ASUS TS mini Home Server Review
Measuring just over 9.5 inches tall, the TS mini has a compact form factor that will easily tuck into the corner of your office. Keep in mind that the TS mini vents from the top, so you'll want some room for ventilation.
The TS mini home server has a clean, uncluttered design with a piano black finish. Although this finish looks great, it also tends to attract fingerprints and dust. Near the vents at the top of the case, you'll find the power button. The front of the case has the ASUS logo near the top and four blue LED indicators near the bottom of the unit. From left to right, there's power, hard drive 1, hard drive 2, and network activity lights.
The TS mini rests on four raised feet that raise the server off the desk for improved air circulation. We should also note that the TS mini was so quiet while running that we hardly noticed it.
On the back of the TS mini, you'll find six USB and two eSATA ports for attaching external storage. Near the bottom, you'll notice a Gigabit LAN port as well as a Kensington lock for security. Notice there's nowhere to attach a monitor—you'll have to administer the system from another machine on the network.
The TS mini comes with a quick start guide that shows you how to set up the server. Really, the guide is hardly necessary—setup is very simple and quick. First, you'll need to connect the TS mini to a power outlet. Next, you'll want to connect the TS mini to your router via the included network cable.
Once the TS mini has power and is connected to your network, you'll need to set up the server and install the Windows Home Server Connector on a computer within your network. During set up, you'll pick a name for the server, create an administrator password, and complete a few other mundane tasks. The set up wizard walks you through the entire process.
After setting up the TS mini, you can log on to the server using the Windows Home Server Console. From here, you can configure user accounts, create a backup schedule, and much more. The interface is the standard Windows Home Server interface, so if you've ever used Windows Home Server before, you'll feel right at home. The overall set up process was relatively quick and easy.
Should a time come when you want to start from scratch, ASUS includes a recovery DVD that helps you reinstall the Windows Home Server operating system, return the TS mini to the default factory state, or replace the main hard drive in the server.
As mentioned, our test unit came with a single 500GB hard drive. The TS mini can hold two hard drives. Adding a second drive isn't difficult, but the process is not quite as slick (or tool-free) as we've seen on other systems.
To install a second drive, you'll need to loosen the two thumbscrews on the left side of the case. Next, you'll need a screwdriver or use a coin to remove three additional screws that are revealed. Once these screws are removed, you can lift the hard drive cage from the TS mini using the built-in plastic handle. Install the four included screws on the sides of the new hard drive and then slide it into the empty bay of the hard drive cage. After putting everything back together, you can log on to the Windows Home Server Console to add the new drive. During the Server Storage setup, you can choose to add the new drive as an additional storage option or to back up files on the home server using the drive.