HP Withdraws from Windows Home Server, Discontinues MediaSmart Server and Data Vault

by Alex Kuretz on November 30, 2010 · 79 comments

in News

In what can only be considered hugely disappointing and quite possibly a significant blow to the future of Windows Home Server, Hewlett Packard has informed me that they have discontinued the MediaSmart Server and will not be releasing any more models either on the current version of Windows Home Server or the upcoming Vail platform. If you’ve recently purchased or will be purchasing one of the remaining units available, the warranty and support will continue for all products through their defined periods.

In typical HP fashion I was given very few details or reasons for the cancellation of the MediaSmart Server. Allen Buckner, Marketing Manager for the former Home Server Group, gave me the news in a phone conference earlier this month, saying only that HP was “shifting additional resources to focus on webOS initiatives”. He told me that the team had already been reassigned, and that there were no further software updates planned for the platform.

After speaking with Allen, I followed up with the HP StorageWorks team to ask about the future of the Data Vault, and got an actual statement from them that provided a little more insight.

With the recent acquisition of Palm, HP’s Personal Systems Group is transferring the MediaSmart Server team to the Palm Global Business Unit to help with future development of the webOS. The MediaSmart hardware is used as a basis for the current HP StorageWorks X300 and X500 Data Vault models and is therefore also affected by this change. HP will continue to support current models with a three-year limited warranty on hardware, a three-year technical support warranty on software for the X500 and a one-year limited warranty for the X300 Data Vault.

HP understands that small business clients rely on HP StorageWorks for solutions that help store, manage and protect data in a simple, cost effective manner. HP StorageWorks will continue to develop products for the HP “Just Right IT” portfolio of offerings designed to make it easy for micro and small businesses to get exactly the IT capabilities they need at the right time, at just the right price.

This news does not bode well for the already questionable future of Windows Home Server Vail in the wake of the recent announcement that Drive Extender is being removed from Windows Home Server. From the very beginning, HP has been the premier partner with Microsoft in developing Windows Home Server, and though neither HP nor Microsoft has shared any numbers with me I expect that HP has sold more Home Servers than any other OEM.

But even selling the most Home Servers may not have been enough. Windows Home Server is commonly described as a niche product, albeit with a strong and vocal enthusiast base, but likely hasn’t been adopted as quickly or as broadly by consumers as either HP or Microsoft would have liked. Again, I don’t have any numbers from HP or Microsoft but I can’t believe that HP would pull their team off of Windows Home Server strictly to jump onto the webOS platform unless there were other (probably financial) factors.

I also suspect that the recent news of the removal of Drive Extender is unlikely to have had a direct influence on the decision by HP to cancel the MediaSmart Server. My feeling is that the HP decision has been in the works for some time. We also saw the recent announcement that HP is now selling Drobo products, which would have taken a while to put into place and shows that other options besides Windows Home Server have likely been in the works for months now.

The statement from the StorageWorks team does leave some room for the possibility of future Small Business products based upon the Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials (aka Aurora) and Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials (aka Breckenridge) platforms, but as usual HP declined to comment on unannounced products.

I have to say that I am personally quite saddened by this news. As many of you know I helped build the original MediaSmart Server during my time at HP and worked closely with the original Windows Home Server team, and the enthusiasm for this product made it the most exciting work of my career. It is disappointing to see HP no longer making Home Servers, but I still believe that there is a real need for the concept of a Home Server and am hopeful that we’ll soon learn from Microsoft and other OEMs what the future will look like.

Post in the comments and let us know how this news affects you, as well as what you think this news will have on the future of Windows Home Server.

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.


Scott November 30, 2010 at 10:14 pm

Damn. I was really looking forward to the MediaSmart Vail. I have the original Mediasmart. Still works great, but getting a bit slow for heavy lifting.

Hank168 November 30, 2010 at 11:04 pm

Me too, I was also hoping to get my hands on a MediaSmart Vail.
Yesterday I try to order the V3 upgrade DVD sets for my EX475 & EX487 before this sad news. However, the web link for ordering is no longer their. I was told by Tech Support this have been withdrew recently. This is clearly differ then the three year support for existing units that was indicated by HP. If anyone know how I can order the V3 sets for my old servers, please let me know. I am hoping that I can get all my MediaSmart servers running on the same V3 user interface.

All4Fun December 1, 2010 at 5:10 am

This news is disappointing. It now has me concerned about getting replacement parts for my EX470 when it has the eventual hardware failure. Mind you, I was considering getting a “beefier” home server anyway.

One thing this has taught me is that I will build my own servers in the future with off-the-shelf parts and not tie myself in to a proprietary hardware platform similar to the MediaSmart line. While the MediaSmart was compact, low-powered, and “cute”, it has restricted my upgrade options and now left me in this “no man’s land” position.

While my intent was to run WHS v1 until its last breath, I’m now reluctant to continue supporting a platform where everyone is getting off the Titanic. I don’t want to be one of the last on board, what’s perceived to me now to be a dying platform.

I’ll be exploring my options.

I hope this site evolves into something more generic addressing our media needs and not be tied down to any proprietary platform.

Eidos December 3, 2010 at 7:16 am

I agree with your DIY analysis. My DIY while not in a small HP package it out performs my HP servers, runs faster, cooler and has more capacity for expansion. I can also repair it and increase its capability at my will and budget. I like not using proprietary hardware.

