Stuff to pimp your Windows Home Server

Hacking Windows Home Server is a blog dedicated to Microsoft's WHS technology. Brought to you by Donavon West, Microsoft MVP and author of LiveGadgets.net and donavon.com I'll also discuss the Hewlett-Packard HP MediaSmart Server EX470, EX475, EX485, EX487, the T7-HSA Tranquil Harmony Home Server and any other new Home Server hardware platforms that arise. You can also call this hacking or hackz. In any case I will show you some cool things to make your Microsoft Windows Home Server even sweeter.

A blog devoted to getting the most out of your
Windows Home Server by Microsoft MVP Donavon West.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Breaking into the Vault (a Look Inside the new HP Data Vault)

The new HP Data Vault is really nothing more than a rebranding of the HP MediaSmart Server targeted at the SoHo market (which I think it's a great idea). So it's no surprise that the hardware will be pretty much the same as well, but let's take a look anyway shall we? As the case is identical to the MediaSmart Servers, this means the standard disassembly instructions work here as well.

The layout looks virtually identical to all of the HP MediaSmart Sever mainboards going way back to the EX470. You'll find the processor up front, the chipset behind that and the RAM on the left; when looking from the front (click on image below to enlarge).

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The Data Vault continues the use of the same CN9 KVM connector, which means that you can connect a VGA monitor, keyboard and mouse if you so desire (and have the right connector hardware).  JP1 is (I believe) is to reset the CMOS and JP2 is to enable the keyboard. People have had mixed results with JP2 using a USB keyboard and I can't get it to work either. There is discussion that you need a PS/2 keyboard hooked up. You can read more about this on MediaSmartServer.net (hey Alex, notice the silkscreened "C").

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Here is a shot of the P.O.S.T. screen (I apologize for the blurry camera work).

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I mentioned in the last article that the power supply has changed over that of the EX47x (especially the fan placement). In the photos on the front and back on the mainboard/power supply, you can see the fan in now in the back on the unit pushing air out, instead on in the front pushing air in.

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The processor in the Data Vault X510 is the Intel dual code E5200 which runs at 2.5 GHz. Below is how it is reported with CPU-Z. Technically the chip is NOT an Intel Core 2 Duo 9as reported by CPU-Z, but a Pentium Dual-Core. From the product comparison matrix on Intel's website, it looks like the Data Vault X510 is ripe for an upgrade to an E5300 (2.6GHz) or an E5400 (2.7GHz).

The mainboard is reported as a Wistron (same as the EX47x, EX48x and EX49x series) model 532837-ZH1 and the BIOS is AMI (American Megatrends, Inc). The Southbridge chipset is the Intel 82801IR (ICH9R) (PDF datasheet from Intel).

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The four internal SATA drives connect via the ICH9R's AHCI controller, while the single eSATA port is connected to a second SATA controller, the Silicon Image SiI 3531, which does support a port multiplier. Yay!

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Here is a look at the Device Manager showing most of the pertinent hardware.

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Bottom Line

The HP Data Vault continues the tradition of the MediaSmart as a sturdy little workhorse. The memory is already maxed out at 2GB and the CPU is a snappy 2.5GHz. The 2.6GHz or 2.7GHz CPU upgrade that I eluded to above is probably not even worth the money for the little performance increase that you will see. Therefore I don't think you will see this unit "hacked" in too many ways. It's pretty nice just the way it is.

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Monday, October 5, 2009

HP StorageWorks X510 Data Vault Unboxing

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I won't go into an extreme amount of detail (yet), but the HP Data Vault X500 arrived this evening and I wanted to give some unboxing photos and some of my first impressions.

Click on an image below to enlarge:

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included in the box are:

  • The HP Data Vault X510
  • power cable
  • CAT5E network cable
  • 3 CDs (server recovers, PC restore and software install)
  • Setup poster

Noticeable differenced between the MediaSmart Server and the Data Vault X510 are the words HP Data Vault (instead of HP MediaSmart Server) on the front and simple an HP (instead of HP MediaSmart Server) on the back. Other than that, they are identical. Same single USB port in front, 3 USB, eSATA, power and network in back.

Note that the Data Vault X510 some in 1TB (1x1TB), 2TB (2x1TB) and 3TB (2x1.5TB) models. The one I received was the 2TB model. HP has once again chosen the Seagate drives. I would have preferred the Western Digital green drives, but then again if you follow my blog at all, you already knew that. :)

There is one other change that is not immediately apparent. the power supply has a fan in the rear that draws air from the case. In the older models the fan was in front and it pushed air into the case. You can make this out my looking at the read photo of the two side-by-side above. More on this once I break out my trusty #00 Phillips head screwdriver. :)

Installing the Connector Software

Installing the connector software as as easy as it in with the HP MediaSmart series. The only thing that I noticed was the default name of the server has changed from HPSERVER to HPSTORAGE.

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Wow! Perdy (the main HP tab on the Home Server Console!

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Don't fear, the Easter Egg was left in as well:

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The Data Vault runs the same MediaSmart 3.0 software as the EX49X series so it's no surprise that the multimedia features were left in. The folks at HP indicated that this may change down the road as they may not be utilized (or even wanted) by many small businesses. I would look for some better value added Add-ins that specifically target small businesses.

