The Trials and Tribulations of Installing Windows Home Server 2011

As I sit here now in my study at home, I am blessed by the new soothing sound of my self-built Windows Home Server 2011 system. And why is the sound soothing? Because it’s silent. My rack is still making some noise, which is coming from the Cisco switch and router which both probably need a good strip down and de-dust to help with the noise, it is nothing compared with the noise of the old PowerEdge SC1425 that I had running.

Unfortunately, installing Windows Home Server 2011 for me wasn’t smooth sailing, and I hit quite a few bumps along the way, so here is the list of problems I faced to help others avoid the same time wasters.

Before even starting the installation, please make sure you do read the release notes. Ed Bott has gone through some of the crazy requirements in a post at ZDNet (http://www.zdnet.com/blog/bott/before-you-install-windows-home-server-2011-rtfm-seriously/3134). The biggest one to watch out for is the clock.

Due to some kind of bizarre issue with the RTM release of WHS 2011, you must change the time in your BIOS to the time for PST (Pacific Standard Time) or GMT –8hrs. You must then leave BIOS and consequentially leave the Windows clock to that time, and during the installation when prompted for Time Zone, you must set this to Pacific Standard Time.

Once the installation is complete, you must then wait a further 24hrs before changing the time back. If you chose not to heed this advice, then the release notes state that you will not be able to join any client computers to the Home Server during this 24hr period. Once your 24hr period is up, you can log into the server and change the time and the time zone accordingly.

The first problem hit at the first phase of the installation, Extracting Files, while it was at 0%. Reviewing the error log from the setup process, I saw that it had encountered a (Trackback:80004005) Setup Error 31: Trackback:80004005 error. A quick look on the Microsoft Social Forums led me to discover that WHS 2011 doesn’t support any kind of RAID or array type disk to be attached for the installation. For me, this meant disconnecting the RAID-10 controller and powering down the disks attached to the controller for the duration of the install. Once install was completed, I simply reconnected the controller and installed the drivers and everything is working perfectly as I expected.

The second problem occurred once the installation was complete and it runs the WHS 2011 customisation process after first logon. It seems that WHS 2011 goes out to Windows Update and pulls a couple of required updates, and as such, needs a suitable network card. My motherboard uses a NIC which isn’t natively supported by WHS 2011, so I had to install the driver, however to my shock, the initial lack of a NIC terminated the setup process and I was forced to restart.

As my existing home server and the new home server where to be using the same IP address, I had the new one disconnected initially. This caused the next problem, because after installing the NIC driver, I was given a prompt that there was no network connectivity and that I should connect a network cable. Once again to my shock and disbelief, this required another restart.

At this point, I also released that my Cisco switch had switchport-security turned on for the Home Server port still and this meant I had to disable that on the switch as it was bound to a different MAC address at the time, and guest what? Reboot again.

My final problem laid with the network card on the motherboard itself. In the BIOS, I enabled the maximum power saving mode setting. It turns out, that for the ASUS E35M1-M PRO motherboard, this prevents the network card operating in 1Gbps mode and drops it to 100Mbps. It took me a while to figure this one out with changing cables, switching between switch ports etc, but I eventually discovered an option under the network card in Device Manager for Green Ethernet. Disabling this setting, which was previously set to Enabled, reset the network connection, and it was then connected at 1Gbps.

After all of this, I have a fully working and perfect home server for me and the family. I’ll be writing some other posts to explain my setup in detail, but this post is purely for the installation process

richardjgreen

Richard works as a Cloud Consultant for Fordway Solution where his primary focus is to help customers understand, adopt and develop with Microsoft Azure, Office 365 and System Center. Richard Green is an IT Pro with over 15 years' of experience in all things Microsoft including System Center and Office 365. He has previously worked as a System Center consultant and as an internal solutions architect across many verticals. Outside of work, he loves motorbikes and is part of the orange army, marshaling for NGRRC, British Superbikes and MotoGP. He is also an Assistant Cub Scout Leader.

2 thoughts on “The Trials and Tribulations of Installing Windows Home Server 2011

  1. FYI, whatever issue you were having with GigE on the Asus E35M was probably not really caused by the Green Ethernet setting. I have the same board (flashed to the latest BIOS and with the latest Realtek PCIe GigE ethernet driver) and have had GigE speeds consistently since I installed with Green Ethernet enabled by default. Probably need to update something.

  2. My board was running the latest BIOS revision and I was using the driver provided by Windows Update. There could well have been a more specific driver from Realtek however.

    I wanted two NICs in the server for resiliancy anyway; this just gave me my excuse to buy the card.

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