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It's an old enterprise-class WD drive I had on the shelf. I ran it through SpinRite to ensure it's working properly. It is not an SSD.

 

I don't know exactly how many copies of the OS are on the drive but, remember, there's only 1 full copy; the rest are incrementals. Not much changes on the OS drive from day to day, so I can't imagine each incremental backup takes up much space.

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Hmmm, wasn't somebody suggesting to remove all non-OS drives?   Actually, I always set up new systems with only the OS drive installed; it just simplifies things all round.

I finally solved my problem without having to start from scratch!  That tutorial I had found brought me in the right direction, but it didn't completely work for Server 2012 R2.  It turns out the Wind

AkAdam44, IIRC, what I did to get the backup to only include the OS drive was to reinstall the OS with only the OS drive installed. After installation, I immediately set up the backup. There was no problem getting it to include only the OS drive because, guess what, that was the only drive available.

 

Reinstalling the OS might be a bit on the drastic side. Here's what I'm thinking: what if you were to boot your server with only the OS drive connected, then set up the backup? Perhaps the same logic will follow. Once you have the backup established, shut down, reconnect your other drives, then boot up again and see if the backup configuration has been retained.

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Hmmm...maybe that'll work.  I'll try removing the drive that Windows Server Backup keeps forcing me to backup and see what happens.  Stablebit shouldn't freak out too much since I'll still have the other drive in the server where my data is being mirrored to.  If it doesn't work correctly after that, then I'll try removing ALL other drives I have connected and leave the OS drive all by itself while trying to configure Server Backup.  Thanks for the idea, I'll try it tonight when I get home and post my results!

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Don't be surprised if you have to remove all the other drives. Also, if you remove all the drives, DrivePool should not have any problem; it should just list the pool drives as missing. It will pick up the pool drives again when they're reconnected. DrivePool is quite tolerant that way.

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I think I have figured out what my problem is.  I am running Server 2012 R2 on an HP n54l.  I have my OS drive installed in the optical drive bay which connects to the optical drive SATA port on the motherboard.  I also had one of my 2TB hard drives installed in the first drive bay when I installed Server 2012 R2.  Since the 2TB drive was installed on the first SATA port "Disk 0" in the PC, from what I've read, Windows will always place all operating system boot files on this drive even if you install the OS on a drive on a different SATA Port.  So, if I had removed that 2TB drive before installing my OS I wouldn't have had this problem.  Fortunatly, it looks like I may be able to fix this issue without reinstalling.  I found the following tutorial on www.sevenforums.com which I hope will also work on Server 2012 R2.

 

http://www.sevenforums.com/tutorials/105541-startup-repair-run-3-separate-times.html

 

In a nut shell, it looks like I just need to mark my OS drive "C:" as active, then remove all other hard drives on the server.  Then boot into my Server 2012 R2 installation disc and choose the "StartUp Repair" option in the System Recovery Options menu.  The tutorial says I may need to do the StartUp Repair up to 3 times to get all the necessary boot files to be written over to my OS drive.  Once I have Server running correctly off of just my C: drive, then I should be able to reformat my 2TB drive, to get rid of the unneccessary boot files stored on it, and add it back to my mirrored StableBit Pool.  Once this is all complete, I am hoping that Windows Server Backup will no longer require me to include this 2TB hard drive in my Bare Metal Restore backup!

 

I really hope this works!!!

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Hmmm, wasn't somebody suggesting to remove all non-OS drives? ;)  Actually, I always set up new systems with only the OS drive installed; it just simplifies things all round.

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Drashna Jaelre

Hmmm, wasn't somebody suggesting to remove all non-OS drives? ;)  Actually, I always set up new systems with only the OS drive installed; it just simplifies things all round.

This. It's the safest method.  And prevents issues like this.

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I finally solved my problem without having to start from scratch!  That tutorial I had found brought me in the right direction, but it didn't completely work for Server 2012 R2.  It turns out the Windows Recovery Environment in Server 2012 R2 is lacking A LOT of the options that Windows 7 has.  The only options they give you is to Recover you PC or open a Command Prompt.  There was no option for StartUp Repair or ANYTHING else!  I figured that since they allow me access to the command prompt that these "tools" must still be available, but they just don't make it simple.  So I did some searching around the internet and found the following...

