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Does WHS Back up the Windows 7 "placeholder" partition?


Sorta Oldguy
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My daughter has been visiting for most of the past week. Since she lives 350 mi. away, didn't consider backing up her Dell laptop to the WHS2011. Instead, bought a laptop drive and coolmax case so she could do Windows Backup and I could give her some stuff I had recorded with my HDHomerun.

 

I figured I'd set up the Windows backup for her and run it once last night before she left today. Got a BSOD part way through. Figured I'd run the Dell diagnositics which she apparently hasn't run in 2 years. Turns out her drive failed a few of the tests, including SMART.

 

So I then decided to backup up the laptop to the server. Was taking forever, so I did a custom backup and told it to ignore videos and photos that were already backed up elsewhere. The backup finished, but when I went to restore to a new drive, I found that the 39MB hidden partition at the beginning of the drive was not backed up or offered for restore. I remember on one of the podcasts, it was discussed that you need to have the 100mb partition that Windows puts at the front of the drive in order to be able to boot and I figure this 39mb partition is similar. So, I'm copying the partition and the Dell Restoe partition (which was offered as part of othe restore) using one of the freeebie partion managers.

 

Hope the intro wasn't too long, but the I suppose the question is, if I told the server to do a full client backup, would that placeholder partition at the front of the drive be backed up so that it could be restored using client restore?

 

Thanks.

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Just FYI, I went back and did a full backup of my daughter's laptop after pulling all the videos and other big files off of it. The backup was successful, but WHS2011 still did not offer to restore the hidden partition. I wound up using Mini-tool partition wizard to copy the hidden partition to the new drive and then used client recovery on the WHS to restore the Dell Recovery Partition and her Windows partition. Everything working now.

 

As a comparison, I started a restore of my laptop to see which partitions WHS offered to restore. It's a Dell, but I installed Windows Ultimate on it after deleting all the partitions. It has the standard 100MB partition, Windows Partition and a data partition I created. WHS did offer to recover the 100MB partition. No idea why the difference from my daughter's. Perhaps the Dell hidden partition has some property that keeps it from being recognized by WHS. As my daughter is now 300mi away, no way to investigate further.

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Thanks for posting your findings. I was a little surprised when you said you had issues with your daughter's computer. Your 2nd test matches up better with what I would expect.

 

BTW, you didn't say if you're using WHSv1 or 2011. I've done plenty of full restores using v1 and they've always worked. I have yet to test a full restore using 2011, but that's coming soon.

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BTW, you didn't say if you're using WHSv1 or 2011. I've done plenty of full restores using v1 and they've always worked. I have yet to test a full restore using 2011, but that's coming soon.

 

Sorry about not identifying the version. It is WHS2011. Other than the trouble with the missing hidden partition, the restore was easy, if slow.

 

Hope the explanation below is not too hard to understand, but it may save someone some time in the future if they are at least aware of the potential issues, of which I had several. I just followed the directtions in this video done by Tim Daleo(?). The basic restore is pretty simple; it's the connections that are a pain.

 

 

The only complaints are that it can't be run directly from the WHS2011 desktop to restore to a bare drive hooked directly to the server and the slowness of the copying. You have to run the wizard from a client computer and so are limited by network speeds and whatever ports are available. I don't have gigabit ethernet and no other machine with bettet than usb 2.0 ports, so that was a problem. I did manage to run the client restore wizard on the server box using my VMWare Win7 virtual machine that runs under the WHS doing my HDHomerun recording. I have it set as a client in the Dashboard and it wasn't a problem running the client restore wizard on that virtual machine. VMWare allows easily capturing usb ports, so I tried that at first but it was really slow because the only external hard drive enclosures/adapters I have were usb 2.0. Also, I have no idea how much overhead is involved in the virtual usb ports.

 

I then got the idea to try to use my Mukii Transimp http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml?product_id=0360554 that allows plugging drives directly into a SATA port on a drive bay of the server. It required a little maneuveiring. VMWare does allow you to mount hard drives from the host machine as drives on the server. So, I plugged the replacement drive into the Mukii and it was recognized on the WHS. I then shut down the virtual machine and added the drive to the virtual machine. Upon bootup of the virtual machine, it recognized the drive in the Mukii adapter. I could then tell the client restore wizard to restore to the replacement drive. Even then, using the SATA port directly, it took an hour or so for the 100GB of restore.

 

One gotcha is that when I tried to do this with the blank drive, VMWare gave a warning about having multiple scsi drives and kept trying to boot from the network instead of the normal virtual disk that it uses. After copying that problematic hidden parttion using usb described above, I didn't have that problem. I don't claim any particular expertise in VMWare player and this was likely was operator error.

 

Another gotcha of using the Mukii is the Mukii construction and my own lack of observation. The Mukii Transimp allows you to just insert a 3.5" drive and it connects to the SATA port. It has a mounting bracket that you screw 2.5 in drives into to insert into the adapter. I had gotten a 320GB Hitachi laptop drive from Microcenter for $39 a couple of weeks ago. (The price has since almost doubled because of the flooding in Thailand.) Anyway, I wasted well over an hour trying to get this thing to work in the Mukii. It just wouldn't connect. I already had another 2.5in drive that worked perfectly in it. I eventually realized that this new drive was thinner than the old drives I had. The adapter didn't take that into account. Don't know if there is a way to fix that as I couldn't find the instructions and the Mukii site no longer has them posted. My thinking now is that it's easier to get an external USB 3.0 or ESATA docking station for this purpose if your server supports those connections, making sure the adapter takes all sizes and height drives. They are little pricey yet, so may hold off a little longer. This doesn't mean the Mukii isnt' useful. It does make it very easy to swap bare 3.5 in drives for backup without extra cables.

 

Again, my apologies if this is too arcane. If I have some time to waste, I may try comparing speeds of the virtual ports in VMWare v. physical ports on the server.

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Well, coming soon is already recently past :) I did a test restore of my wife's system to another drive that I attached to the eSATA port of her machine (I did disconnect her production drive, just to be sure I didn't overwrite it or anything).

 

I noted a couple of things about the restore.

  • It was pretty slow; not so much the actual data restoration itslef as the prep to restore it. I burned the restore CD ISO to a DVD disc. It booted up OK but then every step after that seemed to take forever. The system would sit there for minutes at a time, seemingly doing nothing. I would almost be at the point of figuring it had failed and then it would suddenly move to the next step. In the end it all worked, but it was disconcerting to have it pause for so long between the steps of the process.
  • After the restore, the system had to reboot a couple of times before it was prepared to say it was complete; sorta weird. One time it came up saying it was configuring Windows, then preparing the desktop. If I'd used CloneZilla to image the system drive it would not have done this - the hardware and Windows would have been totally unaware that anything had changed. So, WHS2011 backup must not be doing a pure system image like CloneZilla does. Again, in the end it all worked, so no harm done, but it's something to note for the future.

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