HP MediaSmart Server 3.0 Software Update Coming December 2009

HP released a statement this morning confirming that the MediaSmart Server 3.0 software update would be available to order in December, at a cost of around $25.

Previously, the company indicated a Fall timescale for delivering the update, but stated that additional testing is required to ensure the upgrade solution is robust. Given the update requires users to perform a Server Recovery on their home server, it’s highly important that the solution is tested thoroughly.

The update, provided in the form of a new Server Recovery DVD, will be compatible with all MediaSmart Server models, with the exception of the LX195. HP also advise that owners of the EX47x series who have not upgraded the memory in their machines will experience sluggish behaviour when using aspects of the 3.0 software. You may remember that last year HP improved existing EX47x warranties to include protection for users performing memory upgrades on their home servers. HP Photo WebShare will also be removed from EX47x machines as it is now obsolete.

If you’ve read our review of the EX495 this week, you’ll have noted that HP’s Server Online Backup is now not included in the 3.0 Software, but is due to be made available as a downloadable add-in. HP’s statement does not mention whether the add-in will be removed as part of the update for EX48x models (my hunch is that it will be as the recovery DVD will re-image the system partition) and I’ve asked HP for clarification. Certainly your backed up data should be safe on Amazon’s servers and can be accessed again as soon as the add-in is made available to download.

In summary, here’s what to expect:

Model What to Expect What’s New?
EX470/475
  • Slow running on machines that have not received a memory upgrade
  • Removal of HP Photo WebShare
  • HP Media Collector
  • HP Video Converter
  • HP Photo Publisher
  • Web Media Streamer
  • Twonky MediaServer Update
  • Server Online Backup (Add-in)
  • Apple Mac Backup
  • Apple Mac Bare Metal Restore
  • Apple Mac WHS Console Access
EX485/487
  • Removal of Server Online Back-up (now a downloadable add-in)
  • Updated HP Media Collector
  • Updated HP Video Converter
  • Updated TwonkyMedia Server
  • Apple Mac Bare Metal Restore
  • Apple Mac WHS Console Access
LX195
  • Update will not be made available

For EX47x owners, the 3.0 software is a massive update and I’d encourage you to get a 2Gb memory upgrade for your machine in the coming weeks in preparation for the update. I’d recommend Donavon West’s installation guide as a great resource to support you on the upgrade. Check out our EX495 review for a full run down of what’s included in the new software suite.

The $25 update cost is higher than I thought it would be, although mastering DVDs and mailing them out is never going to be a cheap/free option. I did enquire as to the possibility of ISO downloads, but this is not allowed due to OS licensing restrictions. That said, the new software does bring a lot of new functionality to the MediaSmart Server, so take a look at the new features, and you can decide for yourself whether it’s worth the money.

Here’s the statement in full:

Update on the upcoming software upgrades for MediaSmart Servers

Back in May, we announced a plan to allow current MediaSmart Server customers to upgrade to the most current software version beginning this Fall.  Below are additional details on the plans to deliver these upgrades.

HP recently announced the new EX490/495 MediaSmart Servers.  These Servers provide our latest software capabilities including an enhanced video converter, greater Mac Support including bare metal recovery, and a simplified user interface.  It is this software version (3.0) that will be made available to existing EX470/475/485/487 customers.  Note that these software upgrades are optional and will be available as a new installation DVD as opposed to a software download.

We are currently proceeding down the path of a server recovery solution that will not only upgrade your software to the 3.0 version, but also preserve the data in your shared folders.  This approach is preferable to a factory reset that would otherwise require customers to manually offload and restore all server files that the customer wants to preserve.  However, the server recovery approach requires additional testing cycles to validate the approach and the resulting data integrity.  We expect the upgrade DVDs will be available to order through hp.com beginning in December, 2009.  Note that if testing shows the server recovery solution to be problematic, our plan is to change the upgrade process to a factory reset.

