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Author Topic: Windows Home Server in the DAM workflow  (Read 7100 times)
jj
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« on: January 21, 2008, 09:13:58 PM »

Disclaimer: I am the Release Manager for Windows Home Server and am an extremely enthusiastic home user.

I posted a response in the hardware forum on Windows Home Server but I thought I'd share with you all how I have been using Home Server in my workflow and where I'm heading.

I’m a newbie to this DAM forum and am just now starting to adopt the workflow outlined in the book and on the videos. I highly recommend the video for people getting started. I played the video on my laptop as I started to set up my DAM on the workstation over the weekend and it made it go much faster as I started to familiarize myself with Bridge and Expression Media. It's easy to follow along with Expression Media despite the fact Peter uses iView on the video.

I’m using Microsoft Expression Media, Photoshop CS3, and Bridge CS3 right now. (I'm migrating all my legacy assets from Photoshop Elements/Album). I’m also using Adobe Production Suite CS3 and do some light work in Premiere. I’ll look in other forum entries for advice on the unique aspects of DAM for video.

I am using, intend to use or can recommend using Windows Home Server for the following for DAM:
1. Automatic nightly backups
2. Centralized storage
3. Remote access to my home computers & files on my server. (you can upload photos to your home server remotely too but it’s slow for large files.)
4. Hosting simple photo galleries & websites using a 3rd party add-in (using Home Server’s extensibility)
5.  Publishing photo galleries to sites like flickr using a 3rd add-in
6. Giving my friends and relatives access to my photos, etc. using the remote access feature.

1. Backup:
Home Server’s automatic backup is extremely powerful. You buy a Home Server, plug it in, attach it to your router, install a small piece of software on up to 10 machines and all the machines are backed up nightly. If you lose an entire system, a hard disk, or a single file you can easily retrieve them. If you lose your entire system you boot from a restore cd provided to you and it goes out to your server where you can select a complete machine backup to restore. Similarly you can restore a failed volume. You can even open up any previous backup and fish out an individual file in the state it was in when that backup was made.

At the points in the workflow where Peter recommends making copies of your RAW files I simply select “Backup Now? from the Windows Home server icon in the tray and give that backup a name (I use the naming scheme recommended in the book to name my backups at this stage). It only backups up what’s changed since the last backup so the turnaround is reasonable relative to copying files to a hard drive and certainly in copying to a different server or NAS device.

2. Centralized storage
Like any server I use the server for shared access to files. I also use it for automatically maintaining redundant copies of my files across separate drives on the server for folders I’ve marked to ‘duplicate’. If you’re like me and have dozens of manual backups of the same photos spread across your disks you’ll be happy to note that Home Server only stores 1 copy of the same photo (and duplicates it on at least one other device if you so desire).  You can easily extend storage by simply adding another drive of any type (internal hard disk, external USB or SATA drive, etc.). It simply adds that additional storage to the master storage pool and all you see in the UI is a pie chart showing you how your storage is being used (including how much is used for duplication).

3. I use the Remote Access feature for 2 things, access to my home computers and access to my files on the server. With Windows Home Server you get 2 things free. You get your own homeserver.com domain. You could have thedambook.homeserver.com assuming it’s not taken. All you need is a Windows Live account when you configure your server for remote access. That’s the URL you use to access your server remotely over the internet. Furthermore you get a free trusted cert so others who want to visit your server know it’s safe to do so. You don't need to buy your own from a trusted cert authority.
You can easily remote desktop into any of your home computers that supports that feature of Windows through your home server. I’ve been known to add metadata and rank photos while at my mother-in-law’s house or from the patio on my laptop controlling my office workstation remotely.

You can also download or upload photos to your server when on the road. Uploading large files is naturally slow but I’ve had a few times where I wanted to show someone something on the road but didn’t have it with me. I simply went to the URL of my server and pulled the files off. When my boss presents or demos Home Server he does the old “oh no, I forgot my PowerPoint slides? and then logs into his Home Server to retrieve them :-) I just bought a new AT&T Tilt phone that supports Windows Mobile 6. I can connect to my home server and show people pictures of my kids (i.e. virtual wallet size photos). Of course I can bombard them with far more photos than the old days of prints. :-)

4. Hosting photo galleries & websites
Windows Home Server is extensible and there are numerous developers writing add-ins for it. I use one of the most popular and free add-ins called Whiist. It lets you create simple photo galleries and webpages. I use it on the road to show friends and family photos of my kids, etc. I just go to my xyz.homeserver.com address. My parents live far away from their grandchildren so it’s an easy way to share photos.
When I get to the publishing part of the workflow from the book this is one of the things I want to automate and optimize as well as pushing webpages to my server from Expression Media. I want to point my hosted website to my home server so that I don’t have to store my photos in the cloud.

5. There’s another add-in I intend to use that automatically publishes a set of photos in a given folder to flickr. ..when I get comfortable publishing to the cloud, I'll set up controlled access. I'm sure there will be others to push to online photo labs. Who knows, maybe someday you'll each have your own photo lab using your server and make some money :-)

6. Like any server you can give others user accounts. My parents can surf my server for photos and videos of their grandchildren whenever they like.

I also do simple things like point all the computer screensavers in the house to a folder on the home server to show off my best photos as virtual electronic frames. There are also wireless photo frames out there that can pull from your server but I haven’t tried any.  There’s a whole community growing around Windows Home Server.

I think there are many ways to exploit Home Server as part of the DAM workflow. I'm just getting started.

