Update on the upcoming software upgrades for MediaSmart Servers

by Alex Kuretz on October 9, 2009 · 51 comments

in News

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Owners of the first and second generation of the MediaSmart Server have been looking on the new 3.0 software that ships with the EX490 and EX495 with a bit of jealousy over the past few weeks. Back in May HP committed to delivering an upgrade for these customers so that they could be running the latest and greatest features on their older servers. Today HP has an update on the status of the software upgrade for owners of the previous generations of the MediaSmart Server.

Back in May, we announced a plan to allow current MediaSmart Server customers to upgrade to the most current software version beginning this Fall. Below are additional details on the plans to deliver these upgrades.

HP recently announced the new EX490/495 MediaSmart Servers. These Servers provide our latest software capabilities including an enhanced video converter, greater Mac Support including bare metal recovery, and a simplified user interface. It is this software version (3.0) that will be made available to existing EX470/475/485/487 customers. Note that these software upgrades are optional and will be available as a new installation DVD as opposed to a software download.

We are currently proceeding down the path of a server recovery solution that will not only upgrade your software to the 3.0 version, but also preserve the data in your shared folders. This approach is preferable to a factory reset that would otherwise require customers to manually offload and restore all server files that the customer wants to preserve. However, the server recovery approach requires additional testing cycles to validate the approach and the resulting data integrity. We expect the upgrade DVDs will be available to order through hp.com beginning in December, 2009. Note that if testing shows the server recovery solution to be problematic, our plan is to change the upgrade process to a factory reset.

As previously communicated, there will be certain limitations of this software upgrade depending on your product. For example, customers using the Photo Webshare feature in the EX470/475 products will lose this feature if they choose to upgrade (although we expect existing Webshare album photos will be moved into the Photos shared folder). In addition, customers who have not upgraded their DRAM in the EX470/475 products will likely experience sluggish behavior or limited functionality running certain aspects of the latest 3.0 software. Finally, the 3.0 software will not be made available for the LX195 model.

The final cost of the upgrade DVD is pending, but is expected to be in the US$25 range.

We thank everyone for their continued support of the MediaSmart Server family of products.

I know some of you may be disappointed that the update will be coming a little bit later than the original Fall time-frame estimate, however I feel that the feature set in the 3.0 software and the Server Recovery upgrade path are worth the extra time needed to perform the necessary testing. There is also the consideration that they need to accommodate the two previous versions of hardware, which means additional drivers to be integrated into the Windows Home Server image and making sure the licensing and activation all works correctly. We’d all like to get our hands on the new features as soon as possible, but in my opinion HP is doing a good thing for the MediaSmart Server community and I applaud them putting in the effort to provide a solid upgrade path.

I did specifically ask if the upgrade would be available for all previously supported languages and regions, and got confirmation that yes, HP would make the upgrade available for all customers of the previous generation servers.

The original announcement from HP back in May was very vague as to what the upgrade path would look like, and at the time some readers expressed a willingness to pay for the software update. Now that we’ve got more details, how do you feel about the solution HP is providing and how many of you expect to purchase the upgrade? Will the cost of the upgrade dissuade you from getting it for your older server? What do you think about the LX195 being left out?





Article by

I'm Alex Kuretz, and I'm the founder of MediaSmartServer.net. I was the Lead Test and Integration Engineer at HP for the MediaSmart Server until April 2008 when I moved on to other opportunities outside HP. I've kept active in the Windows Home Server community, creating several add-ins and helping users make the most of their Home Servers.


