Sometimes we don’t want to do things exactly like Microsoft designed, so using the existing libraries isn’t always going to be a workable solution. Fortunately you can add libraries and then share them with the HomeGroup or simply share an individual folder without using the libraries. To test this, let’s create a Backup folder in our storage space. Once the folder is created, right click on the folder, choose Share with, and choose HomeGroup (view and edit).
Libraries shared to the HomeGroup integrate directly into Windows Explorer.
Now that we’ve created our HomeGroup and shared all of our files open up File Explorer (this is another option in that power user menu we showed you earlier). In the left panel of File Explorer you should now see a HomeGroup section with your username underneath. Expanding your username should show the computers you have access to, and should provide a list of shared folders on that computer.
Another feature of a HomeGroup is the ability to stream media over the network using DLNA. This can be configured using the Media streaming options in the Network and Sharing Center Control Panel. The Media streaming options will allow you to allow or disallow individual media devices on your network from accessing certain types of files.
Protecting your Data
One thing we can’t recommend highly enough is backing up your data. Few things are worse than losing years of pictures or documents because of a failed hard drive or accidental deletion. There are two aspects of data protection we want to take a look at, using your Windows 8 server as backup storage and backing up the storage volume itself.
Windows Backup isn’t gone from Windows 8, it’s just hiding.
Using your Windows 8 server as backup storage is as simple as using the Backup folder we created earlier as your storage volume. This can be done with most backup tools, including Windows Backup and File History (which we’ll talk about in a minute). Interestingly, Windows Backup is a deprecated feature in Windows 8, which means two things. First, it’s hard to find. Second, it’s a feature that may disappear completely in future versions of Windows.
To use the traditional Windows Backup features in Windows 8 you need to go to File History in the System and Security category. Once there you will see an option for Windows 7 File Recovery in the bottom left corner of the window. Another option is to switch to the Control Panel’s icon view and find the Windows 7 File Recovery option there. Once you are in Windows Backup/Windows 7 File Recovery you can create a system image, back up your libraries, or choose individual folders to back up. These steps can be used to back up other computers to your central storage or to back up your centralized files and folders to another location.
File History is a feature we wish we had before deleting that massive Word document.
Another option to back up critical files in Windows 8 is by using the File History feature. File History is primarily used for backing files up from other computers to your centralized storage, but it offers some increased flexibility over traditional backups. File History can be configured by simply choosing the backup location and turning the feature on. In addition to having a backup copy of your files you also have the ability to open a previous version of a file. This is particularly handy if you’ve accidentally deleted something contained in a file, such as paragraphs from a document or a slide from a presentation.
Windows 8 is certainly a shift from previous versions of Windows, but it’s not all about the new interface and the start screen. If you know where to look there are some sweet new features that open up new possibilities in how we use our computers on a daily basis.