operating systems for home computers are supported to work with Windows Server “Vail”:

The Windows 7 Operating System
  • Windows 7 Home Basic (x86 and x64)
  • Windows 7 Home Premium (x86 and x64)
  • Windows 7 Professional (x86 and x64)
  • Windows 7 Ultimate (x86 and x64)
  • Windows 7 Enterprise (x86 and x64)
  • Windows 7 Starter (x86)

The Windows Vista Operating System
  • Windows Vista Home Basic with Service Pack 2 (SP2) (x86 x64)
  • Windows Vista Home Premium with SP2 (x86 and x64)
  • Windows Vista Business with SP2 (x86 and x64)
  • Windows Vista Ultimate with SP2 (x86 and x64)
  • Windows Vista Enterprise with SP2 (x86 and x64)
  • Windows Vista Starter with SP2 (x86)
The Windows XP Operating System
  • Windows XP Home with Service Pack 3 (SP3)
  • Windows XP Professional with SP3
  • Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 with SP3

Installing the Windows Server Connector Software

The Windows Server “Vail” Connector software does the following:
  • Connects your home computer to Windows Server “Vail”.
  • Automatically backs up your home computer nightly.
  • Monitors the health of your home computer.
  • Enables you to configure and remotely administer Windows Server “Vail” from your home computer by using the Dashboard.
To install the Windows Home Server Connector software:

  1. Open a Web browser, type http://<ServerName/connect or http://<ServerIPAddress/connect in the address bar, and then click ENTER.
    Alternately, click Start, click Computer, double-click Network, and then double-click the server name in theOther Devices section.
  2. Click Connect your computer to the server, and then click Run.
  3. On the User Account Control box, click Yes.
  4. Complete the wizard to connect your computer to Windows Server “Vail”.
    •    To administer the server, open the Windows Server “Vail” Dashboard, type the server password, and then click the arrow.
    •    To access the your shared files, start backing up for your home computer, or use Remote Access, open theLaunchpad, type a valid user name and password, and then click the arrow.
Run the Windows Server “Vail” Connector wizard on all of your other home computers to connect them to Windows Server “Vail”. Run the wizard on one computer at a time.
Microsoft has made the installation and configuration much easier and simpler that Windows Home Server version 1.  There are only three steps required to install  and six steps required to configure the Vail server.  The Vail server is still designed to run as a headless server, but the use of the server desktop for advanced administrative tasks is now permitted.

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