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Urgent: WHS restore is NOT working. Stops at 81 %, tells me to format Z:, and then cannot mount the backup RRS feed

  • Question

  • I have a Windows Home Server running on a HP MediaSmart Server 470. It is running PowerPack3 and should be completely updated. I am using it to backup two computers, and considering it for a couple more. The backup process seems to be running fine. However, I am NOT able to get to the files on any backups! I try to with the following procedure:

     

    -          View backups for a selected computer in Computers&Backup in WHS Console on a client computer running Windows 7 with all updates until today applied. This computer is one of the two that are backed up.

    -          Click on the “Details…” button in “Manage backups from …”

    -          In the “Backup details” dialog, select a volume and then click on the “Open…” button in the “Details of volume C” (or whatever selected) section.

     

    Then a small dialog “Opening backup” is shown. However, it stops  at 81 %, and another one pops up telling me I need to format the disk in station Z before I can use it. Whatever I select, the result is failure: “cannot mount the backup”.  So, I have backups but not access to my files within it.

     

    I am 100 % sure that I have tried restoring this way a few months ago, and that it worked. This was also from the same Windows 7 (64-bit) computer, but it might have received some “Windows updating” since then. Therefore, I suspect that for some crazy reason, the failure may be related to Windows 7 updates.

     

    I should mention that I have searched the internet a bit. I find that this seems to be a problem that is not uncommon, but still not addressed by Microsoft. I have also tried one of the tips found (automount enable in diskpart), but this did not work. However, I do not find any other meaningful suggestions for a fix. If you, i.e. Microsoft, cannot help, my best bet is to try to reinstall the WHS connector software on the Windows 7 (64-bit) computer.

     

    I am a bit frustrated. WHS is sold as an easy to use software for “anyone”. It should be easy to back up AND restore your files. This is definitively my experience in this case.

     

    So, my biggest question is: What good is WHS for? My story sure looks like a disaster for Windows Home Server? I strongly believe you, Microsoft, cannot survive stories like mine, i.e. backup software not giving users access to their backed up files.

     

    My next question, obviously, is, how fast can MS help me access my files? What are your suggestions?

    Best regards,

    Svein A. Martinsen

    Thursday, December 29, 2011 2:34 PM

Answers

  • I would like to present a final update with this issue:

    After the cleanup previously described - yes, the one that deleted all earlier backups, backup seems to be working again. I have now three days of backups, and all seems to be working. That is, I am able to open the details and access the files of all three backups.

    I guess I will continue to let the backup run, but I cannot trust it as the only backup solution. Based on my experience, I never now when the backups may become unusable. For now, I will supplement it with manual backups to external disks. In the longer run, I need to investigate other solutions.

    I find it interesting that noone - not even Microsoft - has answered the real question.

    Svein


    Svein A. Martinsen
    • Marked as answer by sveinare Friday, January 6, 2012 8:34 AM
    Thursday, January 5, 2012 1:17 PM
  • Have either of you looked at this FAQ on the forum?

    81%
    Phil P.S. If you find my comment helpful or if it answers your question, please mark it as such.
    • Marked as answer by sveinare Friday, January 6, 2012 8:35 AM
    Thursday, December 29, 2011 7:34 PM
  • I have now come as far as I have gone through all the steps in the FAQ, with chkdsk, clean, and even clean after removing index*.dat.

    My experience shoud be a HUGE WARNING FOR ANYONE CONSIDERING using WHS for backup. The conclusion is simple: Just don't!!!

    The repair process finally reported that all backups are lost due to unrecoverable errors! (Yes, I was warned, but this was the last option).

    I would like to add that none of the backups have failed, and that the process always has reported success in the event viewer. There have been no signs whatsoever that something was wrong - until I tried to restore a file.

    So, at least for me, I have 100 % evidence that you should not trust Microsoft to take care of your backups with WHS. For the moment, I am very close to conclude that this applies for all Microsoft stuff, including cloud services like SkyDrive. That's maybe a bit far reaching, but when you discover that the backup solution you trust is not working and that all backups you have back in time are useless, you get in a special mood!

