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Complete hardware failure - restoration of OS question RRS feed

  • Question

  • Here's two WHS scenarios - what do you do?

    1.
    A home machine running XP dies.  The hard drive dies and the machine dies.

    The drive was backed up to WHS.  WHS has a full image of this drive.

    You go to a new machine and use the WHS restore CD (presumably it can restore over the network).

    However, the new machine is different hardware.  Somehow XP boots, but its in 800x600, etc, and the various drivers for the new hardware have to be installed.  You also have to purchase a new license of XP because the original was OEM - you get the warning message about the license not being valid and you buy another license.

    What do you do now?  Can you activate this existing XP installation without having to reinstall the OS?  Obviously you don't want to reinstall the OS, that defeats the purpose of restoring the image.

    2.
    What happens if the new system after restore from the WHS server doesn't boot, because the hardware of the new machine is sufficiently different from the original machine and the drivers completely preclude the OS from running?  How do you get back the new machine to the original state of the old machine?

    Thanks for your help in advance.

    Tuesday, November 11, 2008 12:12 AM

Answers

  • Hi  Alex,
    while it might be convenient to have the system instantly up and running after a restore on different hardware, there are many difficulties to realize this.
    In case of an catastrophic event you already would be happy, to have a current copy of your data in the backup, which you potentially would not have, if you had to take backups manually all the time (and therefore almost never). And saving the data is the main point. This is the job of Windows Home Server, and its covering the main scenarios of data loss, broken disks on home PCs or a crashed OS, very well.
    Best greetings from Germany
    Olaf
    • Marked as answer by Alex Barimo Wednesday, November 26, 2008 11:07 AM
    Tuesday, November 11, 2008 10:27 PM
    Moderator

All replies

  • In the event that your old machine dies completely, you might want to reinstall a new windows license and get the new pc up and running.  Then you can open your old backup from the Windows home server console, allowing you access to all your old files.  You then pick and choose what files you want.  Note: it's windows XP that has issues switching from one computer to another, it doesn't have drivers for everything!  Backups made by any program will not work the way you described without either blue screening or being a mess. 
    athlon 3400, 2gb ram, 9 drives totaling about 3.5 tbs.
    Tuesday, November 11, 2008 2:18 AM
  • The two scenarios you describe really have nothing to do with Windows Home Server, and Windows Home Server won't help you get around either of them, unfortunately.

    Scenario 1: The license you agree to when you install Windows, or first boot a computer with Windows preinstalled, makes it clear that your Windows license is tied to the hardware it's installed on. You are permitted a certain latitude in modifying hardware without having to reactivate, but you're describing the replacement of everything: motherboard, processor, hard drive(s), memory, etc. That goes well beyond reasonable changes to an existing computer. Still, it's possible that you could convince Microsoft to reactivate on the new hardware.

    Scenario 2: When you change out all the hardware that way, you may find that Windows doesn't have drivers for critical hardware (like your disk drives, or your graphics adapter). Windows Home Server won't supply drivers that aren't there. There are tricks that you can use to get Windows to boot (replacing HAL.DLL for example) but there's no guarantee that you'll be able to get everything to work even then. This is the equivalent of moving the hard disk from a Dell to an HP, for example.

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    • Proposed as answer by Lara JonesModerator Tuesday, November 11, 2008 12:35 PM
    • Unproposed as answer by Alex Barimo Tuesday, November 11, 2008 2:33 PM
    Tuesday, November 11, 2008 2:52 AM
    Moderator
  • Hi Alex,
    if your old XP license was dongled to the hardware, the only way to replace it is to either do a complete installation or to perform a repair install with a retail version of Windows XP on top of it.
    Before performing the last solution, you would have to uninstall IE 7 from the system (because otherwise product activation may fail) and prepare a slipstreamed version of Windows XP with the latest Service Pack to avoid version inconsistancies and security gaps.
    Best greetings from Germany
    Olaf
    Tuesday, November 11, 2008 9:29 AM
    Moderator
  • Ken: Thanks for your response.

     

    As far as I am aware, this is a WHS issue because it doesn’t exist unless you are restoring an image, the functionality provided by WHS.  The premise behind WHS is an easy recovery of your entire system (not just files) in the event of a hardware failure.  Note that this is not simply a drive failure, but a hardware failure.