{ 50 comments }

Texas-Hansen October 9, 2009 at 5:33 am

Thanks for the update Alex. This is great news and I’ll be jumping on board when it arrives in December!!!!! I agree with Alex that the December time frame is worth the wait to make sure it works with all the different hardware versions and provide us the server recovery path to install it. While free is better, a nominal cost of $25 is okay…not great…but okay…assuming HP does not push that number higher with tax and shipping. Plus, I would assume that by paying $25, it comes with support from the HP MSS team, which makes that price more attractive and worth it given their professional expertise.

welchwerks October 9, 2009 at 6:48 am

This news is fantastic, and a $25.00 fee for what we are getting sounds o.k. the delay could also help in the integration with PP3

if the webshare photos wont be avaliable on the new upgrade
where is that information stored? so i can off load it for safe keeping, i have family that has uploaded 50GB of photos fron around the world and i dont know where there pictures reside on the server , i dont think there in the shares photos folder with the ones from me

anyway great new HP, that is why
i own

2 hp tablets
1 hp mediasmart server
3 hp printers/scanners
2 high end workstations

sjkeegs October 9, 2009 at 7:20 am

Forgive my ignorance, I’ve recently bought a EX485.

Does this have anything to do with MS’s PP3 update? Can I upgrade the EX485 to PP3 without the HP update? Will the HP update include PP3? Or are these two separate.

Olivier FAYE October 9, 2009 at 7:28 am

great news!
I am a french user and i am glad to learn that HP upgrade will be available for all previous supported languages.
Paying 25$ is not to much for me for this sort of upgrade if it’s come with HP support and i hope it will be possible to directly download the DVD image from HP site to avoid shipping.

Texas-Hansen October 9, 2009 at 8:28 am

@ sjkeegs – The PP3 from Microsoft and the HP 3.0 software are two different things. You can updgrade your EX485 to PPS without the HP 3.0 software. In fact, I’m running the PP3 Beta 1 now on my EX470. You can too if you download it from MS Connect for WHS. The HP 3.0 software, which will have the WHS image on it presumably, would not likely include PP3 as PP3 is still in beta and will not likely be released until December or January.

welchwerks October 9, 2009 at 9:05 am

yes, they are seperate PP3 and HP update 3

Alex Kuretz October 9, 2009 at 9:13 am

@welchwerks – the Webshare files are stored in an application folder on the server, in D:\{6f*. So you can manually back these up, but note that HP says they plan to move them into a folder in the Photos share. I’m sure we’ll uncover more as the upgrade approaches and can provide a tutorial.

Diehard October 9, 2009 at 10:46 am

I’m happy to see HP confirm the release of 3.0 to pre-EX49x. Since it will be necessary to aquire replacement DVD`s I am willing to pay a small fee like $5 because I would like to see the early adopters who paid a premium price for their boxes, be rewarded. This would include the EX48x early adopters who paid the full price for their boxes. However for those that purchased their servers at a lower price, then I can see a price of $25.

Also home built server users have showed interest in HP`s 3.0 software, I would like to see a version available to them.

Texas-Hansen October 9, 2009 at 10:50 am

Alex

Do you know if the server recovery/factory reset for the 3.0 software on the EX47x and EX48x will eliminate the use of the flash disk and instead load the bootable OS off the Recovery DVD via direct connection with the Client PC like they are doing for the EX49x series?

Alex Kuretz October 9, 2009 at 10:58 am

No, it will be the same Recovery process as exists on those model servers today. The new EX49x mechanism requires PXE network boot support which the EX47x and EX48x weren’t set up for (though it may exist in the BIOS).

Lars Hoffmann October 9, 2009 at 11:32 am

All of that makes sense and shows the commitment of HP to the home server community (however it needed a ton of pressure from the community to get them to do this). I can only agree on the LX195 being left out. This was a failure from the start (see my review in the LX195 thread) and we shall see if the LX195 successor (should it materialize) has the increased fire power (i.e. dual core atom, 2GB) and the option for a second drive and/or port multiplier to make it deserve the name MediaSmart.

pete October 9, 2009 at 12:37 pm

A Server Recovery whacks your client backups, no?
Yes I have BDBB installed, but haven’t run it yet…

Phil Alban October 9, 2009 at 1:20 pm

Yes, I am glad to hear about this and, as I have posted elsewhere regading the added 3.0 functionality, my main concrens were addressed with the Mac Backup release and Amazon S3 release earlier this year.

I am a bit nervous about doing a server recovery just to get those few added features, but I think that $25 for a recovery DVD is fair.

