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Lenovo D400 – Server Recovery Problem?

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Interesting post over at Intel’s Software Network Blog, where regular blogger Ylian Saint-Hilaire discusses his experience with a Lenovo D400 Home Server which crashed – the system drive simply went pop. Not great, but hey these things happen.

It’s for situations like this that God (actually, someone at Microsoft) invented Server Recovery – this idea is that you place Windows Home Server in a recovery state by booting the machine and hitting a recessed switch and the server would boot from a Flash ROM to await recovery (via running an application on one of your home computers attached to the network).

Worryingly, the D400’s Server Recovery procedure failed for an unknown reason: Ylian writes:

After looking at the CDROM’s that came with the unit and going online, there is a recovery procedure. I replaced the failed 1T drive with a 1.5T and hit a small reset button in the back, this seems to cause the BIOS to start the network adapter (my network switch light up) and you start a recovery disk on the desktop which launches the re-imaging of the device. When you re-image, you can do recover or factory reset. I am not sure why, but the recover option did not work. Maybe because I changed the boot drive? That’s not good.

Not only is this not good, it’s totally unacceptable – the hallmark of a good home server is that PC Restore and Server Recovery should work without issue every time. Period. If it doesn’t, how can you possibly trust the product with your data? I’ve heard of many people recovering a home server on to a new drive, so that shouldn’t be the problem in this case.

This may be a one off issue, but I really hope there isn’t an inherent problem with Lenovo’s implementation of Server Recovery on the D400 – for a project over the weekend I’ve been testing out Server Recovery on a variety of OEM and Self-Built home servers. All worked without an issue. Unfortunately, I don’t have a D400 here at WGS right now to test out.

Any D400 owners out there care to test Server Recovery for us? (Please backup your data first!) We’d really love to know the outcome – if there is an inherent issue, Lenovo will need to act quickly to resolve.

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Terry Walsh is the founder of We Got Served. He started the community in February 2007 with a mission to help families, tech enthusiasts everywhere figure out the technology needed to run the modern home and small business. He's the author of a number of guides to Windows, Windows Server and OS X Server and runs his own successful publishing business. Born and raised in Liverpool, England, Terry has been awarded Microsoft's prestigious Most Valuable Professional Award each year since 2008 for his work on We Got Served.
  • Pat

    A colleague of mine had issues with the Acer Easystore recovery when he tried using a drive that was part of a RAID array. For some reason, the recovery process would ignore the drive. Popping it back in the original system and explicitly taking it out of the raid array solved the issue.

  • diehard

    My experience with the HP EX470 series which has a similar way to place the server in recovery mode, reminds me that your timing on pressing the reset pin is critical or the server with not go into recovery mode. What I like to do as an alternative is to pull the system drive out 1", power up, wait 10 seconds and push the drive back in.

    When the server boots, it will see that there is no drive and will boot from the USB internal flash drive. Once that gets going, you will push the system drive in so that the process will identify the drive to recovery the OS to.

  • DrewE

    I have a Fujitsu-Siemens SCALEO WHS and my boot drive started having a problem booting.
    At the BIOS boot level it told me it could not read from the drive.
    So I started the recover process.
    Pressing & hoding the reset button on the back and then turning the machine DID put the machine into the recover mode.
    I then used the NEWEST recover disk from Fujtisu-Siemens that is supposed to be able to do a proper System Drive ONLY recovery.
    The restore of the System drive went as far as getting the machine back to a state where I can start WHS. I was then informed that I should start the Connector software, which I did and NOW it just does NOT get any further. I DOES download the connector software from the Server itself starts to take me through the reinstallation BUT before it can REALLY get going I get an error where it can not proceed futher.
    I have been waiting for a call back from the techincal support for two days now.
    Does anyone know how I can get the revocery of the data partitions started from the console of the server itself?

    • DrewE

      The Fujitsu-Siemens support contacted me today and explained where the files are located when this happens.
      If you have access to the 'REAL' console on the machine you can see ALL of the files on the NTFS drives that are present.
      I can now move these files to other media myself and then do a factory recover in order to get the machine back up and running.
      I am currently writing a VB-Scripts to analyse the files present to see if everything that is present also has a 'duplex' copy on another partition, and to check to see if they identical.
      So far all of the files I have checked DO have a duplex copy on another drive.
      I will then distil this information down to see how much disk space I need to get 'one full' copy somewhere else.
      If anybody knows a better way to recover a broken recovery let me know.

  • Rmassey

    I have an the Acer Easystore (same as the D400) and it also fails to recover. I have only been able to do a factory reset. there are several discussion of this on WGS Acer sub-forum.

  • HammerSandwich

    I recently had a similar failure on a custom build. This system has a DVD-ROM & monitor, so booting the server disc worked fine. However, recovery was not available, only a fresh install. Possibility #1: I'd tried to get fancy with system HDs in dynamic-disk RAID1. Possibility #2: recovery was run with an original WHS "PP0" disc for a PP3 server.

    Almost all files were saved via manual copies before adding each data drive to the pool.

  • BellevueRandy

    I just sent several hours with HP this weekend when I was unable to do either the Server Reset nor Factory Restore on my HP EX495. It would go into recover mode and then would say failure at step 2 or failure at step 3. Multiple cables, multiple PC's – same result. HP wanted me to test the system drive in another PC. I just bought a new drive instead with the same result. Finally on 3 PC, repeating the same steps and thus expecting the same result; it worked. No idea why but way too much work and uncertainty for a server solution. Sounds however that this is an issue of a headless server running WHS and not the specific brand of the box.

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