DIY: Build Your Own Windows Home Server

Step 2: Adjust the boot settings

Since we'll be installing a new operating system from either a DVD or an external USB drive, we need to configure the target computer's BIOS to boot from that drive.

1. Start (or restart) the computer and repeatedly tap the Delete key to access the computer's BIOS. (This works for most computers; if it doesn't with yours, try the F1, F2 or F8 key, or check your documentation to find which key to press.)

2. Once you enter the BIOS, open the Boot menu. (If you don't see this menu displayed at the top of the screen, look for it to be nested in one of the other menus, such as Advanced, or check your operating system documentation.)

There might also be two distinct menus: One for selecting a DVD drive as the boot device and another for a USB hard drive.

3. Change the boot device priority list so that the first boot device is either the machine's DVD drive or a drive connected to its USB port, depending on which you'll be booting from.

4. Choose the Save & Exit Setup option and allow the machine to reboot.

Step 3: Begin the WHS installation

Now it's time to install the Windows Home Server operating system.

1. If you'll be booting from a USB drive, plug it in and start the computer; if you're booting from the DVD drive, just start the computer.

2. As it boots, it should display a message that reads "Windows is loading files. ..." If you don't see that message, if you get an error message, or if the system tries to launch a previously installed operating system, you'll need to get back into the BIOS and double-check your boot settings.

You can't proceed unless the computer boots from the drive on which the Windows Home Server installation files are stored.

3. In the next step, you'll set the time and currency format and keyboard type (most people will accept the default values).

4. Click Next, and Windows Home Server will display the hard drives that it has detected.

5. Click the Next button again, and Windows Home Server will ask what type of installation you'd like to perform.

6. Choose New Installation, read the warning about erasing all the information on the hard drives in the system -- the first of three such warnings -- and click Next.

7. Accept the license agreement and click Next.

8. At this point, Windows Home Server will ask that you enter a product key. If you're installing the trial version, leave this field blank and click Next; otherwise, enter the product key that came with the disc you purchased and click Next.

9. Now you'll need to give your server a name. You can use up to 15 characters (letters, numbers, and/or hyphens) with no spaces. Click Next when you're finished.

10. If you're installing the operating system using a USB hard drive, you'll see a message instructing you to remove the drive before proceeding. You'll need the drive connected to complete the installation, but go ahead and unplug it for now and click the OK button.

11. Windows Home Server will now display a message showing the drives and volumes it has detected. Any data on these drives will be erased in the next step, so place a checkmark next to the message that reads "I acknowledge that data on these drives will be lost" and click Next.

12. You'll get one more warning about the data on this drive being deleted. Click the Yes button here and the Start button at the prompt that follows.

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