Ramblings of a Home Server User

August 23, 2007

What does that installation method do?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tom @ 8:35 pm

I know that there are people who are very puzzled by the different types of installations for Windows Home Server. I am going to attempt to help answer some of those questions.

New Installation – This is the installation method that most do-it yourselfers are going to see. This is the option that you would use to install Windows Home Server for the first time. This installation method formats the drives, installs the Windows Home Server software on the SYS partition (C:), and then adds the drives that are connected to the server at the time of install to the Windows Home Server storage pool.

Server Reinstallation – This is the installation method that in the event of a hard drive failure, or a forgotten home server password, you would see when you booted from the installation DVD. Server Reinstallation, only wipes the SYS (C:) partition, and you lose all user accounts, server settings, remote access customizations, installed add-ins, and anything you have put on the C drive. However, if you lose the entire primary hard drive (the drive that contains the SYS and first DATA partitions), you will be able to do a server reinstallation, but you may lose data from shared folders that do not have Shared Folder duplication turned on. You will need to re-create your user accounts, install add-ins, make any customizations, and then run Discovery.exe on your home computers, and you should be back in business.

Some frequently asked questions:

Q: What happens if my primary hard drive dies?

A: Depending on if you purchased a hardware / software OEM solution or built the Home Server yourself there are two different ways of repairing your Home Server. If you purchased an OEM solution, the OEM will have some sort of method of booting the server into recovery mode, and then from one of your home computers you will run an OEM provided application that will tell the server how to recover, If you built the server yourself you can boot from the installation DVD, and then choose the Server Reinstallation option, and you can recover your server.

Q: What if I want to reinstall the OS? Do I lose my data?

A: The way that Windows Home Server works, is that when you or the OEM does the initial installation, the setup routine partitions the first hard drive into a 20 GB SYS partition and the remainder of the first hard drive as the first (or primary) DATA partition. All other drives in the system are formatted, and added to the Home Server storage pool as secondary DATA partitions. The SYS partition contains the Windows Home Server Operating System.  Also, when you use the shared folders functionality of Windows Home Server your data is on the  primary and secondary DATA partitions and spread out across the other hard drives in the server,.  If you have Folder Duplication enabled, your data is also duplicated. If you have built the home server yourself you can just pop in the DVD, and select Server Reinstallation. If you have purchased an OEM unit, they will have their own steps for accomplishing the same task. You shouldn’t lose your data with the Server Reinstallation method as it only formats the SYS partition, but there is always the chance, so make you are doing everything possible to protect your data.

Q: What alternative means do I have to retrieve shared folder files from their drives if I can’t get the WHS to boot up?

A: All disks are NTFS. You can take the drives out of your Home Server, and put them into a different computer, and then access the drives as if they were a regular drive. The directory structure will be laid out like drive letter -> DE (folder)-> sharename  (folder named after a share on your Home Server) -> your data and then you can copy the files off of the drives to the storage medium of your choice.

To minimize your risk of potentially losing data, you should use high quality hard drives, use multiple hard drives in your Home Server, and enable Folder Duplication for of your shared folders. Yes, duplication uses more storage space, but it is definitely worth it to save years of precious memories.

Any questions, feel free to comment below, or send me e-mail ( homeserverblog at gmail dot com)

-Tom

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