HP changes policy on MediaSmart server memory upgrades

This morning, the folks at HP announced that upgrading the RAM on a MediaSmart home server would no longer invalidate the warranty on that system. Here’s the formal statement:

HP customers can now upgrade the memory on HP MediaSmart Servers without voiding the HP warranty.

Based on customer feedback, HP will now offer a path for consumers to upgrade the memory on the HP MediaSmart Server without voiding the hardware warranty. HP customer feedback and research shows that some customers are installing multiple add-ins and/or additional software to the MediaSmart Server, which can lead to a need for additional memory.

Upgrading the memory, in and of itself, will not void the warranty on the MediaSmart Server.  Damage to any part of the MediaSmart Server during the upgrade may violate the warranty, however, leaving the cost for repairs the responsibility of the customer.  Customers should perform a backup to an external device before adding additional memory.

HP is only providing information on a customer memory upgrade path at this time, and customers will not be able to send their MediaSmart Server to HP to perform the upgrade. Customers may be able to find technical assistance for the memory upgrade, however HP is not recommending or training authorized resellers to conduct the memory upgrade on a MediaSmart Server.  HP has not qualified any particular DIMMs, but compatible memory includes 1GB or 2GB – DDR2 667 MHz DIMMs.  Customers should not upgrade beyond 2 GB of memory. Other than disk drives, HP does not support any other hardware upgrade paths, such as processor upgrades, on the MediaSmart Server.

I’m actually a bit disappointed by this announcement. Allow me to explain.

HP initially shipped the MediaSmart server with 512MB of RAM. That’s enough for it to perform its basic functions, but as the above release notes, you can quickly use that memory and begin hitting the page file if you install a few add-ins. That would fall under the category of caveat emptor, except that HP is the leading supplier of add-ins for its own server! The recent HP Software Update 1.3, delivered simultaneously with the release of Windows Home Server Power Pack 1, includes a fully licensed copy of Packet Video’s PVConnect Media Server (nice) and a 7-month evaluation edition of McAfee Total Protection (meh). Here’s what my system looks like with only three add-ins installed:


I don’t have the McAfee add-in installed on this server, only the HP-supplied PVConnect server, the Home Server Toolkit, and the Advanced Admin Console Addin (those latter two use a trivial amount of RAM).

As you can see from this Task Manager shot, the working set is currently larger than the default 512MB of installed RAM, and the Peak Commit Charge has soared over 700MB. The good news is I’ve already replaced the insufficient 512MB RAM allotment with a single 1GB chip. With the 1GB upgrade. I have no complaints about preformance.

I found the RAM upgrade to be a reasonably straightforward process. But then again, I take PCs apart for a living and have been disassembling systems for years. I have the right tools and enough experience not to be flustered by the job. In an era of low PC margins, I completely understand if HP makes a business decision not to offer this as a formal upgrade option, even through third parties.

But forcing customers to search for third-party upgrade instructions is doing a disservice to the community. Windows Home Server MVP Donavon West has put together a superb step-by-step document, with illustrations, that walks you through the process. I followed Donavon’s instructions and had no problems taking the server apart or putting it back together. (And no, I have no desire to upgrade the processor on this server, especially knowing that that upgrade will be completely unsupported.)

HP should have paid Donavon for those instructions and illustrations and then made them available as a downloadable support document from the HP site. Add disclaimers (“This is an unsupported upgrade. If you damage any other components while disassembling the server, any necessary repairs will be outside of normal warranty coverage.”)

Sorry, HP, but you can’t have it both ways. If you’re going to ship RAM-hungry add-ins as part of a required update, you need to take a little more responsibility for ensuring that those add-ins work well with the hardware that has your name on the box.

4 thoughts on “HP changes policy on MediaSmart server memory upgrades

  1. Sorry, Ed. You’re nit-picking something that is rarely done by a company. That is; making something right after they have made a bad decision. I applaud HP for doing this. Hopefully the next gen of the MSS won’t need a RAM upgrade OR a CPU upgrade.

  2. Anyone in the UK that wants to buy a MediaSmart Server with a RAM upgrade should go to ripcaster.co.uk. They sell you the server with the RAM upgraded for a nominal amount and you get to choose how much RAM you want.

  3. ED, In Vista if user already have 2GB of memory will adding a 4GB Flashdrive Readyboost make any difference in speed/performance. Just asking this question because i was using a 4GB Flashdrive readyboost before but when i upraded to 2GB of memory i don’t use it anymore. Should i plug the 4gb readyboost again?

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