Last night the laptop’s hard drive die. Just like that. Fortunately I do have my Windows Server 2012 Essentials set up and running on my LAN, so that way my home computers are backed up at least once a day. So no biggie.
I downloaded the restore disc from MSDN – but then the trouble kinda began. First I did not find an appropriate USB stick to turn it into a bootable device. When I finally had moved all files off of my regular USB stick (all 7GB of it) and had reconfigured the partition on it and copied the CD onto it, I was ready to get moving with the restore.
Unfortunately I got stuck at the “now please load your drivers” screen. Yes, the Windows Server 2012 Essentials does store your network drivers in a separate place, and I had copied the drivers to the USB stick – but the restore disk wasn’t able to load the driver. I can only guess why, but I figure it was either the wrong bit-ness or the wrong version of Windows (pretty old laptop with exotic hardware, so of course there were no recent drivers to be found anywhere…)
So what to do. I really wanted that laptop restored ASAP. Then I remembered that Win8 has Hyper-V built in now. So why not boot up the rescue system within a Hyper-V instance and attach the new drive to it? Configuring it was a breeze and the more powerful and newer laptop did a restore in record time – all while I was still able to continue working with it. No driver hassle and with my Sharkoon Pro plugged into the e-SATA port, just as easy as can be to set up. I guess from now on I will not even bother trying to restore using the physical hardware. Restore via Hyper-V is just so much easier.
The initial setup though is not without pitfalls, so I will walk you through it:
First of all create a new VM within Hyper-V, name and network connectivity doesn’t matter. Just make sure to select “no hard drive” in the initial setup wizard and connect the restore ISO to the virtual DVD drive.
All the while Hyper-V is setting up, we have to make sure that the connected drive that should be the target of our restore is in offline mode. To check that we have to open the disk management, right click on the drive and select “offline”.
Now we can open the more detailed settings page for our new virtual machine. We have to make some alterations in order to have a proper setup for a restore.
- Remove the network card and replace it with a “legacy network interface”. This will help us avoid driver issues. Make sure the network card is connected to an external virtual network switch. This is important so that the rescue disc and find the windows server 2012 essentials for the actual restore.
- Go to the (still empty) disk configuration and add a virtual ide disk. Then select “physical disk”. The disk you took offline moments ago should be listed in the drop-down.
That’s it. If everything is setup correctly booting up should take you to the restore. Navigating through all the steps of the wizard should lead you to a valid installation on the attached disk drive.
After the restore is finished and before the VM reboot, shut down the VM, remove the hard drive and plug it into your broken laptop. The system should now come online as expected and you should find yourself at the exact place where the last backup occurred.
Never worry about missing network card drivers during restore from an Home Server or Essential ever again.