And honestly, this should have been an available option when the EX48Xs were released to retail stores. The fact that a pretty big upgrade was offered in a new model with the same operating system, but wasn’t offered to legacy systems, STILL leaves a bad taste in my mouth…

Alex Kuretz October 9, 2009 at 1:49 pm

@Pete – no, server recovery should not whack your client backups. Do make sure to fully update the system before doing any Backup Database Repairs.

Comp1962 October 10, 2009 at 11:12 am

When I first read about the 3.0 Upgrade I was extremely excited. As for the wait I would rather wait to have a working Upgrade and the fee is reasonable.

Does anyone know if HP will allow users to preorder this upgrade?

DrewG5 October 11, 2009 at 5:51 pm

I find this to be very interesting and look foreword to the additional Macintosh support this will bring. We are slowly moving away from Windows PC’s with the exception of a netbook and the HP MediaSmart server.

Comp1962 October 12, 2009 at 12:55 am

The Mac support only supports Max OS X 10.5 something I wish HP would of mentioned before I got all excited and frustrated with. No harm done there though. What I am most curious about is will the HP MediaSmart Server beable to recover the Mac OS like it does with Windows PC’s? I will be purchasing a new Mac soon to run both Mac OS of Course and Windows.

Alex Kuretz October 12, 2009 at 9:51 am

The 3.0 software now includes the ability to perform image restores of Macs. You can read more and see screenshots in my review of the EX490 and EX495.
http://www.mediasmartserver.net/2009/09/14/review-hp-mediasmart-server-ex490-and-ex495/

JesD October 12, 2009 at 11:35 pm

Everything sounds great…I am slightly disappointed with the webshare going away. Is this permanent?

Id have to weigh the pros and cons in order to get rid of the webshare. My family uses it too much to just get rid of it…
Whats everyone else gonna do or am I the only one that loves this feature?

Comp1962 October 13, 2009 at 12:05 am

Thanks Alex I found quite abit of useful information regarding the MAC and as I scanned through site listing the EX49x 3.0 features I found myself more excited about 3.0.

JesD – I think when you look at the HP Photo Publisher/Photo Viewer in the site Alex Kuretz Posted on Oct 12th I think you will not miss Webshare at all and welcome the HP Photo Publish but having to set the thing back up would be a pain this I know.

Darkon October 13, 2009 at 3:11 pm

Glad to finally see an update on this! Early December is longer than I had hoped we would have to wait, but it is definitely better than never.

$25 seems bit high to me. From my standpoint, the reason to charge for the update is to cover the additional costs of putting together the physical disks and shipping them out to customers. A small fee would also help discourage people from ordering the disks just because they can even though they probalby won’t install the update. I think $10 – $15 (including S&H fees) would be more reasonable for end users and I really don’t think the extra $10 – $15 would add anything meaningful to HP’s botom line.

Another option might be for HP to make the ISO images available for download for free so we can just burn our own disks. And for people that really want nicely labled disks from HP, they could offer them for the $10, $15 or $25 fee.

Anyway, if it costs $25 I’ll stil pay it because I’d like to get the new features. It just seems like something that should have been planned from the very beginning and if it had been, it would have been much better for HP and all of us. Hopefully HP learned something from this and won’t make the same type of decision in the future.

On the other side, it is great to see HP listening and responding to their customers as the new MSS line demonstrates by including an option for a higher-end CPU and the restoration of an eSATA port that supports multi-drive eSATA boxes. Really, he EX-49x models are what the EX-48x models SHOULD have been. They should have skipped the 48x models and just shipped the 2.5 software to the 47x owners as an update. Oh well, live and learn.

Jonathan Kimrey October 14, 2009 at 5:45 pm

I just recently got around to upgrading the RAM in my 475 to 2gb.

Will this be sufficient for the 3.0 software, or will I need to also upgrade the processor?

Thanks.

Comp1962 October 14, 2009 at 9:52 pm

Jonathan I don’t believe HP Recommends the processor upgrade and up until recently they didn’t recommend the RAM upgrade either. Having said that I believe HP will release 3.0 for the processors they shipped the units with.

