One of the neat features about Windows Home Server is the ability to restore a hard drive from scratch. If you check out the help files, you will learn that the process is as simple as booting the dead PC from a special CD and following the on-screen instructions. Yeah, right.
The most common problem people encounter, from what I can tell reading various blogs and forums, is that the special boot CD does not contain the correct drivers for the PC’s network card. Without the drivers, the network card won’t work, and without a working network card, the PC can’t talk to the Windows Home Server. If that happens, you’re supposed to put the drivers on a USB hard drive and scan the hard drive for the drivers during the restore process. The drivers you need are supposed to be found in the “Windows Home Server Drivers for Restore” folder that is part of each computer’s backup on the Windows Home Server. Yeah, right.
I recently had occasion to restore a Dell Optiplex 755 running Windows XP (32-bit). The network card was an Intel 825xx-series Gigabit ethernet card. The boot CD did not include the necessary drivers. I retrieved the “Windows Home Server Drivers for Restore” folder, copied it to a USB drive, and scanned the drive for the drivers at the appropriate point in the process. No network drivers were found. I solved the problem by downloading the correct driver package from support.dell.com, extracting the files from the downloaded .exe file to a folder called “drivers” on the USB drive, and then scanning the drive again. Fortunately, the restore program is smart enough to look through the entire USB drive, and not just the “Windows Home Server Drivers for Restore” folder. This time the correct drivers were located and loaded, the Windows Home Server was detected on the network, and the restore process proceeded successfully.
(Note: I mentioned above that I was running a 32-bit operating system because many people seem to get stuck when trying to restore a 64-bit operating system. The restore CD runs in a 32-bit environment and will not use 64-bit drivers if that’s what’s contained in the “Windows Home Server Drivers for Restore” folder. I just wanted to point out that it’s not only 64-bit drivers that can cause a problem in the restore process. Sometimes plain old 32-bit drivers turn out to be a pain, too.)