    Luckily, in my case, I have not (yet) actually lost anything but the backups themselves. All original files are OK, and it is by no means a disaster that I cannot restore to a particular date. But: I need a backup that works and that I can trust in. Is there anyone out there with a good suggestion? If you say WHS 2011, you should have extremely good arguments!

    To all (or maybe both?) of you still using WHS (or even WHS 2011), my best advice is to get in place another - or at least an additional - backup solution as fast as possible.

    Finally, I would like to thank Phil Harrison who was very helpful and positive - althoug his kind advice did not yield desired results.

    Best regards,

    Svein A. Martinsen


    Svein A. Martinsen
    • Marked as answer by sveinare Friday, January 6, 2012 8:35 AM
    Saturday, December 31, 2011 2:32 PM

All replies

  • Looks like we're in the exact same situation at the same time.

    I've tried every solution I could find out there:

    • Automount is enabled
    • I've tried installing the WHS Connector on two new machines (XP and W7 x64)
    • I ran chkdsk /r on C: and D: with no problems
    • I ran the Backup DB Repair and Cleanup with no problems
    • I removed/reinstalled the Home Server Restore Driver from Device Manager/System devices

    In all cases I see the exact same behavior which you described, 81%, prompt to format Z:, "Cannot mount the backup" error. I also booted the Restore CD and during the Restore Wizard after typing in my WHS password I get "An unknown network error has occurred during PC Restore." So yeah... pretty much stuck.

    I need to restore a specific directory from a specific backup. My final option is the tools from http://blog.whssafebackup.com. These are command line tools and I can't find much documentation so it's going to take me awhile.

    I hope you have better luck than me. After this experience, I'm dumping my WHS, putting the drives in NAS case and switching to CrashPlan for local backups.


    • Edited by ddavis0 Thursday, December 29, 2011 6:18 PM
    Thursday, December 29, 2011 5:59 PM
  • Have either of you looked at this FAQ on the forum?

    81%
    Phil P.S. If you find my comment helpful or if it answers your question, please mark it as such.
    • Marked as answer by sveinare Friday, January 6, 2012 8:35 AM
    Thursday, December 29, 2011 7:34 PM
  • Yes, I am trying to follow the procedure in the FAQ, currently running chkdsk operations on both WHS and the client computer. This takes many, MANY hours. Microsoft is marketing WHS as an "easy to use solution". Many hours with chkdsk to hopefully get a result is not really within my definition of easy. I hoped for better tips. It looks like it will take a couple of days or so before I know if chkdsk will help. Hopefully, it will. (I have some GB of disk capacity in my WHS, and also a couple of GB on the client, but only about 600 GB of backup). So far, none of the chkdsk operations have reported any problems. I should also mention, that before starting chkdsk, I tried "repair" without success. Also, the event log does not report any serios issues with backup. (Even the restore operations completes with success according to event viewer)

    If chkdsk doesn't work, I have wasted even more hours, getting more angry.

    I really can not belive that one of the "solutions" in the FAQ actually involves deleting all the backups. Hello! We are talking of a backup tool, right? Hello? Microsoft? Really?

    It definitively looks very, very bad. It cannot be a clever design choice to design a backup solution with a backup database that can be corrupted and need repairing or even deleting in order to get ANYthing out of it - if at all possible.

    Even if things may work out (I really hope so), how on earth should I be able to trust Microsoft (Windows Home Server) to backup my files after this? Please, please, let me know. That is actually the most important question!!! So, yes, I really hope I (and ddavis0) get a good answer...

    WHS looked promising "on the outside", but may proove to be a disaster. Please prove me (and mr. ddavis) wrong!

    Svein


    Svein A. Martinsen
    Friday, December 30, 2011 12:15 AM
  • Thanks for the link Phil. I haven't see #3 (copying the entire folder D:\folders\{00008086-058D-4C89-AB57-A7F909A47AB4} to other volume, deleting Index.*.dat, then doing a Repair of the DB) solution before. I'll give that a shot now then post my results here.
    Friday, December 30, 2011 4:32 AM
  • Yes, I am trying to follow the procedure in the FAQ, currently running chkdsk operations on both WHS and the client computer. This takes many, MANY hours.

