How to figure out what operating system is on a server without access to it

Posted on 2015-01-20
Last Modified: 2015-01-21
Ok so here is the scenario

I picked up a customer with a dead server.... old IT guy used basic windows backup with incremental backups...sigh... the max size is 64 GB

anyhow.... is there a way to go through the backed up files... like say perhaps the windows directly and identify what version of windows was actually installed on this old POS.... i am guessing windows 2003 server... not sure what SP or if it was R1 or R2....

I actually never have encountered this... usually i get servers that are half alive.... not completed dead...

i want to restore the system state and data to another PC however without knowing what OS it had it is virtually impossible....
Question by:punkrawkdude99
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Expert Comment

by:Will Szymkowski
ID: 40561033
If you have powershell installed you can query Active Directory for the machine you are looking for. From there it will tell you what OperatingSystem it is running.

Import-module activedirectory
Get-AdComputer -Identity <computername> -Properties OperatingSystem, OperatingSystemVersion | fl

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Author Comment

ID: 40561041
the computer in question doesnt power on..

all i have is a somewhat current back up of it on an external drive....
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Assisted Solution

McKnife earned 250 total points
ID: 40561043

Mount the registry, then look at HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion for the version at the ProductName line.
Mounting is described here:
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LVL 53

Expert Comment

by:Will Szymkowski
ID: 40561058
The computer does not need to be powered on to run the script above. If the computer account is still in active directory then you will be able to find the info you need.


Author Comment

ID: 40561062

You are saying to run the script from one of the workstations that is part of the domain?
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Expert Comment

by:Will Szymkowski
ID: 40561087
That is correct. You need to have your Active Directory running on 2008 or higher to take advantage of Powershell. That is the caviet.

Also, if you are running this from a regular workstation you will also need to have Remote Server Admin Tools to be able to import the active directory module as well.


Author Comment

ID: 40561109
I'm guessing from the age of the server we are probably dealing with server 2003

I figured there would be an ini or cfg file somewhere in the %windir% that would identify the windows version and build

Accepted Solution

Antyrael earned 250 total points
ID: 40561667
If you have access to the filesystem, just look at Properties -> Details of, say winlogon.exe.

5.2.3790.3959 is Windows Server 2003 SP2
5.2.3790.1180 is windows Server 2003 SP1
5.2.3790.1218 is windows Server 2003 (no SP)

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