Alternate titles for this post include “It’s not always Microsoft’s fault” and “It’s not always the last change that broke it.”. I started off last weekend applying this months Microsoft security updates to my Windows Home Server and ended it with the HP MicroServer swapped out.
Everything was fine when I applied the updates and rebooted the server. It never came back online. I run the server headless so all I knew was the server had power and there was no hard drive ativity. I figured the MS security updates had corrupted the OS so I moved the boot drive to another box to check it out. (Much easier than moving the server to a monitor.) The drive was fine. So it was time to move the MicroServer to my workbench so I could hook up a monitor an keyboard.
Long story short, I spent some time swapping drives around and checking things out until a light bulb went off and I went into the BIOS. The drive priorities were back to the defaults (I boot from a drive I added to the media bay so it’s not the default first drive). So setting the drive priority allowed the server to boot. It booted fine so I put it back in its place.
But I wasn’t done. The server seemed to be fine from my desktop but I couldn’t access it from my laptop. I thought this was a wireless problem, but other wireless devices also had intermittent problems. While I first thought it was a wireless problem, further tests showed it was a problem with the WHS 2011 box and probably the onboard NIC. It was the only box with a problem, and even the wired connections had problems once I started doing more than pings. Since I use the onboard NIC and opening up the MicroServer is a hassle I decided a server swap was the path of least resistance since I had a second server with the same hardware. Then I could work on the problem box at my leisure.
The replacement server was the exact same hardware and had the same BIOS version so I wasn’t expecting any problems. I moved the drives over and fired the replacement up.
Configuring WHS 2011 on New Hardware
Once the drives were in (and set properly in the BIOS) I fired the box up. The server booted fine. There were some settings I had to change or update:
- I had to re-enter the IP address & configuration. The OS remembered the original adapter and saw the new hardware as a new NIC so it created a new connection. I use a hardcoded IP configuration so I had to re-enter it.
- WHS 2011 had to be re-activated within 3 days. Makes sense since as far as the OS is concerned it’s all new hardware.
- I had to reconnect the iSCSI drive. Although the drive and data was fine I did have to reconnect it.
Once I made those changes I was good to go and moved the home server back to it’s place on the shelf. Getting the server running on the new hardware took less than half an hour once I made the decision. Unfortunately all the troubleshooting before that took all the time. Despite the problem happening with the super Tuesday updates the problems were unrelated and probably would have occurred whenever I did the next reboot. It took me some time to convince myself the problem wasn’t related to the patches.
This is one situation where keeping things simple (no RAID arrays or fancy hardware) and cheap made for a quick recovery since I had a complete new computer that I could pop the drives in and go.