A great Home Server deal

Via Cheap Stingy Bargains I note that Buy.com has the HP MediaSmart EX470 1.8GHz Home Server for $400 after $150 instant discount, with free shipping. That’s 50 bucks less than Amazon.com’s price.

[Update 14-Nov-2008: Well, that didn’t last long. As Dan notes in the comments, the deal seems to be dead now.]

HP’s new home server is small, smart, and impressively simple

Last year at this time, I reviewed this little device for ZDNet and called it “small, smart, and impressively simple.” I’ve been using one of these boxes for over a year, and I can attest that it is a superb device. The software bug that got so much publicity early this year has long since been fixed and the current Home Server code base is rock solid.

Regardless of where you buy this, you will want to beef up the default 512MB of RAM to 1GB or more (follow the links here). You will also want to get another drive or two to complement the single 500GB drive that comes with it.

If you’ve been looking for an excuse to get a home server, this is your chance. The small form factor and headless operation (no monitor, keyboard or mouse required) makes it preferable, in my opinion, to a homebrew box. For any household or small office that includes more than two PCs, it is absolutely essential.

11 thoughts on “A great Home Server deal

  1. The problem is, $500 a year ago was a pretty good price, but $400 now isn’t. For $100 less I can build myself a little Atom server with 1GB and 1TB. For $100 more, I can get a quad-core Dell with 4GB and .6TB.

    Yeah, Home Server may be cool and the box may be nice, but it’s just so expensive.

  2. Mike, I hear you, except I think you’re underestimating the headlessness factor and also the ease of expanding storage. That little Atom box only has one drive bay (and did you factor in the cost of the server software at $99?). The Dell is a big box, and it only has two drive bays. You want to add more storage you have to go external, which adds wires, power usage, and hassle.

    When I add it all up, I see this as about a $100-150 premium, for which you get headless operation (a big deal) and ridiculously easy storage expansion (also a big deal). I think that’s worth it.

  3. At 10:30 PM CST, 13-Nov, I checked out this deal. The cost appears to be 560.78 + 18.11 shipping.

    I clicked around to see if I missed the proper link or failed to notice a discount code. I didn’t as far as I could tell. I wasn’t planning to buy it, in any case.

    I’ve purchased a lot of stuff from Buy.com, including a nice UPS w/ free shipping. I find their site quite aggravating—on the selling side, no problems with shipping or one returned-item incident. Don’t get me started with Amazon.

  4. Ed, yeah, I definitely see the advantages of the HP box. And like I say, at launch it was a great deal, but at this point it feels like it’d be better to wait for their hypothetical upcoming model, which’ll probably be a lot faster and with a lot more storage for not much more money.

    (Also, and this might just be my paranoia talking, WHS sort of feels like one of those Microsoft technologies that starts out promising and then fizzles away, like Portable Media Center or InfoPath.

  5. I have one question; why the obsession with cutting corners and getting the “cheapest deal” for device that is supposed to store files that you VALUE? I am not wealthy and donot enjoy wasting my money. I decided to use WHS after reading the reviews of Ed and others. I looked at the HP machine and at first blush thought it would be a good purchase. I then started to build my own machine by shopping the specs at NewEgg (others may have their own favorite store). When I was done I had a custom box designed on the hardware side to protect my data hopefully as well a WHS does on the software side. I built my server to store and protect the data on 4 computers in my home and to store; 279 music albums, 224 DVD movies and over 15,000 personal and business photos. The cost was $638.95, and I believe (might be wrong) that shipping was free with my order. This is what I ended up with:

    Antec Mini P180 box
    Antec earthwatts EA500 500W
    ASUS M2A-VM AM2 AMD 690G Micro ATX AMD Motherboard
    AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000+ Brisbane 2.6GHz Socket AM2 65W
    Western Digital Caviar Green WD10EACS 1TB SATA 3.0Gb/s
    (2) Kingston 1GB 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) ECC Unbuffered Server Memory Model KVR800D2E5/1G
    LITE-ON 20X DVD±R DVD Burner Black SATA Model iHAS120-04
    Microsoft Windows Home Server 32 Bit 1 Pack

    I have since added (2) 1TB drives to my system.


  6. Eric, that sounds like a nice box. Questions for you: How often do you have to attach a keyboard/mouse/monitor to the box to do maintenance? Do you normally run it in headless mode?

  7. Ed I have recently been using a spare monitor , keyboard and mouse as I am learning the ins and outs of transferring data from my desktop to the server. I have also gotten a real education on the limits and pitfalls of using Windows Media Center and WMC Extender. But as far as WHS doing its basic job, it has been all that was advertised. I really don’t have a problem streaming media from WHS, the real problem is with WMC and WMCE (Linksys). I haven’t found a suitable replacement for either product.

  8. I am sorry, I really didn’t answer the maintenance questions. In normal use I have been able to work in the headless mode with WHS and my box. The only time I am forced to access the server directly is when I am transferring large amounts of data to the server. I have settled upon using a SimpleTech 250GB usb drive to move anything over 1GB to the server. I know there is probably a better way, but I haven’t had the time to think about it.

  9. Couldn’t agree more. I bought one of these HP machines with WHS in July, and despite the better deals in the intervening months, I still think it was one of the better software/hardware decisions I’ve ever made.

  10. Well, HP must be clearing out the Home Server. Their HP Shopping.Com web site now has it on sale for $399. Very similar to the earlier sale mentioned by Ed. See http://www.mediasmartserver.net/2008/11/17/ex470-available-from-hpshoppingcom-for-399/ for the details.

    I also see that a UK company has just released a Dual Core Atom powered Home Server named “Squash” that was featured at WinHEC. Clearly some interesting developments in the Home Server arena !

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