Well, I woke up this morning to a dead computer.  Actually it was not so much dead as it was locked up (screens were dark but on, computer fan was spinning).  Or so I thought.

I tried to reboot and the system would not start up.  I got into the BIOS and everything seemed OK.

Tried to reboot again and still not able to get it started.

Everything looked like a hard drive failure – the tell tale clicking was much more audible the more I did my troubleshooting.

I checked my Windows Home Server and my main desktop had failed to back up at its normal time – another indicator that things were not right.

So I created a Restore CD from my laptop and let it boot up in the main desktop.  It took a while but it finally did and it recognized the installed C Drive.  I attempted a restore and it started but then failed due to no network connectivity. I tried twice more with no luck.

So on my way home today I picked up a 160GB hard drive to replace the one that had failed (it was 200GB in size).

It took me about 15 minutes to swap out the hard drives and then I started up the Restore CD and it seemed to load much faster than my attempts first thing this morning.

It found the Windows Home Server and asked me for my password.  So far so good.  I had to format the new disk drive as Windows Home Server did not recognize it as available for me to restore the system to. 

It took a good 40 minutes for the drive to format and then I was once again in business – or so I thought.  I still could not get the Restore CD to allow the restore process to start.

So off to the Internet and a little Googling to see if I could figure out what I was doing wrong. 

Well it turns out that Windows Home Server can not restore a system drive to a hard drive that is physically smaller than the original system drive.  I know I was only using 120GB of space on that 200GB drive so I thought it would allow the restoral.

Turns out that the backups are not image or file based – they are cluster based and therefore needs as many or more than on the original drive in order to do the restoral.

So at this point I am still with out my main computer, a home server with a copy of all of my files on it and a 160GB hard drive installed and primed for an Operating System.  I figured there were two choices in this situation

(1) Go out and get at least a 200GB hard drive and do the restoral process onto it and be up and running.

(2) Reinstall Windows Vista to the 160GB hard drive and then do a file based restoral of my data from the Windows Home Server to the newly installed operating system in my main desktop.

Although I want to see Windows Home Server do its thing and restore my entire hard drive (I mean I do have it tweaked in and all) I am opting for choice number (2).  Windows Vista is installing as I write this (thank goodness for my laptop) and I will then get it back up to speed.  After that I can then do a file based restoral of my data files onto the new installation and then be off and working again.

Although not the intended result I wanted (I would prefer restoring to a hard drive all at once and be up and running quickly) I am glad to have a backup of all my data files that is less than 24 hours old – three months ago I probably would have lost all of my data files.

So I give Windows Home Server passing marks at this point.