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PostPosted: Tue Dec 02, 2014 6:44 am 
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I can not stress this enough about setting up a dedicated OS BACKUP Drive in WHS2011 be it internal or external. Everyone is familiar with Client Recoveries and knows how well they work well a WHS2011 recovery is much the same thing but to use it you must have a Backup Image of the servers OS and this can be a one time backup or you can dedicate a backup drive to backup the OS two times a day the same is true for WS2012 but unlike WS2012 its a much easier process to recover your server.

Now some think its cool to install WHS2011 on an MSS and not invest in a DEBUG Board lets just say its playing with fire because if you ever have to perform a recovery you out of luck here as far as I can tell unless you use the method Acer Used in their Revo Center and I am not quite sure how that works but doing anything blind is horrible especially if things go wrong. So if you have an MSS without a debug board I urge you get to one and while you can install the WHS2011 image on a Flash Drive its just as easy to use an external DVD to use the original WHS2011 server disk from. Enough said there......

So yesterday I go to work and find out the WHS2011 server had issues and hung up and had to be reset. I was also told this happened last Friday as well so I decided to take a look at the server and much to my surprise I was greeted with a message telling me that an unauthorized change was made to the server and that Windows would need to be reinstalled. This was something new to me and so no big deal just run a Server Recovery from the OS Backup Drive and be done with it and then monitor the server closely over the next few days and weeks.

Now my previous experience with WHS2011 server recoveries took less then 1 hour when I was running WHS2011 on Highlander and the same is true for WS2012E on Highlander but on the server I have at work which is an Intel Q9400S build it took 2+ hours to recover the OS so that has me thinking I want to dump that INTEL Build and duplicate the Highlander Build but hey that server is just there for my convenience. Anyway I was able to recover the server going back to the Nov 24th Backup a point in time I knew the server was running well but the beauty of the OS Backup is you can pick and chose how far back you want to go based on the available backups which occur twice a day and its a very simple process that pops right up when you boot off the Server Install Disk.

While not quite 24 hours after the install I made a Remote Desktop connection into the server to check the error logs and they were perfect so something must of corrupted the OS files on the SSD during one of the system resets either last Friday or yesterday. Point in all this is that setting up an OS Backup drive is a MUST and I can not stress this enough otherwise you will be stuck having to perform a reinstall of the OS, run updates for god knows how long, setup user names, reinstall client software, reconfigure your folder shares, reinstall your ADD-INS and 3rd party software. Lets just say you will spend more time mucking with a server installation then the cost of a backup drive which can be either internal or external.

So place a value on your time and you tell me if the cost of a dedicated OS Backup drive costs more then your time and if your running WHS2011 on a headless MSS I am certain the $60-100 for a Debug Board and a dedicated drive will cost you less then then your time. So 2 hrs for a recovery or 1-2 days you tell me which is better.........

Enough said...........

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 10, 2014 5:11 pm 
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Thanks for posting this. One of the main reasons I finally upgraded to WHS 2011 on my EX495 was the ability to OS backups. After having experienced a few OS restores on V1, I knew there had to be a better way. IMO, that's a real weakness in V1, and Microsoft should have known better. I prefer to run my OS backups manually to a USB drive several times/month, rather than dedicating a drive that's always on 24/7. Works great! Have already had to do one since upgrading to 2011 and it went perfect with the WHS .iso on a usb stick!

And I heartily second your suggestion of buying a debug VGA board for the MSS. You can't really tinker or troubleshoot without it. Well worth the price for a quality component!

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 10, 2014 5:36 pm 
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I tell you honestly I always get the impression that people just never backup the OS be it manual backups as your doing or automated backups which I chose to do because its one less task I have to think about. Since there are quite a few on this site who installed WHS2011 onto their MSS blind using the posted guides on this site or others, I started thinking what happens when your system drive dies in that situation and the only thing I could think of was doing a blind install or using a donor system to reinstall or maybe perform a recovery from backup which is more work. So with a Debug Board and either the ISO image on a bootable flash drive or an external DVD Drive its a much simpler process to recover, install and troubleshoot an MSS not just with WHSv1 but any OS.

Every WHS2011 server I build includes an OS Backup Drive. I did send a server out to my sister without the OS Backup Drive but I encouraged her to install an external drive and set it up as an OS Backup Drive but I doubt she ever did which is why I include on with every WHS2011 server build or I simply just don't build the server because its that important and one does not know how important till the day their OS Drive fails.

On the other hand the nice thing about WHS2011 is you can image a drive and put it to use without issue which means if your OS Drive is acting up but is still fully readable you can get out of trouble that way and that's way more friendlier then WHSv1. So my hope is people running WHS2011 without an OS Backup will get the message and setup an OS backup be it manual or automatic. Its just too important not to do.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 11, 2014 10:23 am 
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Couldn't agree with you more. After all, we do it for our client PC's, which is why most of us run WHS in the first place. Why not do it for the server OS too, even more important IMHO. I only do the Bare Metal Restore option on the Backup Once, and it takes little time to do the 60gb OS partition. I then create a folder named the date (ie. 121114) on the destination drive and drag the backup folder into it. This allows me to keep many backups on the same drive. If I have to restore, I just drag the backup I want to the root before booting from the USB thumb drive. Works great. Additionally, when you have extra programs installed on the server, plus settings etc, it's hassle to redo in case something happens to the OS. Being able to put it back like it was is a blessing, and gives you peace of mind in the event of a catastrophic failure, or in the event you decide to upgrade your system drive.

I plan to stay with 2011 until support ends (I think around 2016). Then probably to 2012 essentials. With an active directory, it is even more important to have OS backup as it's my understanding that you would lose the ability for all your clients to access the server if your OS drive fails.

As I stated, the main reason I decided to put 2011 on the MSS was the lack of OS backup on V1. Sure, there are guides for imaging a V1 OS drive, etc., but who has time to do all that when all you want to do is get back up and running?

I do see the benefit of setting it up with an internal drive with automatic backup for some. It's too easy to forget to backup if you're not in the habit. I go out on the road with my job for 2-3 weeks. For some reason, the first thing I think of when I get home (after kissing the wife hello) is BACKUP THE SERVER! I guess I must be addicted to this stuff!!

Backup your 2011 server OS guys! MS built it in for you!!

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HP EX495 | Q9550s| 4GB | Sans Digital TR5M-B |Mediasonic Probox HF2-SU2S2 eSATA/USB2.0| WHS 2011 | |Stablebit Drivepool |FlexRAID 2.0| [12x2TB]


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