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Using a Mac on Your Windows Home Server Network

One of the important networking layers used by all Microsoft networks—including, of course, your Windows Home Server network—is called Server Message Block (SMB). It is via SMB that Windows PCs can share folders on the network and access folders that other Windows PCs have shared. In a very real sense, SMB is the network.

SMB's central role in Windows networking is good news if you have a Mac in your household. That's because all versions of OS X support SMB natively, so you can use your Mac not only to view the Windows Home Server shares, but also to open and work with files on those shares (provided, of course, that you have permission to access the share and that OS X has an application that's compatible with whatever file you want to work with). You can even switch things around and view your Mac shares from within Windows. The next few sections provide you with the details.

Making Sure That SMB Support Is Activated in OS X

OS X supports SMB out-of-the-box by default, but before going any further, it's worth while to take a second now and ensure that SMB support is activated on your Mac. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Click the Finder icon in the Dock.
  2. Select Applications, Utilities, Directory Access.
  3. In the Directory Access window's Services tab, see if the SMB/CIFS check box is activated.
  4. If the check box is activated, skip to step 6. Otherwise, click the lock icon and then enter your system password to make the settings available.
  5. Activate the SMB/CIFS check box.
  6. Select Directory Access, Quit Directory Access.

Connecting to the Windows Home Server Network

First, connect your Mac to the Windows Home Server network. If the Mac is near your network's switch (or router, depending on your configuration), run a network cable from the device to the Mac. If you're using a wireless connection, instead, follow these steps to connect your Mac to the wireless portion of your Windows Home Server network:

  1. Click the System Preferences icon in the Dock.
  2. Click Network to open the Network preferences.
  3. Click AirPort.
  4. Click Connect to open the Internet Connect application, with the AirPort tab displayed.
  5. Use the Network list to select your Windows Home Server wireless network ID.
  6. If your network is secure, make sure the Wireless Security list displays the correct security type.
  7. Type the security key in the Password text box and then click OK to return to the Internet Connect window. As shown in Figure 5.6, the Status should show connected.
    Figure 5.6

    Figure 5.6 When you connect your Mac to the Windows Home Server network via wireless, the AirPort tab shows the connection status.

  8. Select Internet Connect, Quit Internet Connect.
  9. Close the Network preferences window.

Mounting a Windows Home Server Shared Folder

You're now ready to access the Windows Home Server shares. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Click the Finder icon in the Dock.
  2. In the Sidebar, click Network. After a few seconds, you should see a folder icon for your workgroup, as shown in Figure 5.7.
    Figure 5.7

    Figure 5.7 Click Network in Finder's Sidebar, and you'll eventually see a folder icon for your Windows Home Server workgroup.

  3. Open the workgroup folder icon. OS X displays the workgroup and shows a computer icon for each network client.
  4. Open the icon for your Windows Home Server computer. The SMB/CIFS File System Authentication dialog box appears, as shown in Figure 5.8.
    Figure 5.8

    Figure 5.8 You need to enter your Windows Home Server Administrator password to access the shares from OS X.

  5. Type Administrator in the Name text box.
  6. Type your Administrator account password in the Password text box.
  7. If you want OS X to remember your credentials, activate the Remember This Password in My Keychain check box.
  8. Click OK. OS X asks you to select which shared volume you want to connect to.
  9. In the list, select the Windows Home Server share (Music, Photos, and so on).
  10. Click OK. OS X mounts the share and displays a new icon for it on the desktop and in the Sidebar, as shown in Figure 5.9.
    Figure 5.9

    Figure 5.9 When you connect to a Windows Home Server share, OS X mounts it on the desktop, and an icon appears in the Sidebar.

  11. Double-click the desktop icon or click Network in the Sidebar to see the contents of the share, as shown in Figure 5.10.
    Figure 5.10

    Figure 5.10 The contents of the shared Windows Home Server folder.

  12. Work with the folder contents using the OS X tools. In the Music share, for instance, you could play compatible music files using iTunes.

Backing Up Mac Data to a Windows Home Server Shared Folder

Besides working with the files on a Windows Home Server share in an OS X application, you can use a Windows Home Server share to store OS X backups. This is handy if you don't have a second hard drive attached to your Mac, or if your backups are too big to burn to a DVD. The easiest way to do this in OS X is to use the Disk Utility to archive a folder or the entire system to an image file on a Windows Home Server share. Here's how it's done:

  1. In Windows Home Server, create a share to store the OS X backup.
  2. Follow the steps in the previous section to mount the new share in OS X.
  3. Click the Finder icon in the Dock.
  4. Select Applications, Utilities, and then double-click Disk Utility. OS X launches the Disk Utility application.
  5. If you want to back up your entire system, click Macintosh HD in the Disk Utility window.
  6. Select File, New and then select either Disk Image from Folder or Disk Image from disk (Macintosh HD), where disk is the name of your Mac's hard disk.
  7. If you selected Disk Image from Folder, the Select Folder to Image dialog box appears. Select the folder you want to back up and then click Image.
  8. In the New Image dialog box, use the Save As text box to edit the filename, if desired.
  9. Select the Windows Home Server share that you mounted in step 2.
  10. Click Save. OS X creates the disk image on the Windows Home Server share. (Depending on the amount of data you're archiving, this may take several hours.)
  11. When the image creation is done, select Disk Utility, Quit Disk Utility.

