HP MediaSmart Server or Home-build? RRS feed

  • General discussion

  • Looking at setting up a Home Server for the first time.

    What are your thoughts regarding using either of these as hardware platforms. Primarily concerned about the proprietary nature of updates and such from HP. Not really interested in the HP add-ons. To be used mostly for backup of 2-4 PCs, photo collection backup, file sharing, some web hosting and maybe remote access.

    No issues with building my own server, been in the IT field for quite a while.

    Considering the following;
    - Dedicated OS drive
    - 2-WD Green 1TB data drives
    - AeroCool M40 case
    - Motherboard: something along the lines of an Intel-based Asus mATX
    - 1-2GB memory

    Thoughts, concerns, suggestions?

    Monday, October 6, 2008 2:35 PM

All replies

  • HP is a nice box for people, who don't have a fable for IT.
    Its looking great, is preinstalled, usually functions and does it's job.

    I prefer to use a self built model for various reasons, especially:
    I can give the system the horsepower I want and don't have to take the limited performance of a premade box.
    I really dislike headless devices for troubleshooting, testing and experimenting.
    I do not wish to depend from a time consuming warranty replacement, if something breaks.
    It doesn't cost much more.

    For your own config I recommend a 3rd harddisk to use the full powers of WHS technology.

    Best greetings from Germany
    Monday, October 6, 2008 2:53 PM
  • Thanks for your reply, Olaf.

    Good points and I agree headless is a concern as well. The MediaSmart Server seems like a nice package but not as flexible as a self-built server.

    Still looking for Green components that might mimic some of the HP components.

    I understand about the 3rd hard-drive that's why I would dedicate one to the OS. I suppose 500GB would be plenty.


    Monday, October 6, 2008 3:25 PM
  • There's a trade-off involved. The HP is a nice looking unit, and if all you're looking for is basic WHS functionality, it does the job just fine. (I've had one for nearly a year.) If you're planning to add a lot of functionality on top, the HP is significantly underpowered for the role. 

    However, if you are planning to add a lot of stuff on top, you should be aware that Windows Home Server is not designed to be, and should not be placed in the role of, Windows Server 2003 Lite. Because it's designed to be a headless system that end users will interact with only through shares, the web site, and the WHS Console application, many of the tools and techniques you're possibly familiar with from Windows Server installations offer a (significant, in some cases) chance of OS corruption, data loss, etc. Given that WHS is intended to be the central repository for all your digital stuff, and your primary home backup solution, this is a not-insignificant consideration.

    I would say that you should read more about WHS, checking out the various documents available on the Microsoft WHS Support Center. That will give you a much better idea of what WHS is and is not designed to do. If you find that you have little use for WHS functionality, and need for much functionality that's not built in, then you may be better off with Windows Server 2003.

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Monday, October 6, 2008 3:40 PM

    Ken, thanks for the insight. I understand that WHS should not be used beyond it's means and that many get in trouble in doing so. I've seen many abuses along the way and this sage advice goes for any OS not just WHS although, I can see how this might be problem with those familiar with Windows 2003.


    I think generally just having the automated backup functionality would be beneficial as well as a way of sharing and retrieving files.


    What shortfalls, if any, do you consider essential that W2k3 offers over WHS? Would you recommend W2k3 or even SBS over WHS for similar tasks?

    Monday, October 6, 2008 3:59 PM
  • I would say you should take a look at the WHS documentation. If you find that there are a lot of things that you really want to do with your server that aren't listed, you should consider Windows Server 2003. In general, though, my opinion is that there is little in the way of traditional IT roles that WHS doesn't do that's appropriate for the home. Home users don't need AD, they don't need Exchange (and most home users are very satisfied with their current hosted solution), they don't (usually) need to host multiple web sites at home, etc.

    To take one of your "desirements" as an example, if you really need to be able to host web sites at home, Windows Home Server will not make it easy. (Possible? Yes. Easy? No.) Personally, though, I would prefer to host with a web presence provider, because they will (in theory) do a better job of maintenance than I would.

    Of the list of things you indicate you'd like to do, though, the only thing that WHS doesn't really do is the hosting of multiple web sites. And you may find that the HP MediaSmart even offers the web connectivity you actually want. :)

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Monday, October 6, 2008 5:18 PM