Upgrading my HP WHS MediaSmart EX495 to Windows Home Server 2011

Apr 26 2011

Those of you who have been following our MissingRemote Podcast are familiar with the dilemma I have been facing for the last few months--do I dare take the plunge on my one and only Windows Home Server system, based off of an HP MediaSmart EX495, and upgrade to the new and "improved" WHS 2011? After much deliberation and non-stop harassment from, well everyone, I decided it was time. The process was not nearly as bad as I had anticipated but the results are certainly mixed. Obviously this upgrade is not supported by HP given that the EX495 is long since discontinued, but migrating it to WHS 2011 would hopefully be worth the upgrade.

WHS2011
This is not another how-to guide, but more a look at the experience. Unless I'm alone here, I imagine there are a lot of HP MediaSmart users out there pondering the exact same thing I have been. As such I will be focusing on the effort and results, and see if all this was worthwhile.


SYSTEM OVERVIEW

HP MediaSmart EX495 Windows Home Server System featuring:

  • Intel Pentium Processor Dual Core 2.5 Ghz 64-bit
  • 2GB DDR2 Memory
  • 4 Hot-swappable Drive Bays with 1.5TB Seagate Barracuda 7200rpm Hard Drives
  • Gigabit NIC
  • Size: 9.88 inches x 5.5 inches x 9.75 inches


INSTALLATION

First let's look at what was necessary to get all this going:

  1. An HP MediaSmart EX495 which I had peaked out with 4 x 1.5tb Seagate hard drives (this process supposedly would work on previous generations as long as they have the minimum 2GB of RAM)
  2. A copy of Windows Home Server 2011 (thanks Technet)
  3. Teracopy - Used to copy and verify data over network (thanks @Ogre and @Techlifeweb)
  4. Either external hard drives or another system on the network with enough storage space
  5. USB Thumb Drive (at least 5GB) - I tried an external USB hard drive I had but the system refused to boot off it
  6. PATIENCE

There takes a lot of faith to do something like this given that there is no VGA display on the MediaSmart. Luckily I followed two fantastic guides from SeanDaniel and MediaSmartServer and between the two of them had no problems.

With 4 x 1.5TB of storage space, I was using approximately 2.5TB. That left a bit of a dilemma as to how I was going to transfer the data and to where--while I have external hard drives, none are big enough for the task. In the end I used a combination of methods. For one, I removed one of the 1.5TB drives from my storage pool since I had the space remaining, and I copied over as much as I could. For the remaining terabyte of data, I used the space I had on my main home theater PC. To manage the transfer I used Teracopy which allowed me to "test" and verify the transfer was good--it also lets you pause and resume, which is convenient.

Since there is no Drive Extender anymore, you only need one hard drive to install WHS2011, so I removed the additional 3 and let it do it's thing. Keep in mind, the big fuss about the removal of Drive Extender, is that if you have one type of media, say your MOVIES which take up more GB than you have available on a single drive, then you are forced to split them among two hard drives and then individually setup each network share, such as \\SERVER\MOVIES1 and \\SERVER\MOVIES2. This is quite different than with Drive Extender, where the data would just span across multiple disks if necessary, but your share would remain a single \\SERVER\MOVIES share. I’m fortunate to not have over 1.5TB of a single media content type, but this has bothered a ton of people. Even if I did though, since I use My Movies 4 to organize my collection it is irrelevant to me how many shares store my movies since the application automatically combines it all into its UI--Media Browser and most other media softwares work the same.

The original Windows Home Server installation was a big patchwork where it involved constant reboots and lots of infomration. I used to work for an OEM which sold Windows Home Server systems, so I am painfully familiar with the arduous process required to install the original version. I was pleasently surprised that the new WHS 2011 took just under 35 minutes start to finish--and this is on an HP EX495 system!

UPDATE 4/28: When you install, you will have a yellow exclamation mark in Device Manager for a "Mass Storage Controller." You will need the 64-bit drivers for the SiliconImage 3531 Port Multiplier Chipset available here.

RESTORING DATA & SETUP

Now that I was up and running, it was time to get things back to functional, and fast (the GF would NOT be happy if I had to tell her we couldn't watch a movie because the server was down). The original backing up process took forever since the beauty that is Drive Extender has a big downside--file transfer speed crawls at around 10-30MB/s, in other words a LONG time for 2.5TB of data. While I do miss Drive Extender for a lot of reasons, I was very excited to see data transfer rates of 70-90MB/s! Also, without DE, the 1.5TB hard drive full of my backed up data was able to just be inserted into the system, and then I moved the WHS2011 folders to that location; since there's no need to copy the data over to a network share like before, this saved a TON of time. With that done, then it was just a matter of using Teracopy to pull the data back from my HTPC to the WHS.