As previously communicated, there will be certain limitations of this software upgrade depending on your product.  For example, customers using the Photo Webshare feature in the EX470/475 products will lose this feature if they choose to upgrade (although we expect existing Webshare album photos will be moved into the Photos shared folder).  In addition, customers who have not upgraded their DRAM in the EX470/475 products will likely experience sluggish behavior or limited functionality running certain aspects of the latest 3.0 software.  Finally, the 3.0 software will not be made available for the LX195 model.

The final cost of the upgrade DVD is pending, but is expected to be in the US$25 range.

We thank everyone for their continued support of the MediaSmart Server family of products.

78 comments

  1. That is wonderful news! What concerns me, though, is how users like myself who have imported our HP servers from the US (to Sweden, in my case) will be able to obtain the update. Will HP ship the updates internationally – and if so, at what premium? Licensing aside, an ISO download would be the most convenient way to handle this. After all, it is 2009. HP in Sweden barely acknowledges the existence of the MediaSmart servers, and doesn't offer any support whatsoever, so I am guessing that I will get zero help from them.

    1. Great news, I am in the same boat however having imported it from the US to Australia. Would like to know where we stand. I know HP Australia are about to start selling the new models, but I imagine that wont help me

      1. Well I'm sure hp will understand since the availability was pretty screwed, if not there may be someone here on WGS willing to acquire the disk for you.

        Terry I'm not at all concerned about that cost. Even if there was a small profit on this (which there likely is) it's a very substantial update which customers have asked for. I just hope $25 != £25

    2. I am in the same boat having imported a EX485 to the UK. My understanding is that the EX47x servers were sold internationally before HP decided to only sell the EX48x in the US. As you will be able to upgrade the EX47x to 3.0, surely the upgrade will be available outside the US for owners of such machines (here's hoping anyway!) I can't see HP limiting the upgrade to only international owners of EX47x especially as the EX49x series will be sold internationally again….

      1. Well, since the original post, it seems that the EX49x series – or at least the EX490 – will be available throughout Europe (even though a phone call placed to HP Sweden yesterday reaffirms my view of the Swedish office: the person I talked to had no idea that they had ever sold the MediaSmart Servers, nor had he any knowledge of the product whatsoever *sigh*).

        I am fairly certain that HP will be cool about this. They might not have given any indications that they will solve our little non-problem, but then again they haven't given any indications that they *won't* solve it either.

        $25 isn't worth arguing about, and if they will ship internationally – or add $5-10 for that service – then so be it. So far HP has definitely delivered in terms of hardware and continuous software support – I see no reason why they shouldn't keep doing so in the future.

        And if nothing else, as pointed out elsewhere in this thread, we have a pretty kickass community that so far has offered excellent help to newcomers in the world of WHS, and which would – hopefully – help us non-US people out, if needed.

  2. This news is fantastic, and a $25.00 fee for what we are getting sounds o.k. the delay could also help in the integration with PP3 ____if the webshare photos wont be avaliable on the new upgrade__where is that information stored? so i can off load it for safe keeping, i have family that has uploaded 50GB of photos fron around the world and i dont know where there pictures reside on the server , i dont think there in the shares photos folder with the ones from me____anyway great new HP, that is why__i own____2 hp tablets__1 hp mediasmart server__3 hp printers/scanners__2 high end workstations__

  3. I’ve been waiting for this upgrade to come out before handing my old Ex475 over to my parents. I have a ex485 and I am planning on upgrading that as well. Will I need two copyies of the DVD in order to upgrade both machines?

  4. $25 seems like a bit much (if they can master a movie on a DVD and sell it for $15…).

    But I'll just be happy to have the bare metal restore option.

  5. Even if it does work out at £25 it is still a good deal, ho have been good at updates and to be realistic they did not have to invest time and effort to do this. they could have used the upgrade if you want the latest features, so all in all £15-25 not too bad could have been worse!

