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Windows 7 PC Serious Backup Bug - 'non-unique' identifier RRS feed

  • Question

  • I have discovered what appears to be a very serious flaw in how a Windows 7 computer is identified on WHS.

    I converted a laptop to Windows 7 using the new family pack and connected it to WHS.  All worked OK.  Note: Prior to installing the connector on the upgraded laptop (laptop 1 for the purposes of this discussion), I used acronis true image to create an image copy.

    I then used the image to upgrade another different brand laptop (laptop 2) and was required to activate it as the hardware was correctly recognised as new.  It activated online immediately, as the family pack allows up to 3 registrations. After fiddling with a few drivers, the new laptop (laptop 2) was running perfectly and ready to connect to WHS.  I also changed the computer name to make sure I could recognise it from the original image.

    I then installed the WHS connector on laptop 2 and and successfully connected to WHS.  That's when I noticed something strange.  The name of the computer on the WHS console suddenly changed to the new name - a new computer instance was not created.  I then checked the backup configuration and it recognised the new hard disk, but showed the previous laptop's hard disks as not connected.

    It appears that WHS thinks laptop 2 is actually laptop 1 with a new HD.  If I connect laptop 1 again, the name changes again, and it recognises the disks correctly.

    I can only conclude that WHS is using some type of identifier that is not unique between laptop 1 and laptop 2.  As a result I cannot register more than 1 PC if they were built from an image.  This is a rather serious oversight.

    I hope there is a simple registry tweak to fix this, as it is causing considerable grief as I can no longer backup both of my new Windows 7 laptops.

    Has anybody else experienced this?

    Cheers

    Mike
    Wednesday, December 30, 2009 2:20 AM

Answers

  • I did some more testing and managed to resolve the problem by making sure both laptops were connected at the same time.  Eventually the laptop connector software flags an error with the server.  If you respond to the error, it recreates the connection with WHS, creates a new ID and both laptops are eventually recognised correctly!

    I would still like to know what the actual parameters are, but for the moment, it sems the answer is not specifically the SID, unless the reconnection process changes the SID - unlikely. 

    Oh well, live and learn. Good to know there is a fix for anyone else out there and another vote of confidence for WHS - it got there in the end!
    • Marked as answer by mike_linus Wednesday, December 30, 2009 6:16 AM
    Wednesday, December 30, 2009 6:16 AM

All replies

  • You should be aware that Microsoft does not support the replication of Windows systems via cloning software. The only approved way is to use sysprep type tools. So it's possible (almost certain, IMO) that your issue is a result of the machine SID or some other piece of unique information being cloned along with the rest of the OS. SysInternals used to have a tool called NewSID that would replace the machine SID, but it's recently been retired .

    Personally, I use Acronis True Image all the time for the same purpose when I'm setting up a laptop for a new hire, and I do it without running sysprep, but it's a different environment and the results of cloning a disk have never been guaranteed by Microsoft. So when you proceed that way you accept increased risks, even if you don't realize you're doing so.

    Note: this is'nt a "bug" in the traditional sense of something that Microsoft says will work fails. In this case Microsoft says "we don't support cloning disks to distribute Windows except via sysprep".
    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    • Proposed as answer by S_M_E Wednesday, December 30, 2009 4:25 AM
    • Unproposed as answer by mike_linus Wednesday, December 30, 2009 5:48 AM
    Wednesday, December 30, 2009 2:38 AM
    Moderator
  • Thanks for your thoughts Ken.  I suspect it is one or more of these values that is causing the issue.  What is surprising however, is that this issue did not occur with Windows XP - previous clones were correctly identified, so this appears to be related to how Windows 7 interacts with WHS.

    As you mentioned yourself, Acronis True Image is a popular tool.  Given this is likely to be a growing problem for WHS users, perhaps providing some guidance on what WHS identifiers are used and workarounds would be beneficial for all concerned, particularly Microsoft.

    I would rather get some clear guidance from Microsoft regarding the best way to deal with this before playing with some random fixes.  I will certainly be posting this question to the wider community if I draw a blank here.

    Cheers



    Wednesday, December 30, 2009 3:55 AM
  • Ken is correct, the issue is the SID and you need to use sysprep *before* creating the image for cloning so it will change the SID (if you select that sysprep option) when you boot up after cloning.

    To fix; re-install W7 on one of the cloned computers or create a new image and reclone. SystemInternals created an app to change SIDs but it's been depreciated and may not even work with Vista nor W7 now.

    Good luck...

    "He who dares not offend cannot be honest." -- Thomas Paine
    Wednesday, December 30, 2009 4:29 AM
  • I did some more testing and managed to resolve the problem by making sure both laptops were connected at the same time.  Eventually the laptop connector software flags an error with the server.  If you respond to the error, it recreates the connection with WHS, creates a new ID and both laptops are eventually recognised correctly!

    I would still like to know what the actual parameters are, but for the moment, it sems the answer is not specifically the SID, unless the reconnection process changes the SID - unlikely. 

    Oh well, live and learn. Good to know there is a fix for anyone else out there and another vote of confidence for WHS - it got there in the end!
    • Marked as answer by mike_linus Wednesday, December 30, 2009 6:16 AM
    Wednesday, December 30, 2009 6:16 AM
  • I did some more testing and managed to resolve the problem by making sure both laptops were connected at the same time.  Eventually the laptop connector software flags an error with the server.  If you respond to the error, it recreates the connection with WHS, creates a new ID and both laptops are eventually recognised correctly!

    I would still like to know what the actual parameters are, but for the moment, it sems the answer is not specifically the SID, unless the reconnection process changes the SID - unlikely. 

    Oh well, live and learn. Good to know there is a fix for anyone else out there and another vote of confidence for WHS - it got there in the end!

    It's nice to know that the WHS connector can deal with it but the duplicate SID is what caused the problem to begin with. If you simply ignored the error it certainly didn't change the SID but at least WHS won't complain about it now. :D



    "He who dares not offend cannot be honest." -- Thomas Paine
    Wednesday, December 30, 2009 6:25 AM
  • Hi Mike,

    I am having a similar issue after using an Acronis image to upgrade 2 PCs in my house with the image from a 3rd.
    It all worked well and I was up and running quickly and registered all 3 copies without a problem.

    The problem I have since had is with the new 'play to' function in media player.  It simply will not see any other of the Win 7 PCs on my network.
    When I compared the 'media streaming options' 'troubleshooting information' it shows that all the PCs have the same Serial number and unique identifier.
    I assume that this is why although they can see each others shared files they cannot stream.

    I guess this makes me concerned that over time more issues are going to pop up!  
    I did try running sysprep before imaging the first PC however it does not work as it is not able to be ran on an upgrade (which is what the family pack is!)

    Anyone got any suggestions (other than reformat and start again :-)

    F
    Friday, January 1, 2010 11:21 AM
  • Hi,

    Quick update.
    I have found that the issues with the 'play to' function was related to the user account on all PCs being the same and not the system GUID.  Creating a new account on each PC resolved the issue.

    F.
    Tuesday, January 12, 2010 9:13 AM