News, Windows Home Server

Bare Metal Restore of a Windows 7 Computer From WHS 2011


Just in case anyone is wondering, bare metal restores from a Windows Home Server 2011 backup to a Windows 7 machine seems to work just fine.

For me at least.

The story goes this way.  My youngest kid’s Acer laptop hard drive died recently.  He was quite bummed naturally, but I was quite happy that his computer had at least been backed up to my WHS 2011 machine the night before.  After a call with the Acer service techs, they opted to send a new HD to replace the dead one.

A half dozen screws later, out came the dead Hitachi drive, in went the Western Digital replacement drive, and back in went the screws.  I plugged an Ethernet cable into the computer, threw in the WHS 2011 Restore Disk, watched it boot up, and…  no driver for the LAN card.  I was really not surprised and I simply pulled out the driver disk for the machine, copied the LAN driver over to a USB drive, stuck it in the laptop, and pointed the restore program to the USB drive.

The LAN driver was loaded; about two hours and ~100 GBs later; the machine had been restored completely to the day before the original HD died.

This was absolutely much easier than

  • reloading Windows.
  • downloading and reinstalling all the OS updates
  • reinstalling all the programs that had been on the computer
  • copying back hopefully *all* the data from some other backup program

Dang, it simply does not get any easier than a WHS 2011 Bare Metal Restore!

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Hello. I’m from the heartland of the U.S. Lots of corn and beans, although Iowa is a lot more than just farmland. It also has a few computer enthusiasts (no, not me!). I’ve been around PCs since I got my 1st PC XT aloooong time ago. WGS is one of the first sites I found centered around WHS. And the best. Every once in awhile, I do get away from the KB and enjoy time with and my wife and our 4 kids. And I do have a day job.
  • Bernard

       I did a bare metal restore on one of my machines with WHS v1. Took about 1.5 hours, everything went fine. The only thing I noticed was the progress bar and time remaining were a bit off. It finished about 80% of the way through. As it turned out, the very first estimate was pretty close to the time required.

  • Doran B

    I also just recently performed a bare metal restore from my WHS v1, after using it for well over 3 years.  Needed a bigger hard drive.  I was shocked at how simple it was and that it actually worked the first time without any serious issues.  Did find out that you can (usually) pull the drivers for restore directly from the backup on the server.  Just open the backup from the console and copy the “Windows Drivers for Restore” folder to a USB drive.  I did have one computer that the drivers folder didn’t work on and I had to go find drivers.  It was a known 32bit vs 64bit issue.  But I’ll take that over reinstalling the OS and all the updates and lost files. 

  • autodrivel

    That’s THE point of WHS for all of us who act as the family “IT Guy”, namely the ease with which you can do a bare-metal restore. Stick the recovery disk in, set it going, walk away, come back in an hour or so and it’s all done. Priceless!
    A little wrinkle I use, which falls under the “be prepared” category: I use a USB key in place of a recovery CD and whenever I setup a new client PC on WHS, I do the following. Once the initial backup of the client has completed successfully, I then boot the client PC off the recovery USB key and let it proceed to the point where it has found the WHS and identified the correct backup set and then I cancel the recovery.
    Most often if there is going to be problems with a bare-metal recovery, its at this initial point of trying to find the Server and 99% of the time it’s down to having the correct network drivers for the client PC. So whilst everything is fresh, I get that sorted out. I can add the required drivers to the USB key under a folder named for the PC. e.g.
    Hence, with each new client PC, I’m updating my Recovery USB Key with any required drivers.
    So months later if I need to do a bare-metal recovery on a PC, and the recovery stalls because it can’t find the server, I know that all I have to do is point the recovery manager at the appropriate folder on the USB key and it will get a working set of drivers, which will let the recovery do it’s thing.
    Note that you don’t need to worry about keeping the drivers up to date, all they need to do is work long enough to let the recovery complete and the restored image will have the latest updates.

  • John

    I also did a bare metal restore with WHS v1 the other week.
    This was of a Win7 64 bit machine – one slight issue was that I had to run the Windows 7 installer post recovery and do a repair of the installation because BootMgr hadn’t been recovered properly.  This did cause me a mild moment of panic until a Google search gave me the missing step.
    One thing worth considering, I had a recent failure to of a disk in my WHS (only after about 18 months of use) – I lost a load of machine backups and consequently I now backup my WHS to a external drive.
    To paraphrase Watchmen – “Who backs up the backup?”

  • DAllen

    What about a restore to different hardware, like a newer laptop?

    Is this possible? Can it do universal restore?

    • Rychek

      WHS (either version) can perform a restore to any working set of compatible hardware.  However, that does not mean there won’t be some underlying hardware/software incompatability/random feature that makes it fail. 

      That being said, I have replaced the motherboard in my wife’s computer twice in the last year (different model board, but same chipset (AMD 785G) each time) and both restores went off without a hitch.  I had to reactivate Windows (7 Pro x64 for reference), but it worked marvellously. 

