Windows Home Server Recovery

I’ve been having sporadic problems with my Windows Home Server for the last week or so. The WHS was powering itself off for no reason and according to the logs it wasn’t a clean shutdown. It’s been sporadic, but happened twice on Saturday.

I was also having connectivity problems from my Macs. These were also sporadic and I suspected they were due to the recent OS X 10.5.2 upgrade rather than the Windows Home Server.

I figured no matter what, if I called tech support the first thing they’d want me to do was re-install. I also wanted to rename the server. I happened to name it the same as my .Mac ID and I figured there was a slight chance this was the cause of the connectivity problem. At the very least, it could be confusing.

The recovery is done from a PC connected to the the same network as the Windows Home Server. The Server Recovery Disk included with the HP WHS is used. A wired connection is recommended so that the connection isn’t interrupted during the recovery. I did the rebuild from Windows XP running under Parallels on my iMac.

HP has pretty good procedures online (scroll down to the Recovering Server section) and the online help and recovery wizard are also good so I won’t repeat every step in detail.

Factory Reset

I made sure my data backups where up to date and inserted the DVD to start the recovery. There’s two choices presented.

I go with the Factory Reset option in order to completely flatten the server. The data is backed up so there’s no sense trying half measure. The reset goes along as documented and the wizard is self-explanatory. It took about 90 minutes from the time I popped in the DVD to the time I could start restoring my data files and creating the IDs.

About half this time was spent watching the following dialog box. There were extended periods of time (5-10 minutes) where no progress was shown.

After the reset was finished I needed to recreate the IDs and restore my data files (a simple file copy). All the PC backups are lost and the home server connector software has to be uninstalled and re-installed on each PC. Since backups were lost I initiated a backup immediately after re-installing the connector software on each PC.

The Results

I did the Factory Reset last Saturday and the server hasn’t crashed all week so that problem seems to have been resolved. Looks like it was a software problem.

Much to my surprise the intermittent connectivity problems also went away. So that was either a Windows Home Server problem, a conflict with the old server name and my .Mac ID, or a total coincidence. In any case it looks like this problem was also resolved.