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A trip through the land of System Restoration (Microserver Gen8 WS2012 BMR Guide)


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I have just discovered (as mentioned in another thread) that the B120i Dynamic RAID controller does not support RAID expansion.  What this means is that without a an HP P-series controller, you should be prepared to wipe your system if you wish to change your RAID configuration in any way after your initial setup.  This is something anyone should be aware of, as many enthusiasts,and small businesses don't always start by filling their entire system with storage, they hope to expand later --something the B120i controller turns out to be poor at. (Note:  In its defense, the B120i is a basic controller, with just RAID-0/1 support, and as RAID-1 only supports mirroring, you may end up going with two two-drive mirrors; otherwise, you probably should buy a hardware RAID card).


My data array is on a hardware RAID controller, no biggie.  However, HP doesn't support the two-channel SmartArray P421, and as I've expanded beyond four drives, my system's boot drive was on the B120i.  I have added a second drive, and cannot expand without removing the original drive (in RAID-0) and creating a new array.  As I have server backups, I figured I'd document the restore process in the following thread, using Server 2012 R2 (the same should apply for the original Server 2012).  You will/may need the following:


A good backup of your server, done with the System 2012/2012R2 Server backup role, to media you aren't going to erase

Server 2012/2012 R2 install disc (or ISO, if you wish to use iLO4 Advanced)

ILO4 Advanced License Key (if you are using iLO, which makes this process much easier)

HP drivers for the B120i controller (and if necessary, any SmartArray controller in your system)

HP Server 2008R2 drivers for the NEC/Renesas USB3 controller (if you are restoring from an external hard disk on USB3, which I am).


NOTE:  If you try to restore data from a server backup to a smaller drive or partition than the one you originally had, it will fail, even if the data would fit.  Microsoft has seen fit to do its backup/restore in such a way that you must have a drive the same size or larger to restore, keep this in mind for bare-metal restores of the operating system, as it's very important.


Let's begin.  I'm using the iLO4 advanced process; as I said, it's easier, as I can extract the drivers to folders on a remote system, and then use the iLO to map those folders temporarily as removable drives to the server.  If you don't do this, you'll probably need a USB key to put the drivers on and browse to, or (if creating a bootable USB key of Windows server) you can put them in the root of that bootable key for easy browsing.


Boot from the Server media, be it the USB key, physical CD, or an ISO image attached via iLO4, by using the F11 key at boot time to choose your bootable device on the server.


When you get to the beginning install screen, click "Next", but then choose the option "Repair Your Computer" on the next screen at the bottom left instead of "Install Now".  From the next screen, choose the "Troubleshoot" option, and from there, System Image Recovery.


The system will bring you to Select an Image for Recovery to browse for a backup disc, which will happen automatically.  In my case, I have a USB3 external drive, which Windows Server won't find due to no native support for the NEC/Renesas USB3 controller.  So, we click "Skip" to skip searching for the backup drive, and then click "Select an Image".  From this screen, you can load any controller drivers you wish to search for the backup drive by clicking the Advanced button.  I used the iLO4 to mount the drivers folder for the HP USB3 drivers; installing these helped locate the external drive with my backup.  Another option is to store your backups elsewhere on your network; you can then browse network shares for them, assuming Windows recognizes your network ports (if not, you may also need to load them via the Advanced option).  I also used this point to load the HP B120i controller drivers, though you will be given an option later to do the same.


Once you have found the location of the images for restore, select the one that matches your needs (in my case, the most recent one).  Clicking Next will bring you to the "Additional Restore Options" screen.  If you have more than one logical disk drive to restore (e.g., boot and data), I *strongly* recommend just restoring the system drive at this time and restoring the data once you have a booting system.  This is what I did so I don't erase my data array and make this a longer and more painful process, by going to "Exclude disks" and excluding my 6TB RAID-5 array, leaving just my new 480GB RAID-0 array available.  If you haven't installed the B120i controller drivers (or any other RAID controller where your restore destination resides, you'll need to do it now, or the disks may not show up.  Also, under Advanced, I unchecked "restart when complete" because I'm detailed and want to see the end of the process, and "check and update disk error information" because I'm using SSDs (one new, one 2-3 months old) and don't need to do so --if you have a new array of hard drives you're restoring to, I'd leave that box checked.


Click "Next", and you'll receive a final confirmation screen.  Think back for a second and make sure you want to repartition/erase/format a drive that you're about to restore to, and click "Next."  If all goes well, the next screen will examine the disk setup a moment then begin the restore.  If your disk isn't as large or larger than the restore image, this is where you'll get an error message.


See you on the other side.





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Restore complete.


One of the great things about newer versions of Server is the ability to extend partitions;  all that was needed after reboot was to extend my C: drive to fill the rest of the existing space from the Disk Management section of the Computer Management administration tool.

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This is a great description of a restore, but I have a couple of questions because my SBS 2011 Exchange Server tanked last night without warning.  (Very painful because I built it over the last several weeks and it was running fast and smooth.)


This is a very small system with three users.  I am trying to decide if it would be efficient to rebuild rather than recover.


I have two HD's running under Raid 0 (which I see as one), divided into two partitions.  I also have SBS full backups for the last week to an external USB3 drive.  


A recovery within SBS failed to restore the Exchange application for unknown reasons.  A system or volume within SBS may be problematic because of the issues with having the correct drivers available at the right time on the right media.


My final option is to attempt the recovery from the original DVD as described here, but because the image is on the USB3 external drive, I am having the driver problem.  (Do not have ILO4 either).  



1) Will it be possible to restore the c:\ backup without restoring the data on the other partition (s:\)?

2) What are the landmines?


Thanks for any help.  Your great exposition made me think this is possible.

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Tukson, is this a restore to an HP Microserver?


You should be able to download the USB3 controller drivers, and supply them during the restore process, if this is the case.  Server restore for your setup is similar to restoring a Server 2008R2 system if you are using Windows Backup and Restore.  Note once again, your physical disks/partitions you are restoring to have to be at least the same size as that which you are trying to restore.


The disk/partition size is the real landmine.  I don't know for sure if your Exchange will just pick up the newer database and move on either, or whether you'll have to re-connect, if it's not on the boot partition.


P.S.  Going forward, I wouldn't run SBS2011 (especialy if you're using Exchange) on RAID-0.  While I'm running a RAID-0 boot array, I don't have any database tasks for my server that I have to be concerned with.  If I was running anything with the internal databases SBS 2011 runs, or Exchange, I'd at very minimum run off a single drive to avoid corruption --if I was in a production environment, I'd be running RAID-1 or higher for the boot drive, and the same holds true for the drive holding the Exchange database.

Edited by LoneWolf
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