     

    Again, WHS claims that I can restore the backed up image in the event of failure.  There is no statement that this may only work if the new hardware is identical to the old hardware.  So a typical home user would take this image and install it to a new machine and find that the system is not bootable.  This is not a WHS problem?  When else would this occur?  Without WHS the user would have to install a fresh copy of the OS, and reinstall all programs, and that would be the expectation.  It’s true that Windows operated this way previous to WHS, but that’s irrelevant.  Unless there is, in fact, a mechanism by which a user can reinstall the old image on the new hardware then Microsoft needs to qualify the capabilities of WHS by indicating that the new hardware must be identical to the old hardware (or the motherboard at least), or specify that the image is only valid when replacing a disk drive.

    In the alternative, the WHS team should provide a system whereby the image can be restored to new hardware.  The WHS developers must be aware of this issue as it is a fundamental design flaw given the claims for this product.


    • Edited by Alex Barimo Tuesday, November 11, 2008 2:39 PM
    Tuesday, November 11, 2008 2:24 PM
  •  

    Olaf:  Thank you for your response.

     

    And installing this retail copy over the original copy (using the ‘restore’ option) may not work if the original copy is patched beyond the retail version?

     

    For example, XP Pro is retail versioned to SP2.  The old hardware is SP3 with all updates applied.  So installing a retail copy using the repair option over the old image on the new machine may not enable me to boot the new machine?

     

    I can’t uninstall IE7 or anything else off the new machine running the old image because the new machine is no longer bootable.

    Tuesday, November 11, 2008 2:33 PM
  •  

    I would like to see Microsoft provide some guidance for the scenario where there is a hardware failure (not just a drive failure).  There are many scenarios under which a motherboard fails (including flood and fire) or a complete replacement of hardware is necessary.  I would like to know what the best practice is for restoring a new machine using the backed-up machine's image.  An expectation that the WHS team (who apparently did not really think this part of the problem through) provide such guidance is reasonable.  The expectation that the end-user obtain an identical replacement machine for restoration is unreasonable.

    Tuesday, November 11, 2008 2:33 PM
  • Hi Alex,
    Alex Barimo said:

    Ken: Thanks for your response.

     

    As far as I am aware, this is a WHS issue because it doesn’t exist unless you are restoring an image, the functionality provided by WHS.  The premise behind WHS is an easy recovery of your entire system (not just files) in the event of a hardware failure.  Note that this is not simply a drive failure, but a hardware failure.

     

    Again, WHS claims that I can restore the backed up image in the event of failure.  There is no statement that this may only work if the new hardware is identical to the old hardware.This issue did not exist on Microsoft products prior to the advent of WHS.


    please read the EULA carefully and tell me again, if there is no statement like this. (I don't have it here at my place, but I think I remember that a restore is only allowed to the same hardware.)

    Technically you still can restore to different hardware, but due to different HAL and drivers there is no guarantee that you can reboot. This has been the case with the most disk cloning and imaging tools in the market. Sometimes you can change the SATA controller mode to IDE to overcome this situation, sometimes more is not compatible.

    And installing this retail copy over the original copy (using the ‘restore’ option) may not work if the original copy is patched beyond the retail version?

     

    For example, XP Pro is retail versioned to SP2.  The old hardware is SP3 with all updates applied.  So installing a retail copy using the repair option over the old image on the new machine may not enable me to boot the new machine?

     

    I can’t uninstall IE7 or anything else off the new machine running the old image because the new machine is no longer bootable.


    I had unpleasant experiences in the past performing a repair install with older versions of Windows XP on top of SP2, so it may be the same for SP3 (knowing that there is a risk may reduce some work). And there was a bug with IE 7, that caused the product activation to fail at a very early state. (I never tried the activation by phone in this situation, anyway and I don't know, if this got fixed with SP3.)

    Best greetings from Germany
    Olaf
    Tuesday, November 11, 2008 2:54 PM
    Moderator
  • Thanks Olaf for your response.

