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Do WHS 2011 Backups Image the entire hard drive? RRS feed

  • Question

  • I have a Dell XPS 15z Laptop OEM Windows 7 Home Premium installed. The hard drive is going to be replaced soon and I want to confirm that WHS 2011 image backups, backup the entire hard drive as is. This is because my XPS 15z has a bespoke partitioning setup of:

    DellUtility - 100MB Approx Boot partition
    Recovery - 19 GB NTFS
    OS C:/ - Remainder of hard drive

    Along with that the BCD/MBR is also customised by Dell for the Recovery Partition.

    Will this setup be 100% preserved when restored? Just to confirm, bit worried as the Recovery Partition is only available as it is now it cannot be replicated. So when using my Restore Key and need to be sure this will all be preserved and the image will be exactly as it is on my hard drive now.

    Thanks,

    James



    Friday, May 11, 2012 2:10 PM

Answers

  • Here's what I've decided. Due to the nature of partitioning setup I've decided that I will use Acronis True Image to clone the disk when it is replaced. When running backups through Acronis it sees the OEM partition and allows me to include it in the backup:

    Partition List

    Now knowing that WHS doesn't grab the OEM Partition in its backup, I'll use Acronis along side WHS for full system backups in the event the whole hard drive goes bad and I need a full restore or all partitions. Continue to have WHS backup C:/ and Recovery and on a daily basis and have Acronis image the whole drive every week.



    • Edited by jamesmacwhite Saturday, May 12, 2012 8:37 AM
    • Marked as answer by Ken Warren Saturday, May 12, 2012 12:17 PM
    Saturday, May 12, 2012 8:34 AM
  • Sorry for bumping an old topic but I thought this information might be useful for anyone else in a similar situation.

    My hard drive was replaced around 2 months ago and this how I restored my system to OEM specification + Current Windows Partition.

    It was even easier than I first thought to retain the OEM partitions on a Dell system. All I needed to do was create a USB Recovery Drive via the Dell DataSafe Local Backup 2.0 program. This allows you to restore the original Factory OS image onto your Dell system complete with the exact partition setup in the original thread.

    I used the Dell DataSafe Recovery USB first to start with which installs the factory OS contained with the Recovery Partition. It will also recreate the DellUtility and RECOVERY partitions during this process. When it's done you'll have your Dell system in its factory state again and a fresh install of Windows.

    Now all that's required is for the OS (C:/) partition to be restored from a backup, due to the new hard drive I had a feeling WHS might not be able to be used here because the physical address of the hard drive would be different and I thought it would error (I might be wrong, but I didn't chance it). I saw after I recovered that without re-installing the connector on my laptop, any attempted client backup wouldn't work due to WHS looking at the old hard drive and its physical address. Instead I used Acronis True Image to replace the newly created OS C:/ Partition, with a backup I took of the C:/ drive. This worked fine and I had my Windows install back as it was the night before the hard drive was replaced.

    To answer the question. WHS is able to backup the OS and RECOVERY partition but doesn't see the DellUtility program. If the Recovery Partition becomes corrupt (as in damaged, but still exists), WHS should be able to save you to restore. If you've lost the partition completely. Dell DataSafe is the way to go, as it ensures the partitions are re-created correctly and that the links are re-established to the boot loader and RECOVERY partition. 

    Hope my OEM partition adventures are useful to someone!

    • Marked as answer by jamesmacwhite Tuesday, July 3, 2012 10:38 AM
    Tuesday, July 3, 2012 10:38 AM

All replies

  • As long as you have specified that those partitions are backed up, yes it will.


    Phil P.S. If you find my comment helpful or if it answers your question, please mark it as such.

    Friday, May 11, 2012 7:20 PM
  • Hi Phil,

    Thanks for your reply.

    Both the Recovery and Windows partition are listed in the backup, however the DellUtility partition is not. In Disk Management its listed as a blank labelled 102 MB OEM Partition. In the WHS 2011 Backup Menu for my XPS 15z this partition is not listed and hence not selectable. That is my concern here, the fact it doesn't list it make me worried it is not being imaged on each backup and without it, this will break my OEM configurations.

    I may have to use additional software to like Acronis True Image for the initial restore to a new hard drive, as I have previously used it before and know it allows me to select the Dell Utility partition in the past.

    I just wanted clarification if anyone else had experienced a similar situation.

    Thanks,

    James

    Friday, May 11, 2012 10:49 PM
  • Just an FYI, if you bought this from Dell there is a link on their site to
    download the DellUtility partion programs. Login to their site, go to your
    account and you should find the link in there. I have a Dell laptop and when
    I did mine that is what I did. Sometime the utilities get updated and/or
    add, should check it from time to time anyway.
     
     
    Friday, May 11, 2012 11:35 PM
  • James

    Apologies for my initial response which was not complete. With Dell laptops I normally get rid of any partitions which are not Windows related as their functionality can be generally recreated by other means (see comment from Don above, or by using the Dell Resource CD). As I understand it, the main purpose of the partition is to get you to sign up to Dell's EULA and to help restore a system to factory default. The first I do not think needs to be done more than once and the second can be done with WHS.


    Phil P.S. If you find my comment helpful or if it answers your question, please mark it as such.

    Saturday, May 12, 2012 12:01 AM
  • Yes it was purchased through dell.co.uk. Could you point me to where your referring to exactly?