Now I have upgraded my processor to the LE-1640 currently available at Frys P/N: 5822563 for $38 and I upgraded the RAM to 2GB. The biggest boost to the performance of my EX470 was the RAM. The processor did boost performance but not quite the performance I antisipated. Personally I would still upgrade the Processor because in my case my EX470 needs all the help it can get.

There is a duel processor for the A2 Socket that some have been playing with but it requires a BIOS modification to recognise the processor. From time to time I look around to see if someones had true success with it but I have not see it yet.

All said and done I am happy with my EX470 its saved me many times already and the PC Restore Function is a Gift From God.

Alex Kuretz October 14, 2009 at 10:07 pm

Jonathan, you’re much safer with just upgrading the memory. You’ll have a better experience if you upgrade the memory, but the 3.0 software will run on the stock 470/475.

Allan October 17, 2009 at 4:00 pm

Do you know if this will address the windows 7 remote desktop issues?

Comp1962 October 17, 2009 at 7:21 pm

Allen, Microsoft is about the release Power Pack 3 which is suppose to make WHS compatable with Windows 7. You can read about Power Pack 3 starting at the site below:
http://windowsteamblog.com/blogs/windowshomeserver/archive/2009/09/28/windows-home-server-power-pack-3-update.aspx

sam October 18, 2009 at 2:05 pm

$25? Oh c’mon. Just provide and .iso on your website and let us burn it ourselves. Think of it as being ‘green’ or better yet, think of it as not soaking your EXISTING customers any more than is necessary.

Its ridiculous to think your 2nd generation (EX485/487) will be happy with anything less than a complementary upgrade. Some of us bought these machines a MONTH before your released this software.

DO WHAT’S RIGHT!!! STAND BY YOUR CUSTOMERS.

Alex Kuretz October 19, 2009 at 9:49 am

Unfortunately they can’t provide .iso files as this would violate the licensing from Microsoft. :(

Ash October 19, 2009 at 4:44 pm

I have upgraded my EX470 to the 2.5 update using the method given on thos website. In understand that this involved registry hacks. Any ideas if it will affect my possible upgrade to 3.0?

Thanks
Ash

Ash October 19, 2009 at 4:45 pm

Sorry for the typos
I have upgraded my EX470 to the 2.5 update using the method given on this website. I understand that this involved registry hacks. Any ideas if it will affect my possible upgrade to 3.0?

Thanks
Ash

Alex Kuretz October 19, 2009 at 4:54 pm

The 3.0 update will be a Server Recovery which lays down a fresh operating system on the C: partition, so there should be no issues with your upgrade.

Diehard October 19, 2009 at 5:02 pm

My opinion is that since HP will be shipping DVD’s, so as not the violate Microsoft licensing agreement, then this means that the DVD’s will include a full copy of WHS. Therefor this in not really an upgrade, but a full install version for your EX47x/48x. But you will be running the Server Restore and not be deleting your shares.

Therfor, your actually removing you old version including all updates for a new install. HP mentions in there update that they will drop WebShare. So it looks a rewrite of HP’s WHS software because WebShare was based on jetty, while the 48x/49x version is based on Tomcat. There might be some code in there to move your WebShare images from the D:\folders folder to a shared folder (guessing). In the end you will be loosing the 2.5 update.

What might be interesting is if these DVD’s will include PP1 & PP2 and a bunch of WHS updates and the 64 bit connector software so that future Server reinstalls would not have to be started on 32 bit machines.

Tom Torrance October 20, 2009 at 1:30 pm

My first server recovery invalidated all of my backups of my other home systems. I started backing them up on my EX470 before I added new disk drives so they initially went on my C/D-drive, I guess. the Server Recovery was done when I had a total of 5 separate drives in use, but I guess drive C/D was still involved prior to the reformat:-) All the data shares were successfully recovered. Software add-ins were automatically re-implemented (TiVo, PD10, PV Connect, Avast! McAfee was NOT in use). Software installed off the WEB (Java, ORB2) was not.

