Restoring Client Computer Backup Database in Windows Home Server 2011

Quite sometime ago (probably about two months now), the primary drive on my Windows Home Server 2011 was giving me issues due to a new device driver I installed. Nothing got me going with ease: Last Known Good Configuration, Safe Mode, nothing. The problem lied in the fact that the server wouldn’t acknowledge that the OS disk was a boot partition, and after leaving it to attempt to repair the boot files by itself, which for the record, I don’t think I’ve ever seen work, I took to it manually.

Launching the Recovery Console command prompt from the installation media, I tried the good old commands that have served me well in the past for Windows Vista and Windows 7 machines I had to repair, bootrec and bootsec, but nothing worked, so I was left with only one option to re-install the OS. I wasn’t concerned about loosing personal data that is stored on a separate RAID volume, but I was concerned about my client backups which were stored on the same volume.

Using a USB attached hard disk, I manually copied out the Client Computer Backups folder, then rebuilt the operating system. I don’t keep active backups of the Home Server operating system because the Windows Server Backup utility in Windows Server 2008 R2 isn’t that hot. It doesn’t support GPT partitions over 2TB which obviously is an

Once installed, Windows Home Server sets up the default shares and folders including the Client Computer Backups. The critical thing here is that no clients can start a backup to the server before you complete these steps. Once a client starts a backup to the server, it creates the new databases and files for the server, ruining the chances of importing the existing structure.

From the new OS installation, open the directory where the Client Computer Backups live. The default location is C:ServerFoldersClient Computer Backups, but I had moved mine to D:ServerFoldersClient Computer Backups. Once you’ve found the directory, copy across all of the files I had previously copied from the burnt install of Windows and overwrite any files that it requests.

Once completed, restart the server. This will restart all of the Windows Home Server services responsible for running the Dashboard and the Client Computer Backups. Once the restart has completed, open the Dashboard and select the Computers tab where you normally view the computer health states and backups. On first inspection, it looks as though you have no clients and no backups, but look more closely and you will se a collapsed group called Archived Computers. Expand this group and you will see all of your clients listed and all of their associated backups will be listed if you select the Restore Files option for a computer.

The thing to point out here is that these backups will remain disassociated from the clients. Once you re-add a client to the server and commence a backup, it will be listed as a normal computer and the Archived Computer object for it will also remain listed. This is because the server generates GUIDs for the backup files based on a combination of the client identity and the server identity and because the reinstallation of the operating system will cause a new GUID to be generated, they are different. This isn’t a problem for me, but I’ve read a number of posts on the TechNet forums at Microsoft where people have had trouble locating the Archived Computers group in the Dashboard interface and think that they’ve lost everything which clearly isn’t the case.

Windows Home Server Backup: Wife Approval and the Potential

Last night I spent about two hours working on Nicky’s laptop which she had somehow managed to get infected with a virus or multiple viruses should I say.

I tried loads of things to correct the wake of problems caused by it, however I was having a hard time so I contemplated using my investment in Windows Home Server and flexing it’s Recovery CD for fighting crime (or virus).

I didn’t have to run the backup in the end as I managed to fix the problem, but the point needs to be addressed of just how wife friendly Windows Home Server actually is, and let’s face it: If your a geek / tech-head with any interest in things like Home Servers, Media Centres and the like you know that it has to be wife friendly or you will never get budgetary approval 🙂

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