IF you are one of the people who is using Windows Home Server, you might have been wondering what you can do to make the server use less electricity.

While there are many innovations that people want from the next version of Windows Home Server, power consumption is a major concern (especially for South Africans these days). While HP has improved the power consumption of their own Media Smart servers, I do believe Microsoft will introduce smarter ways to conserver power in the next version of WHS, be it more aggressive sleep patterns or maybe even central administration of power devices in the home. I don’t think home automation is to far off, This is after all a Home Server.

While WHS is a very handy solution to backups and filesharing, not all of us needs it to be on 24 / 7.  Luckily there is a few things you can do to make the server use less power without diminishing its utility. What you basically want is a server that uses the minimum amount of power but is readily available the moment you need to access  something from it.
  1. First you can do is download the Lights Out add on for WHS. Lights Out is a great little app to choose what times of day your machine should be on. You can set times at which the machine will sleep, hibernate or even shut down. I recommend you set your machine to sleep at certain times that suit you. Like say 12’o clock at night.
  2. Set your WHS to wake on network access. This is easy enough to do  - go to Control Panel -> Device Manager and then look for your network adaptor. Open it up and select the Advanced tab. Look for Wake On Lan, and enable it. From there you can set what type of network packet can switch it on. Switch it to Both.
  3. Set your machine to do backups (and whatever automated processes you might have set) only during hours the machine will be on. 
  4. If you are still insisting to leave your server on for long hours, you might want to set it to sleep hard drives when not in use. This is especially important if you have multiple hard drives. If no machine is accessing the server, the hard drives in the machine does not need to be spinning along. Go into Control Panel -> Power Options. From there, set your hard drives to sleep after 15 minutes.
  5. While extra hard drives do add redundancy to the server, evaluate carefully what drives you use in the server. If you just added drives that were laying around like a very old 80 Gig drive, you should realize that the drive is probably not very reliable, and does use extra power to keep spinning in a server. For example, if you have 3TB of storage in your server and also add a 80 Gig drive, its probably not worth it. Also, newer drives are typically more power efficient than older models (especially if you use specific low power drives).
These are just some tips I will give. So far my WHS machine is very stable and sleeps most of the time. Of course you can go to greater lengths, like build a machine with lower power components. You can go for a Intel Atom processor, 2.5 inch hard drives (although you will lose some storage for the same amount of money as a 3.5 inch drive). At the end of the day, the biggest contributor to energy consumption is how you use the server. Make it sleep whenever possible and you will quickly see some results.
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I am a R&D Analyst in Stellenbosch South Africa who has a immense passion for all things tech related. I embrace technology, open source and web standards, and I participate and contribute to the social web.