The way WHS 2011 works is by simply sharing the folders wherever they are located; over your network this is irrelevant since \\SERVER\MUSIC does not care about your drive letter. Why is this so huge and important for me to dedicate a paragraph to it? Because it means NOT having to re-do all of my Windows 7 Media Center libraries at all--including music and My Movies library! As long as you maintain your user accounts and passwords, I was able to get things working immediately after copying things back. Now THAT was a welcome surprise.

What was not pleasant however was using the new WHS Connector software installing on my systems. It installed fine on my HTPC Windows 7 Ultimate x64, but it's now been two unsuccessful days on my Laptop's Windows 7 Ultimate x86. I continue trying to troubleshoot, but it's very frustrating as my error message is vague and not very helpful. I've read lots of posts online and the problems range from antivirus, to firewall to even simply enabling Windows Services for Media Center (yes, for WHS 2011, go figure). If I can't figure this out, no way my parents would be able to.

UPGRADE FRUSTRATIONS

So I'm up and running now for a day and things have definitely not been flawless. You really hate to say that about a brand new operating system over its predecessor, but MAN there were some crazy sacrifices made. I'll put it just like I see it--where the original Windows Home Server was really trying to be a server for any home, non-techy especially, I got the complete opposite vibe from WHS2011. And I'm not just talking about the lack of drive extender either. A perfect example is the shortcuts on the tray of the ServerManager and Powershell, which are two tools greatly utilized by people who actually manage servers, but unnecessary (I hope) in a WHS2011 world. And that's not all.

I consider myself a geek, but one of the things I loved to see was the simple pie chart showing my used vs available hard drive space, as well as a breakdown of what content is taking up how much storage space. Who doesn't like to brag about their 150GB music collection? Instead, all you see is "Free Space" available on the hard drive where that folder is located. Important information indeed, but still c'mon Microsoft, no pie chart, no total size.

WHS2011

Another item of frustration is also incredibly ridiculous in simplicity--the home page on your dashboard. There are extremely limited options for customizing this (you can just remove a few of the items, can't add), and there's no way to have it start on a different tab. This is a minor nag obviously but exactly the type of item which you would hope would have been noticed for a second generation product.

And then there’s the lack of add-ins. When Apple released the iPhone, how many thousands of applications were already available and ready to download? A lot. For this huge Windows Home Server 2011 release, how many Add-Ins are officially available? ONE. Most of your favorites are in beta or testing mode presently, so it’s something to be aware if there’s something you cannot live without.

WHS2011

Most of my comments in this had been surrounding Windows Home Server 2011 in general, but of course the most important part about this is the fact that I'm using my old HP MediaSmart EX495 to USE WHS 2011, so how does it do? In general, very well. Remote desktop seems more responsive than before, bootup is very fast, and overall experience with the Windows 7-ish user interface is much nicer. However, since HP no longer supports it there is no software to run on it in order to enable the hard drive indication lights, so they remain dark. On top of that, the Health LED continuously blinks blue. For my setup, the system is tucked away so it does not distract me but I will probably put electrical tape over it shortly. No support for lights is one thing, but of course you have none of the HP WHS software which was enjoyed on the original, most notably in my case of the thermal and system monitoring tools.

FINAL THOUGHTS

It has only been a few days as of the time of this writing so it's tough to truly gauge a comparison of a brand new software with one I have been using for several years, but it's definitely NOT A NO BRAINER. In my situation I do not have any type of media over 1.5TB so the lack of Drive Extender while annoying, was not that devastating (especially with SyncToy to help create a mirrored copy), and even more so with the noticeable hard drive transfer speed that comes as a result.

But it's not all roses. My HP MediaSmart EX495 is rendered basically as a small chassis which I easily could have built myself. No lights, no software, none of the extras I had grown accustomed to. Minor quibbles sure, but you might be wondering if I had been better served just eBaying the EX495 and building my own higher performance SFF? Quite possibly, but at a current rate of approximately $300-500 that's not a lot of room to work for building a system; while the power draw I’m sure could be beaten (idle around 40-50 watts, and fully loaded hovering around 70-80W), there are not a lot of chassis which fit the small footprint and appearance of the HP EX495. Still something to consider if you are an existing EX495 owner.