Using a Mac to Make a Remote Desktop Connection to Windows Home Server

You learn in Chapter 9, "Making Connections to Network Computers," how to use Windows' Remote Desktop Connection program to connect to the desktop of another computer on your network. However, it's also possible to make Remote Desktop connections to Windows computers from your Mac.

To do this, you need to install on your Mac the Remote Desktop Connection Client for Mac, which is available from Microsoft. Go to www.microsoft.com/downloads and search for Remote Desktop Mac.

After you have the Remote Desktop Connection Client installed on your Mac, mount it and then follow these steps:

  1. Ensure that the Windows PC to which you'll be connecting is configured to accept Remote Desktop connections.
  2. In Finder, open the mounted Remote Desktop Connection volume, open the Remote Desktop Connection folder, and then launch the Remote Desktop Connection icon.
  3. In the Computer text box, type the IP address of the host computer.
  4. If you don't want to customize Remote Desktop, skip to step 7. Otherwise, click Options to expand the dialog box to the version shown in Figure 5.11.
    Figure 5.11

    Figure 5.11 Click Options to expand the dialog box so that you can customize Remote Desktop.

  5. The General tab offers the following additional options:

    User Name

    This is the username you want to use to log in to the host computer.

    Password

    This is the password to use to log on to the host computer.

    Domain

    Leave this text box blank.

    Add to Keychain

    Activate this check box to have OS X remember your logon data.

    Save As

    Click this button to save your connection settings to a Remote Desktop file for later use. This is useful if you regularly connect to other hosts.

    Open

    Click this button to open a saved Remote Desktop file.

  6. Fill in the options in the Display, Local Resources, Programs, and Performance tab, as required.
  7. Click Connect. Remote Desktop Connection Client for Mac connects to the Windows PC. Figure 5.12 shows OS X with a connection to a Windows Vista computer.
    Figure 5.12

    Figure 5.12 A Mac connected to a Windows Vista PC using the Remote Desktop Connection Client for Mac software.

    When you're done, select RDC, Quit RDC, and then click OK when the program warns you that you're about to disconnect from the Windows PC.

Letting Windows Computers See Your Mac Shares

SMB not only lets your Mac see shares on the Windows Home Server network, it also can let Windows PCs see folders shared by the Mac. This feature is turned off by default in OS X, but you can follow these steps to turn it on:

  1. Click the System Preferences icon in the Dock.
  2. In the Internet & Network group, click Sharing to open the Sharing preferences.
  3. Click the lock icon, and then enter your system password to make the settings available.
  4. Make sure the Services tab is selected, and then click Windows Sharing.
  5. Click Start. OS X starts the Windows Sharing Service and warns you that you must enable an account to use Windows Sharing.
  6. Click Enable Accounts.
  7. Click the account you want to use, enter that account's password, click OK, and then click Done. The Sharing window shows you the address that Windows PCs can use to access your Mac shares directly, as shown in Figure 5.13.
    Figure 5.13

    Figure 5.13 The Sharing window with Windows Sharing activated.

  8. Select System Preferences, Quit System Preferences.

One way to access the Mac shares from a Windows PC is to enter the share address directly, using either the Run dialog box or Windows Explorer's address bar. You have two choices:

\\IP\user
\\Computer\user

Here IP is the IP address shown in the OS X Sharing window (see Figure 5.13), Computer is the Mac's computer name (also shown in the OS X Sharing window), and in both cases user is the username of the account enabled for Windows Sharing. For example, I can use either of the following addresses to access my Mac:

\\192.168.1.119\paul
\\PaulsMac\paul

Alternatively, open your workgroup as shown in Figure 5.14 and look for the icon that has the same name as the Mac's computer name (shown in Figure 5.13). Double-click that icon.

Figure 5.14

Figure 5.14 Look for the icon that has the same name as your Mac.

Either way, you're prompted for the username and password of the Mac account that you enabled for Windows Sharing. For the username, use the form Computer\UserName, where Computer is the name of your Mac and UserName is the name of the Windows Sharing account. Figure 5.15 shows a Mac share opened in Windows Home Server.

Figure 5.15

Figure 5.15 A shared Mac folder opened in Windows Home Server.

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