Manually migrating to a new Home Server

by Alex Kuretz on January 5, 2010 · 44 comments

in Guides

I’ve been using my trusty EX475 since roughly September of 2007 when I was working at HP and we wrapped up development of the very first MediaSmart server. This unit has served me very well over the past two years with no significant issues encountered (though I have had problems with network switches). Since this Home Server stores all my family photos and videos, my music collection, and the backups of all the computers in my house I’ve kept it fairly clean and refrain from doing any testing on it. I’m fortunate to have other servers for developing Add-Ins, testing and experimenting, and writing guides to help people learn to better use their Home Server.

Then the HP MediaSmart Server EX495 came along, tempting me with it’s dual core CPU, 2GB of RAM, 1.5TB hard drive and quieter power supply. After testing and experimenting with it for a few months I decided it was time to upgrade. I have previously discussed using Server Recovery to migrate to a new Windows Home Server, and Damian also had success using this method. However, some readers were uncomfortable using Server Recovery in this way, plus I wanted to take advantage of the 1.5TB system drive in the EX495 instead of reusing the 500GB system drive from my EX475. This led me to perform a manual migration of all my data from the old server to the new, and I documented this process to share with you.

My goal through this process was to end up with basically the same setup I had on my EX75, but with the new 3.0 HP software features and horsepower of the EX495. I also took advantage of this operation to perform some cleanup of the files stored on my server and managed to discard many gigabytes of old installer files that I’d saved, cleaned up some old backups, and performed some general housekeeping. I wanted to use the 750GB and 1TB Western Digital Green Power drives from the EX475 in the new server, and so I knew that I would have to move the data in stages.

I started by performing a Factory Reset on the EX495, went through the initial setup, created a couple of users, and added a 1TB Seagate drive for additional storage. At this point I didn’t want to store any backups on the server and I knew it would take a couple of days to perform the full migration, so I disabled the backups of the sole connected client PC. While this was going on I disabled the features and uninstalled most of the Add-Ins from the EX475, with the intent of limiting the possibility of any data changing on the old server while I was in the process of migrating my files to the new server.

I started off by moving the data from the smaller shares on my EX475 – 50GB of files from my user account and 60GB of family photos – leaving the large Videos shared folder that contains my DVD rips for last. I used Robocopy to transfer the files, as it is more robust than a simple Windows drag-n-drop file copy in that it will tolerate network hiccups and can even retry the copy if needed. Robocopy is included by default with Vista and Windows 7, but to get it on Windows Home Server (based upon Windows Server 2003) I had to install the Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit Tools.

I then used Robocopy on my primary Desktop PC to copy my 35GB CD collection from the PC to the new server (I keep the CD collection on my PC in addition to the server for easy sync to the Zune and iPod). I chose Robocopy over the Media Collector feature of the HP Software primarily because neither of the organization methods used by the Media Collector (by artist or by PC folder structure) exactly meet my needs.

After copying this data to the new server, and disabling Duplication on the older server I had freed up enough space to remove the 1TB Western Digital GP drive and was ready to move it over to the EX495. I used the Drive Removal feature of Windows Home Server, this took some time to move all the files off of the drive but it completed successfully. I then removed it from the EX475, installed it in the EX495, and used the Add Drive wizard to increase the capacity of the new server’s storage.

At this point I was ready to move the Client Backups from the EX475 to the new EX495. Note that if you choose to do this, it is critical to make sure that both the old and new server are at the same version of Windows Home Server in order to avoid the loss of your backups. You can verify the version of your server in the Home Server Console, under the Resources section of the Settings tab. To move the Client Backups I used my WHS Backup Database-Backup Add-In, and utilized the ability to backup to a network share to copy the Backup DB from the old server over the network to the new server. I started by installing BDBB on the old server, used the “Add Network Share” feature to map the Public share of the new server, and then created a new backup.

This took several hours to copy over gigabit network, I just left it running overnight. Once the copy had finished I installed BDBB on the new server and used the “Add Network Share” feature to map \\localhost\Public. It automatically found the BDBB backup from the EX475, I clicked Restore, then left it running for a few hours as it copied it into place. Note that I chose NO when prompted to restore the client registry keys, as Windows Home Server has improved it’s handling of unknown clients in the backup database and the client registry keys are usually no longer needed for restoration.

After this completed, all my client PCs from the old server were now present in the “Computers and Backups” tab of the EX495. I tested the Single File Restore feature on a few of the backups to make sure things were working well, and all looked good. I then enabled backups on the connected Client PC, and installed the new HP 3.0 client software and Windows Home Server Connector on all my PCs to join them with the new server.

