HP MediaSmart Server LX195 review: HP MediaSmart Server LX195

Storage and backup. The LX195 comes with a 640GB SATA hard drive. This hard drive can be replaced but the process will require some work with a screwdriver and the reinstallation of the operating system, which is time-consuming. The NAS server supports SATA hard drives of any capacity. However, you won't need to replace the hard drive to increase the device's storage, as you can add up to four USB external hard drives to the NAS server.

The NAS accepts external hard drives in two modes: extension and backup. In extension mode, the added drives will be the extension of the internal hard drive with their storage blended together. You won't be able to control on which hard drive your data is stored, unless you use the duplication feature mentioned below. In this mode, the NAS will format the drive before you can use it, meaning you won't be able to use a hard drive with existing data on it. In order to add a drive that already contains data, you will need to use the backup mode. In this mode, the added drive will act as a separate volume and you can remove it later. However, you can only use this drive now as the destination to back up the NAS' internal hard drive.

One of the best features of the LX195 is Folder Duplication, which allows you to automatically duplicate any folder. Once this option is selected for a folder, the NAS will constantly keep two copies of this folder: one on the internal hard drive and the other on an external hard drive. This feature, of course, requires at least one external hard drive connected to the NAS as the extension of the internal hard drive. Nonetheless, it really negates the need for, and in some way is even better than, a RAID 1 configuration, which the LX195 lacks.

The LX195 also comes with excellent backup solutions.

For PCs, the NAS can silently pull backups from any network computer that has Windows Home Server Console installed without any interaction from the user. The NAS can even automatically wake the computer from standby mode to do the backup if necessary. Restoring files is made simple thanks to the interface. When viewing a backup file, the NAS will convert it into a virtual drive. Then, you can just browse for files and copy them over using Windows Explorer as you would do with an external hard drive. Unfortunately, the NAS doesn't allow for backing up one computer and restoring another simultaneously, so you if you have multiple machines in a network, you might run into a situation where you have to disable a backup that's in process before you can restore.

For Mac users, the LX195 comes with external-hard-drive emulation software that makes the NAS appear as an external hard drive to the computer, which helps it to work well with Mac OS 10.5's Time Machine.

All in all, we found that the LX195 offers one of the easiest to use and most comprehensive backup solution for a home network.

Remote access. The LX195's remote access features are some of the most comprehensive and intuitive we've experienced in a NAS server. Unlike other NAS servers, such as the WD My Book World Edition , which offers vendor-assisted remote access, the LX195 lets you customize the Web address using a dynamic DNS (DDNS) service. The NAS' default DDNS provider is TOZ, which is free for the first year but costs about $10 for each additional year. You can also choose to use Windows Live Domain, which is free. Other than that, you can't choose any other DDNS services.

One of the issues involved with using a DDNS service is the configuration. You have to configure the Web address and change the settings of the router to forward certain ports to the NAS server. Fortunately, as long as your router supports the UPnP standard, which most Wireless-N routers do, the LX195 takes care of this process automatically, including the reconfiguring.

We set up the remote connection in about 5 minutes, and after we could access the NAS remotely. The remote access has several options, including access to the above-mentioned HP Photo Publisher and HP Photo Viewer. Also included is the Web media streamer, where you can play content such as music or videos directly from the NAS, and Computer Access, which lets you access files stored on the NAS server and other share folders on the local network.

The LX195 allows you to download files and entire folders to the remote computer. If you choose to download a folder, you have the option of downloading that folder in the form of a ZIP file or an executable file that will decompress the downloaded content for you. You can also upload files from the remote computer directly onto the NAS server. You can even upload multiple files at a time as long as each file is no bigger than 2GB.

Performance
The Lx195 redefines "fast" among NAS servers. In our throughput test, it was consistently faster than every NAS server we've yet tested and even faster than most external hard drives, which are typically faster than NAS servers.

In the write test, the Lx195 scored 341.8Mbps, compared with the 256.3Mbps of our previous top performer, the Synology DS209+. The read test was even more impressive as the Lx195 scored 393.7Mbps, easily besting the 375.5Mbps of the Synology.

CNET Labs NAS Performance Scores (Via wired Gigabit Ethernet connection)
(Throughput in Megabit per second: longer bars indicate better performance)
Read  
Write  
HP MediaSmart Server LX195
393.7 
341.8 
Synology DS209+ (RAID 0)
375 
256.3 
Synology DS209+ (RAID 1)
322.3 
240 
Apple Time Capsule
114.2 
81.2 
Maxtor CentralAxis (Single Volume)
55.5 
54.6 

The LX195 is the fastest NAS server we've yet reviewed. It has raised our expectations of what to expect from NAS servers running the Atom CPU and Windows Home Server software. We were also very happy with the general performance of the NAS server. A couple of times, however, we did run into situations where the Windows Home Server Console application would pop up a confusing message, such as the fact the backup service was not working even though a backup was being made.

Service and support
Hewlett-Packard backs the LX195 with a rather short one-year warranty. The company offers free 24-7 technical phone support and server restore disks in case the server software itself becomes corrupt. There is no standalone support application included, as you'd find on HP desktops, but there are many links in the Home Server software itself explaining the ins and outs. Other than the short warranty, we think you'll get plenty of help if you run into trouble.

What you'll pay

Pricing is currently unavailable.

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Where to Buy

HP MediaSmart Server LX195

Part Number: FL702AA#ABA

MSRP: $399.99

See manufacturer website for availability.

Quick Specifications See All

  • OS Provided Microsoft Windows Home Server
  • Monitor Type None.
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