That type of thought will have to wait for the future, as my system is fully up, running and functional right now so for fear of GF retaliation it will remain so for a bit. I miss a lot of things from the original WHS, which is not something you will usually say to an upgrade. While the speed benefit (of both RDP and network transfer) is awesome, I'm having a really difficult time seeing any obvious benefits.

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Comments

I haven't exactly been subtle in my disdain for WhS 2011, but you definitely confirmed most of what I concluded, based on released information.  First, this isn't a home server OS at all.  Second, there's the question of why someone would use this OS over something else.  I simply don't see the reason.  Most people will probably be much happier with a regular Windows 7 install, due primarily to ease of use and familiarity.  Those who want a more server oriented OS, will probably take a look at SBS 2011 Essentials.

I'm curious to see the price points between Windows 7, WHS 2011, and SBS 2011 Essentials.  I believe the pricing will increase in the exact order I listed them, but MS won't be able to separate the price:feature argument enough for Windows 7 and WHS 2011 and people will just go with Windows 7.

Here's my prediction on what MS will soon say, "We've decided to discontinue development of WHS 2011, due to the lack of OEM support.  We thought that delivering a compelling and unique product like WHS 2011 would garner the support of major OEMs.  Sadly, that did not happen.  While we understand there is a niche market for end-users in the DIY server community, it simply isn't enough to warrant its continued development."

Hey, maybe MS will actually be somewhat honest and say, "You know what?  There really isn't much of a difference between WHS 2011 and SBS 2011 to warrant two separate products.  To make it less confusing to consumers and enterprises, we are going to merge the two products."

Yeah... I'm a little bitter.  Wink

What about automatic backups?  That's all I use WHS for, and AFAIK not a feature included in any other product.

I'm not all that familiar with SBS, but does it allow remote desktop to all machines in the home and work with non-pro versions of Windows 7 including Home Premium? Does it have the media server functions of WHS 2011? Does it support WMC natively? Does it support HomeGroup?

For the features I find unique in WHS, there is no way Windows 7 alone is an adequate replacement. If SBS supports all of the "Home" features of WHS, then perhaps it is worth consideration although I can't imagine it is the same price-point as WHS.

swoon wrote:

I'm not all that familiar with SBS, but does it allow remote desktop to all machines in the home and work with non-pro versions of Windows 7 including Home Premium? Does it have the media server functions of WHS 2011? Does it support WMC natively? Does it support HomeGroup?

For the features I find unique in WHS, there is no way Windows 7 alone is an adequate replacement. If SBS supports all of the "Home" features of WHS, then perhaps it is worth consideration although I can't imagine it is the same price-point as WHS.

Can't answer much of that, since I'm not all that familiar with SBS either.  But, as a SageTV user, I don't use any of the media functions from WHS.  I know that SBS supports AD, so not sure about HomeGroup.

Also, is WMC really integrated natively into WHS 2011?  So, you can record directly to the server now without having to move the files?  I know that was a huge complaint by WMC users for WHS v1.

Maybe they should have renamed WHS 2011 to WMCS 2011 instead?  Smile

MaximumPC turned me on to Macrium Reflect.  While it may not be integrated into the OS itself, I'm fine with such a solution.

Is that automatic and can it provide file recovery (haven't needed to find out if WHS11 does, but WHS could)?

I need a solution that is easy and automated (dedup on the server is nice too), way too many PCs to manage anything manually.

babgvant wrote:

Is that automatic and can it provide file recovery (haven't needed to find out if WHS11 does, but WHS could)?

I need a solution that is easy and automated (dedup on the server is nice too), way too many PCs to manage anything manually.

It is automatic, but the free version doesn't do file/folder recovery.  For that, I use Cobian Backup (also free).  I actually use that under WHS v1 because of what a pain it is to restore folders/files with WHS.  And, since WHS v1 doesn't support server backups, it was my only option there for backing up my SageTV folder, my comskip folder, and a few others.

Why is there no discussion of RAID for redundancy.

I've been doing some research over the past few months and find it a great solution. I just picked up a HighPoint 2680 controller (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16816115096) that I'll use to create a RAID5 array for all my DVD/Blu-rays. No need for a complete video duplication for something that's replaceable. (This got out of hand in v1) I look forward to the increased performance and better use of space.

I will backup my important files using WHS2011 server backup. And the client/server backups are completely automatic, so what's not to like?