At this point I decided to add my wife’s Macbook to the server. One of the limitations of the way the Mac backup feature of the MediaSmart Server works is that it requires contiguous available space for the backup file that you create and it must reside solely on a single drive in your system. I wanted to create this file to be used for backups while there was still a large amount of free space on the server, so I installed the Mac Connector software and created a 300GB backup file for Time Machine to use.

For the last few steps I used Robocopy again to copy the entire Videos share from the older server to the new, and made sure all of our data was moved off the old server. I did the software installations and configurations needed to get Metabrowser running on the new server, and had to reconfigure Mediabrowser on my HTPC to find the new storage locations but that only took a few minutes.

After a final check of the old server, I powered it off and swapped places on my network shelf with the new primary Home Server. The new EX495 server is working very well, and it’s definitely higher performance than the EX475 it replaced. I’ll keep the EX475 set aside for a while to make sure I didn’t miss anything from it, and to be able to test and troubleshoot with. I also have to admit to some sentimental attachment to this server after helping to build it and having used it for two years.

If you find this guide useful and perform a Home Server migration of your own using either this or the Server Recovery method, let us know how it works out for you!

Article by

I'm Alex Kuretz, and I'm the founder of 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.


welchwerks January 5, 2010 at 7:02 am

Hi Alex, just wondering ? didnt you upgrade the cpu to a LE1640 in the 475 and 2GB memory ,so short of HP 3.0 shouldnt the 474 do a good job keeping up with the dual core (toms hardware did a comp and it seemed pretty close) anyway just picking

Greg welch, aka WELCHWERKS

Alex Kuretz January 5, 2010 at 9:30 am

Hi Greg,

Actually no, I did very little modification to my primary home server, I only upgraded the memory from the default 512mb to 1GB. I like to keep the servers near stock so that I can perform accurate testing for the community and share real world experiences whenever possible.

I also believe the motherboard components and design are superior in the newer servers, which improves performance and stability especially when upgrading the processor.

Cavediver January 5, 2010 at 4:46 pm

Great article. I think this information is also useful for migrating to/from and between DIY machines as well as between HP MSSs.

Alex Kuretz January 5, 2010 at 4:48 pm

Thanks cavediver, and this guide is definitely applicable for any Windows Home Server, not just the MediaSmart Server.

Tim Hodgson January 6, 2010 at 7:57 am

Interesting article. You mention using Robocopy rather than MC to capture your music. How will you keep the files in sync in future?

Alex Kuretz January 6, 2010 at 9:36 am

Hi Tim, that’s a good question. I use a similar process to keep my family photos both on my local PC for faster browsing and editing in Bridge, and just manually run Robocopy periodically when I have pull new files off the camera. For the music, I’ve been using the Media Collector in the past and so this is a new method for me but I expect I’ll just do the same as I do with the photos and manually run a robocopy periodically. I could also set up a scheduled task to sync it every night/week/whenever.

John January 6, 2010 at 12:10 pm

Hi Tim – nice article. You mention “Mac Connector”. I have bee trying to get my MacBook Pro to play nice with WHS. Is there a Mac Connector somewhere? Could you point me to the connector for Mac?

Alex Kuretz January 6, 2010 at 4:51 pm

Hi John, it’s not clear if you’re using a MediaSmart Server or a vanilla WHS. The Mac Connector is a feature delivered by HP and is not available for vanilla WHS. If you’ve got a MediaSmart Server then you should have the Mac Connector install file in your server Software share.

Al West January 7, 2010 at 3:50 am

An alternative to copying over the network is to remove a disk used for duplication in the pool and using Disk Manager to mount it as a local drive then do local file copies over Internal SATA. It worked well for me as all my data fitted onto a 1TB drive and backups onto a 750GB drive. File copies still take a long time but as I didn’t have GigE it certainly was quicker in my case.

Alex Kuretz January 7, 2010 at 9:04 am

Hi Al, thanks for your comment. Yes, physically moving the drives and copying them directly is another alternative that would work just fine. However it can get more complicated to tell which content you’ve copied, as files in any given share can be scattered across various drives. This is due to the way Drive Extender writes files to the drive with the most free space and does not group files in shares on individual drives.

Since I wasn’t concerned with the time needed to move files, copying across the network was the simplest way for me to do it.

