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Raf takes on HP's use of ancient device drivers in MediaSmart home server

Rafael Rivera examines HP's use of less-than-recent drivers in its Windows Home Server-based MediaSmart Server:

For some time now, I’ve been having issues in which my HP MediaSmart Server (powered by Windows Home Server) would experience less-than-stellar network throughput and even fail to respond at times. Given the fragile nature of Windows Home Server and value I place on my data, I dared not deviate from the baseline HP configuration. Until now.

Given this was clearly a network-related issue, I checked out the SiS191 network adapter in Device Manager. I was shocked to find HP baselined the server on drivers over a year old. I ran a benchmark using AIDA32 3.92 from my desktop to the server.

According to SiS, the latest driver for SiS191 chipsets is 2.0.1039.1100 dated 03/03/2008. After ignoring all the warnings and legalese on SiS’s website, I down’ed the package, remoted into my server, installed the driver, and rebooted, fingers crossed. The server went down, flashed its cute LEDs in a multitude of scary colors (e.g. red), and came back up… without issues. I ran a second benchmark to see if there were any improvements. And there were!

The newer drivers yielded an increase in average speed and a much more stable level of throughput. It appears my server-went-to-sleep syndrome has disappeared as well.

I'm nervous about screwing around with my Windows Home Serer for various reasons (heck, I just used Remote Desktop to access the server directly for the first time ever the other day), but this is compelling. I might have to go for it. Obviously, this isn't for the faint of heart/typical consumers out there.

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