    So leave it going overnight.


    qts
    Friday, December 30, 2011 10:00 AM
  • Yes, I have. It is still running. And to do the two C: drives, I need a restart. I guess it will take another night before I might get some results. I would estimate around 5 to ten manhours of work - at least.
    Svein A. Martinsen
    Friday, December 30, 2011 11:00 AM
  • I tried solution #3 listed in the link Phil provided. I backed up then D:\folders\{00008086-058D-4C89-AB57-A7F909A47AB4} to a 3TB external drive then deleted the index files. After several hours of running the Backup Database repair wizard came back and stated all my backups were invalid. It then removed everything so now my systems all show as "Not backed up". I checked in D:\folders\{00008086-058D-4C89-AB57-A7F909A47AB4} and files are were still there. I just started the Cleanup and it's slowly wiping the old files out.

    I'm completely done with WHS. If anyone is interested in two inexpensive EX495's please let me know. One of them has the stock system drive (1.5TB Seagate) and the other has an upgraded system drive (2TB WD EADS).

     

    Saturday, December 31, 2011 2:02 AM
  • I have now come as far as I have gone through all the steps in the FAQ, with chkdsk, clean, and even clean after removing index*.dat.

    My experience shoud be a HUGE WARNING FOR ANYONE CONSIDERING using WHS for backup. The conclusion is simple: Just don't!!!

    The repair process finally reported that all backups are lost due to unrecoverable errors! (Yes, I was warned, but this was the last option).

    I would like to add that none of the backups have failed, and that the process always has reported success in the event viewer. There have been no signs whatsoever that something was wrong - until I tried to restore a file.

    So, at least for me, I have 100 % evidence that you should not trust Microsoft to take care of your backups with WHS. For the moment, I am very close to conclude that this applies for all Microsoft stuff, including cloud services like SkyDrive. That's maybe a bit far reaching, but when you discover that the backup solution you trust is not working and that all backups you have back in time are useless, you get in a special mood!

    Luckily, in my case, I have not (yet) actually lost anything but the backups themselves. All original files are OK, and it is by no means a disaster that I cannot restore to a particular date. But: I need a backup that works and that I can trust in. Is there anyone out there with a good suggestion? If you say WHS 2011, you should have extremely good arguments!

    To all (or maybe both?) of you still using WHS (or even WHS 2011), my best advice is to get in place another - or at least an additional - backup solution as fast as possible.

    Finally, I would like to thank Phil Harrison who was very helpful and positive - althoug his kind advice did not yield desired results.

    Best regards,

    Svein A. Martinsen


    Svein A. Martinsen
    • Marked as answer by sveinare Friday, January 6, 2012 8:35 AM
    Saturday, December 31, 2011 2:32 PM
  • Hi Svein,

    the first statement in the FAQ before the part with deleting index.dat was:

    First, we suggest you backup your database by copying the entire folder D:\folders\{00008086-058D-4C89-AB57-A7F909A47AB4} to other volume. If you loss some backups during the troubleshooting steps, you can get your whole database back by copying the data back to the same folder.

    (unfortunately this cannot always be handled, since backup databases can grow really large)

    The problem is, that the backup database is not made for redundancy, so a damaged sector on the disk or a power failure/crash while writing to that file structure can cause uncrecoverable losses. Also a restore may work well, if you perform a bare metal restore, while opening the backup from within the running OS fails due to interaction of components in the running OS with WHS drivers. Did you try this from different PCs or only one?

    Also, while WHS Backup is a more reliable backup, than the average home user gets, it is still a single point of failure. A server can fail, backup database crash, disks go down, fire, flood, electricity, theft can take the server away - so important data still belongs additionally to external disks, which may be put to a location outside of your home to further reduce the risks (or in some cases to the Cloud).

    Best greetings from Germany
    Olaf

    Monday, January 2, 2012 12:04 PM
    Moderator
  • Hello Olaf, and thanks for your reply.