David April 23, 2011 at 4:06 pm

Hi, can you show how you copied locally? I tried share to share and the new home server behaved oddly…some of the files I copied locally showed and some did not. Tried it again and had a strange issue where the folder structure was there but no content. Looking at the new Acer Home Server there are two folder structures having shares. Anyway, it’d be really helpful if you can give details of mounting a data drive into a new system and locally copying the files to the correct location on the new server.
Thanks, David

Jon January 7, 2010 at 3:56 pm

I know its premature but any idea whats next down the pipeline ? I am also using a 475 and am looking to upgrade , mostly to use with my PCH C-200 , Blu ray back ups are huge : ) I wanted to get your take as to if its worth waiting for the next model of if the 495 was good enough

Thanks !

Alex Kuretz January 7, 2010 at 4:16 pm

Sorry, I don’t have any news about future products. The 495 is a very capable machine, there’s still a couple bugs in the 3.0 software that I’m hopeful to see HP fix but I’m glad I made the upgrade.

Rick Brand January 11, 2010 at 9:39 am

Hi Alex,
Thanks for all your helpful information on MediaSmart Server. I have the EX475 and now have a new HP Notebook with Windows 7 64 Bit that I’m just finding out will not install a lot of the software I’ve had on other computers on our Network. Can you give me any alternatives to upgrading to the EX495 so I can add this new HP Notebook for back ups?

Alex Kuretz January 11, 2010 at 9:55 am

Hi Rick, 64bit Vista (and now Win7) have been supported by Windows Home Server and the MediaSmart Server since Power Pack 1 released a year and a half ago, if your server is up to date then you should have no issues installing. If you’re seeing errors, I’ll ask you to post in the forums with the error message and preferably a screenshot so the community can help you.


Rick Brand January 11, 2010 at 10:06 am

Hi Alex,
Wow that was fast, thank you for your quick reply! I tried to install the Software Installation Version 1.1 Disc that came with my HP Media Server EX475 and just got the message it would not install as it was incompatible. Can you direct me to where I can download the proper installation files for this new HP DV6-1330A Notebook I have with the OS Windows 7 64 Bit?

Alex Kuretz January 11, 2010 at 10:10 am

Ah I see, you won’t be able to install from the CD. The easiest way is to point the browser on your Notebook at http://servername:55000 and that will provide you a link to install the Connector software. You can also manually run the installer from the \\servername\software\Home Server Connector Software\ share.

Baseball Mike January 15, 2010 at 5:26 pm

Interesting approach.

Any suggestions for migrating a WHS that’s been running as a Virtual Machine (under Hyper-V) to a physical machine? Take the same approach? Just install WHS on the physical machine, then copy all of the data over?


Alex Kuretz January 16, 2010 at 4:05 pm

I’d probably use this same approach, especially because you don’t have physical drives to transport to the new server. Let us know how it goes!

Mianathan March 7, 2010 at 10:29 am

Is there any way to keep the same server name when doing a WHS migration like this?

Mianathan March 7, 2010 at 10:32 am

Sorry, one more question – do you know of any way to encrypt the WHS drives? I’m concerned that, with the HP server being so small, someone could physically steal it and then have access to my data. Thank you.

Alex Kuretz March 7, 2010 at 1:37 pm

@Mianathan – you can set the server name during the Setup process, but having two servers on the network with the same name will make things difficult. You could try adding host file entries.

There is no way to encrypt the Windows Home Server drives. There is a Kensington lock receptacle built into the MediaSmart Server, but the drives could still be removed.

Mianathan March 7, 2010 at 2:15 pm

How well does WHS handle name changes on itself? Ideally I could rename the old one “name_old”, then do all copying to “name” and then decom the old one. I just have set names that the family is used to and it’s easier to keep them going. When a new machine comes in to replace an old one I do what I just mentioned, rename the old one to _old, do the migration and then decom.

That’s too bad on the encryption piece, seems like a big gap there. Kensington locks don’t stop those that don’t mind destroying the case a little bit, or at least so I’ve seen. Maybe when WHS moves to a Server 2008 base they’ll add in Bitlocker.

My current Frankenstein WHS server has the same lack, of course. Best I can do with it is a BIOS/startup password. Wouldn’t keep a determined person out but at least it’s something. Everything else in the house, both desktop and laptop, uses either Bitlocker or TrueCrypt.

Thank you for the quick reply! I don’t know how many blogs I’ve asked a question on that have never responded…

Alex Kuretz March 7, 2010 at 2:26 pm

There’s no built-in mechanism to change the server name after setup, so technically I believe it’s not supported. However, people have changed it successfully through the normal Windows mechanisms via RDP with no ill effects. A search in the forums should pretty quickly turn up instructions on how to do that.