 

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd744347%28v=WS.10%29.aspx

 

This sounded to me like exactly what a StartUp Repair might perform.  So after making my C: drive active and all other drives inactive, and removing ALL other hard drives from the PC, I proceeded to this Command Prompt and typed in bcdboot C:\Windows

 

I crossed my fingers and prayed before hitting the enter key...and afterwards I was given a confirmation that new boot files were successfully copied to my drive!  Immediatly I tried rebooting my server and was pleasently surprised when I saw the Windows Server 2012 R2 logo pop up on my screen!  I began adding back the other hard drives one by one, with a restart in between, just to make sure the server continued to bootup properly...everything works perfectly as it should.  I was able to reformat the 2TB drive with the old boot files on it and add it back to my StableBit DrivePool.  I also disabled Windows Server BackUp and then sceduled a new backup.  I am now able to backup to a MUCH smaller 250GB hard drive! 

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Nice work dude!! :)

 

I'd almost forgotten about BCDboot but, yes, it does repair boot sectors. And I'm glad to read that you did remove all other HDDs before proceeding - it's just safer that way :)

 

Thanks for posting the info.

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I know you're probably far along the way to creating your own solution.. but I thought I'd pop in a suggestion that you might want to explore. Native VHD for boot.

 

There's a few quirks going this route such as having to know how to properly configure VSS and not being able to backup the host volume containing the OS Native VHD file, but it provides some interesting options for customizing your boot loader (BCD), easy backup methods via Windows Recovery Environment, and alternatives to system restoration.

 

Over the past several months, I've completely moved away from doing BMR. The idea is grand, but the implementation in my book is more like a "Hail Mary Pass" to save yourself. Don't count on it to win the game, because it is sure to fail. At least that has been my experience... One error in particular that has no solution or reason is the cause of random "RPC" errors during the BMR process. Why a backup/restoration at the block level is relying on RPC to process shtuff is beyond me.

 

With a host using Native VHD, you can setup Windows Server Backup to handle just system state, the OS volume (if desired), and any data volumes (safely including deduplicated volumes). I've been doing this for a few months now, and have completed an entire continuity test from end to end to make sure it works, and it does.

 

If you do go that route, or explore it... you should consider how to actually get a solid backup of the host operating system. Using a customized Windows Recovery Environment, it is simple to "boot to re", copy that "native" VHD file to a data volume, network resource, or external storage like a USB drive and reboot.. done.

 

Restoration is a bit more complex, as it really depends on what has happened or what needs to be done. If you are simply wanting to restore a state, you've got that already being backed up with Windows Server Backup. If you need to do a roll-back to say, last Wednesday. Fire up Windows Server Backup, and restore your "native vhd" file from that date to a new file (just an example, depends on your backup schedule), reboot into the recovery environment... rename your native VHD files and you should be good to go. I do not believe there is even a need to change any BCD parameters this way as the GUID for the volumes will be identical between the originating VHD and the restored VHD (even if has been logically renamed).

 

If it is more disastrous, or uplifting and you've replaced the system drive... you'll just have some more work to do to rebuild the partition structure by hand (but you should already have this done using a diskpart script), fire up a recovery environment (perhaps using a bootable USB), and restore the native VHD file. Attached the VHD file, adjust the boot loader (BCDBOOT), and you're good to go. You can then fire up windows server backup and do a restoration of the data volumes.

 

I've done this, and while it all might seem more complex... it's trustworthy, and in the long run saves me time and I know it works. Depending on BMR is just a "no no" in my book now.

 

[edit]

 

by the end of this week, I should hopefully be complete with my VDI testing and have plans to write a multi-part article for my blog covering VDI and this very topic related to Native VHD. I already cover some tid-bits about customizing Windows Recovery Environment.. and will have a full write up on doing this with Native VHD. (except for the automated Windows RE process, still got to work out some details on that one).

Edited by tswalker
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