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Add-In Review: HP Easy USB Transfer

Simply put, HP's Easy USB Transfer add in allows you to more easily move files between a USB drive and any 3.0 loaded HP MediaSmart Server or HP Data Vault. That's right, download and install a free add in so you can move files to your server.

On the surface, it's not entirely clear why such an add-in is really necessary. After all, we've all been moving files from our USB drives to our MediaSmarts for years. Plug it into the PC, open up the share on the server, and drag and drop. How is this add-in any better?

The major difference is where you plug in the drive. With the Easy USB Transfer add-in installed, you plug the USB drive directly into an open port on the MediaSmart rather than in your own PC. The upside with this approach is twofold:

  1. Plugging the drive directly into the server bypasses the need to send files over the network. This can result in much faster transfer speeds, particularly for those relying on 100Mbps fast Ethernet. 

  2. With the drive plugged into the server, once you initiate the transfers, you can turn off your computer while it chugs away.

Those with the occasional folder of pictures from birthday parties or baseball games probably won't find the Easy USB Transfer add-in all that useful. However, those who are constantly copying large amounts of data from external devices, like a pro-sumer photographer copying over RAW files at the end of the day, would find both of these benefits truly appealing.

On to the big question - does it really work?

Installing the HP Easy USB Transfer Add-In

The HP Easy USB Transfer Add-In installs like any other. Download the add in package from HP (click on "Add Software" in the Home Server Console), then move it into the add ins folder in the software share. Click on Settings, then the Available tab, and you'll see the installation button for the Easy USB Transfer Add In. Click it, and you'll be prompted to restart the Home Server Console.

Other than seeing it as "installed" in the add-ins area, you won't get any indication that the software even exists. At first I was taken back, expecting to see some kind configuration options or new menu item in the Settings area. Don't bother looking, nothing is there.

The change actually occurs in the MediaSmart Server Web Launcher, where you'll now be given the option to start the Easy USB Transfer feature. If it's grayed out, you'll need to turn on the Remote Access feature in the settings menu. You don't have to go so far as "truly" getting your router configured for remote access and setting up a domain, so long as the feature is on and you can access the server via LAN.

Using the HP Easy USB Transfer Add-In

Launch the Easy USB Transfer Add-In and you'll be shown two panes, left and right. The left side is where you'll be shown connected USB drives not part of the data pool, and on the right you'll see your server's file shares and folders. Anyone familiar with FTP software should feel right at home with this setup.

At the top is where you'll get information on current and past transfers, including detailed logs for each. Below the panes you'll find information about the files and folders you click on as you navigate.

To copy files from the drive to the server, or vice-versa, select the folder or files you wish to copy. To select multiple files at once, hold the control key when clicking. To select a whole bunch at once using a start and stop point, select the first file in the list, then hold the shift key and select the last file. All files between the two will then be selected. When finished selecting files to copy, click and drag them to the destination folder on the other side.

You can also move files as opposed to copying them. Moving files mean that they will be no longer be on the source folder when the transfer is complete. To do this, hold the shift key while you drag files to the destination folder.

Whichever method you choose above, the action will be scheduled and listed at the top of the screen. Here you can view the current status as well as get detailed information in the log. You can queue up many transfers at once, then turn off your computer and walk away while it chugs away.

Overwrite Existing Files in Destination

You'll want to take note of the poorly named and explained "Overwrite file on destination drive" checkbox in the lower right corner. When unchecked, the transfer process will skip files that already exist in the destination to save time. This is useful if you have a large folder of photos within large folders of photos that you added to; you don't have to waste time copying all of them again or manually picking the ones you want to move. It's not useful if you plan on using this feature to keep a backup of a USB flash drive, where you'll be modifying existing files like spreadsheets and documents. If you have made changes to a spreadsheet on your flash drive, the transfer will not copy the newer version of your spreadsheet because it will be skipped to save time.

When checked, it will overwrite the existing file in the destination drive with the current file on the source drive. Following the example above, when checked, it will copy the spreadsheet from the source device and overwrite the old version on the server.