      I have used the server restore functionality as well.  Had some router strangeness that was wreaking havoc with LightsOut (IP addresses weren’t displaying/updating correctly due to the router).  Once the router was sorted, a quick restore from the server backup disc and I was set.

  • Nice post, superb blog thanks for sharing

  • Thats good news, I was hoping they’d add this feature sooner or later. Im glad to know it works.

  • Andy Symonds

    I have done many restores with WHS v1 on my main desktop and they took MAXIMUM 1 hour however my first attempt at the same restore using WHS 2011 was still only 20% done after 8 hours!

    I have now moved the WHS 2011 box next to the desktop and linked them via a cross over cable but it is still only 30% of the way through after 2 hours!!!

    Has anyone else noticed such a dramatic restore speed decrease?

    I am using Windows 7 Home Premium on the desktop which has Core i7 and WHS is Dual Core AMD with 4GB ram.

    I still have my old WHS v1 box sat collecting dust and this has flaw has seriously made me consider dropping back to it permanently.

    • Andy Symonds

      I have also now tried making a bootable USB restore key and connecting the home server and desktop via Gigabit powerline adaptors and the estimated time to restore 36GB partition and 350GB partition goes from an initial 52 minutes to 9 hours!!!

      WHS 2011 restore is simply unusable for me at present 🙁

      • Andy Symonds

        For anyone else interested in my WHS 2011 restore nightmare… I left the server restoring this PC overnight and then got a connectivity issue about 75% (9+ hours) the way through!

        I then disabled lightsout to see if that might be causing the issue and after an hour still had a new restore time of 9 hours 🙁

        Enough is enough so I have now physically removed the hard drive from the desktop and placed this in the WHS 2011 machine (HP ProLiant Microserver) and started the restore process of the two partitions via the following client restore

        C:Program FilesWindows ServerBinClientRestore1FAE75EB-B11A-4883-BCEE-9AC1C6D95216X64ClientRestoreWizard.exe

        I have a current restore estimate of 2 hours 2 minutes so will see what happens using this restore of last resort method.

        I would be VERY grateful if anyone has any idea what the issue(s) are that I have encountered because as I say with WHS v1 pp3 I could do the same thing within an hour

        • Anonymous

          Restoring 386 GB over a what speed?  What is your verified lan speed?  If  you take 100Mb(it)/s (12.5 MB/s), with the overhead, 9+ hours would be just right in my calculation.  Any other network activities would obviously slow things down.  The hanging after 75% would be a real issue.

          Anyway,  I’ve done few bare metal restores of both 32 and 64bit machines (XP,VISTA,WIN7) using WHS V1.  Only XP restores did not require lan drivers on the USB stick, but anything else worked like a charm.
          One thing though, I have no idea why restoring to a smaller partition would not be allowed. Real bummer … Just for that purpose, one would need to invest in another product, which is kind of silly. Microsoft having all the information about internals of THEIR file systems should be able to accomplish this without any major afford.  I bet, marketing people intervened again… Sheesh. 

  • 11bravo

    I’ve done a number of restores from whs v1 to a 32bit OS (Win Vista)
    with no problems, once I made a floppy (external drive) that had the lan
    driver.  As mentioned, the 32 bit drivers are available in the backup
    set.  Likewise as mentioned, an hour or 2, unattended.

    Read about the problem of 64bit drivers and whs v1, so used a driver
    “collection” program to save all the drivers on my win7 machines into
    zip files, and saved those on the server, for access in case I need to
    restore a win7 machine.

    – Wondering if whs 2011, given it’s a 64 bit OS, correctly stores 64 bit
    drivers in the backup sets.  For me, the major attraction of server
    backups is that you DON’T have to find any cd’s; the backups SHOULD be
    self contained.  Can someone confirm 64 bit drivers are successfully
    included in whs 2011 backups?

    – YIKES!  A 9+ hour restore?  AND unsuccessful…  Who wants to go
    mounting hard drives on the server itself to do a restore?  The whole
    point of a backup/restore is ease of use.  Given it’s a MAJOR feature of
    a whs, will be interested in hearing other experiences.  Of course, my
    whs v1 server is smiling…

    • Andy Symonds

      I am finally back up and running but I had to place the physical drive in the WHS box and do a separate restore for each partition via that. This was the only way I could get it to work properly so any ideas what’s up with my config / whs 2011?

  • Anonymous

    I’m glad it worked out. I upgraded a quad core from Vista to 7 last week. Prior to the upgrade I backed up the Vista to WHS2011 and created a recovery key on a flash drive. Though I didn’t need it as all the programs worked fine in Win7.

    Note: HDD means hard disk drive. HD means high definition.

  • Fes

    yeah very simple eh, but I see you have made 2 mistakes …
    using Hitachi & Western Digital !

  • mrwire

    Loading an image to the same machine it came from is not what I consider a bare metal restore. I think of bare metal restore as a restore to a dis-similar computer or at very least a different brand HD.

    Bare metal restores that I have done use a collection of common and generic drivers, hence the ability to image to an entirely different machine than what the imaage came from.

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