This site is very useful for trouble shooting and ideas on home servers. It can also offer good reviews on new products and software. It can serve a useful funtion to the user community for a long time to come.

jam3ohio December 1, 2010 at 5:16 am

Sad news, Alex. My EX475 is one of my best tech buys ever. Will really miss having HP in this space.

Nigel Wilks December 1, 2010 at 5:47 am

Microsoft had this to say :-

This news is in no way related to recent announcements about feature changes in Windows Home Server “Vail.”

Microsoft continues to work on delivering ”Vail” to our customers. We are working very closely with our partners such as Acer, Tranquil and many System Builders to bring the best solution to market.

From our partners:

“Vail will have a big impact on the home media environment, providing an easy streaming and seamless digital file sharing experience for consumers, and Acer is excited to be alongside Microsoft delivering on this goal” says Gianpiero Morbello, Acer Group Corporate Vice President Marketing & Brand.
“We are entirely committed to the future of Windows Home Server V1 and V2.” says D J Thompson, Managing Director of Tranquil PC, “We will also ensure that there is a suitable transition path from V1 to V2 for our existing and new clients.”

Damian December 1, 2010 at 5:49 am

It is undoubtedly a shame that HP has decided to pull the plug. It was the original EX470 that got me started in media storage/streaming, and I am sure the same can be said for many other owners. It will be interesting to see what the other OEMs such as Acer plan on doing

Mark December 1, 2010 at 6:28 am

If anyone is interested, Newegg is selling the EX490 for $370, free shipping and no sales tax depending on which state it is shipped to. Not a bad deal if you in the market and upgrading processor is simple.

Alexio December 1, 2010 at 7:05 am

Suks to be me: I (finally) decided to get a home server and just got EX490 from Newegg yesterday!
So, with all the news, should I keep it, or send back and go with other setup? Awful timing… What would you do?

Damian December 1, 2010 at 7:13 am

I still think the EX490/495 is a great machine. All warranties will still be in place and there is no reason why you cannot u se the EX400/495 for years to come (my EX470 from 2008 is still in commission)

OmniWrench December 1, 2010 at 8:39 am

I’ve had my EX490 for a year now and it’s a great solution for my requirements, even if it is now “old technology” or “a dead end”. The features all still work, and DE makes it really easy to manage; I added 2 TB of extra storage and enabled duplication in the time it takes me to replace my furnace air filter. Whatever I end up with next I’m going to miss that.

I’m glad to use it while it lasts but I have no idea what I’ll eventually replace it with when the day comes (hopefully the market will be significantly different when that day comes anyway). The only impact I see this news having on me personally as that I’m effectively giving up on any issues with the HP-solution specific features of it (I’ve done professional software development for a long, long time and dead product lines never, ever get good maintenance support), specifically nuking Twonky, and replacing it with something else.

BillG December 1, 2010 at 7:21 am

I love my EX 475 and glad that I have upgraded the memory, processor & disk drives.

Clearly the best product for the purpose.

A big loss…. I too look forward to what lies ahead.

They never were able to get much traction for the value proposition. So many I know would by a backup drive which is much less expensive, but way short on capabilities.

- Bill

beachdog December 1, 2010 at 7:51 am

As an HP retiree, I have access to the HP Employee Purchase Plan. I was keeping an eye on the pricing of the EX490/495 for a few months figuring that it would be discontinued and the price would drop around the end of the year (I had no inside info, just figured normal product lifecycle). I was too late to get the 495 over the weekend because it was out of stock at EPP $422 so I went with the 490 at EPP $340 (also now out of stock at HP). Also got a $25 coupon at Logicbuy which brought the net to $335 including tax. It’s being delivered today. I’ve bought discontinued products from HP before and it doesn’t bother me at all. I own HP cameras, an HP Plasma TV and an HP LCD MediaSmart TV which were all purchased after they were discontinued. After 35 years in the technology industry I only make decisions based on functional capability, not product obsolesence.

Varun December 1, 2010 at 9:43 am

Is it time to buy additional units to keep around for parts? I love the form factor of the machines – there’s really nothing quite like it around, and I for one will be quite sad when I have to finally put my Mediasmart out to pasture in a couple of years.

I’m going to be bringing a 3.5TB of Amahi online to join the 8TB Mediasmart this weekend and I was thinking about maybe getting one of cakalapati’s cable to set it up on another Mediasmart once I’m happy with the setup.

LoneWolf15 December 1, 2010 at 10:13 am

This is indeed sad news. I have a MediaSmart EX490 myself, and have upgraded the CPU twice (Pentium dual-core E2140, then an E5300), and recently bumped the RAM to 4GB. I have filled the internal drive bays with 1.5TB drives, and have an external 2TB via eSATA for backup. I’ve built a large portion of my home network around this server.

Losing Drive Extender in Vail, followed by this announcement from HP, is like a one-two punch, and a sucker-punch at that. The only thing I’ve wanted additionally is built-in media streaming functionality provided by Microsoft rather than third parties. Now I have to worry that WHS v1 won’t be supported beyond Windows 7 clients, as Vail doesn’t seem to be a worthy upgrade, and installing an alternate OS on a MediaSmart server looks to be difficult at best without buying one of the modded cable inserts for keyboard/video (which are pricey, too).

Sad days, Alex. Sad indeed.

