Wow how time flies. On Christmas 2009, my wife gave me an HP MediaSmart EX490. If I was a geek back then, I’m really a geek now! Thanks to the MediaSmart, I’ve learned a lot. Especially about some things I never really gave much thought to, like streaming home media. I wanted the server for backups, but it turned out to be so much more.
I helped my trusty EX490 along with a CPU upgrade and more memory, and it helped my family out by not only keeping our data safe, but also by streaming media for the young’ins. My daughter was 2 at the time I got the server and my son was born in April 2010. So the media kept us entertained too for those middle-of-the-night feedings.
Less than a year later, Microsoft pulled the carpet out from beneath our feet by announcing they were killing off Windows Home Server’s most endearing feature, Drive Extender. Many folks vowed to stay with WHS v1, no matter what Microsoft was going to put out. I too had invested a lot of energy into WHS v1, with my free Home Server SMART add-in, which many of you continue to run today. And every now and again, a donation comes in. Thank you!
As someone who works in IT and lives on the bleeding edge of technology, I felt the desire to move on to WHS 2011 despite Microsoft’s transgressions. A friend of mine was selling an EX487, so I bought that off of him, and like the EX490, upgraded the CPU and memory. Now I could tinker with WHS 2011 while still running WHS v1!
Despite the lack of Drive Extender, WHS 2011 did a good job. And it gave me an opportunity to come out with a new edition of Home Server SMART, and its companion shareware product WindowSMART. The fact that WHS 2011 supported the x64 processor and full 4GB of memory was a big help too. Plus, a couple of private developers kept the Drive Extender spirit alive with their offerings – Drive Bender and StableBit Drive Pool.
Sadly Microsoft abandoned the “home server” concept after WHS 2011. They released Windows Server 2012 Essentials, followed by an R2 version, but neither were ever priced appropriately for home users. Plus Microsoft’s first crack at resurrecting Drive Extender, now called Storage Spaces, fell short of the mark. I appreciate that Microsoft realized the err of their ways in killing off Drive Extender in the first place, but the first release of Storage Spaces seemed a lot slower and not quite as reliable as Drive Bender or StableBit.
Then a couple years ago, my trusty EX490 seemed to give up the ghost. Thankfully it was just a bad power supply. A good company called Overtek in the UK came to the rescue with a compatible power supply, and my EX490 was back up and running.
Fast forward to today, and I’ve got a small business running from both my EX487 and EX490, and I’ve got another EX490 on the way, bought from a fellow MediaSmartServer.net member. A friend of mine runs a small business and wants an onsite backup capability, along with remote access. She didn’t want a budget buster, and knowing how reliable the EX490 is, I was happy to order one up for her.
While some may regard the EX4xx servers as old, obsolete and outdated, I beg to differ. Arguably I believe this is one of HP’s best products, even if it never gained the market traction HP hoped it would gain. It’s small, reliable, still supports the latest operating systems (including Windows Server 2012 R2) and also supports the latest high-capacity hard drives. And SSDs too! Thanks to our good friend Charles and VOV Technology, you can add video and keyboard/mouse capabilities.
Yes, the MediaSmart Server is a powerful little machine. Over the years I’ve tried out several different heavy-hitting applications on it, like SQL Server, SharePoint and even Exchange. It ran them all, just not at once.
Today my EX487 and EX490 press on…backing up everything, streaming media and providing me remote access no matter where I am. It’s been a fun five years. Thank you HP for building us such a great product, and thank you for HP for building a product that helped bring together such a great community here at MediaSmartServer.net!