Most of us have a laptop that probably came with an 80GB or 120 GB hard drive. It has almost certainly crossed your mind to upgrade the drive when a company like Newegg has 250GB to 500GB laptop drives for $79.99. I know for me, upgrading seems like a pain and I do not want to take the time to mess with it. Please read on to see how WHS can make your hard drive replacement as painless and as fast as possible.
Replacement Hard Drive
Recent WHS backup of the PC
Windows Home Server Restore CD and CD drive
USB Drive (with network drivers, optional)
3 Beers (discretionary but recommended as always)
A recent “Lost” episode
I am going on a short holiday tomorrow to see my sister and taking her 13 year old step-daughter an old Dell GX60 SFF OptiPlex that I have had sitting around the office. Sounds simple enough right? Not quite. It only has an 30GB hard drive. WTF? Her iTunes music alone is probably going to be over 30GB! Why the small drive Uncle Tim? I have never needed more drive space since it was connected to the network and WHS hosts my music and videos. It is a small form-factor so there is no room for a second drive inside the case. What else do you want for free? Oh, you want a monitor, keyboard and mouse too? Crap.
I want to take one of my 500GB IDE drives out of one of my old (and now obsolete?) NAS drives and drop it in the case. The hardware replacement will be easy but what about all of the software? What about the settings, drivers and programs? Service Pack 3 takes about an hour alone to upgrade. No way! I am leaving in the morning and I am running out of time. In addition, the wife is packing the car by herself tonight for the trip tomorrow so I need to do this the fastest way possible!
Hard Drive Replacement and Data Transfer Solutions
If I replace the drive I will have four choices for the existing data and programs:
- Load Windows and reformat, install programs, files and updates.
- Use the File Transfer Wizard (but I have to load Windows on the new drive).
- Use the Backup Wizard to transfer (but I still have to load Windows on the new drive to restore from the Backup).
- Use the Windows Home Server backup feature and Restore CD.
I’ll take door number four Monty. Viva Windows Home Server!
Ok, so the GX60 is running and connected to the WHS network. It has been a while since my last backup but we know that WHS only tracks the changes so it should not take that long to run one more backup before I begin. I will start the backup and head to the fridge for a cold one. Where is that damn mini fridge?
Mental note: Make some noise and move a few things towards the garage so the wife will know I am helping pack and not cramming to finish this article before we leave.
The backup is done in 8 minutes. Thank you WHS!
Now that the back up is complete I will power down and replace the drive. You can see that with the GX60 the case is easy to open and the drive replacement is very simple. Your installation will be different of course.
It might look like this:
Make sure if you are using a drive that had prior data on it that you delete ALL of the data and any partitions that may have been on the replacement disk. If you have not done this you can do it when we get to the Disk Manager during the Restore process. We will verify this AGAIN when we get to the Disk Manager during the Restore process. If your replacement drive is new then you should not have any issues.
Mental note: Put the Restore CD in the drive before I power it off so I am ready once I turn back on the PC.
Booting from the Restore CD
I have replaced the drive and am ready to boot up. I have the Restore CD in the computer and I press the power button. Here we go…power on and F12. F12 again. Flippin F12. F12 yet again. Good job with the F12 cause I am at the boot screen. Choose the CD Boot option.
Make sure you know if your PC has over 512 MB of RAM. WHS will ask you before you start the Restore process.
Let the Restore process begin.
The Restore Process
Follow the prompts on the screen to start with the actual Restore process. The Restore process is interactive until you actually start to copy data.
It is possible that your PC will not find the network or your server once you start this process. This may scare you at first but it is ok. You may be able to click on Continue and go ahead with the process. If it does not let you continue then you will need to have the network driver. I had to install the drivers on my Restore. When WHS asked me for the network driver I went to another computer on my network, looked up the Dell website, downloaded the driver for the GX60 and put it on a USB drive. If you do not have another computer to use during this process you may want to do this as a precaution ahead of time.
I copied the drivers to a little USB drive on another computer. I then took the USB drive, plugged it in to the GX60 and clicked on the Scan button.
WHS found the drivers and continued on as expected. Make sure you unzip or decompress the driver files before you put them on the drive so WHS can find the drivers.
My drivers installed without any issues.
Once you can connect to the server the Restore can start.
Enter your WHS password and click on Next.
Choose which computer to Restore.
Choose from which backup date you want to Restore.
If your drive is brand new then continue to read on, if not then skip to the next section.
If the Drive is NOT Initialized (a brand new drive)
While I am Restoring the GX60, I am at the same time replacing the drive on my laptop with a brand new drive. This section is for the new drive. If your drive is new you will get the following error:
You can then click on the Run Disk Manager button to format the new drive.
Once in the Disk Manager application you should see your new drive. Right mouse click on the drive and do a Quick Format.
Mental Note: If you choose a full format be prepared to add another hour to your Restore experience.
Once the format is complete you can continue on with the Restore process. Verify the Source Volume and the Destination Volume and click on Next.
If Drive was previously Initialized (or came from another device)
THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT - If your drive had already been formatted or in another device you should still need to run the Disk Manager. Look at the Destination Volume on the right. If it shows “New Volume” then you should be good to go. If it shows anything else use the Run Disk Manager button and view any additional partitions that may be left on the drive. The drive must be new or reformatted with Disk Manager for the computer to boot up after the Restore. Please check this before continuing. Seriously.
Once you have deleted any old partitions and formatted the drive you need to verify the Source Volume and the Destination Volume similar to what is shown below:
Click on Next one final time to verify the Source Volume and Destination Volume.
Click on Next, relax and let the good times begin.
Now that WHS Restore is on autopilot it is time for another beer. Expect about an hour to complete the Restore. I would not rely on the timer as any real indication of time. My timer and progress bar seemed to be possessed. I am going to go watch my latest recorded episode of Lost. Be back in an hour.
Upon my return the GX60 is ready to go with the larger hard drive. In addition, due to the intricacies of time travel while writing, I have also completed my laptop Restore to a new drive. Viva Window Home Server.
Notice the difference on the two Restore Dialog Boxes below. Besides the fact that they were done two weeks apart (love that time travel) you will see the Restore Summary Volume notations are different. The laptop was a new drive while the GX60 was from another device. Even though the Restore completed if you did not format the drive the computer will have issues starting up and you have to use your Windows CD to fix it. This will take hours and defeat the purpose of using WHS to Restore to a new drive. It happened to me. Seriously.
The GX60 completed with the used drive.
The laptop completed with the new drive.
The “entire” process for the laptop hard drive took 86 minutes while the GX60 took a little longer with the network drivers. The Window Home Server saved hours of time in this upgrade. Viva WHS!
I hope this article was helpful and I wish you luck on your drive upgrades!
See you next Friday night.