    It isn't really a matter of the EULA because I'm fully prepared to purchase additional copies of XP retail.  That's not an issue whatsoever.  The issue is whether it is reasonable to specify that a product has the capability of restoring a computer to completion on new hardware without specifying that the new hardware may have to have the same motherboard type as the original hardware.

    I understand that this problem is also present in many other disk cloning products, but I believe that many of these manufacturers provide guidance as to how to proceed when this occurs.  In addition, these products are not in a position to deal with these issues.  Microsoft, however, because it is the manufacturer of XP is in a position to deal with this.  And where is Microsoft's guidance?  Does it exist?  WHS appears to be a very good product, but the WHS people must have a nightmare dealing with what is surely a common scenario.  Do people just give up on the idea of performing a full restore (despite the claim that this system provides this capability) and go to file restore?

    In a business environment the machines are apt to be the same hardware spec and grabbing another one with the same MB isn't a problem.  This isn't true for home users at all.

    I don't think it's a good idea to market a product to home users indicating that they can restore a complete machine without qualifying what happens when restoring to new hardware.

    Olaf thanks again for your input and help.

    Tuesday, November 11, 2008 3:07 PM
  • Regarding your scenario 1, try it with Acronis True Image (image the system drive from one computer and put the image on a drive in a computer with different motherboard, chipset, processor, etc.), or just move your boot drive to new hardware. Let us know what happens. A restore using WHS will do the same thing. They are all the same thing in the end: the hardware the image is booting on is not the hardware it was taken from, so the image may fail to start (i.e. bluescreen), and will almost certainly fail activation even if it does start. This is entirely out of Microsoft's control, as Microsoft doesn't write or install the (missing) drivers.

    The claims on the Microsoft web site, where they are specific (and don't just say "restore a home computer" which is obviously being interpreted differently by you than by me), say that you can restore a hard drive to a previous point in time. they don't say that you can restore a computer to different hardware. For more information about home computer backup, you may want to read the appropriate technical brief.

    I will say again that the license for Windows on a computer is tied to that specific hardware, per the EULA that you accepted when you initially installed Windows on that machine, or booted it for the first time. You are not, strictly speaking, permitted to shift the license to new hardware unless it's a direct replacement supplied by the original manufacturer (and in that case it's likely to be so close to identical that you wouldn't have any problem with a WHS restore). In the case of a home-built computer, it would need to be identical components, or manufacturer-recommended replacements for components no longer available. If you need to replace an entire computer, my advice would be to reinstall your software on the new hardware, then restore data only.

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Tuesday, November 11, 2008 7:08 PM
    Moderator
  • Ken: thank you for your reply

    1.Whether Acronis True Image provides for the restoration of an image onto a new machine or not is irrelevant. The issue is whether WHS performs this function.

    The issue isn't whether the driver for the OS is present or not. The end-user is prepared to provide the drivers. The issue is whether the WHS restore functionality has the capability of installing provided drivers over an existing restoration of a image restored to new hardware, such that all settings, programs and general state of the machine is restored.

    Apparently the answer to that question is no.

    2.
    Microsoft repeatedly indicates that the WHS product can be used in an emergency scenario. Typical emergency scenarios are fire and flood. In those situations new hardware may be required.

    3.
    Variuos Windows operating systems can be moved from machine to machine, where the machine is different hardware, where upon startup the OS provides a notification that the product must be reactivated or a new license must be puirchased. Surely you are aware of this. No one is trying to circumvent the EULA. I have said repeatedly that this scenario is one where the end-user would gladly purchase an additional XP license for the new hardware.

    Tuesday, November 11, 2008 9:51 PM
  • Hi  Alex,
    while it might be convenient to have the system instantly up and running after a restore on different hardware, there are many difficulties to realize this.
    In case of an catastrophic event you already would be happy, to have a current copy of your data in the backup, which you potentially would not have, if you had to take backups manually all the time (and therefore almost never). And saving the data is the main point. This is the job of Windows Home Server, and its covering the main scenarios of data loss, broken disks on home PCs or a crashed OS, very well.
    Best greetings from Germany
    Olaf
    • Marked as answer by Alex Barimo Wednesday, November 26, 2008 11:07 AM
    Tuesday, November 11, 2008 10:27 PM
    Moderator