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Restore Your PC from Windows Home Server

If your computer crashes or you get a virus infection that makes it unrecoverable, doing a clean install can be a hassle, let alone getting your data back. If you’re backing up your computers to Windows Home Server, you can completely restore them to the last successful backup.

Note: For this process to work you need to verify the PC you want to restore is connected to your network via Ethernet. If you have it connected wirelessly it won’t work.

Restore a PC from Windows Home Server

On the computer you want to restore, pop in the Windows Home Server Home Computer Restore disc and boot from it. If you don’t have one already made, you can easily make one following these instructions. We have also included the link to the restore disc below.

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Boot from the CD then select if your machine has 512MB or RAM or more.

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The disc will initialize…

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Then choose your language and keyboard settings.

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Hopefully if everything goes correctly, your network card will be detected and you can continue. However, if it doesn’t like in our example, click on the Show Details button.

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In the Detect Hardware screen click on the Install Drivers button.

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Now you will need to have a USB flash drive with the correct drivers on it. It has to be a flash drive or a floppy (if you happen to still have one of those) because you can’t take out the Restore CD.

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If you want to make sure you have the correct drivers on the USB flash drive, open the Windows Home Server Console on another computer on your network. In the Computers and Backup section right-click on the computer you want to restore and select View Backups.

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Select the backup you want to restore from and click the Open button in the Restore or view Files section.

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Now drag the entire contents of the folder named Windows Home Server Drivers for Restore to the USB flash drive.

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Back to the machine you’re trying to restore, insert the USB flash drive with the correct drivers and click the Scan button.

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Wait a few moments while the drivers are found then click Ok then Continue.

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The Restore Computer Wizard starts up…

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Enter in your home server password and click Next.

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Select the computer you want to restore. If it isn’t selected by default you can pull it up from the dropdown list under Another Computer. Make certain you’re selecting the correct machine.

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Now select the backup you want to restore. In this example we only have one but chances are you’ll have several.

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If you have several backups to choose from, you might want to check out the details for them.

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Now you can select the disk from backup and and restore it to the destination volume. You might need to initialize a disk, change a drive letter, or other disk management tasks, if so, then click on Run Disk Manger.

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For example we want to change the destination drive letter to (C:).

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After you’ve made all the changes to the destination disk you can continue with the restore process.

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If everything looks correct, confirm the restore configuration. If you need to make any changes at this point, you can still go back and make them.

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Now Windows Home Server will restore your drive. The amount of time it takes will vary depend on the amount of data you have to restore, network connection speed, and hardware.

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You are notified when the restore successfully completes. Click Finish and the PC will reboot and be restored and should be working correctly. All the updates, programs, and files will be back that were saved to the last successful backup. Anything you might have installed after that backup will be gone. If you have your computers set to backup every night, then hopefully it won’t be a big issue.

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Conclusion

Backing up the computers on your network to Windows Home Server is a valuable tool in your backup strategy. Sometimes you may only need to restore a couple files and we’ve covered how to restore them from backups on WHS and that works really well. If the unthinkable happens and you need to restore the entire computer, WHS makes that easy too. 

Download Windows Home Server Home Computer Restore CD

Brian Burgess worked in IT for 10 years before pursuing his passion for writing. He's been a tech blogger and journalist for the past seven years, and can be found on his about me page or Google+

  • Published 03/10/10

Comments (8)

  1. Matthew Lucas

    that’s nice how is the pricing on a windows home server box now compared to when you did the article?

  2. Mysticgeek

    @Matthew Lucas: You can spend as little or as much as you want on one that is pre-installed with WHS. The WHS OS is only around $100. You can download it from their MS site and use it for 30 days free then buy a license.
    I used a business class Lenovo Desktop that I got at discount for $300 on Woot to make mine.

  3. ozinca

    It is incredibly important to point out the differences between a 32 and 64 bit restore with WHS. What you have documented here is the 32 bit restore. Unless something has changed recently, these instructions will not work with a 64 bit restore.