Glad you’re enjoying the site!

Chuck C May 17, 2010 at 8:28 am

Alex, over the weekend I migrated all of my backup’s from my EX470 to my new EX495 using the process you described in this article; “Manually migrating to a new Home Server”. It worked like a champ! You did a great job. Immediately before migrating the backups, I upgraded my 470 to 3.0 software as well. I turned off file duplication, used MSS remove disk process to reclaim space and moved two hard disks to the new machine. Everything is running great! This is an incredible forum for people who own these products. Thanks for all your help!

Alex Kuretz May 17, 2010 at 8:34 am

Chuck, thanks for sharing your story and I’m really glad the article and site were helpful to you. :)

Bryan September 15, 2010 at 7:30 am

As always thanks very much for this site Alex! Do you have any suggestions for moving external drives which have been extended to a new server. I have 3 external usb drives with a TON of data, and would like to just move them (unplug and plug into) to another Windows Home Server. I’ve scoured the web and can’t find anything, most everything about moving data includes the system partition, and all I want to move is the data drives.

Alex Kuretz September 15, 2010 at 9:06 am

Hi Bryan, thanks for the feedback. As you probably know, when you add a drive to the Windows Home Server storage pool it is formatted. Your best bet is to set up the new Home Server, and manually copy data as I describe here.

An alternative is to follow these guides on recovering data and copying data from connected drives, but personally I’d just Robopy all my data across the network.

Let us know how it works out for you.

Clare Macrae September 19, 2010 at 6:46 am


I’ve a question regarding the exact meaning of instruction “it is critical to make sure that both the old and new server are at the same version of Windows Home Server” for BDBB.

My “old” machine has the MS WHS Evaluation/demo installation, fully updated.

For my new machine, I was going to install en_windows_home_server_installation_disc_x86_dvd_x14-24276.iso (from TechNet).

If I run install all updates from MS, and if all the version numbers agree in Console->Settings->Version Information, is that going to count as “the same version”.

Or do I first have to install the Demo WHS on the new machine, then copy backups over, then add a licence to the demo version?

(The new WHS was previously a client that was backed up by the old WHS – so it really matters to me to know that I’ll be able to access all the backups from the machine’s previous life – just in case I accidentally failed to copy some crucial bit of data from the old machine. Whilst I do have Disk2vhd and Acronis True Image 2010 images, on two different external drives as belt and braces, I’m feeling very cautious/nervous about this whole wiping-out-a-user-machine process!)

Thanks in advance for any help offered.


Alex Kuretz September 19, 2010 at 12:25 pm

Clare, I’ve not migrated from a Demo version before but to my knowledge the backup functionality is not different from the full version of WHS and you shouldn’t have any issues restoring. The “same version” means that your WHS should be fully up to date, just keeping clicking the “Check for Updates” in the Server Console until it says no more updates are available and you should be fine.

Clare Macrae September 20, 2010 at 12:05 am

It worked perfectly, after 2 hours of installing updates: Alex, thanks very much indeed, both for the help here, and for BDBB! I’ve been able to restore files from the old backups, on the new server. Very impressed indeed.

I hope the following extra info might be useful to someone at some point:

1. Copying the Shares over: For people who’ve got enough space on an external disk drive to hold a copy of all Shares data: I found that I could:

a) backup the Shares on the old server to an external disk drive (by right-clicking on the Server icon in “Computers and Backup” and saying “Backup now”)

b) attach the external drive to the new server, and say Restore – (by right-clicking on the Server icon in “Computers and Backup” and saying “View Backups”, then Restore… It even helpfully said that it already had a copy of the Windows Home Server Connector software, and wasn’t going to over-write it)

This copied over all the data, including Add-ins for installers such as BDBB. I think that if you don’t want to do a lot of house-keeping whilst copying, this is probably a bit more streamlined.

2. My new “server” initially had no Ethernet connection. I got it working, and am hoping that the following – with lots of detail for people searching – might also help.

Initially on the new server, “Windows Task Manager” said “No Active Network Adapters Found” and in “Device Manager”, “Ethernet Controller” had a yellow exclamation mark against it, and said “The drivers for this device are not installed. (Code 28)”

The machine is a Intel DG33BU with Intel Core2 Quad CPU – Q9650 (I know, total overkill for WHS – I’m just waiting for Vail to be released before buying a pre-built server, with saner power consumption)…

Anyway… Intel’s website says “Intel Desktop Boards do not currently support Windows Server 2003. There are no drivers available for this operating system.”

