There’s a lot to be excited about when you consider the features Windows Home Server offers out of the box—primarily, automated backup of all your desktop and mobile machines and media streaming to every room in your house. HP builds on this goodness with a second-generation WHS product that boasts both improved hardware and a supercharged features list.
When we reviewed HP’s first foray into the world of Windows Home Server last year, we were optimistic about the future of the platform but a bit underwhelmed by the performance of the little box. Since then, the Home Server software has gone through some teething pains, including a horrific bug that corrupted users’ files (since corrected with the first Service Pack for the Home Server software).
To the base that Windows Home Server provides, HP has added a ton of powerful new features, including a much-improved media streamer; an iTunes streaming server; the ability to back up OS X–based machines using Time Machine; online backup for crucial files; integration with photo- sharing services, including Picasa, Flickr, and Facebook; and the HP Media Collector, which scans your client computers and automatically copies new photos, music, or videos to the Home Server. Typically, we’re not fans of the heavily customized shovelware that comes with OEM hardware, but in this instance, HP has added genuine value to the Home Server platform with these software enhancements. The Media Collector is especially valuable because it pulls photos from our client machines to the server automatically—a huge benefit, and one that’s not built into the core Windows Home Server functionality.
On the hardware front, the EX487 features a beefier configuration than the first-gen MediaSmart. Instead of an AMD Turion processor, 512MB of RAM, and a pair of 500GB drives, the new hardware boasts a 2GHz single-core Intel Celeron paired with 2GB of RAM and a pair of 750GB drives. There are two bays in the EX487 free for expansion, in addition to an eSATA port and four USB ports. Despite the beefier hardware, the machine remains very quiet. It was inaudible in a typical living room environment.
While this isn’t enough of an advance to consider it a sophomore effort, it’s definitely spring semester of freshman year, and things are looking pretty good for Home Server.
HP Mediasmart EX487
Better hardware, corruption issues are fixed, and the HP add-ons are kick ass.
Home Alone 2
We’d like a multicore edition to empower video-streaming apps like TVersity.
Upload Transfer Rate (MB/s)
Download Transfer Rate (MB/s)
Best scores are bolded. To measure home server transfer speeds, we copy a 1,705MB H.264-encoded video file from a desktop machine hard-wired to the server and back using the Windows browser.