In this day and age the average family has a lot of digital assets. Between the digital cameras, video cameras, mp3 players, computers, and cell phones, the list keeps growing. Now there has been one truism since the dawn of the computer hard drive: Someday your hard drive will fail. I didn't say may, or might, or could. I said it will fail. If you do not have your digital assets backed up, the likelihood of you losing data is enormous. What are you going to do?
The goal of the HP MediaSmart Server LX195 is to reduce the risk of the loss of your music, family photos, videos, and other media that you collect. What's more is that the HP MediaSmart Server LX195 is designed to offer the home user the ability to centralize backups for all of the computers attached to your home network.
It is also the goal of the HP MediaSmart Server LX195 to help the relatively non-technical user manage their digital assets in a centralized location as well as provide access from outside the home. It works with both Windows and Mac systems and provides remote access from outside the system.
Setting up the server is pretty straightforward. You need one or more open ports on a router that is connected to both your network and the Internet. The HP MediaSmart Server must be wired to the router. You need a Windows-based system for your first PC install. After that you can add additional PCs or Mac computers. Macs must run Leopard 10.5 or better. Just run the setup process and it walks you through, prompting you for some basic questions.
Once you are set up, you can direct the HP Media Collector to automatically scan and organize media files from the other PCs on the network. You configure it by selecting the computers that can be scanned and setting the scan interval to how often you want to scan. Next you set up for each of the three types of media that you want to manage. That is photos, music, and video. For each of these you have several options to choose from primarily designating what you want to back up and how you want to store it.
You will need to set up accounts for each computer on the network and it is suggested that the login names and passwords should be the same as the ones used to login to that computer for easier access to the shared folders. The HP MediaSmart Server LX195 comes with 650 GB of storage space, but you can also attach up to four external drives to the USB ports and either configure these drives as additional storage, or as backup to the main server.
Backups can be done from either or both Windows and Mac computers. Each has their own software package installed to manage the backing up. PCs use Windows Home Server Console and the Mac uses Time Machine to handle the backups. Restoration can be on a file-by-file basis or use PC Restore CD to restore an entire hard drive.
If you are out on the road, you can set your HP MediaSmart Server up for remote access. This is done by setting up the server with a Web site address that will allow you to connect through the Internet and use your user name and password to access files. One thing to make note of is that some versions of Windows do not allow remote access.
The HP MediaSmart Server also supports Media Streaming which means that you can access your media from any of the attached computers there are a couple of different streaming engines, including an built-in iTunes server. This means that all music files copied to the music folder can be available for everyone on the network.
If you want to backup your backups to an off-site location, the Amazon S3 Storage service is available. Keep in mind that you will have to set up an account with Amazon and pay separately for the service.
There is also a photo publishing system that allows you to post photos from your HP MediaSmart Server to several different photo sharing Web sites as well as to the HP Photo viewer. The HP Photo viewer is an application that lets people remotely access the albums that you have created.
All-in-all the HP MediaSmart Server LX195 is a good product that works really well. I did not test any Apple computer interactions since I didn't have any to test. As a Windows system backup, it works really well and the access speeds are also very good for this type of system.
My biggest complaint would be that it would have been nice if it had been built with multiple drive bays inside the system and that you could purchase it with zero to five drives. The system comes with a 650 SATA drive which, with some work could be replaced with a larger one, but to be "fully loaded" you have to have the system plus four external drives and you have to maintain five plugged in units.
The strong points to the HP MediaSmart Server LX195 is that it is fast, it is great for backup from PCs and Macs, it is quiet, and you can upgrade its storage capacity. It is easy to use and does serve as an excellent central hub for the family network. When you add its reasonable price of around $399.00 — you can find it cheaper if you shop around — for data insurance, it is hard to beat. If you are looking for a system to back up your media, then check out the HP MediaSmart Server LX195.