    The restore client is 32 bit.

    The drivers folder in the backup image contains 64 bit only.

    SO – if the restore client cannot find 32 bit drivers by itself (and in my expereience this rarely happens because Microsoft have drivers from the dark ages in that image), you CANNOT use the already backed up drivers, and must head out on Internet driver hunt.

    The still poor support 3 powerpacks later for 64 bit restore in WHS is one of its biggest flaws.

  4. Mom

    This is a good article boys.

    I just want to add that if your home server and the computer you’re trying to restore uses static ip and they do not receive dhcp ip from, say a router or dhcp server…this method will not work. So to go around this, you’ll have to put your home server on a router or dhcp network.

    Just my two cents boys.

  5. Mom

    Correction, you’ll have to put both computers on a router or a dhcp network.

    I do apologize.

  6. Glenn N

    My computer seems fine, but I want to get rid of some drivers that I installed and the best way seems to be to use System Restore. Got myself in a pickle where standard System Restore no longer works. System Start Repair doesn’t help. It worked once or twice, but now complains that it was unable to complete the restore – unclear (to me) why.

    So I thought I would restore the whole system from WHS (HP MediaSmart with PP 3).
    I think I’ve been nailed by the 64-bit driver problem. I have Windows 7, 64-bit. The WHS restore CD finds a network device and seems happy with it, but then it cannot ever find my WHS. Both systems are on same subnet, but WHS is static and Win7 is DHCP – shouldn’t be any trouble I would think.

    I then tried again by copying “Windows Home Server Driver for Restore” to a flash drive. When I again got to the driver portion of restore, I told it to look for more. Well, it scanned available devices, but came back with apparently only the device driver that it initially found.

    I am baffled about what to do. Why does the restore process tell me that it has a valid device and driver, but then not find WHS?

    Hope someone can help!

  7. Alex T

    Is there a way to transfer the Restore CD onto a bootable USB flash drive? That would be nice. Great tutorial by the way!

  8. Pringals

    Nice article, but I would like to add something due in part to the headache I got today trying to restore my saved backup to a new, bigger hard drive. No article I’ve found mentions about the “hidden system partition” of a windows 7 installation. Apparently, this is a required partition of about 100mb in size needed to boot. What you need to do when you get to the part in disk management and setting up and formatting your new hard drive is first right click on the un-allocations drive (your new hard drive) and select “create a simple volume”. Set it size to 100mb in size. Do not assign a drive letter or drive path, remove it if it defaults you one. Format this new volume using NTFS. Then right click on it and set it to “mark as active”. Now right click on the other part of the drive that is still unallocated and create a new simple volume to use for your C drive. Now your new hard drive is ready to have WHS restore the system to it. Here’s the trick though… your latest backups may not have the 100mb “hidden system volume” backup data. You’ll have to search back until you find the last time it was backed up which most likely will be one of you very first backups since this volume doesn’t change much after its initial setup. WHS only creates new backups for items that have been changed or modified. But the confusion doesn’t stop there… you can’t just restore this and then restore the C from your latest backup. You’ll have to restore this 100mb partition and also restore that older version of the C drive at the same time. Otherwise, after you reboot, the 100mb partition may take the label of “C” and then you won’t have a “C” drive to restore your windows system to. Confusing … i know. Anyway, save the headache and just restore the 100mb volume AND the older C volume from that same backup date. Then after its done, reboot off the cd again and go back through the process so you can now choose to restore just the C drive from your latest backup version. Sorry if my tip is hard to follow. I’m mentally exhausted right now after fighting this all day. I wanted to write it down while it was still fresh on my mind. Hopefully this guide will be updated with the information explained a little bit clearer. As much of a pain it was, I am happy i was able to replace my cramp hard drive with a larger one without having to reinstall every program and move all my data files. Everyone should have a home server! … but have a local nerd on hand. haha

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