Adding VGA to easyStore h340 Home Server

I have been having the Acer easyStore h340 Home Server for a while now.  Most things work pretty good.  But as you probably know, Windows is not the most stable platform and I run into occasional file corruption sometimes (which is not supposed to happen, Microsoft…) Most mysteriously, the Home Server restarts from time to time unexpectedly and there is no useful system events logged to help me diagnose the problem.

So I have been trying to see if I can find a video card for the server because it did not come with any video output.  It is supposed to be headless but when it comes down to diagnostic and BIOS setup, it is next to impossible.

There is only one expansion port inside the server, a PCI-e 1X port.  The 1X video cards are difficult to find and they are in generally very expensive because the demand is low and if you need one, the computer stores know you “need” it. Also I like to use that expansion port for the eSATA adaptor in case I need to hook up more external hard drives to the server. Currently I have the a total of 8 drives, 2 of which are backup drives and 6 are actively being used for the OS and the data.

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So if you really want to add a video port without sacrificing the only expansion port, here is a product that might save the day. This product is designed specifically to be used with the HP and Acer Home Servers:

  • HP MediaSmart Server EX-470 and EX-475
  • HP MediaSmart Server EX-485 and EX-487
  • Acer Aspire easyStore H340

Image obtained from

The motherboard of these servers has a KVM connector (CN9 above) that is made for connecting the Keyboard, Video and Mouse. This connector is considered to be a service connector and you probably won’t find official support for using this connector. has a good write up on how he connected a monitor to a HP ex470 Home Server using this hardware, essentially turning a headless server to be a regular server with a monitor.

Image obtained from

You can buy this piece of hardware by sending an email to  The owner of this company, Charles, is working on his web site as we know it.  But more importantly, his hardware cable seems very decent and I am interested in getting one to help me with diagnosing problems I am having with my server.  You can read more about how to order from at the media smart server forum discussion thread.

Do you own a headless Windows Home Server?  What do you do to help you diagnose problems?

Update 2010-02-17: Charles shipped my cable and I am looking forward to hooking up KVM to my Home Server.  Will keep you posted.

Update 2010-02-27: Cable arrived and plugged in to my server.

7 replies
    • Kam
      Kam says:

      Good on you, if I had only macs at home, I would not keep a Windows Home Server either….. What do yo do to back up your stuff? Time Capsule?

  1. Jim
    Jim says:

    I absolutely love my home server. It’s easily one of the best things I have done to simplify my home network and to reduce the chances of losing pictures/videos. I have the H342 and I haven’t seen a single reboot other than when I have done it on my own.

    Nice article. I would think there are a couple options for you to diagnose the problem, but I would think you could correctly diagnose the problem through RDP without needing to add the extra video stuff. Most likely it’s going to be cause by some of the additional add-on software.

    • Kam
      Kam says:

      Hey Jim, thanks for stopping by. I think the problem I had with my Windows Home server might have been something to do with a faulty WD drive that came with my Home Server. After I installed Ubuntu to the hardware, Ubuntu reported that original boot drive (which I ended up using as part of the RAID storage) was having bad sectors. It was beyond repair and WD shipped me a replacement. The question I had was if Windows Home Server had told me that, I could have fixed the problem a lot sooner…. Unfortunately, no love from me anymore since I now moved over to Ubuntu and everything runs fine with the software RAID.

    • Kam
      Kam says:

      Thanks for the info Bob. It is good to hear Charles is still making the cables. I am stilling using mine and I can’t imagine how I could work with my headless system without it :)

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