Also note a bit of confusion about the name. On the HP official literature and website, it is referred to as the HP StorageWorks X510 Data Vault. On the unit itself and on the software, it is simply called the HP Data Vault. I think that HP StorageWorks X510 Data Vault is probably what it's mother call it. It's friends simple call it HP Data Vault. :)

*** Update *** For a deeper dive into the hardware itself, see the article Breaking into the Vault (a Look Inside the new HP Data Vault)

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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Add-In Author Interview #8

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Today I was featured in Home Server Land's series "The Interviews". And be sure to check out the other interviews, like the one with WHS Disk Management author Sam Wood. His is a lot more interesting than mine. :)

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One More Year, One More Year!

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I received this seconds ago:

Dear Donavon West,

Congratulations! We are pleased to present you with the 2009 Microsoft® MVP Award! This award is given to exceptional technical community leaders who actively share their high quality, real world expertise with others. We appreciate your outstanding contributions in Windows Home Server technical communities during the past year.

So it looks like you are all stuck with me for at least another year! :) I know that HSH has been quite barren lately and I hope to pick things up soon. I have a few articles that are in the works so please be patient a little while longer. And thank to all of you for your support and well wishes during my trying times.

Donavon

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Free Microsoft Security Essentials Anti-Virus Software

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Not exactly Windows Home Server related (there is a lane tie-in), but I thought you may want to know that Microsoft today has released it's Security Essentials anti-virus software for XP, Vista and Windows 7 (both x86 and x64).  Go out and get your free copy here. I hear that analysts are saying that it's actually pretty good.

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So what's the lame tie-in to Windows Home Server? You can finally get your WHS to stop displaying that red icon as it complains that your network is critical because you don't have anti-virus software. :)

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HP Creates a New Market with the DataVault X500 Series

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HP has rebranded it's MediaSmart Server line and is targeting the small business. The lowdown is that this is basically the same machine as the MediaSmart Server, but comes with a dual core CPU (Intel E5200) and larger hard drives out of the box (1TB and 1.5TB dependin on model). The OS is the same Windows Home Server that we know and love. Watch this space for a complete Home Server Hacks style unboxing in the days to come.

Pricing is as follows:

Capacity Price
X510 1TB (1 x 1TB) $699
X510 2TB (2 x 1TB) $859
X510 3TB (2 x 1.5TB) $999

 

Here is the complete press release:

Small business owners invest a tremendous amount of time, money and resources to make their ventures successful. Addressing immediate business concerns often means postponing or overlooking technology investments that could impact the bottom line. One of those areas often overlooked are data storage and protection needs. This can lead to missed revenue opportunities through poorly managed data or the inability to rebound from major data loss.

The HP StorageWorks X500 Data Vault Series is a new family of storage devices that help small businesses remain competitive by protecting important business data, easily sharing files regardless of location, and automating backups.

“Small businesses need storage technology that lowers risk by quickly bringing data back online if a disaster occurs. It can also increase productivity by sharing and remotely accessing files outside the office,” said Lee Johns, director of marketing, Unified Storage Division, HP. “The HP StorageWorks Data Vault is easy to install, offers data protection and file sharing at an affordable price for small businesses with limited technology resources and budgets.”

A complete storage solution

The HP StorageWorks X500 Data Vault Series enables small businesses with up to 10 PC clients and Mac’s to easily store information in a central place. Business owners also save money through a low purchase price, which is up to 22 percent less than comparable solutions.(1)

The HP StorageWorks X500 Data Vault Series covers all aspects of storage needs that are important to a small business, including:

  • Data storage – customers can meet demanding storage needs with up to three terabytes of storage space and virtually unlimited expansion capabilities that add capacity without powering down the device.
  • Data protection – customers can ensure data protection in the event of failure by automatically backing up their clients daily. Customers have added protection by choosing which files are most important, and with the click of a mouse, duplicate that folder to a second hard disk drive.
  • Data sharing – customers can share files on their local network through an easy-to-use control panel. Users can also collaborate on projects through Microsoft Windows Home Server, which allows secure remote access to business files.

Larger customers who need high availability or want to simplify data management and grow storage capacity can leverage the HP StorageWorks X1000 and X3000 Network Storage Systems, which consolidate file and block data into a unified storage solution.

The HP StorageWorks X500 Data Vault Series is available in select regions worldwide.  The first in the family, the HP StorageWorks X510 Data Vault, starts at $699.(2)

(1) The HP StorageWorks X510 Data Vault costs 22 percent less than the Buffalo Terastation III 2TB product.

(2) Estimated U.S. street price. Actual price may vary. Available in the U.S., Canada, Western Europe, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand.

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Saturday, September 26, 2009

HP EX485 $389 Today Only from Newegg

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Newegg has one day only Shell Shocker deals. Today's deal is the HP EX485 Windows Home Server . It's $210 dollars off at only $389 plus includes free shipping. No coupon needed. Just click here to take advantage of this deal.

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