Fail: Windows Home Server System Disk Replacement

Back when I wrote an article about replacing Windows Home Server data disks I received some comments about replacing the system drive. At the time I didn’t think I’d be replacing the disk anytime soon since there was little benefit. The drive is used last for data storage so it would be easier and more beneficial to expand the data drives. In my mind having the OS on a separate drive from the data but would provide better performance, at least in theory.

Events changed and I needed another drive to store some files and I figured replacing the WHS drive with a newer drive that also consumed less power would be worth the effort. In short, the upgrade failed and I’ve decided the effort now outstrips the benefit. I figured I’d relay my experiences. Also, if the drive fails I’ll probably be in the same situation so I’ll probably do some research and try again sometime in the future.

First the good news. I put the original drive aside and popped it back in when I threw in the towel. The server came up fine – as if nothing happened.

When I ran the Server Recovery Disc using autorun I had several problems. The first noticeable problem was an empty license dialog. I had to run the the WHSRecovery.exe directly and then the install ran OK.

On Windows Vista the Server Recovery portion worked fine but when the WHS Connector software install should have started nothing happened. I suspect it has something to do with UAC or security but rather than troubleshoot I went to Windows XP.

On Windows XP everything seemed fine until the Windows Home Server Connector software installation. That install couldn’t find my server. I had similar problems during the initial installation but the things that worked there didn’t work here. The Server Recovery has worked for me in the past. After popping the original disk back I was able to install the connector software just fine. In my case the computer and server were in the same switch and one the same network. I could ping the WHS just fine (I could get the IP address from the mac address), the connector install just wouldn’t find it.

Eventually I’ll set up a simple network with just the WHS and one PC and work on troubleshooting the issue.

If you’ve got an HP MediaSmart Home Server the instructions for replacing the system disk are here. Keep in mind that user accounts will be lost along with other server configurations. If you use file duplication you shouldn’t lose any files.

This isn’t a high priority for me but if I find a solution I’ll update this post.