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User Interfaces

You actually don't have to run the HP Software Installation disk on your PC if you don't plan to administer the MSS from that PC or to use the Backup feature. The MSS functions perfectly fine as an SMB/CIFS based NAS and can be accessed by Mac OS and Linux clients. (Yes, I actually confirmed this.)

But let's assume that you do want to take advantage of all HP's MSS goodness and run the software installer. What you'll be left with after all of the installation and updating flurry are shortcuts on your desktop for the HP MediaSmart Server Control Center (which I'll refer to as CC) and the default shared folders. You'll also get a WHS System Tray icon that shows you what the WHS Connector application is up to.

The MSS goes a bit overboard in its efforts to accommodate users of different experience levels, providing multiple ways to access MSS features. Non-administrative users get the CC and Tray application, as well as web access to most user functions, which isn't immediately obvious.

Administrators will primarily use the Console, which can be accessed via the Tray application or the CC. And as I mentioned earlier, there is also the option of Remote Desktop administration for the adventurous.

Figure 10 shows the window that comes up when you click on the CC desktop shortcut.

Control Center

Control Center MediaSmart tab

Figure 10: Control Center MediaSmart tab

The Server, Photos, Music and Videos icons are just single-click shortcuts that will open Folder windows to the server root and same-named default directories. You'll first, however, get a login pop-up into which you can enter public for username and password, if you already haven't set up users with directories of their own. Of course, you can also reach any of these folders through your normal network share browser.

Clicking the Photo Webshare icon will launch a web browser pointed to https://[SERVERNAME]/Webshare/ ([SERVERNAME] = whatever you named your server, of course), which is the gateway for the MSS' built in photo-sharing application. I'll come back to this later.

Clicking on the Tools tab changes the view to that shown in Figure 11. The Settings for iTunes is just a shortcut to the same item that is in one of the Console Settings menus, while the other two are links to items that can be reached directly from the Tray application.

Control Center Tools tab

Figure 11: Control Center Tools tab

In all, the CC icon can be safely deleted from your desktop without losing access to any features.

Tray Application

The Tray application has an odd mix of user and admin functions. Of the menu options shown in Figure 12, I consider the Server Console and Display Network Health Notifications to be administrative, while the others are for users.

WHS Tray application menu

Figure 12: WHS Tray application menu

Actually, the "Health" notifications (Figure 13) can considered both user and administrative, since they'll pop up problems both with the local machine and any other problem clients on the network. I wish there were an option to filter messages about other machines, since most users will not care that some other machine on the network failed its backup. In fact, the "Network Health at Risk" status could send some users into a panic, especially because there is no way to find out what the problem is, if you happen to miss the pop-up message.

WHS Tray application alert

Figure 13: WHS Tray application alert

I happened to stumble across another failing of the Tray application when I caught the Server having to reboot after an automatic update. First, there was no "system going down" message sent to all clients to warn of the impending reboot. Then, when the system went offline, there was no pop-up to indicate the change in status. The icon did change color and if you hovered the mouse over the icon you got a "Not connected to server" tooltip. But if it can pop-up a "Network Health is as risk warning" every time the Tray app and server reconnect, it should to the same when the server goes bye-bye.

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