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Catastrophic SBS 2008 Hard Drive Failed

Posted on 2014-11-18
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Last Modified: 2014-12-01
Hello,
A potential customer called me today with a catastrophic failure of the SBS 2008 OS due to hard drive corruption.  Server will not boot except to a BSOD and cannot boot into Safe Mode.  Then the customer tells me that they haven't had a solid backup since September.  WOW...ok...

I talked the customer into paying for a Microsoft support incident and opened that case up with them.  After trying to repair the disk and run a repair on the OS it is entirely possible that the server has no heartbeat left and Microsoft  feels that it will not boot again.  I can see the C drive and the data on the drives through a command list Dir.

I haven't had to deal with this type of scenario since Windows 2003 when I would tell this customer we will need to rebuild the server along with a new AD, email is gone....blah.blah.blah.  I don't know yet if there is anything on the backup drive yet but I am checking.  The first one I looked at had no data so my hopes are fading on this.

My question is this.....are there any new tools in Windows 2008 R2 that will allow me to recover AD/EXCH without a backup but access to the hard drive?  I'm pretty certain the answer is no but wanted to check.

Thanks.
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Question by:blkfoot
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Assisted Solution

by:RickEpnet
RickEpnet earned 1000 total points
ID: 40450422
Have you tried SpinRite on the drives? I have seen it do some pretty incredible things.

https://www.grc.com/sr/spinrite.htm
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Expert Comment

by:Brian B
ID: 40450454
Have you been able to search the drives and find the EDB file? That's the exchange database. You might be able to hook that to a new Exchange setup and recover its contents.
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Author Comment

by:blkfoot
ID: 40450464
Thanks, RickEpnet.  I am looking at it right now.  Have you ever used this?

Thanks, Brian.  Yes, I did identify the .edb file and the .log files for Exchange.
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LVL 14

Expert Comment

by:RickEpnet
ID: 40450485
Yes I use SpinRIte all the time. It can take a long time to finish but I have had completely unbootable computers boot just fine after using it. I have never used it on a Raid but you can. See this tread.
https://www.grc.com/sn/sn-112.txt
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Expert Comment

by:Brian B
ID: 40450497
For some reason I was not able to add this additional information to my post. What I wanted to say is that Exchange has the ability to connect an old file as a "Recovery database". So you can then read the contents of the old Exchange database. However if you were to attempt that, I would suggest doing it on another system so you aren't overwriting the original data.

I would agree with other's suggestion to try and recover the whole drive though before worrying about single files. However to be safe I would suggest you try and make a copy of those Exchange files.
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Author Comment

by:blkfoot
ID: 40450521
Thank you Brian.  We are currently making a copy of the whole drive and as soon as that is done we will try SpinRite.  I will report back tomorrow.

Thanks to you both!
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Accepted Solution

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Lee W, MVP earned 1000 total points
ID: 40450528
First, I would be backing up all the data through whatever means necessary.  If you mess something up or the drives actually fail, you'll be in a FAR worse place.

Next, if it is corruption, whatever you recover may not be valid data.

Once you have EVERYTHING backed up, you can try your various tools to recover the drive.  But what I would likely try instead is to rebuild the system in a virtual environment using tools to extract the mail from the edb file and the the active directory using UTools Umove product.

I assume there are no backups to restore from?
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Author Comment

by:blkfoot
ID: 40450669
Thanks, Lee.  Yes, we are copying the data from the hard drive to another location before we try anything realizing that the data may still be bad.

I have looked at the last of the backup drives and there is no data on them so no backups to restore from.

I will take a look at U-Tools U-Move.  I appreciate the heads up.
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Author Closing Comment

by:blkfoot
ID: 40474654
Sorry, I left for Thanksgiving and forgot to close this.  We tried SpinRite but it was unable to fix the issues the drive was having.  The customer had an old backup so after buying new hard drives we were able to install SBS and then do an AD restore without trying UTools.  Turns out the customer is using POP mail and not the Exchange server so it turned out being less work than originally thought.

I'm hoping to split the credit between Lee and Rick because my question asked for tools that would help in my recovery and both were helpful to know about even if they didn't work in this case.

Thanks!
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