John Pombrio December 1, 2010 at 10:21 am

Alex, welcome to the “discontinued HP product line” club! In my 25 years at HP, I was responsible for the repair of all the oddball product lines because I was not that busy, perceived to be able to fix anything, and I never said no! I was also a Jonah, “give it to John” was usually a death sentence! Cable modem testers, microprocessor logic development, cable testers, B1 bomber flight box testers, Shaker tables, laser optics, Data acquisition, and many others. I think they laid me off just to prevent any more hemorrhaging. Heh.
Never was easy watching whole teams of my friends get split up, laid off, or moved to other projects. My sympathies.

wcraycroft December 1, 2010 at 10:25 am

My HP Mediasmart has met my one and only requirement for a home backup system — disk-image backups with complete transparency. My 4 family users of 6 PCs need do NOTHING except sleep their computers instead of turning them off. Their complete disk images are available for any day from last night to several months ago, with monthly resolution going back years. It needs a reboot every few months, and that is all — no futsing around with yet another system — I have enough of those in my professional life. In the two years I’ve used the Mediasmart for home backups, it has restored three failed computers to the exact state they were in the night before the failure — every email, document, and application state. I’ve been developing software for 35 years, and to me this absolute transparency in a backup system is vital — you can forget it is there until you need it, and then it saves your bacon with a flawless restore. I’m technically capable of putting together something to replace it eventually, but I’m not looking forward to it. The HP Mediaserver solved my home backup problem elegantly, and that is the highest praise a customer can give.

Rick December 14, 2010 at 12:27 pm

Wcraycroft, I’m interested in knowing what software you use to create your disk images. I’m not familiar with that capability in MSS WHS. Are you using 3rd party software or existing windows features?

Phil December 1, 2010 at 12:30 pm

Well, given the spate of bad news related to WHS and Vail and HP Mediasmart over the past few months, that’s it for me with WHS in general. I’ll be looking to dump my Mediasmart and will start looking at other non-WHS solutions for NAS and backups (e.g. Drobo, Amahi, something in the Apple realm).

Tom December 1, 2010 at 3:32 pm

As I have only acquired my 495 about six months ago, I am very new to the system. For many months I had investigated many different methodologies for acomplishing two goals at a reasonable cost -
1) simple but reliable backup of all of our home pcs, and
2) ability to drive music to our sound system in a quality manner.
The Mediasmart has been doing this now and in an elegant manner. I am learning daily how to make it do these things the way I want them done and with little or no accompanying frustration apparently normal with other approaches. In addition I have the capability of sharing files easily but with control.
Regarding backups, it is difficult enough to get people to understand the need to take them, partly because it is not always the most straightforward thing to do. This device just simply works without any one actually needing to think about it. I worked many years in a very large mainframe environment. We worked diligently to develop “idiot-proof” systems with automated and fail-safe, self-correcting methods. The Mediasmart seemed to be headed in a similar direction regarding system backup/restore facilities and file sharing and distribution methods.
I selected this approach to satisfy my goals because it was the most expansible methodology available with almost unlimited possibilities.

As homes become more computerized and people accumulate more photos and music and documents, the idea of protecting them in a simple manner is crucial. While off-site backups are desirable, the Mediasmart can be included as Mozy or Carbonite pc. You backup your backup device. Great idea. If you want to keep your backups close to you, leave as is.
Homes are becoming more automated, making the idea of a home server a completely appropriate device from which to drive that automation.
This device has worked almost perfectly for me.

I am sorely disappointed in the decision to abandon it and the approach of a home server. I firmly believe that the decision makers blew the call on this one by a long ways.

To leave behind such a truly elegant and simple to implement device is ridiculous and short sighted. I will continue to use it as long as I can and as long as it continues to work. I am not in a position to take any other approach on a whim.

SeaRay33 December 1, 2010 at 4:54 pm

I am pretty bummed out over this development, Alex. I have touted WHS to many friends and acquaintances as having the capabilities of a full corporate sever like the ones I used to work with where great numbers of people watched over these server beast when I was a Software Engineer at a large corporation. I told them that WHS is as capable for the home market, but it costs much less and is easy to maintain and operate. It does everything you could want for media storage and streaming for the home.

After the Drive Extender removal announcement from Microsoft and, now, HP’s exit from the market, I can no longer say the same thing for future platforms from WHS.

I know I should just wait and see what the market produces for WHS v2 but with DE now gone from future platforms, the WHS server will be too complicated to maintain (in my opinion) for the “home” user, particularly for adding more storage to the server.

I hate to start planning how I will stream my movie collection and add additional space as it grows, so I will just hope my EX470 continues to operate for a few years to come. I originally bought WHS to solve the “backup problem” and at least it will still do that job well, presumably even in future platforms.

When I feel the 470 is on its last legs, whenever that might occur, I will wait until then to see what solution I will pick. I fear that my ultimate solution will not include a WHS product unless I can find a good EX490 v1 around or unless Microsoft decides to put DE back into v2, which, frankly, I have little hope of happening.

Sorry to be so negative on this but I warned I was very sad over this in the beginning.


Comp1962 December 1, 2010 at 7:11 pm

This is truely a sad point in time. I purchase my first EX470 over 2 years ago. I immediately fell in love with its design and WHS. The minute I had performed my first Client Recovery I knew right then and their this was an even more awesome product. I began to tell others about how wonderfull these Home Server Units were.

I do not know the reasons why HP chose to discontinue the MSS and Alex may be right about it being a financial reason or it could be more to do with the path MS is taking with Vail and HP just did not deem it necessary to invest more time and funds. Regardless of the reason its just another sad day for our WHS community.

This much I do know and that is WHS v1 in its current form still works and offers us an easy to use server and it looks like I will continue to run it so long as it can continue to do what its doing now. As for keeping the current HP MSS’s running it may be a good idea to purchase another working unit just to keep things running. While my original EX470 is still functiong its not my primary server but it does server a purpose and I have 3 of them running now.

For those who have an MSS and desire to keep running WHS v1 like myself and others I would also suggest you purchase a copy of WHS OEM to have on hand should one day your MSS stop functioning and you are unable to get it repaired. This will allow you to build a server and use your current drives to perform a Server Recovery and still remain online although without the integrated HP Software.

This is a most difficult time for me nothing of a personal nature but with seeing the path where MS is going with Vail, and now with HP discontinuing the MSS Line. Its just very depressing.

Techvet December 1, 2010 at 9:11 pm

A sad day indeed. My MSS is the centerpiece of my home streaming/back-up/storage solution and I certianly hope Microsoft follows through on their committment of support for v1. As for HP, I think this is the final straw for me. I had recently started buying Lenovo laptops for my family’s needs and intend to find another vendor for future desktop needs as well. I feel they simply aren’t to be trusted. Niche product or not, to suddenly abandon the market they largely created is irresponsible. Why they simply didn’t sell it off is beyond me – killing it simply does not make any sense.

Eidos December 2, 2010 at 5:45 am

With HP out of the picture I face having two HP servers with no real spare parts support. Will the HP server factory recovery disks be able to install on a DIY server when the HP server version fails. Since we all own the liscense on the original server this could save up money if our HP server fails. I know there are extra lights and all, I’m just trying to save money on on major investments on the servers and seventeen 2 TB drives?

Mystery Guest December 2, 2010 at 8:55 am

No the discs won’t work on any old PC. The discs look for the server’s BIOS to identify itself on the network and find it. That’s why when you run the recovery it doesn’t bring up every PC on your network if you have an EX470/EX475, EX485/EX487. If you have an EX490/EX495 it requires direct connection and that too also requires a special BIOS I believe. Not I’ve not tried this with these specific discs, but having been in the PC side of the industry OEMS are required to lock down their discs so that they can’t just be installed anywhere.

Alex Kuretz December 2, 2010 at 9:13 am

You purchased an appliance with an OS license for that appliance, you’d need to purchase a copy of WHS to install it on your own DIY system.

MJD December 16, 2010 at 10:18 am

Alex, I understand what you’re saying, but if I were to purchase my own copy of WHS and build my own DIY system in the future, would there be any way to install the MediaSmart software onto my system?

Alex Kuretz December 16, 2010 at 10:21 am

No, the HP software does not have an installer package and is meant only to be used with the HP hardware.

GPKing December 2, 2010 at 10:12 am

Well, until MS decided to kill WHS with the removal of DE, this announcement would not have been problematic. The MSS was just another solution (granted the most complete one) among various OEMs as well as the DIY universe.

The second Vail beta was really promising because more requests from the community were actually built in (e.g. MAC support).

Now that DE is gone, hardware OEM would have needed to step up to build a duplication solution and obviously with HP as the biggest fish withdrawing, that is a major blow and most likely the final nail in the coffin.

I hate to say it but Snow Leopard Server is not so bad either … More expensive, yes but more functional as well!

Steven Kan December 2, 2010 at 10:54 am

Apple’s solutions don’t handle backup for PCs, and even Time Machine has serious deficiencies handling large files, For example Thunderbird keeps its mail store in several massive monolithic files. Receiving one email causes my entire 4 GB Inbox to become “changed.” Time Machine doesn’t do any sub-file deduplication, so the entire file needs to be backed up again.

Steven Kan December 2, 2010 at 10:49 am

I’ve been a Microsoft critic for _years_, until a few months ago when I bought two EX495s to use as our small biz backup servers. The combination of value, form factor, DE, cluster-level dedupe, and really simple bare-metal restore was _completely_ changing my opinion of Microsoft in the small business space.

Here was finally a product that just worked, and just made sense. All the complexity was hidden under a UI that a non-administrator could understand and work with.

I was so jazzed about it that I 1) wrote and email to Steve Jobs suggesting that Apple could learn a lot from this product, and 2) started thinking about all sorts of other ways I could use an additional 3-4 units throughout my business. They’d be a bargain at twice the price.

I was really looking forward to a update on the OS, and Vail looked like it was going to be it.

And then this happened.

Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

I’m really hoping that something comes along to fill this space. And Drobo isn’t it. I want a single box solution that does what the EX495 does, but for 25 users. And I’d pay for it, too. For me it’s not about saving a few bucks here and there; it’s about having something that works without me having to get an IT degree. I have a business to run, but it’s not big enough for me to hire an IT guy. This was a perfect solution. Gaahhhh. I’m just ranting now.

jdomi December 2, 2010 at 1:13 pm


hasi5 December 2, 2010 at 1:42 pm

WHS Vail maybe even bigger hit than WHS v1! LightPeak WHS anyone? WHS on steroids ?

I start to have a strong suspicion that as bad we feel today about VAIL (DE removal) and HP cancellation, we may soon be reversing our opinion 180%, and maybe prize Microsoft for complete DE removal (both, V1 and V2) !. And embracing Vail in droves ! I reread MS WHS blog announcements and under my theory, it start to make sense. Very good sense (in terms, they were not allowed to say anything yet)

There is a LightPeak technology (from Intel and Apple) announcements coming in January. I spend few years in R&D in JDS Uniphase and have some idea what is possible with optical/electronic technology and remember how we were dreaming to bring that technology from lab to our home computers.

So, here is my theory “DE on steroids” or “Intel LightPeak WHS”:
When MS in the announcement mentioned OEM RAID solutions, they meant Intel optical controller solutions, not HP, not any current RAID provider (they are completely out of game). It is simple to create Optical RAID (optical RAID 1-mirror) and I would be very surprised if Intel doesn’t have it in their electro/optical controller. For WHS purposes, hardrives are to be optically chained. This, defacto is your DE (drive extender) with unlimited number of drives. You can bring as many of drives, you can create not only 1 drive pool (as today on WHS), but many pools. You can assigned drives to be mirrored, stripped, whatever. Your electro-optical communication would beat software DE, software RAID, hardware Raid anytime. There is going to be electrooptical controller in your motherboard and electro-optical smart receiver on each of your hardrive. You can create chains, you can create webs. If I use an analogy, your computer (network WHS server) would become an internet as you know it. The more hardrives you have, the more robust your storage is to be (if some line, in this case hardrive, goes down). You buy a new hardrive, add to assigned pool and assign if it is to be used for double mirroring, triple mirroring,… you got the point. More drives, more safety, more redundancy. DE on steroids ! Your hardrives (but also your graphical card) could be inside of your computer, outside, next room, garage,…, inside of another computer … doesn’t matter.

It seems, Intel is proposing that your existing hardrives in your computer would be dissattached from SATA, retrofit with their optical smart interface. What you need that it works is regular NTFS (as Microsoft said that the existing NTFS tools work on WHS), 64bit Advanced hardrives (seems that WD-Western Digital significantly increased manufacturing of new 64bit hardrives and is almost not manufacturing 32bit HD 2Tb, calls them legacy, hard to get and prize almost 2x then 64bit HD).

The concept of LightPeak came from Apple, who bring it to Intel. Apple has probably the first take. It’s rumoured, that Apple is going to announce (at the Intel announcement or around) their LightPeak new MacBook, that is to be shipped in April. Have look at todays publication of their external LightPeak convertor ( http://www.9to5mac.com/39617/apple-patents-a-light-peak-ish-macbook-docking-connector ). It seems – You can plug it to wall and attach LightPeak computer, USB hardrive, USB whatever, ethernet, DVI LightPeak hardrive or LightPeak whatever. Very interesting, small, could be placed anywhere, maybe even to use ethernet over powerline.

There is extremely tight lipservice about Intel LightPeak. It may be that Intel is still securing patents. I am sure, the huge competitors for them are JDS Uniphase, Nortel, Alcatel, … Who has significantly higher optical knowhow and could derail Intel LightPeak with their patents and solutions. Definitely, only few journalist were allowed to peek in intel’s lab : http://www.pcpro.co.uk/blogs/2010/06/30/light-peaks-dazzling-potential/

So, HP may have figured out, that the hardware for next WHS would be all Intel, they would not be able to find to add much for home consumer, or LightPeak WHS would be too expensive. And/Or WHS v2. without LightPeak and DE, lost proposition – as every user knows.

So, just have a wait for January.
I stop buying anything, especially what is on firesale and I don’t now urgently needed. I also stopped thinking about my WHS. Whatever comes in January, would probably be priced at premium and realistically not be priced for some time. Nevertheless, I would have a better idea about direction for my next home network, WHS, or LightPeak interconnected boxes of hardrives and computers.

Cheers !

PS: I spent rather lengthy time commenting other Alex article yesterday about my positive experience running Apple OSX Server and HP MSS WHS. (see http://www.mediasmartserver.net/2010/11/30/the-end-of-the-mediasmart-server-and-the-future-of-mediasmartserver-net/ ). And where I also talked little about LightPeak, magic within Apple FireWire 800 and new directions.

hasi5 December 2, 2010 at 2:21 pm

More details about the Apple LightPeak patent (Opto/Electrical smart convertor):
Cannot wait to have this baby in my hands, hopefully in April. Trust me, this is huge ! This is the building block of your internet-like-architecture of your next home WHS. My only wish was that there is 1 more DC Power Cable coming out (hope, the USB is USB3).

TrafficWB December 2, 2010 at 4:17 pm

HP has made line of new “servers” calling them HP Proliant Microservers.
As ever growing need for “green” or power saving products this has come along. I am just speculating the idea of these products they call “servers”.. these units have come along same time while VAIL has been developing. I dont know if this is also beginning/end of these products. Sad news for the HP mediasmart owners whatsoever.


Steven Kan December 3, 2010 at 10:21 am

That’s such a bizarre product web page. There are no pictures (nor descriptions) of the drive bays, and the “detail” pictures show no additional detail. For example click View Demo, then click Gallery. There’s a blue dot on the “media bay” that says “Learn More!”. If you click on it you get . . . a bigger picture of the media bay, but no description of what you can put in there. The rest of the “demo” is similarly undemonstrative.

If you click Buy Now! you get through a series of screens that allows you to customize the hardware, but there is no way to add an operating system. I understand that some people may want to buy the OS separately, but HP’s not even offering to sell one with this server.

Just bizarre. It really makes me wonder who’s running things over at HP these days. Alex, maybe you should submit your resume and see if you get things back on track!

hakr December 14, 2010 at 1:59 pm

I’ve been burned several times by HP on several HP products. I doubt I’ll ever buy another HP product.

hakr December 3, 2010 at 7:51 am

I wouldn’t mind dumping the HP/MS applications software* off my MSS and installing some third party software that is supported and would allow me to easily back up my Macs and Windows computers and also if possible serve as a media server.

Any suggestions?

* I’ve always thought the MSS software was, at best, clunky.

Alex Kuretz December 3, 2010 at 9:17 am

Not sure what your definition of “supported” is, but there’s some discussion in the forums where users have installed Linux on their MSS with varying degrees of success. To my knowledge there’s no exact replacement package, though.

KenS December 3, 2010 at 9:23 am

I’ve had a DIY WHS box since early 2008 and it’s about to die so I bought a EX490 from Costco yesterday for $400 (it includes a second 1TB drive – a real bargain).

I’m wondering if HP would consider donating their proprietary WHS addons to the community so they can be maintained well into the future.

Steven Kan December 3, 2010 at 10:25 am

Alex (and maybe others),

Don’t take this the wrong way :D, but is there anything unique to HP in the MSS series? Or could any top tier OEM make something similar? I’m really referring more to the hardware, form factors, and backup features than I am the media sharing features, so I suppose I should be asking this with respect to the Data Vault series.

But if I want a small form-factor server with support for hot-swappable drive bays, cluster-level dedupe, and bare metal restore for clients, is all that pretty basic WHS stuff? Is there any magic do the MSS/Data Vault drive bays? Or it is pretty standard SATA?

I’m just wondering if there anyone else in the market who could pick up the torch and “replace” the MSS/Data Vault series, at least in spirit.

Alex Kuretz December 3, 2010 at 10:39 am

There’s several other OEMs who make similar boxes to the MSS, Acer is probably the most popular behind HP, Asus has one, Tranquil in the UK. The backup features are built into Windows Home Server. Note that dedupe only occurs in the Client Backups, not in the shared folders storage.

hakr December 3, 2010 at 10:45 am

I was hoping for Vail so as to extend the MSS capabilities for my Mac computers. Oh well.

Alex Kuretz December 3, 2010 at 10:52 am

We have a whole section on Vail including tutorials on how to install it onto the MSS if you want to do it yourself. http://www.mediasmartserver.net/tag/vail/

hakr December 3, 2010 at 10:54 am

Ahh, but I read your comments and unless they have changed, I believe you said Vail had really serious bugs and shortcomings.

Alex Kuretz December 3, 2010 at 10:56 am

I see, I think I misunderstood your comment as related to your previous question about alternatives to install on your MSS.

hakr December 3, 2010 at 11:01 am

Aha. Not to worry, I often confuse myself.

So, how safe is Vail to use for a home user like me with two Mac machines and three windoes machines?
What difficulties will I likely encounter? I have three drives in my MSS…the one it came with, and two one terabyte drives.


Alex Kuretz December 3, 2010 at 11:19 am

I suggest posting in the Vail forums for discussion on that rather than take this too far off topic. :)

hakr December 3, 2010 at 1:25 pm

I found one Vail discussion forum, entitled:
Windows Home Server Codename “Vail” Public Beta
If there are others, I cannot find them. Not much relating to my questions in that public beta forum.

Alex Kuretz December 3, 2010 at 1:29 pm

And did you post your question there? This post is about HP withdrawing from the WHS market….

hakr December 3, 2010 at 1:51 pm

No, I didn’t but I will. Is that the only subsection dealing directly with VAIL?

Alex Kuretz December 3, 2010 at 2:03 pm

Yes, we just have the one Vail forum.

Mark_R December 3, 2010 at 11:23 pm

Wow. I can only echo the comments made. I RARELY will buy new, “cutting edge” technology because it invariably has nasty bugs. Usually I wait until the “service packs” come out that fix the bugs before I buy. I have a life and a business to run and many other responsibilities to care for, and so I don’t have the time to be a guinea pig testing out the “latest and greatest” stuff anymore. However I made an exception with the HP MSS EX470. I researched it and eagerly looked forward to it at least 6 months before it was released. I bought it within a few weeks of it coming out. And it has not let me down! Their are only a couple of “tech” things I get excited about anymore, and the MSS is/was one. I’ve seen a few things ( I’m almost 50), I’ve been in computers since the 70′s, and was a software engineer for a Fortune 50 company–I know about tech and rarely does something really work the way I had expected. Not so the MSS, a real champ–it has saved my bacon many times with its regular back up features. Only problem I’ve had is the noisy power supply fan.

So this news is indeed a huge disappointment.

I feel sorry for the enthusiasts and programmers who have spent tons of time and energy developing WHS add-ins and provided other valuable information/research to enhance WHS.

