Forum Spotlight: Massive Media Collection Made Possible By Drive Extender

by Alex Kuretz on December 15, 2010 · 9 comments

in Forum Spotlight

Brand new forum member “Edge” joined up just to share with us his HP MediaSmart Server EX470 and the massive media collection he has stored on it. The server has 4 internal hard drives, 4 drives in a Sans Digital TR4M-B connected via eSATA, and 12 more drives in Sans Digital TR4U-B USB enclosures all of varying capacity for a total of 22TB of storage. Edge has also upgraded the server with 2GB of RAM and the 3.0 software from HP.

We’ve enjoyed seeing other members setups with massive storage, both in DIY systems or MediaSmart Servers with lots of external enclosures, but Edge has a truly massive and diverse media collection stored on his Home Server that ranges from digitized LPs and cassettes to CDs to DVDs and even HD videos. The collection includes over 4500 music albums and more than 1300 movies, all made available to 4 PCs in his home for streaming.

I asked Edge to comment more about his setup and how Windows Home Server helped him make it a reality. He attributed the easy storage expansion and duplication features of Drive Extender as being critical for him to safely store and share all this content. In his own words:

I am not a computer expert, and so have no idea about setting up RAID arrays and what not. Upgrading the RAM was a major effort for me, made possible only because of detailed step by step instructions posted on sites like this. Drive Extender was one of the best things about the EX470 – simple to use and virtually idiot proof.

I’ve asked Edge what he will do when his EX470 fails, or when he is ready to upgrade to another server. I suspect the situation will be much more complex with Drive Extender not available in Vail, and I have to wonder how the self-professed “not a computer expert” users will be able to accomplish the same extraordinary setups. Edge plans to utilize his EX470 until it dies and then evaluate his options for replacement at that time. He also expressed his personal feelings about the loss of Drive Extender quite clearly:

Whatever one may think of Apple, at least they have the vision and the determination to stay the course. You won’t find them tossing the individual consumer overboard to chase some mythical “small business” client with what was supposed to a home product line.

Be sure to check out the Edge’s setup in the forums for a lot more pictures and details, and post in the forums or comments if you have any other questions about his setup.

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.


GPKing December 15, 2010 at 7:44 am

This DE thing is such a shame. How cool could those boxes have become now that USB 3.0 seems to be adopted quickly.

Comp1962 December 15, 2010 at 10:38 pm

Now thats totally cool. When I saw the picture of the Media Collection I thought someone took a picture of mine but my collection is small compaired to Edges but growing none the less. I stream my content online and of course within the home on several different clients. WHS v1 serves me very well and I am very happy happy with it and will continue to use it for a long time to come.

The absolute simplicity of WHS v1 and how DE makes it all possible is short of a miricle. It makes running a server simple for all allows one to use inexpensive consumer grade hard drives.

Simply put WHS v1 is a tough act to follow. I do hope nothing but the best for WHS v2 but I think along the lines its becomming something that may not be as simple or inexpensive to operate for many.

Jason December 16, 2010 at 9:29 am

USB storage … does that actually work for streaming? I just assumed that is didn’t …

Alex Kuretz December 16, 2010 at 9:39 am

We’ve got some good discussion on that here:

Brajesh December 17, 2010 at 9:24 am

I use two Sans Digital TR8U USB towers with a mix of 2TB and 1.5TB (both 7200 and 5400RPM) drives, and so far (knock wood), I’ve had no issues streaming even high bitrate Blu-ray rips (like Planet Earth, Avatar, etc.). They’re being streamed over cat5e, via my D-link DIR-655 router, to two Boxee Box units, a PopBox and a WDTV Live Plus. I haven’t tried multiple streams at once however. The WD does stutter with high bitrate content, but it’s the WD at fault.

J December 21, 2010 at 4:37 am

The comment about Apple is very valid. I think the reason why WHS isn’t more popular is because of a lack of awareness that the product exists. Who doesn’t need easy control of storage with easy expansion and centralized home backups? I’ve had my WHS for just over a year, why? Because BD’s are large (new format) I have more MP3′s, and more digital photographs, etc… Microsoft just continues to miss the boat because as a company they have no vision. They are second to apple in the release of every new product and software. They currently have a “niche” product in WHS, which they should continue to develop and advertise. They must make it easy to use! Isn’t that the whole point of WHS? It astounds me that MS doesn’t understand that the success of Apple is because they make products that are easy to use. It’s laughable really! In fact I’ve often thought that Apple need to make a WHS equivalent….Even if WHS is losing money it should continue to be developed because it is the future of storage. DROBO here I come.

rob December 21, 2010 at 10:59 am

I’m just wondering hows the plat back of videos

Robin c December 24, 2010 at 5:07 am

I have a similar setup with a HP Data vault and a total of 5tb of usable storage containing about 650 dvd’s (originals in a cupboard) and a growing collection of BDs along with the usual amount of digital pics. All streamed over cat5 to various pcs including one connected to the tv. The beauty is, of course, drive extender, making this my own cloud storage for all devices. The, frankly, idiotic decision not to fix whs v2, will prevent me from upgrading to it. I’ve even bought an iPhone now :/

Robin c December 24, 2010 at 5:12 am

Ps. Video playback of dvd or BD iso images has been fine, I get occassional stuttering but this is usually fixed by throwing more storage at it or rebooting the gigabit switch. I’m not using any specialist streaming software and the discs are still in their native format/compression.

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