Networking 101: Advantages of an NOS over P2P Using Windows Home Server 2011

December 2, 2011, By George Lang

Since the auspicious beginning of this new Networking 101 series, we at DeviceMAG have been talking mostly about the Internet access aspects of your home network. Two weeks ago we started covering the more complex issues of resource sharing on your local area network (LAN) and we will dive a little deeper into that topic this week.

This week we are covering the advantages of using a network operating system (NOS), such as Microsoft Windows Home Server (WHS), over using the peer to peer (P2P) network we’ve been discussing up until now. The NOS is a server-based topology and has been traditionally reserved for businesses; but, today, even the home LAN can benefit from the power of the NOS.


We will start by briefly describing the difference between a P2P network and an NOS network. Recall the network diagram we gave you a few weeks ago…


For now, let’s concentrate on the upstairs portion of the network only (the basement devices are strictly for Internet access). The type of network above is commonly referred to as a P2P LAN because each “peer” or node on the system is equivalent in stature to all the others, and they all talk to each other equally; efficient communication is the key to the success of any network infrastructure. The nodes are defined as any computing device with a network interface card (NIC); i.e., any device capable digitally communicating with the others over the network (in this case. over the Ethernet). There are three nodes in this network: your wonderful laptop computer, your old desktop computer, and your “bratty little sister’s” pink desktop computer.

Now we are going to illustrate the same network; only this time, we are going to install Microsoft WHS onto that old PC (see revised illustration below).


NOS Server-Based Network


As you can see, your old desktop PC has been converted to a Microsoft WHS NOS server; and the entire network is managed and maintained from it. There are many advantages of configuring your LAN in this fashion:

  • Store and organize digital memories and media in one central location.
  • Stream the digital content to Media devices.
  • Effortlessly backup your home computers daily and automatically.
  • Easily restore lost files or even entire hard drive contents in a few steps.
  • Get complete access to files from both inside and outside the home.
  • Share photos and home videos with friends and family with the built-in
    secure and personalized website address.
  • Easily extend the capabilities of the Server using software add-ins.
  • Expand storage capacity easily as your needs increase. (Circuit City)


And here is the biggest advantage of all: Windows Home Server 2011 operating system is the core of this entire system, it costs only $49.99,  and it comes complete with ten client access licenses (CALs). CALs are required for each desktop, laptop, tablet, or handheld device on the network.

Today’s home networks can involve far more than the simple networks illustrated above. Through the miracle of computer/home-entertainment convergence, many families now want to connect their high definition televisions, mobile smartphones, tablet PCs, gaming consoles, and more to their computer networks. All of this is made much simpler, more secure, and convenient through the use of a network operating system instead of a peer-to-peer network topology.



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