SECTION V: CONFIGURING WINDOWS SERVER 2012
We are quite impressed with Microsoft’s streamline of Windows Server 2012. If you have used Windows Home Server 2011, Windows Server 2012 Essentials will come as absolutely no surprise to you:
Everything is there, including the much coveted ‘Drive Extender’ feature that is now called ‘Storage Pool’, an unfortunate omission that makes its triumphant return:
We were originally planning to end the guide here, but recalled the annoying quirks Windows Home Server 2011 gave us. As you can see, the user interface this time around is extremely easy to understand and navigate, so we’ll let you fine-tune WS 2012 as you like it. The one area that still suffers from problems though, is the remote access options, so we’ll guide you through that.
You can skip the manual router configuration if you wish, but there’s no harm in letting the configuration wizard try automatically. The next screen will ask about domain name registration. If you own one, go ahead and add your information. The alternative is a free personalized domain name, however it will be managed by Microsoft:
You will need a Microsoft-based email account. Hotmail will work just fine:
Check the availability of your personal domain name, and when it’s registered we’re good to go:
We want REMOTE ACCESS on, but you can turn on VPN for safer root remote access:
Chances are you’ll get this massive error log after you hit next. This happens if your router doesn’t support Universal Plug and Play (UPnP), something we painstakingly learned using WHS 2011. The way around this is to simply port-forward and set your router manually. Even then, Windows Server 2012 will report these exact same errors, but we can ignore them.
This is the part of the guide that is largely out of our hands. The method of port-forwarding will depend largely on your router. PortForward.com is an excellent resource and will have guides for you to follow for your specific router/network setup.
The other minor factor is your ISP. Some ISP’s will block ports 80 and 443, both of which we need to actually host the server and access remotely. Even if you don’t have a router and a straight ethernet line right into your computer, blocked ports are the sole responsibility of your ISP. So if the upcoming router configuration doesn’t work for you (or if you don’t use a router), consider making some calls to your internet service provider if your remote access is denied.
Our ISP is unfortunately linked to the awful 2WIRE 3801-HGV Gateway, which doesn’t support UPnP. Therefore, we need to access it first; the default IP if you have 2WIRE equipment is 192.168.100.254, so put that in your address bar. Go to SETTINGS, FIREWALL, APPLICATIONS:
Scroll down and add USER-DEFINED APPLICATION. This will take you to a new page to add the ports, and you can add a custom name to the application. Again, we need ports 80 and 443 in TCP, so add those in. We’re just interested in the first two options, so select TCP and FROM 80 TO 80, and FROM 443 TO 443 respectively and ADD TO LIST:
Click BACK, select your server name from the list of connected devices (SHARMA-SERVER for us). Filter applications by user-made, and select the custom application you just made above. ADD it to the HOSTED APPLICATIONS list and save. Remember that you will get errors adding the application to the list if you are currently forwarding either of the two listed ports. The 2WIRE will not allow simultaneous forwarding, so if you are forwarding either of the two on a different machine, you will need to remove them from that machine and assign to the server.
Now we’re ready to test our remote web access. Type in your domain name and hit enter:
If there is an error, you will get a message saying that your server is inaccessible for remote access. If that happens, double-check your settings or contact your ISP. If it works, it’ll bring you to a login screen:
Log into the server with your credentials:
YAY! Everything is working fine! By default your SHARED FOLDERS are in the main C: drive of the server, so add all of your media in there and they server will catalogue it properly so it will show up here. Keep in mind that you can add other users and folders into the mix as well:
As a final check, go back to the Anywhere Access page. This time since we used the wizard, there will be a different overlay presented, but we can still access it. Click MEDIA to turn on local and remote streaming capabilities, and set the quality to BEST:
Click ANYWHERE ACCESS and check the information. It should update properly now, but in case it still presents errors or unknown values, just ignore. We configured it manually, so as long as everything is working there is no need to tamper with it anymore: