Rolling out Windows Home Server with a HP MediaSmart Server

Rolling out Windows Home Server with a HP MediaSmart Server

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HP MediaSmart Server

This weekend I completed the roll-out of my new HP MediaSmart Server running Windows Home Server.  I ordered the HP MediaSmart Server EX470. I originally had Windows Home Server running on my Dell Dimension E520 but decommissioned it when I created my "Ultimate" PC. I really wanted to try out the experience the average consumer will have in purchasing a Windows Home Server and setting it up in their home. The HP MediaSmart Server seemed like the perfect choice in checking out the Windows Home Server experience.

HP MediaSmart Server - Frontside  HP MediaSmart Server - Backside HP MediaSmart Server - Expansion Bays

The HP MediaSmart Server EX470 has the following specs:

  • Processor - AMD 1.8GHz 64-bit Sempron
  • Memory - 512MB DDR
  • Interfaces - 4 USB 2.0 Ports, 1 eSATA Port
  • Storage - 1 500GB SATA 7200 RPM

HP MediaSmart Server - Expansion Bay Close-up HP MediaSmart Server - Back Close-up HP MediaSmart Server - Front Close-up

The EX470 model of the HP MediaSmart Server comes with a single 500GB harddrive, however the EX475 model comes with 1TB (two 500GB SATA harddrives). I don't need 1TB just yet so decided to go with the EX470. The EX470 comes with 3 expansion slots to add my own harddrives at a later date which is really nice.

Windows Home Server gives a great deal of added benefit to Windows Vista users. First and foremost, it allows you to make sure your PC is completely backed up and that all your PCs on your home network are backed up. With a Windows Home Server restore disc, you can easily restore a complete PC backup from your Windows Home Server via your home network. Windows Home Server also makes sure all your PCs are protected by as well - alerting you if a PC becomes unprotected our has out-of-date antivirus/spyware definitions. And Windows Home Server takes advantage of Media Sharing abilities built in to Windows Vista for photos, music and videos. I can move recorded TV shows onto my Windows Home Server where I can access them on any PC on my home network. Same goes for my photos.

There are 3 reasons why Windows Home Server is essential for my home network:

  1. A centralized place for data storage with quick access from any PC on my.
  2. Quick and easy remote access to PCs and data.
  3. Complete PC backups with full and quick restore capability.

I do a lot of traveling and when I'm away from my home office, I cannot begin to explain how amazing it is to be able to login to my Windows Home Server to access important data - or files I accidentally left behind. I can even use Remote Desktop to login to my PCs at home remotely.

In setting up the HP MediaSmart Server, I was curious how the experience would be in setting up a "headless" server from a consumer standpoint. There's no monitor connection on the HP MediaSmart Server - only way to access it is remotely. I was incredibly impressed on how easy it was.

Essentially, the HP MediaSmart Server comes with an install disc you use on any of your client PCs on your home network. The install disc will install some HP software for the server as well as launch a wizard that takes the user through a step-by-step process in setting up Windows Home Server. The wizard lets you setup a Windows Home Server Password, check for updates, name your Windows Home Server, and install the Windows Home Server Connector.

    

After the wizard completed, I had a fully functional and accessible Windows Home Server. Took me only a matter of a few minutes to set up. Very nice.

Coming up, I've got some more experiences to share with Windows Home Server and Windows Vista.

10 Comments
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  • I have WHS running on an old emachine that I rebuilt from spare parts. Two drives totaling close to 500GB. I currently have 3 32bit systems being backed up, though it may not be daily, but they do get backed up. I also have my music collection on the server (20gb+). Now my main machine is running 64bit Vista. Being that there isn't a way to use the client software to back an 64bit OS, all I did was to partition one of my drives and install 32bit Vista; now I can backup the entire system. Granted I haven't tested to see if I can do a full restore (both 32 and 64bit vista), but at least my data is being backed up. I also have most of my directories on the server set up for file/folder duplication. Once the 64bit client is released, I may buy the HP, unless Dell comes out with one.

  • Goodbye Dell E520, Hello super PC and Media Server!

    Funny thing is that your old Dell is way more powerful than my clunker, I was going to upgrade my Desktop PC with as it has a Vista Experience score of 2.0!  I bought my wife a Media Center Notebook PC last year and had been getting jealous of it, however unfortunately HP have had some reported problems with her particular model HP dv6105... so my jealously went away as now her Notebook seems that it is at least as likely to fail as my 5 year old desktop.  

    I decided we could live with what we have for now, maybe when more PCs come installed with Vista x64 that will be the time to switch.  I just put 2GB of ram in her Notebook as it was $30 After Rebate, funny thing is that I noticed the ram was branded with a WEEE symbol

    http://www.weeeregistration.com/images/weee-symbol-logo.gif

    Im not sure if that holds us to any standards here in the US, but it was a reminder that we should dispose of our e-waste better.  So I hope you recycled your old E520.

  • JimW
    1 Posts

    Do shadow copies (previous versions) work on your HP MediaSmart? I have not been able to get them to work on my EX470 and have heard a couple similar reports with the HP.

  • blheath
    1 Posts

    I received my Media Server 11/27, and it's one of the easiest installs I've ever done. I have 2 500 GB dri ves so I can duplicate file folders that I choose. There is an addin Windows Home server Program launcher that lets you get to the desktop and windows explorer of the WHS operating system. Through this I was able to install Diskeeper for WHS. Only problem I had was with the manual set up of my router. HP Tech support was a great help with that. All I need now is a virusscan program for it now.

  • rbailin, how do you mean I'll get all my info onto my server? Windows Home Server comes with a client that connects the PC's to the server and does the backups. For my PC running 64-bit there is currently no connector but I am using Windows Live OneCare to back up that PC to the server which works great for the time being. I just set up a new folder on my Windws Home Server for OneCare Backups for that PC.  

    BTW to all (and eshuundara and Other Bas), yes I do *intend* to do drive mirroring to make sure if one drive fails, the others keep my data going so I don't lose data. I am aware one drive is very risky for important data and intend to fix this issue very soon with another 500GB drive in which I'll set replication up for drive mirroring.

    - Brandon

  • eshuundara: if you use it as a backup, you'll essentially have two copies. One on your pc, and one on your home server. Granted, two hard drives are essential for stuff on your shares, but backups are, by definition, 'mirrored'.

  • A home server would in theory have all those useful yet very important files such as all your family photos or your mp3 archive...  and you put it all on a single box with no backup and not even a mirrored RAID set??

    My data is way to important to even consider keeping it on a single hard drive.  Any home server that doesn't at least have two drives is asking for lots of trouble.

  • rbailin
    3 Posts

    So how do you plan to backup all the info on this 500GB server?

  • If only HP would actually think about releasing it abroad. Why are they being so tight-lipped about international releases?

  • If only the client were supported on Vista x64.

    Any day now, real soon now, I hope! :)