Recover workstation from fire damaged WHS?
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Author:  172pilot [ Mon Dec 07, 2015 4:45 pm ]
Post subject:  Recover workstation from fire damaged WHS?

This is a more generic WHS (original version) question, not specifically an HP MSS question, but everywhere I've looked, it seems people recommend this forum for knowledgeable WHS help.. Also, sorry if this info is elsewhere in the forum - I searched, but couldn't find anything..

My problem is that I (my parents really) had a WHS that I setup for them with MSDN version WHS to backup their home workstations. Their house subsequently caught fire, and the ONLY disks we have found were those on the WHS.

They wont spin, so we're contemplating sending them out to a data recovery service, but before we do, I want to make sure there's some hope of recovering the data off of the disks once we get the files back. The data recovery service will send back files from the directory structure, but I cant expect to be able to just pop in a new disk and boot up the recovery server.

All I'm hoping to do is to be able to find/identify and recover a directory or two of word perfect and Microsoft word documents that were on one of the machines that was doing daily backups to the WHS.

If I have a (possibly incomplete) copy of the home server backup structure, can I extract individual files from those archives without the home server being up? If so, using what tools? Has anyone else been though this process, and may be able to give some info on what worked and didn't work for them?

Thanks in advance! WHS has been AWESOME to me and has saved me from several hard drive failures around the house, but I never expected to lose BOTH the workstations and the WHS server at the same time!! Let me be used as a lesson.. Back your WHS (or your individual workstations) up to the cloud! Don't let WHS be your only backup.. House fires SUCK!


Author:  msawyer91 [ Fri Dec 11, 2015 8:21 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Recover workstation from fire damaged WHS?


I think you're sailing in uncharted waters here. I've been on this site for years and I don't think anyone has posed this question. I will warn you now -- forensic data recovery is VERY expensive. If the data recovery company can recover the directory structures and transfer them to disks in a 1:1 manner, it may be possible to get WHS to natively recognize that. But I wouldn't hold out hope there.

More likely than not you'll be combing through the backup files themselves. Right now I run Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials and the backup database is really just a gigantic set of enormous zip files. I don't recall how the WHS v1 backup files are stored, but they may be the same way. In any event, if the data recovery company gets your data back, I can imagine a significant amount of effort will need to be spent looking through these files and searching for the most important data.

I echo your sentiment about backing up to the cloud. I use my EX487 for onsite backup, but use CrashPlan for offsite backup. I use cloud backup for this very reason. One mighty blaze is all you need to lose everything.

Author:  172pilot [ Fri Dec 11, 2015 9:59 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Recover workstation from fire damaged WHS?

Thanks for the dose of reality I was afraid was in my future.. :-)

Crashplan is what I use too.. I never set that up for my parents because they're using very limited and slow satellite internet, but in hindsight, it would have been good to at least backup their profile directories..

Thanks.. If anyone else stumbes upon this thread and has experience or knows where I can get info on forensically dealing with individual WHS archive files, I'm all ears, otherwise I think I'm giving up..


Author:  Ruben Rocha [ Sun Dec 13, 2015 2:41 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Recover workstation from fire damaged WHS?

Well backups are pretty much encrypted in a database.
If they saved the files in a shared folder then you have a chance to recover them.

So at this point I see you need a full functioning server then to be able to recover a backup.

Author:  172pilot [ Sun Dec 13, 2015 3:38 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Recover workstation from fire damaged WHS?

Ahh.. That's even worse.. I was hoping that the actual files were at least stored in a common .CAB or .ZIP type file, regardless of the extension, but I guess given the block based single instance store, that wouldn't really be possible anyway..

OK.. Well.. It's a pretty big longshot then..

THanks for the info..

Author:  Gardian [ Mon Dec 14, 2015 8:01 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Recover workstation from fire damaged WHS?

Sorry to hear, dang that sucks!
Backups as you now know are critical. I don't use the cloud, don't want to use the cloud,I sync shares to another server in the house and I do non-pooled backups with (2) 2tb drives and keep one offsite.
But, I do not rely on the backups, I keep all the files on the server with folder duplication on. And I have all my people keep all their files on the server in shares. Plus this makes backups fast and small.
I tell them if it's not in a folder, I can't protect it as I have had many times where the restore pc would not work.

Again, sorry to hear and good luck to you.

Author:  msawyer91 [ Wed Dec 16, 2015 8:08 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Recover workstation from fire damaged WHS?

Either way, I think the lesson here is offsite backup. Whether that's a matter of copying backups to an external hard drive and storing it offsite or backing up to the cloud, or both, having an offsite backup is essential. Fires, floods, hurricanes and tornadoes are disasters all capable of wiping out all local backups, so the greater the distance between your onsite and offsite backup, the better.

A friend of mine sent a failed disk to Drive Savers. They're expensive, but the good news is that they only charge you if data is recoverable. So you could always send the drive(s) out to them, and if they determine data can be rescued, you could decide whether or not it's worth the fee to have them extract the data and send it back to you.

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