Ok, enough sales work…Thanks for any interest you may have....back to project management :-)
Jay
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peterkrogh
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« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2008, 09:22:22 PM »

Jay,
Thanks for posting.
And now any of you who have questions about the Windows Home server know where to go to ask them.
;-)

Can you tell us about any known issues with the WHS that people might want to be aware of? 
Peter
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Photo_op
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« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2008, 07:11:12 AM »

Is there "equivalent" MAC software to the Windows Home Server?

--Dave
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Marc Rochkind
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« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2008, 07:21:35 AM »

All versions of OS X include a web server and do file sharing. Version 10.5 (Leopard) does automatic backup (Time Machine), and a Time Machine server called Time Capsule was just announced.

I wouldn't recommend using one's own server for public sharing, however, as the job of ensuring that it's up all the time is too difficult for most people. (What if it goes down when you're away?) It's far easier to use a hosting service.

A point-by-point comparison isn't what's really needed, in my view. Rather, one has to list one's own needs, and then see what hardware/software/services will do the job.

--Marc
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jj
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« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2008, 01:17:13 PM »

Peter asked about any known issues with Home Server. A problem for which we’re aggressively pursuing a fix is documented in this KB article.

http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx/kb/946676/en-us?spid=12624

This has been elusive and it took great effort to get a repro on this. We have one now and are working on a fix. The issue may occur with applications other than those on the list so I’d stay away from editing files directly on the Home Server. If you have a multi-user workflow where files are manipulated directly on the server I’d stick with your current server solution. It’s important to note that the problem is specific to the Home Server code and doesn’t apply to any other versions of Windows Server or Windows Small Business Server.

thanks,
Jay
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jj
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« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2008, 01:37:00 PM »

I must humble myself with respect to something I stated in my description of how I'm starting to use Windows Home Server in my personal workflow at home. I said that "Home Server only stores 1 copy of the same photo" meaning the exact same file copied to a shared folder. That is not true. If you copy the same file to 2 different shared folders on the server, 2 copies get stored. If you have duplication turned on for both of the folders, 4 copies will be stored because it will ensure that copies of the original 2 are stored on a second drive.

That is the case for the Backup feature though. Only 1 instance of the same file from any of the connected computers will be stored. If you have 5 machines backed up by your Home Server and the same file resides on all 5, Home Server will store 1 copy and keep a record of which machines have that file. For instance, it won't store multiple copies of the OS files common to any of the machines.
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peterkrogh
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« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2008, 09:53:09 AM »

Jay,
Thanks for the information.
Please keep us updated as to fixes.
Peter
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jj
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« Reply #7 on: January 23, 2008, 11:41:05 AM »

I most certainly will.  thanks, Jay
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matthewjheaney
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« Reply #8 on: February 15, 2008, 01:25:20 PM »

I am using, intend to use or can recommend using Windows Home Server for the following for DAM:
2. Centralized storage

Hello Jay,

I have cross-posted this on the d1cussion forum, but this forum seems equally appropriate.  Perhaps you can shed some light on whether WHS will be suitable for me.

I have a need for external storage that is faster than USB.  I have an external storage tower that connects to my ThinkPad laptop via the ExpressCard slot using eSata, but connecting the storage tower this way consistently causes the laptop to freeze up, and I must either disconnect the external storage tower or reboot.

Needless to say, this is killing my productivity, so I need some other mechanism of connecting those drives to my laptop.  I don't think USB is going to be fast enough, so I think that leaves a network-based mechanism.  So I think I'm looking at NAS.

The WHS looks nice (to me) because I already know Windows well, and I don't think it requires a lot of messing around with configuration.  I don't have a NAS now, so here's my first dumb question: how does the hardware in the network link together?

I already have a LinkSys wireless router.  Right now that plugs into my cable modem, and both my wife and I connect wirelessly to the router. If I put a WHS NAS on the network, I think I'm supposed to connect it (via Ethernet cable) to the wireless router.  So in principle its storage should then be visible on the network.  However, this means the laptop connects to the network storage wirelessly -- is this fast enough, and robust enough?  Or I am I supposed to connect the WHS NAS to one of the laptops directly?

My intent is to put my RAW and derivative archives on the network storage, and then use xMedia for cataloging, and Photoshop for image editing.  Is the WHS NAS (or any other NAS) appropriate for this usage?

Thanks,
Matt
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peterkrogh
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« Reply #9 on: February 19, 2008, 08:36:32 AM »

MAtt,
One thing to consider - if you're a Bridge user, it's better to be directly connected than to use NAS, due to how cache is handled by Bridge.  In a network environment, you have to always manually export cache.  If you don't, then you'll spend a lot of time rebuilding cache.

I'd check out USB first, and see how the speed is.
Peter
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deanwhitling
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« Reply #10 on: February 24, 2008, 04:58:34 PM »

I am also using WHS combined with cs3/bridge and IDImager.

My question is to the original poster in regards to the file corruption problem that has been identified.

I have experienced some dng file corruptions and I'm not sure if it is from cs3 or idimager. The problem can be avoided by not directly editing to WHS, but what about the cataloging software?
When I apply a category/rating is this considered "editing" the file when it writes to the metadata? I think this is when I experienced the problem

I am also extremely interested in the fix for this issue and would appreciate any updates

Regards Dean
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aengusmc
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« Reply #11 on: October 05, 2010, 10:35:05 AM »

I have been meaning to post about WHS for some time. I bought a WHS and then migrated my Drobo archive to it. I had bad luck and the files on the WHS are corrupted. I began to doubt my process. I was simply dragging and dropping them to the folder designated to photos built into the WHS operating system. I am thinking to do a clean install of the WHS system start fresh and perhaps use a software like syncback to try again. hwat I am not clear about is where the archive should go on WHS? I notice some folders aren't accessible unless the machine is connected to the internet. I am seeking advice on how to do this properly. Thank you. Aengus.
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