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December 3, 2007

Rolling out Windows Home Server with a HP MediaSmart Server

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Home Server also makes sure all your PCs are protected by as well – alerting you if a PC becomes unprotected our has out-of-date antivirus/spyware definitions.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.