Things I won't miss from WHS v1:

1) No control over what type of drive my data gets stored on (just part of 'the pool')

2) Demigrator.exe (http://www.mediasmartserver.net/2010/12/09/guide-shutting-off-demigrator...)

3) Very little options for client/server backups

4) Performance was far from my expectations in WHS v1

 

 

Why waste raid on DVD backups? Your disc "IS" the backup Wink

now pictures and home videos on the other hand are a bit different.

-Josh

Well, when 2TB drives are $79, having a bit of redundancy just makes sense in my case. My time is too valuable to liberate a movie off a Blu-ray twice. Laughing

Andy,

 

It is my understanding from reading ms mircrosot that sbs 2011 includes automated backup of clients. I would use sbs over whs 2011 anyday.

I think you want essentials

http://www.microsoft.com/oem/en/products/servers/Pages/sbs_overview.aspx

 

It is my understanding it is the same backup mechanism in whs. I agree with Skirge whs 2011 is a joke at best.

 

Thanks, I'll take a look at that.

"but still c'mon Microsoft, no pie chart, no total size."

Look here:

http://www.awieco.com/en/Products/DriveInfo

 

I'm going to be upgrading my server this weekend so it helps to know what to watch out for. My HTPC is an older VAIO TP which runs x86 because of driver compatibility so I'm really hoping I don't run into the connector issue.

Just a quick note: when the iPhone was initially released, there were no apps at all. It took a while for the app store to be setup and for it to grow. Regardless, I doubt we'll see the number of add-ins grow to a substantial number no matter how much time goes by.

Please let us know how it goes. BTW, it looks like another thing you may want to be aware of that Mike worked out is in this thread.

Thanks for the link St3lvio!! I'll definitely be adding it to my add-ins. But the fact that I have to do that just serves my point. Just because developers are awesome human beings at fixing what Microsoft removes, doesn't change my attitude of Microsoft's shift in gears by removing these "features" to begin with.

To your point about RAID for redundancy, i'm using the HP EX495, so there are no RAID options available. So synctoy it is.

Andrew made a good point, the PC backup and recovery is a large reason why i'll even be keeping WHS2011 personally. If you've had a system go down, it's a lifesaver and the process is pretty smooth (not tested in 2011 version). That being said, I still can't get my laptop to connect. *sigh*

Mike, have you had a chance to try out the streaming media features in WHS 2011? I'm curious to know what your thoughts are on the feature.

Since you don't have raid on your system, you could always use spanned volumes to make all your drives treated as one.  It's simple to set up, it lacks fault tolerance, but with proper backups it would let you go back to keeping all your data on one 'big drive'.  (and you can always add more to your spanned volume anytime you want)

well, as i mentioned there's no data i have that is greater than 1.5TB in size, so for me that's unnecessary. but maybe in the future? I don't know, I use MyMovies 4 so where the movies are is fairly irrelevant to my situation

So just tested streaming. I am on Mac OSX since i'm at work, but performance was ok. Took a little bit the first time streaming, but then after that it seemed ok. I didn't get through a whole episde. Quality of the video was just OK. Music was very good, although the interface seemed more than i think is necessary for this type of experience.

I didn't have much time, but next time i test i'll check CPU/RAM performance while streaming each type

Music:

WHS2011 Streaming Music

Videos:

WHS2011 Streaming Video

Wow, that is a nifty looking UI. I wouldn't expect the video to be super stellar since it's going to need to transcode to use the smaller uplink speeds. It's still interesting to me that I could have a bunch of my personal media on WHS and it will automatically serve up everything for times when I want to access remotely.

The auto-transcoding for external access is pretty nice.  Were you able to adjust the outgoing bandwidth it uses or does it just default to set amount?

As for spanned volumes, yeah, with your setup you probably don't need it.  I'm sure there are few people who would miss the old drive extender that might find it useful.

oliver, not sure on the streaming adjustment. It certainly didn't ask me, and I didn't notice controls on the play window to adjust. But i haven't checked out any settings on the web interface, so it was strictly auto to me.

edit: i re-logged back into my webpage for it, and i didn't notice any options for adjusting the stream quality/bandwidth, so looks like it's 100% auto all the time

Mike Garcen wrote:

oliver, not sure on the streaming adjustment. It certainly didn't ask me, and I didn't notice controls on the play window to adjust. But i haven't checked out any settings on the web interface, so it was strictly auto to me.

edit: i re-logged back into my webpage for it, and i didn't notice any options for adjusting the stream quality/bandwidth, so looks like it's 100% auto all the time

 

There is a good better best streaming setting in the remote page setup. (or something like that, I'm doing a format and install on the server right now after some beta software, so I can't pull it up to confirm setting names.)

how ridiculous is it that this setting is NOT available via the remote webpage?! c'mon!!!!