My experiences with HP have been a huge disappointment over the years. Had a HP digital camera. When Windows XP came out, they stated they would not provide drivers for XP. Had a DVD writer. When it died before warranty, they sent me a replacement refurbished unit that lasted until the original warranty ended (about 90 days) and then that died. Sorry, Charlie. Had a HP high end desktop, died within a few days of the warranties expiration. Have purchased thousand dollar copiers for business. When Vista came out – sorry only the barest minimum of drivers for it – reduced functionality — and it took a year for them to get those out! HP, like so many other companies, is only there for the short term. It’s all about corporate profits. I know. I shouldn’t be surprised or disappointed.

Dave December 7, 2010 at 12:30 pm

I love my gadgets and I will say this is one bit of kit I used every day, I am gutted to here this news.

Mike December 25, 2010 at 12:34 pm

This can only be attributed to poor marketing… this was really a great product. Reliable, and very functional.

It was poorly supported by HP. I bought in early… have EX470. Got screwed when they made it obsolete within months (after the introduction of the EX48x series).

Waited for over two years to buy the highly anticipated 3.0 upgrade, only to miss HP’s March to November 2010 upgrade window.

Great product… poorly marketed and poorly supported.

This is completely shaken my trust in HP.

Bert December 27, 2010 at 5:18 am

What a shame, I’m an EX490 owner and I think it’s a terrific bit of kit that I’ve recommended to several people.

I’m sure HP have their reasons, but it’s disappointing, particularly when the home cinema market seems to be ramping up and with the advent of HD files and the need for more storage. In the past year, I quite regularly see posts on forums like “recommend me a storage device” or “best NAS box?”.

Agree with the comments about questioning the marketing, Drobo appears to be an inferior product from my research (I chose a Mediaserver instead), but the Drobo seems like it is selling better.

Art Zasadny December 28, 2010 at 2:34 pm

I’ve built my own Windows Home Servers for 3 years and this March purchased the x510 Data Vault. I was surprised at how much better and more reliably my home-built servers performed over this device and it’s not a very reliable product as far as my own experience goes. I truly hate to see M$ kill this product as i had high hopes for the next version. I’ll just keep the servers I’ve built and bought limping along as long as I can…

Hugh Vail February 5, 2011 at 3:29 pm

I am one of the “average users” you are talking about. I currently have an HP ex490 that backs up a Windows 7 ThinkPad, 13″ MacBook Pro and an iMac 24″. Since Hp is dropping all support for the HPMSS and “Vail” is not going to support the Mac I have to presume I am “dead in the water” as far as using the HPMSS to back up my Apple hardware. Am I correct on this?

Comp1962 February 5, 2011 at 5:44 pm

@ Hugh Vail your only truely dead in the water when you say you are. Technology is constantly evolving and as such something will come along to support your needs. You should take note that there are many early MediaSmart Servers still in use today and that there are many available in store inventories and on eBay and other similar sites. While I too was saddend by the HP Announcement I do know its not the end of the world that the equipement will continue to run and should you need a replacement unit one will be available for quite sometime. Discontinuing a product does not mean that support stops that very day. I do feel HP will continue to support their equipement and will repair then for quite sometime providing you ample time to find a sutable replacement should you feel the need to.

The other thing to note is that HP never really sold replacement components for their MediaSmart Servers anyway. If you had a problem and the unit was out of waranty you either had to send it to HP for repair or find replacement components on sites like eBay. Weather or not HP will continue to release OS Updates remains to be seen but the same holds true from Microsoft as they come close to releasing WHS 2011 as their efforts will be more towards that OS then WHS v1 but WHS v1 is mature and has served us well. I will continue using WHS v1 while I am not certain I will migrate to WHS 2011 and yes I still have the older EX470′s still running and have an HP ProLiant which is my primary server running WHS v1.

So I think if your good today you will be good for quite sometime and even if HP never made the announcement I am certain that down the road your choice for a backup device might change to something else or who knows you may find yourself still running your EX490 for many years to come and with sites like this one you know you will find support from the community at large.

Eidos February 7, 2011 at 5:39 am

I own 8 HP computers. My frustration with HP has reached an end and this action simply iced the cake. I have built my last 4 computers that are more powerful and less expensive than buying HP. In addition I can make the choice to add SSD’s and other high end devices when I want to knowing that I can always fix, expand or over clock the system. I purchased copies of WHS to have for future expansions and have a stock of spare parts to build and repair my DIY systems.

I own two HP Servers, and EX490 and an EX470. I have made a considerable investment in HP as I respected the company and their products. Their not releasing spare parts and dropping this product is in my opinion irresponsible and shows a lack of true customer rapport.

If they can do that to us then we can do the same back to them. We vote with our wallets. I don’t want to sound bitter but I have learned a lesson and it will change the future of how I buy and build computers in the future. I will know my future computers inside out and also have a future repair and upgrade strategy in mind. These investments can grow and survive any individual company and I will not have to write off expensive hardware. I will not have the same sweet compact design like the MediaSmart Server but I will have more power and speed and expandability.

Dave February 25, 2011 at 2:20 pm

Mediasmart server running webOs and backing up windows, mac and linux. Streaming media and integrating with a HP media extender running webOs. MS office apps running in a virtual sandbox on a webOs desktop.

Well we can only dream…

hans kaashoek June 3, 2011 at 2:43 pm

I’m very disappointed with the purchase of the HP data Vault.
When I reorganized my pc from xp to windows 7 and replaced some harddisks , C into an ssd drive, the Vault gave errors constantly.
Now I’m trying to save the data from this bad server. Terrabits of photography. Hopeless Product.

