Category Archives: Windows Home Server

Setup Windows Server Essentials R2 with WAAD SSO

SImple you would think but there are a few steps more than what you may first think to getting SSO through Windows Azure Active Directory working. 

Next you need to install Active Directory Federated Services.  You do this through Server Manager->Roles on your WSE box.  The go to the flag in Server Manager and select the post deployment details.  Follow the wizard creating new managed service user and creating the KDS root key as instructed.

Install the Windows Azure Active Directory Module.  You will also need the Microsoft Online Services Sign-In Assistant for IT Professionals BETA module too.  Install .net 3.5 through roles and features.

In my case I had an already confirmed domain but I needed to convert this to Federated for SSO.  Use Connect-MsolService with the organizational account for your domain and then the Convert-MsolDomainToFederated –DominaName “domain.tld”

In Windows Azure you should confirm that the domain name is now marked as verified and is configured for SSO. 

Log off and log back on again – actually I did a restart to install updates.

Then download dirsync and install on your local WSE.


After running it you should all be in sync.  If you change identities used for the sync then you’ll need to run the tool again.


Renaming Windows Server 2012 Essentials Domain

Renaming a domain can break things and generally is unsupported.  One reason you may wish to do this is to keep an old domain server around but want to reuse the NetBIOS name when installing a new domain.  My requirements were for experimentation and should not be used in production.  Proceed at your own risk and it’s possible you will stop functions that rely on AD, user, certificate and computer authentication from working.  If you are just trying to make room then all may be well.

1.  Check you are working with the right domain controller (in this scenario we only consider this is one)

2. Open DNS Manager and add a New Zone Under Forward Lookup Zone.  Select Primary and replicate To all DNS servers running on domain controllers in this domain.  Enter the new domain name.  Then Select Dynamic Update, Click Allow only secure dynamic updates (recommended for Active Directory) and finish the wizard.  You should now see the new Domain name is listed in DNS Manager.

3. Open a Command Prompt as Administrator and run:

  1. rendom /list
  2. notepad Domainlist.xml
  3. change all occurrences of DNSname to match your new domain – do the same with the NetBoisName for ForesetRoot – then save and close
  4. rendom /showforest
  5. rendom /upload
  6. rendom /prepare
  7. rendom /execute – and wait to be signed off

4. Login into the new domain (beware the login will default to the old login for now as it was the last used one) and check that all is well in computer properties.

5. Open Command Prompt again as Administrator and run (replace OLD_ and NEW_’s with your domains:

  1. gpfixup /olddns:<OLD_DOMAIN> /newdns:<NEW_DOMAIN>
  2. gpfixup /oldnb:<OLD_NETBIOS> /newnb:<NEW_NETBIOS>
  3. rendom /clean.
  4. rendom /end

6. Rejoin old domain computers to this renamed DC or whatever you were wanting to do before.

iCloud Photo Stream with WHS2011

This is just a quick post to say that iCloud works fine on Windows Home Server 2011. Though Apple don’t list Windows Server 2008 R2 or WHS2011 as a compatible product I’ve installed iCloud without any issues on my Windows Home Server and it’s been happily downloading photos sent by an iPhone 4 over the past week.

Simply logon to your Windows Home Server via RDP and go to and download the iCloud Control Panel for Windows.  Install the application as normal but due to the fact it registers a new component with the Windows control panel you will need to reboot before you can access the system control panel.  Don’t install iCloud unless you can reboot right away or live without the control panel until your server is rebooted.

After you have rebooted you can go to the Windows control panel and find the new iCloud control panel applet:


You will be prompted to enter in your Apple ID and password and if you don’t have an iCloud account there will be some words to agree to as is the norm these days.  Once you have completed the sign in/up process you’ll see the main control panel.  From here I only selected to enable the Photo Stream option.  I don’t have Outlook installed nor do I want to sync my Bookmarks with Internet Explorer:


Select the “Options…” button and then change the Download Folder to a Shared Folder on your Windows Home Server.  I decided to make a new sub-folder in my Pictures share and left the Upload folder at default as I don’t plan to upload photos from the server to iCloud.  Do note that if you set this folder to a location where you will save photos on your network then you will potentially fill up your iCloud quota quite quickly:


That’s it! A very straight-forward way to sync all your photos from mobile Apple devices to your Windows Home Server.  In testing we found the latency from taking a photo on the iPhone to be able to retrieve it from the remote access website to be well under a minute.

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