Performance

Being able to turn off your source computer and walk away is a huge plus, but one of the other benefits is that transferring direct over USB should be faster than over a network. It should definitely outpace those with 10/100 connections, but how does it fare with gigabit networks? To put that to the test, I set up some transfers to and from the server both on a host PC over a gigabit network and direct using the Easy USB Transfer Add-In. In one test, I move a 7.63GB DVD Rip to test larger files, as well as a 5GB folder chock full of photos.

The best times are in bold.

  Gigabit Network HP Easy USB Transfer
DVD Rip, USB Drive to Server 5:37 5:45
DVD Rip, Server to USB Drive 8:22 7:03
Photos, USB Drive to Server 4:28 7:55
Photos, Server to USB Drive 5:37 9:36

Based on my tests, it seems that transferring files via the HP Easy USB Transfer add in is actually slower than over a Gigabit network. That's surprising, but there are several variables which could have skewed the results, and transfer times will widely vary depending on the speed of your USB drive and other conditions anyway. In any event, HP Easy USB Transfer should feel rather zippy compared to 10/100 Ethernet.

Conclusion

I have mixed feelings about HP's Easy Transfer add-in, but am generally pleased with what it offers.  Whether or not you'll fall in love with it really depends on the kind of user you are.

Advanced users unafraid to remote into the server as Administrator have already been able to bypass the network for large file transfers for ages. So for them, HP Easy USB Transfer doesn't really add a whole lot more functionality other than the option to skip files that have already been moved. 

Those not quite as adventurous will find much to like here, especially those on slower or wireless networks. It's not often many normal users will find themselves transferring enough data to justify using this add-in, but when you do, you'll be glad you have it installed. Besides, if it's going to take all night to move your entire photo, music, and video library, it's much more eco-friendly to run one PC during the process instead of two.

HP could have a real winner on it's hands if it added a bit more automation and features. For example, if users could set up HP Easy USB Transfer to transfer data from specific drives automatically when connected, then folks like pro-sumer and professional photographers wouldn't have to even turn on their home computer to empty a USB drive or photo card.

In any case, at the current price of FREE it's hard to really say anything bad about it. If you have a MediaSmart Server running the 3.0 software, you really have no excuse for not having it installed and ready should the need arise.

Tags : add in reviewadd-inseasy usb transfermediasmart serverreviewstorage

Discussion:    Add a Comment | Comments 1-8 of 8 | Latest Comment

July 15, 2010 1:50 PM

Good article especially the testing part. For HP wants me to rebuild my server and recopy all data back to the unit. I was looking at using this utility but now will stick with my Gig network for as you have shown its faster.

July 25, 2010 12:13 PM

It is a shame that the added functionality does not allow the drive to be seen by the media collector, this could save a lot of time and effort. Hopefully this could be addressed in an update.

July 28, 2010 9:14 AM

I must be looking in the wrong place... where can you download it from?

July 28, 2010 9:43 AM

GrantB said: I must be looking in the wrong place... where can you download it from?

Launch the home server console, and if you're using the 3.0 version or above (required for this add in), you'll find the add software button in the add software pane on the left.

July 28, 2010 12:48 PM updated: July 28, 2010 12:56 PM

Thanks Matt - I definitely was looking in the wrong place :)

Are there any other add-ins that you recommend?

Cheers.

August 6, 2010 9:52 AM

GrantB said: Thanks Matt - I definitely was looking in the wrong place :) Are there any other add-ins that you recommend? Cheers.
I'm actually really glad you asked. I've been wanting to do a Top 5 or Top 10 Essential Add-Ins for MediaSmart Server owners for some time. I think that's the next article I'll do...

September 6, 2010 9:41 PM

I downloaded this ad in and and it would not recognize my external drive, even though the drive was recognized by the server. I contacted HP and was informed that this application was not ment to work 1Tb or above devices. If that is so, what good is it? I was very disappointed.

August 7, 2012 6:10 PM

Hi
I have connected a USB harddrive to the HPMSS and installed Easy USB, but the drive doesnot show up in the left pane as mentioned above.
I am trying to copy about 30 Gigs of Pictures for offline storage.
Please help!!

Discussion:    Add a Comment | Back to Top | Comments 1-8 of 8 | Latest Comment

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