I eventually found a post somewhere that said that the 32-bit Windows XP Pro drivers should work with WHS, so I downloaded “PROWin32.exe” from the following – and ran the installer on the new server:

Sure enough, I’ve got a working gigabit connection now.

Thanks again, Alex.


Alex Kuretz September 20, 2010 at 6:17 am

Clare, great to hear it all worked well for you, and thanks for sharing your additional tips.

Romeo Mandanas December 10, 2010 at 9:05 pm

Hello Alex, I am not an IT person. I just got a new EX495 Home Server and want to replace my old EX470 which hooks up to my old HP Media Center PC running Vista Home Premium. But I also want to replace my old desktop PC with a new HP i5 machine that runs Windows 7 64 bit. Should I migrate files from the old server first to the new server using the old machine and then replace the old desktop with the new one or should I replace my old desktop first and have it recognized by the old server and then replace the old server after migrating its files to the new one?

During the migration process, can I hookup the two servers at the same time. When you talk about migration and using Robocopy, are you transfering the files from the old server directly to the new server or moving them first to the PC drive and later after installing the new server move them to the new one?



Alex Kuretz December 10, 2010 at 10:50 pm

Hi Romeo, it shouldn’t matter which order you upgrade the server, but it might be a bit easier to set up the new server with the new desktop and then move everything over.

To use Robocopy on either server you’ll need to install it first, I give the link in the article. See our Wiki for how to install software via Remote Desktop if you’re not familiar. You can then use Robocopy to directly copy files between the two servers, or you could use your PC as the intermediary, whatever works best for you.

If you want some extra help with this process I’ll suggest you post in the Forums and the community will be glad to help you out. Let us know how it goes!

Romeo Mandanas December 11, 2010 at 5:52 pm

Thanks for you reply Alex. Can you use the backup feature of the Server files into a drive in one of the bays then take it out and install that drive into the new server and restore the files from the backup into the new server?


Alex Kuretz December 12, 2010 at 9:36 pm

Sure, you could certainly do that.

Ramesh Rao January 28, 2011 at 3:55 pm

Hi Alex,

I have one of the original EX475 with software version 1.1. I recently upgraded my pc to 64 bit WIndows Vista. What is the best way to install this EX475 on my new pc? Any help is greatly appreciated. Thanks.


Alex Kuretz January 28, 2011 at 4:35 pm

Hi Ramesh, you can install the Client Connector software from the \\servername\software shared folder, or by pointing a web browser at http://servername:55000

Helzy March 27, 2012 at 1:24 pm

Alex, the EX475 you replaced was it upgraded in any way? or was it the stock Sempron and 512MB?

Alex Kuretz March 27, 2012 at 1:34 pm

It’s stock, didn’t upgrade anything.

Steve May 5, 2013 at 10:16 am


I have a ex387 that went down this week. I suspect that the Sys drive went bad as the unit continuously reboots after the indicator lights blink for a bit.

Anyway, I’m interested in getting back up and running quickly and have a spare ex495 (which other than periodically powering on and running window’s updates on) has been held in reserve for the 387 failure. Also, I’ve been doing periodic server backups to and external drive and had configured BDBB on the ex387.

After reviewing your instructions here and the subsequent posts (Clare’s in particular), I’m wondering if i just plug in the external drive on which the ex387 server backups were performed to the new ex495 and do a restore will I have all my files. After reinstalling/configuring add-ins and rerunning the WHS connector on client PCs, I should be up and running as before correct? The ex495 has a different name than the old ex387. I’m less concerned with moving over the BDBB files and would probably just start anew on the 495.

I’d prefer to tinker with the ex387 later but was wondering if I could use the strategy above to move over to a new whs box without having to try to first try a server recovery on the 387.

Alex Kuretz May 5, 2013 at 6:05 pm

I assume you mean an EX487, there is no 387 model. I’ve used Server Recovery to upgrade hardware and have a guide on that here:

Server Backup will backup the shared folders, they aren’t related to Server Recovery. You should be able to just connect your Server backup external drive to the EX495 and load files from there.

There are a ton of posts in the Troubleshooting forum on how to determine what’s wrong with your EX487 and how to resolve it, I suggest you post there with further questions so the community can more easily assist you.

Comments are closed, visit the forums to continue the discussion.

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