Alex Kuretz June 3, 2011 at 4:10 pm

If you’d like help with your server, post in the forums and we can probably get you sorted.

hans kaashoek June 4, 2011 at 7:24 am

Dear mr. Kuretz,

Thanks to you to want to get involved with my problem. The Vault worked one year without problems. Yet, one of the three leds in front burn red. When I stop and restart the server I get the oppertunity to save picture files (100-150 files of 10 mb) then the server stops working. Is windows 7 the problem? Or is the reorganisation of the harddisks in the compu the problem.. to much files to reorganize?
I hope you can reply at monday.

Kind Regards, Hans Kaashoek, architect

Alex Kuretz June 5, 2011 at 6:55 pm

This isn’t enough info, please register and post in the Troubleshooting forums. We need specific error messages, as well as an explanation of what “server stops working” means. Can you connect via RDP? Are the shares accessible? Do the lights turn off?

Michael March 3, 2012 at 2:59 pm

If my experience is any indication I completely support the rapid death of the Media Smart Server. I purchased mine in Nov. of 2009 and have had nothing but problems with it. I finally took it off-line last week and will add it to the heap of electronic garbage adorning my basement.

In the 2.5 years I have had the unit, I needed to replace an unreasonable number of drives (approximately every 3 to 6 months )that seemed to fry for no reason. Each time, the OS would corrupt, destroying one of the drives and necessitating a complete restore of the system. Fortunately, I had multiple drives installed and was mirroring them, so I was always able to retrieve all of my data. Still, the hours it would take to rebuild the system each time do not justify what I thought was a reasonable price point for the server.

This last melt down I was not even able to restore it, as it continued to “fail on step 3″ during the restore, so I’m not even able to bring it back to life with a new drive. I finally gave up and am looking for a better alternative.

George March 3, 2012 at 3:19 pm

Michael… If your MSS is still in working order, I’ll pay you $50 for your trouble plus your cost of shipping if you want to sell it to me for that. Email me at gch at vt dot edu, if you want to sell it.

Michael March 3, 2012 at 3:25 pm

When you say “Working Order” what do you mean? The server certainly powers up. For some reason, I cannot restore it with the supplied cd’s as it fails the restore every time. Why on earth would you want it?

George March 3, 2012 at 3:34 pm

Hi Machael,
I am planning on building a WHS 2011 server soon. I have an old desktop I was planning to re-purpose. I’m willing to take the risk I can install WHS 2011 on your MSS and get it working. If I can’t you won’t have to worry. I will take the hit. In that case I will just use it for spare parts for my v1 MSS (an EX470 model).

Michael March 3, 2012 at 3:44 pm

In other words, you won’t use the old desktop as planned; you’ll use the HP MS Server? I think I may have the original packing material downstairs. I could ship it in that, let me check. I also have a PayPal account we could use. I’m happy to get rid of it.

George March 3, 2012 at 3:59 pm

Yes. Michael, if I could get your server working with WHS 2011 that would be better because of the ease of drive replacement. My other desktop is an old HP and it is harder to get to the drives to replace them on a desktop. I am sorry you have had trouble. I did too at first with my EX470. Once I realized it was the eSATA tower I had attached to the server that was causing most of my problems, it has been smooth sailing since then. I suspect I would have given up if I had not had the support of the folks on MediaSmartServer.net.

I have a PayPal account too, so that would be an ideal way to get you paid without concern and it would also make it easy for me.

Michael March 3, 2012 at 4:01 pm

Let’s get off the forum. You can email me at jcarerro@yahoo.com

George March 3, 2012 at 4:19 pm

Email sent!

Ryan K November 10, 2012 at 7:58 am

I have a 490 that is out of warranty. I have performed restores on the unit a few times. The most recent attempt to perform a restore fails – although the server shows the correct blinking light status, it will not connect with the PC doing the restore. I’ve tried different PCs, different OS (Win XP, or Win 7), making sure the f/w was disabled, different network cables, different disk drives, and using a segregated switch with the server and the restore PC as the only nodes. It does not seem to matter, the PC will not connect.

Some diagnostic info:
* if I power cycle the server, it will power up, I get lights on for the power, network and health, but no disk drive lights – although I can hear the disk spin up. After a few minutes, the health light simply blinks on/off and is the same color (aqua) as the power and network light.
* during reset, I power on the server, and the health light blinks red and blue. clicking the reset button causes the light to blink sort of pink (I think this means it’s in reset mode).

I am afraid that something is severely hosed with the unit – I don’t really know what.
* Since the network light is on, I guess the network is functioning.
* Since the disk lights are off, I suspect that there is something wrong with the disk subsystem.

I would gladly box up the unit and send it into HP for repair if I could find out where to send it. I can’t seem to find anywhere on the HP website that gives me any information on support. If I click on support, I get the generic HP support website. I am not bashing HP; well, actually I am – I work for them and hear customer complaints all the time.

So, here’s my question – does anyone know of a phone number or site I can use to get service on my server?



Comp1962 November 10, 2012 at 3:24 pm

Ryan if you search the sites forums you will find a wealth of troubleshooting information. Since most issues surround drive issues you may want to pull the drives out and connect them to another computer and run a CHKDSK on them. It only takes one drive issue to cause WHS not to boot properly.

Anyway myself and others have written extensively over the years on troubleshooting server boot issues.

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

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