Amahi vs. Windows Home Server: Do they even compare?

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Following the announcement that Windows Home Server (WHS) would only be available until December 31, 2013, with no planned new features or upgrades, people who want their own home servers have been looking for alternatives.  Only four Microsoft server options will remain, with the most affordable costing $450, or about nine times the price tag of a Windows Home Server license.

Of all of the non-Microsoft WHS alternatives, Amahi Home Server has been a much talked about contender.  It is open source and based on either Fedora or Ubuntu, two of the most prevalent Linux flavors.

Side-by-Side Comparison of Amahi and Windows Home Server Features

Do not be mistaken.  Amahi might be free, but it does compare to Windows Home Server when it comes to features.

Storage Pooling

Drive Extender is one of the features that Microsoft removed from Windows Home Server when it launched in 2011.  Drive Extender in WHS 2007 allowed users to use and access multiple drives and combine these drives into a single storage pool.  This has been a curious move on the part of Microsoft because drive pooling is certainly one of the best-selling points of WHS.

Amahi, on the other hand, uses Greyhole technology to implement storage pooling.

Result? Amahi, 1.  Windows Home Server: 0.


Amahi promises several options on how to back up your various devices.

You can choose between periodic Windows and Mac backups or a full network disk backup.  All options promise to be painless and easy.

Windows Home Server, however, implements an image-based automatic backup system that can replicate entire PCs or just the specified files and folders.  Restoring from these backups is also a breeze.

Automatic backups are Microsoft's domain, and Amahi just can't replicate that.  In fact, Amahi has to rely on third-party backup software and even recommends the backup system included in Windows Vista and Windows 7.

Result? WHS won this part.  Amahi: 1.  Windows Home Server: 1.

File Sharing

File sharing allows you to access, use and modify any file that is stored on all devices connected to your network.  With both Amahi and Windows Home Server, you can easily set up and manage file sharing.

Amahi makes it easy to set up file sharing on the network right on the browser using the interface you find at http://setup.

You just need to create users, create the folders to be shared and match these folders with the users you want to give access to.

Meanwhile, file sharing on Windows Home Server works just like any sharing protocols on Windows 7 and Vista.  You just click on the folder to share it and specify the users who can access that folder.

Overall, when it comes to file sharing, it is a draw between Amahi and Windows Home Server.

Result? Amahi: 2.  Windows Home Server: 2.

Media Streaming

Amahi promises that you really don't need a kickass device to be able to stream on its platform.  In fact, you could probably take an old computer and turn it into a media center.

Same thing with Windows Home Server.  However, the difference between Amahi and Windows Home Server is that WHS allows you to immediately stream your media to any device without the need of installing apps.  With Amahi, you need to install the AmahiTunes app or the DLNA server app, or any other similar app to do the job.

Result? Amahi: 2.  Windows Home Server: 3.


IT professionals know Linux is by far more secure than Windows.  Katherine Noyes at PCWorld writes that even though Windows code isn't public, there are still a lot of exploits that come out of taking advantage of its security flaws.

Amahi's framework is rooted on Linux, thus making it so much more secure than Windows Home Server.

Result? Amahi: 3.  Windows Home Server: 3.


Windows Home Server might have apps of its own, but they are very limited.  Amahi has apps that can help you extend its functionality.  A majority of these you can install in one click.  Also, Amahi users enjoy having an official app center that Windows fanatics do not.

Result? Amahi: 4.  Windows Home Server: 3.


Amahi has always been touted as a free alternative to Windows Home Server.  Who wants to pay $450 for Windows Server Essentials today after Microsoft killed off WHS, which went for a much more affordable rate of $50?

Take into consideration that Amahi sells for absolutely nothing.  You pay zilch, zero, nada.

Result? Amahi: 5.  Windows Home Server: 3.


So if we stop here, it would seem that Amahi would be the runaway winner with more features at no cost to install.

However, all software tends to have some degree of how easy it is for the user to install, maintain and use.  User-friendliness is very important.  You can have a very secure software that provides everything you need for a home server at a very low price, but if you cannot use it because it is just not intuitive nor is it easy to figure out, what good is it?

A good comparison point would be setup and installation.

Windows Home Server is very easy to install and it is very straightforward.  You are guided by a wizard every step of the way.  Setup is the same with Windows Home Connector.

When it comes to installation and configuration, Amahi is not too intuitive and sometimes you need to tweak it a little to make it run the way you need to.  The good news is that Amahi is backed by solid support from its developers and the Linux community.  Even if you do not have prior Linux experience, you will find it easy to install and configure Amahi just by searching the web for help.

Note that Amahi is not something like WHS that comes in a ready-to-install disk.  Instead, you have to install Fedora 12 DVD, which is available here.

You will need to repo Amahi files by clicking on the “add additional software” in the software repositories part of your Fedora installation. Input:

Enter Repository Name: Amahi and Repository URL:

After this, just follow the instructions to complete the installation. When you first run Fedora, just click on the Install Amahi icon and you're done.

Installing Amahi on Ubuntu requires different steps outlined here:

Result? This one is very difficult to judge. It depends on someone's perspective. If you want a forthright answer, it might look like Windows Home Server won this round. But many Amahi loyalists will contest to this. For user-friendliness, we will call this one as an “indecisive draw.”

Final Result

Amahi: 6.  Windows Home Server: 4.

These are the basic differences between Amahi and WHS.  We know that with just this rudimentary knowledge of their differences, Amahi stands out.  However, you can always see for yourself and do your own comparison of their features.

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Michael Gabriel Sumastre

Michael Gabriel Sumastre is a skilled technical blogger and writer with more than seven years of professional experience in Web content creation, SEO and research paper writing. He has written more than a thousand articles related to tech and gadgets, cloud computing, IT management, SEO, SEM and software solutions. He ghostwrites books / e-books and has a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science. Michael is also an expert in webmastering and loves to ride his sportsbike. He maintains his portfolio and personal blog at