"what's that dad? You want to stream a higher or lower quality from your awesomely user friendly WHS2011? No problem, just RDP into it and launch the dashboard, and then go to settings, then to media, adjust the settings. NOW, go back to your other pc (no, not the rdp), and launch ur browser, go back to the page, and VOILA, now you can stream higher quality!"

 

*argh*

What's up Mike, thanks for posting your experience. So here's the deal. I've been pretty happen with my HP EX495. I did the 3.0 upgrade last year and have been using it as a file storage device. I should note that I'm not using it to back up computers on my network as I have an iMac and MacBook Pro and quite frankly the support for OSX backups sucks ass so I'm using TimeMachine which works flawlessly. 

 

After hearing that they killed DriveExtender I had absolutely no desire to "upgrade" to something that really was a step backwards. I was also really glad that I was no longer in a position to have to explain that one to the MVPs. <smile>

So life was good until about 48hrs ago when my server (I'm using that term loosely) started falling off the network cutting off access to my library of music and ripped DVDs. My toddler is outraged that he can't watch Buzzlight year and as of yet I've not been successful in explaining what's going on to him with out getting yelled at. sigh....

So far all attempts at fixing the issue have been in vain and I'm looking down the barrel of a restore which is forcing me to look at all options.

Here's my question. If I'm not using this thing for back ups and don't care if my lights work on the case of my HP, then should I install Windows 7 and call it good? What other options should I consider? I don't think I really "want" to run HS 2011 as I question the future of this product. 

Hope this are good for you... let me know when your in Redmond again and we'll grab a drink

Tyler 

 

 

Tyler!! What's up man!!! So you bring up a good point, and one that i've seen brought up several times which is: if you don't need client backup, then are you better off just installing Windows 7 instead?

This is going on your HP EX495, right? Or are you saying just making one of your client systems with Windows 7 to be your main file server?

Great hearing from you dude!!!

Thanks for the wonderful blog. I too went ahead and installed WHS 2011 on my EX495 and everything seems to work fine.

 

 

I just installed WHS 2011 on my EX495

Here's how, take a fresh hard drive, and hook it up to ANOTHER / Different computer.   Install Windows Home Server 2011 on this drive via the temp computer.   As soon as the install wants to reboot for the very first time, turn off the comptuer.    Take the drive out and but it back into the EX495.   (leave ALL other drives out/unplugged)   Turn on the EX495, The install will complete after 15 minutes.  You'll know it's done when  you can ping the IP address.   After that goto http://192.168.1.101/connect
(use your own IP of course above)
You'll be able to complete the rest of the install!

Install this driver manually:
http://www.siliconimage.com/support/searchresults.aspx?pid=80&cat=3

Put all your drives back in, and you can move the data in the hidden DE folder.   

For DE I'm using stable bit drive pool beta.  (works great)
http://wiki.covecube.com/StableBit_DrivePool

I even got drive lights working from this thread:
http://forum.wegotserved.com/index.php/topic/18458-hp-ex48x-lights-management-driver-for-whs-2011/page__st__80

I'm very happy

Do you think that Drive Pool or either of the other two DE replacement contenders is ready for "Prime-Time"??  The hardware on my V1 WHS is starting to falter and I am going to do a clean V2 install on a new box this week.  I might be able to get away with not using a drive pooling plug-in since my largest directory is \Videos\TVShows\*.* (1.6TB) and I might just be barely able to get by giving that it's own drive.  But, I really love DE and I'd like a V2 server to work like V1. 

 

Also, @ Mikinho; I know you proved V2 can host Ceton Tuner cards, how many can it host at one time?  I considering getting another one.  And would you have to delete the bridge (of just the NIC & Ceton card) and make a new bridge of the NIC and both ceton cards?  Or, just add the new Ceton card to the bridge?

phoneguyinpgh wrote:

Also, @ Mikinho; I know you proved V2 can host Ceton Tuner cards, how many can it host at one time?  I considering getting another one.  

I had 3 cards in a system without issue.  I did use a dedicated network card for bridging though.

phoneguyinpgh wrote:

And would you have to delete the bridge (of just the NIC & Ceton card) and make a new bridge of the NIC and both ceton cards?  Or, just add the new Ceton card to the bridge?

