TechSoftwareReplacing the System Drive on the HP MediaSmart EX47x...

Replacing the System Drive on the HP MediaSmart EX47x Series and Performing the 3.0 Software Update


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Now that the HP MediaSmart 3.0 software update is out, a lot of people want to know if you can replace the system drive at the same time. I decided to find out.

A few people have also asked if this was possible, including Diehard:

Andrew, old buddy, old friend, yeah I’m sucking up. Would it be to much to ask how to do the upgrade by replacing the system drive ?

With the EX470 at a 500 gig system drive, this looks like a good opportunity to replace the system drive with a 1TB or more.

So how could I refuse that challenge? I only had a 750GB drive spare but I figured that would be enough to prove it would work.


So before I went any further, I needed to make sure that all my shared folders had duplication enabled and that the storage pool had finished balancing.

For those of you who are interested, here is what my server looked liked:

EX475 before upgrade 2

EX475 before upgrade

I wasn’t really concerned about keeping my backups, but if I was I would have used BDBB, which is a great tool from Alex Kuretz. If you don’t have this add-in you should go get it now. Tim has written about BDBB in the past: Backing up Windows Home Server on a Friday night


Open the front of the EX475 and using a screwdriver, turn the dial to the unlock position.


The slide out the bottom tray (this is the one containing the system drive), remove the drive, swap it for the new one and then slide the tray back in. Then dial the dial to the lock position.


After replacing the drive, you need to use a paperclip to start the recovery process.


Switch on the server and the use the paperclip to press the recessed mode button to the left of the USB port.


Andrew Edney
Andrew Edney
I am the owner and editor of this site. I have been interested in gadgets and tech since I was a little kid. I have also written a number of books on various tech subjects. I also blog for The Huffington Post and for FHM. And I am honoured to be a Microsoft MVP since January 2008 - again this year as an Xbox MVP.


  1. Thanks for the great write up ! i just got a new 2TB drive to replace mine with , just waiting for my HP disc to ship

    • thats a very good question and one I cant answer!

      that machine hasnt been my production box for quite a while and its been switch off, so maybe it just needs to balance and clean itself up?


  2. Thanks for taking the challenge, Andrew.

    One tip I have is for those that are nervous and mess up the timing on using the reset pin. Just pull the system drive out 1" so it doesn't make contack with the back plate, this will trigger the system to boot from the hidden internal USB flash to boot into Recovery Mode. After about 10 seconds push the drive back in. This works every time.

    • thanks John, that is a really great tip! I have done the reset many many times and even I get the timing wrong on occasion. It took a few goes to get the EX487 going 🙂


  3. Doesn't the home server keep some data on the second partition (the non system partition) – so once you pull the drive, isn't that gone?

    • Yes there are, but that is why you enabled duplication on all of your shared folders first and then let the storage pool balance. Once that happens you should have a copy of all the data on another drive, then you can pull the drive and swap it over.

      Thats what I did and it worked – and I had a lot of data on there!

      And the worse case is that you still have your original drive in tact and could copy over any missing data.


  4. I am looking to do exactly this – swap out my system drive at the same time I upgrade. (I get occasional health errors on my system drive so I have a feeling it's on its way out.) I am so glad you posted this so I know it can be done. Thanks!

    • thanks Travis – glad I could provide something useful 🙂

      Just remember to enable duplication on all folders and give it time to balance first.


      • One question – can you look at your Device Manager and tell me what version the Marvell RAID controller driver is? I'm trying to see if they updated the drivers at the same time as they updated the rest of the system.

        (And on duplication – I have a huge DVD library, terabytes, so I don't have duplication on that. I'm expecting to lose some data and have to re-rip, but I guess them's the breaks.)

        • Travis

          The driver in question is version dated 14/06/2007.

          As for your DVDs, if you are missing any after the upgrade you could just connect the old drive up and copy the missing ones back over rather than re-ripping 🙂


          • Well, doesn't look like they updated the drivers, which is a shame. Guess I'll have to take that on myself.

            Thanks for the tip on connecting up the old drive – I didn't think of that.

  5. I am Currently doing this but i have 4 USB external hard drives attached .. it will not let me get to the paperclip thing unless i unplug them .. i am worried after all said and done it will try to reformat them .. has anyone ran into this issue

    • Jon,

      The paperclip thing is at the front of the server, to the left of the USB port on the front. Why cant you access it with drives connected?


      • No i can but if i press it with USB attached it does not blick Purple/red just stays solid red and will not find the server.. i tried it like 10+ times .. but if i take the drives out it goes to the server no problem ..

  6. I tried this with my EX485 but apparently it doesn't work the same way. The server recovery completed, but it got stuck with a flashing blue health light. I called HP and they advised me that the process was different for the EX485 in that I needed to do a factory reset.

