I know Power Pack 3 has been out for a few months (late October), but I have yet to see any good posts talking about the Media Center Connector. I've seen posts on the increased functionality of PP3, better backup, Windows 7 support and a few new features. But nothing about the Media Center Connector.
What's so cool about the connector? 3 words - "Automatic RecordedTV Archiving"! I used to have lots of very large hard drives in my Media Center, I would record many TV shows and watch them when I had time. Sometimes there would be Terabytes of TV on my Media Center. If I wanted to keep the shows, I would manually move the show to my Windows Home Server. Since installing Power Pack 3, I have moved all the large drives to the Windows Home Server and only have a few 500GB drives in the Media Center. I let the TV Archive function handle the moving of the files.
In this post I'll go through all the new menus that are added to Media Center, what they mean and what the settings are for.
If you're familiar with Windows Home Server, you know about installing the Windows Connector software. What the connector software does is configure your PC for use with Windows Home Server. It configures Backups, Security, Library and Shared Folders. After the installation of the new Power Pack 3 connector, if you start up Media Center you will be notified by a PopUp that there is also a new Media Center Connector and you have the option to Install it or Cancel.
What happens when you install it is not obvious at first. The first thing that happens is that the following folders are added to the Media Center Search folders.
- Music Library --> \\HomeServer\Music
- Pictures & Video --> \\HomeServer\Photos
- Recorded TV --> \\HomeServer\RecordedTV
Whatever is placed into those folders on the Windows Home Server will now show up in the Media Center Menus. One of the things that may not be obvious at first is that ANY Media Center that is connected to the Home Server has access to the RecordedTV folder. That means that you can have one Media Center with multiple tuners recording shows and play them from other Media Centers on the network. Other PCs, Laptops, Extenders . . .
The next thing you may or may not notice is that there is a new "Home Server" menu strip. With 2 items, "TV Archive" and "Console View"
I'll cover the "Console View" first. There is nothing you can "DO" in any of the Console View menus. It's informational only.
The first screen is the "Storage" screen. It shows you a pie chart of your storage usage on you Windows Home Server.
The next screen is "Drives", it shows you a list of the drives that are included in the drive pool and their Health Status.
Next is "Backup Status". here you can see a list of all the PC's on your network that are configured to be backed up. Whether the last backup was successful or a warning about machines that have no recent backups. (You can see here that I have a few PC's that have no recent backups. One is my daughter, who's away in college. The other is my wife's PC that she hasn't turned on since I bought her a laptop. I keep the backups Just in case)
Next is "Shared Folders". This screeen shows you the folders that are shared on the Home Server, if they have duplication enabled and the status of the duplication if you have it enabled.
Next is "Media Counts", this screen tells you how many media files of each type you have on the server and an estimate of how many more will fit based on an average of file sizes and remaining drive pool space.
The next screen is "Health", it will show you any warnings from the Home Server. Here you see that my Dell laptop hasn't been backed up in a while.
The last screen in "Console View" is the "Windows Home Server" view. It shows you the make/model of the Motherboard of your Home Server and a serial number if supported by you MoBo.
This is the real brilliance of the Home Server Connector! In these menus, you can define what programs are archived to the Home Server, manually or automatically, if they will be compressed and in what format they'll be saved.
The first screen is the "Series" screen. Here you can see the various series that you have selected to be recorded from the Guide. If you check the checkmark, any shows that were previously recorded and any recorded from now on, will automatically be moved to the RecordedTV folder on the Home Server.
The next screen is the "Programs" screeen. This menu shows you TV that you have recorded, but are not part of a Series. Here you can select an individual show to be archived manually.
The last screen off the main menu is "Settings". In this screen you define how the archives are treated.
If "Archive all recordings automatically" is checked. The "Series" and "Programs" setting won't matter. All recorded shows will be moved to the Home Server.
The "Move recordings to my home server" turns the archive function off. If neither of the first 2 options are checked, no recordings will be moved.
The "Create a compressed copy for:" option creates an additional Compressed copy of the program for use on the TV, Windows Mobile or Zune. The "Save compressed copy to:" option allows you to tell the connector where to save the new compressed file. The options are "Home Server Videos" Folder or the "Local Videos" folder.
The "Activity" screeen is available from any of the other menus. This screen shows you the activity of the Connector, any shows that are currently being transferred/compressed, files that are queued and any files that failed to transfer.
That's it for the settings and menus.
These may seem like very simple enhancements, but these are things that the Media Center community has been asking for and some of them were available previously with hacks. Windows Home Server Power Pack 3 shows what can be done with integrating Home Server and Media Center. I hope this is just the start of things to come!
clubhouse, media center-windows 7, settings