You can just add it.  If you go to the Network Bridge, right click Properties.  Under Adapters check any of the boxes you want to add to the Bridge.  Two things you'll need to do BEFORE adding it to the bridge.

1- Enable "Support Bridging" on the InfiniTV Network Adapter

2- Change the network mode on the InfiniTV to either DHCP Client or Static IP.

Do you think think that Drive Pool or either of the other DE replacements are ready for "Prime Time"??  The hardware on my V1 box is starting to falter and I will be doing a clean V2 install on a new box this week and I would like the new box to run like the V1 system as I love DE's simplicity.  I ight be able to get away without it since my largest directory \Videos\TVShows\*.* is about 1.7TB and I could give it it's own 2TB drive but would have little room for growth.

 

Aslo @ Mikinho;  I know you tested V2 hosting Ceton tuner cards, how many cards can it host at once?  I am considering adding another card.  And, would you have to delete and recreate the bridge with 2 cards or is the a way to add another card to the existing bridge?

I don't use any of the DE replacements... I still see them being updated pretty regularly and with what seem like pretty serious issues.

And actually, for me, I see little reason to risk it for convenience.  I've settled on using a simple technique involving symlinks to build shares that span multiple disks.  For example, my DVD/HDDVD/BluRay rips are spread across two drives in my system, and reside in the following folders \\Blackie\Movies1 and \\Blackie\Movies2.  I have one master \\Blackie\Movies which consists of nothing but symlinks to the other two.  I have a simple powershell script that creates these symlinks that I run when changes happen to the Movies1/Movies2 drives.  I use MyMovies for access and all media in the database points at \\Blackie\Movies.

One note in order to make this work you have to enable more aggressive symlink resolve with the following command on each client:

fsutil behavior set SymlinkEvaluation L2L:1 R2R:1 L2R:1 R2L:1

Here is the PS script:

$global:redirectdir = "d:\ServerFolders\Movies\"
$global:dirlist = @("\\BLACKIE\Movies1\", "\\BLACKIE\Movies2\")

$global:quote = "`""

Function MakeLink($source, $target)
{
    $mklink = "mklink /d "
    $cmd = $mklink + $quote + $source + $quote + " " + $quote + $target + $quote
    $cmd = "/c " + $quote + $cmd + $quote
    cmd $cmd
}

Filter MakeTheLink
{
    $source = $redirectdir + $_.Name
    $target = $_.FullName
    MakeLink $source $target
}

Function CreateAllRedirects
{
    $c = $global:dirlist.Length
    for ($i = 0; $i -lt $c; $i++)
    {
        $loc = $global:dirlist[$i]
        gci $loc | MakeTheLink
    }
}

Function RemoveLink($link)
{
    $rd = "rd "
    $cmd = $rd + $quote + $link + $quote
    $cmd = "/c " + $quote + $cmd + $quote
    cmd $cmd
}

Function CleanAllRedirects
{
    gci $global:redirectdir | where { $_.Attributes -eq "Directory, ReparsePoint" } | foreach { RemoveLink $_.FullName }
}

CleanAllRedirects
CreateAllRedirects

I'm not terribly good at writing scripts, that's why I love DE.

So again I'm up and running. (see my post above)   It's time to talk about upgrades next.

I'd like a VGA connection so I can check out the bios settings. (and for piece of mind for future troubleshooting)

It's available here:http://www.mediasmartserver.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=8066

-What are the options for 4GB memory modules once we have full access to Bios settings?I see the Mushkin 4GB module is the one recommended for maximum compatibility

http://bit.ly/lVfxKI 

If I update the CPU, and tweak the bios, can we use a module that supports greater than 800Mhz? (or should I stick to the proven Mushkin?)

About the CPU, what is the maximum CPU upgrade the EX495 can handle without raising the heat too much? By too much, I mean heat that would cause the fans to spin faster. (creating unwanted noise) Again being stable is more important than crazy speeds.

-What are my CPU upgrade options? (I see a ton of conflicting suggestions/experiences)

Is it possible to add a second eSATA port? If not I found a USB to eSATA adapter. (it even supports port multiplier after you do the adu2esa bios update) http://www.addonics.com/products/io/adu3esa.asp
I'll only get USB 2.0 speeds on the EX495 but oh well, good enough for a "backup" storage array that is only occasionally accessed

I'm ready to keep my EX495 around awhile after these upgrades!  It's really a great size and form factor.

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