  6. humm… I have a 485, I'm wondering if the update is worth it
    ◦Updated HP Media Collector
    ◦Updated HP Video Converter
    ◦Updated TwonkyMedia Server
    I basically use none of those as they are too slow or buggy and so far they still are in the early 3.0 reviews I read….
    Let me know if you experience 3.0 Media Collector, Video Converter and Twonky compare to 2.5, want to make sure if I upgrade I will use it and not one of those feature that looks nice but simply doesn't work well enought yet. thanks

  7. I think $25 is very reasonable, to get my EX47X which is 2 years old now up to speed with whats out there now, sans the new hardware. Better than being left high and dry without the option at all. Nobody is saying you have to upgrade, its an option if you want the latest software.

  8. True, but realistically HP should have had the forsight to make these devices upgradeable from the get go. In which case we never would have had to worry about being left high and dry. The fee is sort of like punishing us for their short comings.

    But still given the option of old software or an uncalled for fee for new software, I'm gonna take the new software any day.

  9. Great news. Though I wonder what pricing president this sets when/if they release an update containing the version of WHS that's based on Server 2008.

  10. "Note that if testing shows the server recovery solution to be problematic, our plan is to change the upgrade process to a factory reset."

    I don't like the sound of that, It is ploblematic if I lose all my data during the upgrade.

  11. I was on the fence about building vs. buying a WHS. I Have a mixed Apple and Windows House and would like to utilize these new features. If I build my own WHS and install an OEM copy of the WHS software, will this release add the HP content to the OEM software.

      1. Can you verify that this is the case? I've built my own WHS with the OEM version, and there are a couple Macs in the house that would like to interact better with the server too, so I've been looking for a way to get the HP version of WHS. I would appreciate any info that you have.

        1. I'm fairly certain you won't be able to put HP software on a home built system. I'm not 100% sure, but I bet they have a hardware key mounted on the system board just like Mac's do so that you can't put their software on another system.

  12. This is a very fair policy by HP – and I am impressed that they are really following through on their committment even if a few months late.
    When a company puts resources into developing significant software updates it behooves customers to be willing to pay for this – or they will have no stake in continuing to bring new functionality to old products.

  13. Noted that the fan speed on the new EX49x servers are around 700 rpm compared to my EX485 which runs at approx 1300 rpm. That is a very good reason to buy the new product!

  14. $25 is not a big deal. What is a big deal is HP's claim that they can't make an ISO download due to OS licensing restrictions when other vendors (MS) make entire service packs upgrades available to their users.

  15. Does anyone know if you have to remove the drives with your data on them from the MSS before doing this upgrade? If so, is there a way to keep the data on at least one drive and plug them all back in and have it rebuild the shares? Because I'll be really pissed if they commit another screwup after the first few and wipe all my data.

    1. "Note that if testing shows the server recovery solution to be problematic, our plan is to change the upgrade process to a factory reset."

      If they manage to pull it off as a server recovery your data will be fine. If that doesn't work out the factory reset will require you to "rebuild" your shares. In that case taking out a drive won't save your data though I would recommend taking out all the drives except for the OS drive anyway as it will make the restore process go faster. Then you can put the drives back in one at a time for formatting.

      Right Terry?

      Personally I keep a backup of everything in a second place anyway because you never know, even with a server recovery. Call me crazy but I'm half heartedly hoping for a factory reset to be required, I've had some random errors since the get-go and this seems like a good starting over place.

  16. I know this is a stupid question but I just want to put it out there just in case. I have WHS OEM installed on a non HP machine. The specs are awsome but love the fact you can backup Macs etc with the HP software. Do you think it would be possiable to install the HP software on a non HP machine to use some of the features?

  17. I think these agre great news. It means HP is listening to us in order to improve their products. I mean, for the owners of the original EX470X servers, if we upgrade the RAM it should honestly be enough to handle the new software.

    One could always upgrade the CPU as well but that IS NOT SUPPORTED BY HP.

  18. I hope HP posts something somewhere on their website that says how/when to get it. Right now, there is not even a mention of how to go about ordering this when it becomes available.

  19. Why is HP Photo Webshare described as being “obsolete”?? Is there a replacement?? How can you retain the Photos that you have in your currnet image of the product??