    If I'm honest I'd be much happier just imaging the new hard drive with a system image taken from the current drive I have in now. The reason why the hard drive is being replaced is because a recent Dell Firmware update borked the drive and constantly reports bad sectors via SMART tests, though in terms of the actual sectors being bad, is likely a false positive (firmware bug), but due to the constant errors and possibility of the drive actually being bad now, Dell have agreed to replace the hard drive, which will be exactly the same model and size (750 GB) that is in my system now.

    Like I said its important the image is exactly the same as the hard drive contents, otherwise any restore action that doesn't have everything will likely break the Recovery partition and other OEM functions which aren't recoverable, mainly the recovery partition, if that gets messed up in any way, I can't get it back, its a one time installation from the factory. I have System Recovery Media (USB) generated through Dell DataSafe Local Backup as backup in the event I ever lose access to the partition or something happens, but I'd very much like to keep the partitioning setup my XPS 15z has had since leaving the factory.

    Saturday, May 12, 2012 12:18 AM
  • Phil thanks for your reply, no problem.

    Like I said I referred to in my previous reply to Don, I would really like to keep the partitioning setup as it is right now two crucial reasons:

    1 ) Peace of mind for me knowing everything will work.

    2) Because the Windows 7 Home Premium is OEM, I don't particularly fancy messing with it for warranty sakes.

    I have already discovered that there are no Dell Recovery Discs for my system from a recent technical support call to Dell. Its either the Recovery Partition, System Recovery Media (Generated through Dell DataSafe or completely format and start again with a Full Windows 7 Disc). Being an OEM Windows 7 Copy I would like to retain this functionality for convience and peace of mind. The Dell Recovery Partition contains the Factory Image which automatically has crucial software like my 3-year Mcafee Security Center Software pre-installed and automatically deployed if required.

    I hope you can see my point here, don't want to sound like I'm being pedantic.

    Saturday, May 12, 2012 12:30 AM
  • Windows Home Server will only back up NTFS partitions, and will fail with a VSS error on a partition that's too full. So:

    • Check to see if your boot partition is formatted with FAT, FAT32, NTFS, or (possible these days) EFI on a GPT disk; if the last Windows Home Server can't back up or restore the drive, if the first two it can't back up/restore that partition.
    • Check to see if the Dell recovery partition is NTFS or not, and if it's too full (over ~90 percent full is the threshold for issues, IIRC).

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)

    Saturday, May 12, 2012 12:52 AM
  • I know the DellUtility Partition is formatted to FAT something. Pretty certain its FAT32 not NTFS though.

    The partition is not listed in the backups in WHS

    Saturday, May 12, 2012 1:01 AM
  • When you login to the Dell site go to “My Account”. Under that is a list of
    Recent Orders,My Products and Services and the “My Software”. Look and there
    will be a link to “Download Factory Installed Software(My Dell
    Downloads)Access and Download Software installed on my PC from the Dell
    Factory.
     
    That is where the applications are.
     
    Saturday, May 12, 2012 1:29 AM
  • Well, then, there you go.

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)

    Saturday, May 12, 2012 2:42 AM
  • Here's what I've decided. Due to the nature of partitioning setup I've decided that I will use Acronis True Image to clone the disk when it is replaced. When running backups through Acronis it sees the OEM partition and allows me to include it in the backup:

    Partition List

    Now knowing that WHS doesn't grab the OEM Partition in its backup, I'll use Acronis along side WHS for full system backups in the event the whole hard drive goes bad and I need a full restore or all partitions. Continue to have WHS backup C:/ and Recovery and on a daily basis and have Acronis image the whole drive every week.



    • Edited by jamesmacwhite Saturday, May 12, 2012 8:37 AM
    • Marked as answer by Ken Warren Saturday, May 12, 2012 12:17 PM
    Saturday, May 12, 2012 8:34 AM
  • Sorry for bumping an old topic but I thought this information might be useful for anyone else in a similar situation.

    My hard drive was replaced around 2 months ago and this how I restored my system to OEM specification + Current Windows Partition.

    It was even easier than I first thought to retain the OEM partitions on a Dell system. All I needed to do was create a USB Recovery Drive via the Dell DataSafe Local Backup 2.0 program. This allows you to restore the original Factory OS image onto your Dell system complete with the exact partition setup in the original thread.

    I used the Dell DataSafe Recovery USB first to start with which installs the factory OS contained with the Recovery Partition. It will also recreate the DellUtility and RECOVERY partitions during this process. When it's done you'll have your Dell system in its factory state again and a fresh install of Windows.

    Now all that's required is for the OS (C:/) partition to be restored from a backup, due to the new hard drive I had a feeling WHS might not be able to be used here because the physical address of the hard drive would be different and I thought it would error (I might be wrong, but I didn't chance it). I saw after I recovered that without re-installing the connector on my laptop, any attempted client backup wouldn't work due to WHS looking at the old hard drive and its physical address. Instead I used Acronis True Image to replace the newly created OS C:/ Partition, with a backup I took of the C:/ drive. This worked fine and I had my Windows install back as it was the night before the hard drive was replaced.

    To answer the question. WHS is able to backup the OS and RECOVERY partition but doesn't see the DellUtility program. If the Recovery Partition becomes corrupt (as in damaged, but still exists), WHS should be able to save you to restore. If you've lost the partition completely. Dell DataSafe is the way to go, as it ensures the partitions are re-created correctly and that the links are re-established to the boot loader and RECOVERY partition. 

    Hope my OEM partition adventures are useful to someone!

    • Marked as answer by jamesmacwhite Tuesday, July 3, 2012 10:38 AM
    Tuesday, July 3, 2012 10:38 AM