One of the bigger flaws of Windows Home Server is the restore process. Not only do you have to rely on the router and other network hardware, but your experience can alo vary depending on the client computer. Even having the right drivers doesn’t mean that it will work all the time, that is, assuming you can even find the correct working drivers. It’s point of huge frustration for many.
Wouldn’t it be great to have the ability to connect a hard drive to the server and restore any computer to it? It’s just one of those things that would make Windows Home Server just soo much better. Well, there may just be a way.
Well, on the suggestion of the forum member Shidoshi, I investigated an executable file that is installed with the Home Server Connector software and is present on the server itself too: “clientrestorewizard.exe”. Don’t believe me? You can check yourself. It runs pretty much exactly like a normal full client restore, however you need to be *very* careful about the disks you select. If you aren’t, you may be instore for another restore!
What does this mean to you? Do you have a laptop or netbook that you need to provide drivers for to be able to restore it, but it still doesn’t work? Do you have a backup of your friends or parent’s computer who doesn’t leave with or near you? Or you just want to do a HDD upgrade but don’t want to wait three hours for the slow network to finish?
This is not supported, for many reasons. The least of which, just mentioned above. So this is definitely an advanced “at your own risk” guide. If you have any concerns about data loss, do not follow this guide!
I only had my server available to test this one, so pictures may vary or may not be accurate. But it should work on any computer with the client Connector software installed.
There are a number of other things that you will likely need to do also, like marking the boot partition as active, or editing the boot.ini file. I’ve verified that this does in fact work, and if you noticed above, there is a chance that you can and may wipe the wrong disk.
So, that’s how to restore a client computer without using the client restore disk!