    1. From the article above…

      "As previously communicated, there will be certain limitations of this software upgrade depending on your product. For example, customers using the Photo Webshare feature in the EX470/475 products will lose this feature if they choose to upgrade (although we expect existing Webshare album photos will be moved into the Photos shared folder)."

      Photo Publisher will take the place of Photo Webshare, and hopefully won't suck as bad.

  20. My parents aren't going to be happy. Photo Webshare had major problems, but my dad still used it alot.

    I guess I'll advise to him to make copies of all the photos.

    1. I wanted to use it a lot, but it was so time consuming. Hopefully, the Photo Publisher will be faster/easier so he and I will both be happy with the change.

      If he isn't a power user you could always just leave him on the 2.0 software though.

      Here's hoping for the best.

      🙂

  21. So, now that I have BOTH a EX485 and a brand new EX495, I'm interested in doing this:

    1) Set up all the same user accounts and shares on the 495
    2) Copy all my data off the 485 into the proper shares on the new 495.
    2) Factory Reset the 485 and try to install the new software shipped with the 495 onto the 485.

    Has anyone tried this and determined that it doesn't work well for some reason?

    (The 495 sure is snappier to work with).

      1. Yes, you can run as many as you like. HOWEVER… each PC must have the Connect software pointing to a specific server. If you want to connect to a different server, you have to remote desktop into it. This means each PC is backed up by only one mediaserver.

        If you keep the usernames the same on each server, then you can easily browse/access the shares on any of the servers without needing to re-enter username/password.

        Make sense?

      2. You can actually run multiple WHS on the same network.

        The trick here is that any given PC can only have the Connect software installed for One specific server. If you keep the usernames the same across all the servers, you can freely access data off the shares of any of the servers, but a given PC can only be "connected" to a single WHS.

        Make Sense?

  22. The mediasmart tech guy I just talked to said they were informed that it would probably be the end of the month before the software was released. He actually recommended that I give them a call back in early January to see if they have any more details. I hope he is wrong.

    1. I heard the same thing today. I suspect it will be January at best since the tech folks haven't seen or been trained on it yet.

      Very disappointing indeed.

      1. Maybe you can verify this for everyone else's sake, but I also believe he said that it will be a factory reset, I can't promise that because I am intending to do a factory reset when the software comes in anyway, so that particular information wasn't really relevant to me.

        Also, that is the greatest user name ever.

        1. The guy I spoke with didn't know the method by which the upgrade would occur. All this really told me is that the release may be further out than Fall, er December.

  23. About a week and a half till Christmas vacations start up. I hope HP holds the Christmas bonuses until the update is released, otherwise motivation is going down the crapper.

  24. have ex485 can u put a solid state drive on it annd just use it for the os to free up space on the hard drive that come with the sever

    1. Sam question pops into my mind….. been looking forward for an update since april last year. Just to see it be postponed every month.

      Really starting to categorize this together with Duke Nukem, most famous for being the most talked about vapor ware ;o)

      /Kennety

  25. Talked to an HP rep. Says that person in charge of Media server are away on leave. No new person has taken over position. Their duties have been spread to various people. This may be part of delay.

  26. The guy I talked to yesterday seemed pretty clueless. He just said "we're uhm…not sure what the release date on that will be". Maybe they're not aware of how many people are anxious for this software, perhaps we should all call inquiring about it. Maybe if everyone and their brother working at HP is telling their boss that they've answered 300 phone calls concerning the update, then maybe we can get at least a status update.

    1-800-HP-INVENT then just a couple of automated steps and when you're asked what product you're calling about say "mediasmart server"

    1. It seems the release hasn’t made it to the UK yet, ironically my Mediasmart needed restoring today, guess I’ll wait till update 3 comes out over here before I do this.

      You get redirected in the UK and the page shows that the item cannot be found.

      Good luck everyone else though!

      Thanks HP for supporting this product over the years, I’ve never had any complaints, just hope I can say the same after I finally can upgrade.

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