Remote Access stopped working – but with Orb2 I never missed it.

How could/should my negative experiences be avoided by others (and possibly myself) as part of the new Software Recovery?

Alex Kuretz October 20, 2009 at 1:47 pm

Sorry to hear you lost your backups, Tom. You don’t provide all the details, so I can only speculate. Did you replace the system drive, or simply perform a Server Recovery on the existing system drive? If the latter, then your client backups should have been preserved. I believe that when they are lost it is most likely due to performing a Database Repair before your newly recovered server is up to the same Update level as prior to the Server Recovery. I documented my experience with this in this blog post.

Tom Torrance October 20, 2009 at 10:23 pm

It was a System Recovery on the original drive. The base (original) version of the backups was saved to the same drive, prior to my adding 3.5 TB to my WHS system.

Tom Torrance October 20, 2009 at 10:28 pm

BTW – losing the backups was in practice a minor event at that time. I simply started a new series of backups which were properly stored on Data volumes rather than the system volume.

Tom Torrance October 20, 2009 at 10:46 pm

P.S. There was no problem with the system drive. I had done something stupid and killed my LAN connectivity from the EX470, leaving System Recovery as my best option for recovery. I used the following procedure for SR:
http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/document?docname=c01213383&tmp_track_link=ot_faqs/top_issues/en_uk/c01213383/loc:8&lc=en&dlc=en&cc=uk&product=3548165&lang=en

Alex Kuretz October 21, 2009 at 12:06 am

Hi Tom, glad to hear the recovery went well otherwise and that losing your backup DB wasn’t catastrophic to you. For future reference, I recently wrote a Wiki article on what to do if you disable the network interface. :)

Tom Torrance October 21, 2009 at 2:55 pm

Thanks, Alex! That is terrific (and simple).

hi.its.me.scott October 23, 2009 at 12:36 pm

@Comp1962 – “I think when you look at the HP Photo Publisher/Photo Viewer in the site Alex Kuretz Posted on Oct 12th I think you will not miss Webshare at all and welcome the HP Photo Publish” I haven’t been able to locate this article, would you happen to have a link?

Thanks.

Alex Kuretz October 23, 2009 at 3:00 pm

I expect he means the EX490/EX495 review, it has some shots of the Photo Publisher.

Gary in Munich November 5, 2009 at 6:49 am

Happy to see we have a release date. Thanks for keeping us in the loop. $25.00 cost is fair. I imported my machine to Germany in third qtr 2008 and looking forward to the additional functions.

T-Bone November 16, 2009 at 10:16 pm

Any new info? Yakuza, you think you’ll be testing the demo of this update?

Alex Kuretz November 16, 2009 at 11:43 pm

As the release states, I wouldn’t expect any news before December. I have asked for early access to the update but don’t have anything I can share at this time.

Paul November 30, 2009 at 11:04 pm

Any more news from this? This in one of the only sites I can find with info on this update for us. Thanks!

Dan December 5, 2009 at 4:38 pm

I’m hoping this is coming soon. Any update?

Scott December 5, 2009 at 9:07 pm

I bet Alex here and Terry over at wegotserved know something, but they can’t say yet.

It’s driving me insane in the membrane.

InfidelForJesus February 10, 2010 at 1:51 am

As an EX475 stock owner, I can’t believe people are complaining about $25. It sounds real petty to me! I’m just worried about having to do my own memory upgrade, its been so long since I did any PC work. But I’d like to know if the new O/S can support a dual architecture processor since the replacement processors are so hard to find.

Gary in Munich March 11, 2010 at 1:17 pm

Alex, Have I missed the release of the V3 upgrade? I have been watching but have not seen any information recently. Would like to know if this is somewhere in my(our) future.

Alex Kuretz March 11, 2010 at 1:29 pm

@Gary – there are numerous blog posts on my site and others about the 3.0 upgrade. http://www.mediasmartserver.net/2010/02/23/guide-how-to-upgrade-your-mediasmart-server-to-the-3-0-software-update/

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