Windows Home Server, Part 1 – Security of Data, User Privacy

I recently had the opportunity to discuss Windows Home Server with Charlie Kindel, Microsoft’s General Manager for the Windows Home Server product. We had an email dialogue, followed by a phone conversation. I’ve pulled together four posts based on our dialogue. I hope to fill in a few areas where the publically available information is a little thin. 

Security of Data, User Privacy.

RH: Can I password protect files on the Server? Basically, I’m wondering if there are any provisions for maintaining the privacy of data on the Server.  Not all families want to share everything that they have on their PCs with the whole family.

CEK: Yes, each shared folder can have per-user permissions set. By default, Windows Home Server provides shared folders for Photos, Music, Videos, Software, and Public. For each user account you create, Windows Home Server also creates a shared folder for that user. By default only that user has permissions to his/her shared folder.

RH: Can I exclude data from being backed up by the connector (tricky considering the whole-pc backup)?  

CEK: Yes. This is one of the very innovative capabilities we provide, and really enables the scenario to work well.  By default we automatically exclude the hibernation file, pagefile, temp directories, and offline file caches.

RH: What protections are there for theft of data? Can I encrypt sections of the server disks so that if the Home Server is stolen, the data would be protected?

CEK: This is a capability that is on our roadmap for the future.

RH: Are there provisions for Off-site storage of backups?

CEK: We are not discussing the details of this at this point in time, and Beta 2 will not include this capability, but addressing this is very high on our list of priorities.  Regardless of what we do in ourselves in the first release of the product, there is a great opportunity for 3rd parties to provide value added services in this area.