Recovering WHS from System Drive Failure

My bad day yesterday is continuing into today. The good news is that it seems like the power supply was the problem. I picked up an Antec Earthmate 500 watt power supply and installed it, and my memory errors went away. The hard part has been getting Windows Home Server back on its feet.

The problem was that the registry was corrupted, probably by the contents of the failing RAM being written out to disk. There’s an MS knowledgebase article on troubleshooting this sort of problem (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/325375), so I followed those steps up to the point where you’re supposed to go into the System Volume Information folder and find a recent registry backup to use. Nothing there. It looks like Windows Home Server doesn’t use System Restore.

So I have a Windows Home Server that’s back to it’s just-installed state (knowing nothing about the data on the extra drives) but at least the drives are mounted and I can see all my data. The primary drive has a \folders folder that looks like it has all the data in it (more data than fits on the drive, with many files being represented as hard links) but the system doesn’t know how to follow the hard links so I can’t actually use that folder to get the data off. There’s also \DE\shares on each drive, which contains subsets of the data. Because of replication some of the data in \DE\shares is replicated on more than one drive, but if I copy all that data off (overwriting where there are duplicates) I should end up with an intact copy of all my data.

BUT I SHOULDN’T HAVE TO DO THIS. This is a huge waste of time. I have Windows Home Server to keep my data safe; I shouldn’t have to muck around like this to get it back. I should have been able to repair or re-install WHS on the primary drive and have it do this work for me.

It sounds from the documentation and posts I’ve found online like this should have been possible – like I should have seen a “Re-install” option in Setup, but when I re-ran the WHS setup, the only option listed for me was a “New” installation, with the clear warning that it would re-format all my drives and I’d lose all my data. This may be because I have 2 IDE and 2 SATA drives, and while WHS is booted up it sees the SATA drives but Setup wasn’t seeing them. I don’t know. If that’s the case, then maybe I’m only having to go through this because I built my own WHS instead of buying one with a supported hardware configuration. But it sucks anyway.