Today Steve Jobs gave the keynote address at Macworld 2008, an event where some people hang on his every word. Of the items that Steve announced today, one may be of interest to people considering the purchase of Windows Home Server. It's the Apple Time Capsule and is basically an Apple Airport Extreme with a built in hard drive.
Let's see how the two compare, feature for feature, from the perspective of a Windows user. As a point of reference, I'm going to use the most popular Home Server, the HP EX470 MediaSmart Server.
As a Backup Device
- Home Server: Each XP or Vista machine on the network has software installed on it called the Home Server Connector that manages the automation between the client PC and the server. This allows the WHS to initiate backups automatically. As a space saving feature, duplicate files (including files that are on more that one computer) are only stored on the server once.
- Time Capsule: automated backup (or Time Machine Backup as Apple calls it) is only supported on Mac OS X Leopard. Windows XP and Vista users are out of luck.
- Home Server: Multiple shared folders can be setup on Home Server with flexible user access controls. Folders can be setup with duplication, a feature that distributed multiple copies of each file across an array of physical hard drives to help in case of catastrophic hard drive failure.
- Time Capsule: Folder sharing works just as it does in the Apple AirPort Extreme with an external drive attached. File duplication is not supported.
- Home Server: The EX470 contain 4 drive bays for internal SATA drives. There is also an eSATA port (external SATA) that allows for many more external drives. USB drives can also be added via the 4 USB ports.
- Time Capsule: Contains a single internal hard drive while Apple describes as "server grade". There is no upgrade path for additional drives.
- Home Server: Printer sharing is not officially supported by Hewlett Packard on the EX470. However, because Windows Home Server is based on Windows 2003, printer sharing is supported via one of it's USB ports. I'm hosting a shared printer on my machine right now.
- Time Capsule: USB printer support is built in and works for both Macs and PCs. It requires that you install Apple's Bonjour driver (included).
- Home Server: Based on the proven, rock solid Windows 2003 operating system.
- Time Capsule: Time Capsule contains a built-in 802.11n router.
- Home Server: The EX470 with 500GB sells for $599 on Amazon.com with 1TB selling for $799.
- Time Capsule: The Apple Time Capsule sells for $299 for 500GB, $499 for 1TB.
The Apple Time Capsule will likely appeal more toward the Apple community and those PC users who are only concerned with file sharing. The Apple Time Capsule is also appealing because of it's lower cost and integrated wireless 802.11n router. However, because of it expandability and it's integrated backup and shared folder system for Windows users, I consider the Windows Home Server to be the better choice.