What is the right order to restore SBS 2003 R2

Posted on 2009-07-01
Last Modified: 2012-05-07
I have a server with2 mirrored drives.  Primary drive failed, mirror wouldn't boot. to cut a long story short, situation now is I have a new primary drive, other drive is disconnected, and I am trying to do a fresh install.
Before the server failed totally, I did a backup to USB drive of system state, exchange IS, and some data.
Now I try and restore the system state, and everytime I get into continuous reboot cycle.  what I have done so far (twice) is as follows:-
Installed SBS2003 SP2 from scratch, cancelled setup after the disk 1 part has finished (at the configure your server stage), rebooted system, logged in OK, then started NTBackup restore of system state.  checked all the options to overwrite etc etc and all seems OK until it restarts - gets as far as preparing network connections then reboots.  Same in safe mode, and last know good just locks halfway through on a grey screen.  Choosing to repair the windows installation hangs at a similar point.
Now the original installation probably had the R2 technologies CD installed, but if I try that now it seems that because Exchange etc hasn't been set up I can't install that portion, and the R2 bit itself says that the server must be SP1, and the system disks are SP2.
So....what is the right order of doing things to get this beast up and running again?  Many thanks
Question by:Megaben
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Author Comment

ID: 24761358
Further update:
I installed from scratch again, this time did the full setup with exchange  AD etc, tried again (but in directory services restore mode).  Exact same result.  Then did same with full install, followed by R2 technologies CD - exactly same result.
Only thing I noticed is that no matter which of the windows start options you choose, you can't get as far as logging in before it restarts, however in safe mode with command prompt I did see the ctrl-alt-del to login box for maybe 1/4 second before it restarted.

Author Comment

ID: 24761752
further comment:
The original disk was a dynamic disk, this one is currently basic - obviously if I want to go back to a mirror then I would need to convert it, but as I haven't got any sign of a mirror working I don't think I'll bother, probably just use it as an extra backup drive.  However - could this affect the system state restore?

Author Comment

ID: 24761779
Also, I have been able to do a complete exchange restore, and can see all the mailboxes with stats in ESM.  not yet having any users on the system, will this ever be any good to me if I can't get the AD restore to work?
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LVL 79

Expert Comment

ID: 24777637
When you restoring the AD, are you booting the system into the directory restore mode?
Or are you booting the system normally and then try the system state restore?
Presumably, you were using software raid versus HW.
If the drives are identical, an option could be to attach the "working" drive to the same connector to which the other drive was attached.  Alternatively, modifying the boot.ini file to point to the correct disk is another method.
i.e. the original was disk(0) and the mirror is disk(1)
The boot.ini file points to disk(0).  Changing that to point to disk(1) should get the system booted.

Unfortunately, you did not include the hardware details of your system i.e. vendor/model sata or scsi drive ( it could be IDE, SAS, etc.) Motherboard

Author Comment

ID: 24779523
Arnold, thanks for your input.  There was a lot of information to wade through above (I did mention using Directory Services restore mode in my first additional comment above) so I didn't want to confuse things by adding even more.
FYI, the server was HP 110 G5 with twin  250gb sata drives in windows mirror config.  2nd drive  refused to show any signs of booting on either of the SATA cables; additionally booting into repair mode (from SBS CD) and trying to access the drive it was not visible so I couldn't edit boot.ini file.
I am beginning to think that possible there was something wrong with the system state backup as it was taken from the system whilst the dodgy system drive was hanging by a thread.  The previous backup on another USB disk won't load as it was part of a larger set and the disk ran out of apace; there are utilities which can read those backups and I may try that route by loading the whole sysem into a virtual machine on another server I have at home, but the cheapest I have seen them (the .bkr recovery utils) is about $100 so am not convinced I want to risk that.
In the meantime, I gave up and rebuilt the server from scratch (again) on Thursday night, returned to customer on Friday and restored the data, and exchange from the local PST's so they are up and running with minimal loss.
I can't have this happen again though so will have to pursue testing system state restores on a VM and discover how to get it to boot again (with respect to service pack / windows update levels / additional features) because I am still none the wiser as to what the correct order of installation should be for it to work!
LVL 79

Expert Comment

ID: 24787974
Why not use the Built-in sata RAID (RAID 1)? Versus relying on the OS for software raid?
As far as the OS is concerned it will see a single drive.  The built-in SATA controller will handle the disk failure/synchronization.


Author Comment

ID: 24807561
As far as I am aware, it is not possible to add the hardware raid once the server has been configured, so it would need to be wiped and started from scratch.  A compatible USB floppy disk would need ot be obtained so the relevant drive (if found) could be loaded as windows boots (I'm not 100% sure on this point, but whenever I have considered this before on other servers they seem to need a non-native driver before windows can be installed.
But even if I jump through all these hoops, I'm still none the wiser as to how to restore the system state once an unknown quantity of semi-automatic windows updates have been applied (and are on the backup) since the  original windows build when a bare-bones server is rebuilt.
I am away for the weekend now, and will have to think about how I can test this without the customer losing their server again for a day.
LVL 79

Accepted Solution

arnold earned 500 total points
ID: 24810222
Are you not using the HP server setup tools? Those provide the requisite drivers as well as RAID configuration prior to the OS install.

Many of the branded servers have a bootable CD/DVD that can be used to presetup the hardware of the system (RAID) prior to loading up the OS.

Author Comment

ID: 25030980
I agree that hardware raid mirror must be better than windows software mirror, and I guess these things may well have moved on since the last time I tried it (when it required drivers to be loaded from a floppy disk at setup time, on a server that doesn't have a floppy drive, and refused to accept the USB floppy I had at the time), and I do have a windows 7 test PC whic I believe is one of the ML series that I could bung a couple of new SATA drives in to try this out.  I guess when it comes down to it when a customer needs a new server, I don't have time to muck about testing different configurations out so I need to try that again now, while i'm not under pressure.
You have been very helpful, so I am awarding points - however I still don't know what the correct order of doing things is to restore a completely dead server froma backup which previously had all sorts of MS updates installed, and the R2 technologies as well!
LVL 79

Expert Comment

ID: 25031936
The problem is that some restores depend on which backup solution you have.
using ntbackup with ASR, you would have to reinstall the OS and include the ASR data from a Floppy which in your situation will be a problem.
A bare metal restore to a new physical server,  often requires the inclusion of the new hardware drives if any with the use of the restoring process.
Symantec, Acronis, Novastore have products dealing with that.

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