    I pull my extra drives and did the factory reset with just the new system drive. It completed and seems to be fine. I'm going to add my existing drives back into the pool now.

    • I have the same problem. Got the flashing blue heath light. How did your recovery go when you added the drives back? Any data loss?

    • Can you perform a factory reset on one drive, i.e. the system drive, then add in drives to the pool which contain data, without losing the data?

    • Bill Stebbins,

      When you say you pulled your extra drives, do you mean you physically removed them when the server was turned off?

      As opposed to removing them from the server console, which would have tried to move the files on those drives to another hard drive?

      That is, was it as simple as: (1) physically removing all the hard drives while the server was off but not removing them from the server console, (2) installing a new system drive, and (3) adding the other hard drives once the new system drive was running 3.0?

      Thanks in advance,


  7. Awww man. I just got a 2TB drive to do this with and then find read more to see that they’ve long since discontinued the 3.0 update.

    Do you know if the update discs were sort of universal or were they absolutely keyed to the model number? I have a 470 or 475 but ‘found’ some dvds for a 480. Will that work or am I SOL?

  8. Andrew or anyone: I am in the process, since last weekend, of trying to upgrade my ex470 to v3.0. I am having the worst time. I found someone who allowed me to use an iso of the 470 v3 software. When I start the recovery (full reset) process, I find the server then the “installation” can never finish “rebuilding the server” step. I have tried on multiple computers with, two 64 bit win7 and one with 32 bit vista. I have connected through a switch and directly to the server. I have turned off antivirus (avast), I have removed the original system drive and replaced with one of my storage pool drives, all to no avail. I have ordered a new 2tb WD EADS drive and I will try using that as the system drive when it arrives. I spent all last weekend on this and several hours last night. As of last night, I cant keep the server in recovery mode(purple flashing health indicator) for more than 10-15 seconds and then it goes to a solid read indicator. Any suggestions? I am wondering if iso file I used is broken.

    • James

      This is a software thing so shouldn’t effect the hardware – so hopefully we can resolve this.

      One thing I have found with the HP boxes is that 9 times out of 10 I cant get the restore to work the way they suggest. What I did in the end was buy a cross-over Ethernet cable and connected the HP box to a PC and it works every time.

      Can you try that?

  9. I want to add one more point ot my above comment. With the server not staying in recovery mode, now I am not able to find the server. So I am going backward in my quest to complete the upgrade.

  10. I am not sure what a “cross-over” ethernet cable is. I connected the PC to the server directly with a normal ethernet cable (by-passing the router or switch)and that did not work. But, I am not sure how a “cross-over” ethernet cable differs.

    • James – a normal ethernet cable is used to connect a device to a network device (say a PC to a router). A cross-over cable is a special version of an ethernet cable that can be used to connect a pc DIRECTLY to another pc (or in this case a WHS). This removes any possible network issues out of the mix and allows a direct connection for the purposes of doing the reinstall. Do a search for a cross over cable to find a cheap one, they are about the same price as a normal ethernet cable. As I said, I had similar problems until I got one then it worked first, and every time since then.

  11. Andrew: The machine still wont boot into recovery mode, so it is not being found by the recovery process. The red health indicator is on and when I press the reset button I get the pattern 1 blue, 4 red which means recovery mode failed, according to the manual. So, I am not sure if the crossover cable will work until I can get the computer to boot into recovery mode. I didnt start having this problem until I tried booting without the system drive and then engaging the system drive once the recovery mode started from flash. I read that suggestion sommewhere on a forum board. After a few tries of doing that, this problem developed.
    Any suggestions for forcing into recovery mode? I was really hoping your cable suggestion would work, but I still have this other problem I am dealing with.

  12. Andrew, two additional comments. I have had the crossover cable connected tonight, just so you know. Also, after multiple restarts, I am not only seeing the flashing blue health indicator on the server.
    Still no luck with my PC finding the server.

    • James

      Im not sure why it isn’t working, unless you have some sort of hardware problem caused by the way you attempted the system drive process previously (or maybe its just a coincidence).

      If you cant boot the machine into recovery mode then you are not even getting to the point where you use the crossover cable.

      I think at this point you should contact HP Support for some guidance because what you are doing should work. In fact, I tested it on my machine earlier and it worked first time.

  13. I have an EX495 with a 500GB system drive and 3 2TB drives (1 for backup and 2 for storage). I would like for all the shared folders to be principally housed on one of the 2TB drives. Currently, the 500GB drive houses the OS and all the shared folders (two seperate partitions) and it is full. Is it possible to move the shared folders off the system drive and onto a non-system drive (not just a different partition on the same physical drive as the OS, but a different physical drive)?

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