    Your description outlines what I mean the problem is. In my opinion, this is a design flaw of the WHS backup solution. I really cannot believe that it was not a requirement (a non-functional one) that backups should be more reliable than my experience indicates. From what you describe, a very small disk failure is likely to corrupt the backup database and then kill all your (in this case my) backups. This is really, really "interesting". I would expect that I could loose a file or two, or maybe even a folder or so, but not EVERYTHING, i.e. hundreds and thousands of Gigabits due to a small error that has not even been discovered by the WHS. I guess compression (disk usage) and maybe even "efficency" was prioritised over reliability. To put it mildly: this seems to be a bad design choice.

    As you point out, one should not rely on a single point of failure. As such, I have not (yet) actually lost important data. However, one of the actions I had taken to back up my data proved to rely on a fragile solution, and that scares me. I have not tried the complete restore. I did try to reinstall the WHS connector on the client. 

    BTW, the problem with the WHS backup seems to be exactly that it cannot handle a (small) single point of failure.

    The most attractive solution that still might be within budget could be to (for example) set up to QNAP NAS boxes with rsync between them.

    For now, I will try to fix my WHS and combine it with use of "manual" backups to external hard drives. This is under the motivation that WHS can be convenient _IF_ it works and _IF_ the backups are available when i need them. BUT, I cannot trust it as a backup solution.

    Svein


    Svein A. Martinsen
    Monday, January 2, 2012 3:02 PM
  • I would like to present a final update with this issue:

    After the cleanup previously described - yes, the one that deleted all earlier backups, backup seems to be working again. I have now three days of backups, and all seems to be working. That is, I am able to open the details and access the files of all three backups.

    I guess I will continue to let the backup run, but I cannot trust it as the only backup solution. Based on my experience, I never now when the backups may become unusable. For now, I will supplement it with manual backups to external disks. In the longer run, I need to investigate other solutions.

    I find it interesting that noone - not even Microsoft - has answered the real question.

    Svein


    Svein A. Martinsen
    • Marked as answer by sveinare Friday, January 6, 2012 8:34 AM
    Thursday, January 5, 2012 1:17 PM
  • Searched and searched for a solution and FOUND IT! THIS FIXED THE 81% PROBLEM

    "I was having the same problem - fixed it by enabling Automount, using Diskpart via an elevated command prompt:

    >diskpart

    DISKPART> automount enable

    DISKPART> exit"

    http://social.microsoft.com/Forums/eu/whs2011/thread/8877008d-df25-4081-9c38-cf43a0112df5

    (from the link see registry setting http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/winserverfiles/thread/263f3301-4504-4cd0-8469-68fbb788f129/)

    Saturday, July 14, 2012 6:25 AM
  • Ditto.  I've had no issues with backups, until I did a restore to just one of my PCs.  That restore always reported a failure (could not get all the data from the backup, sorry didn't keep the exact message) but gave me the option to continue.  In my case we were restoring to an earlier point to isolate some issues on the PC.  The real killer problem became that no restore would succeed, so effectively I destroyed a system (it did boot up, but had numerous errors and program failures, sfc /scannow would report problems it could not solve, etc.).  We had to rebuild the system (personal system, not a standard image) from scratch.

    In diagnosing the issue, I did a standalone backup of another PC (shadow protect) and then restored it from WHS 2011.  It worked fine.  Event viewer was showing "Disk" events on the backup whs 2011, so clearly the disk was going bad.  I ran a Western Digital Data LifeGuard Diagnostics and it failed (it had passed the day before!).  When it failed, the drive became unsuable and whs2011 refused to recognize it or work with it.  Now all the backups were gone (no, I don't backup my backups).

    From all this I came to the same conclusion:  Can I trust WHS 2011?  From Ghost to Shadowprotect to WHS 1, I never had such doubt (nor any history that would engender such doubt).  The thought of first doing a stand-alone backup of a PC before trying to restore from whs 2011 just seemed insane but if I couldn't trust a restore what else could I do?  

    Luckily my WD 1TB was still under warranty and since I immediately bought a new drive, I now have 2x1TB and wondering if I set them up in a software RAID 1 configuration would that catch/mitigate this situation?  But if whs 2011 backs up without a complaint onto a failing drive, is the RAID 1 implementation going to be any better?

    Friday, July 27, 2012 11:34 PM