How To's & GuidesHow To Perform a Server Reinstallation of Windows Home...

How To Perform a Server Reinstallation of Windows Home Server


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Continuing our series of “How To….” guides, this one is all about how to perform a server reinstallation of the Windows Home Server software in the event of a problem, or just because you want to.


Before you reinstall Windows Home Server, you should ensure you have the following available:

  • Your computer that was already running Windows Home Server.
  • A mouse, keyboard and monitor, all connected to the computer.
  • A working network connection connected to the computer.
  • The Windows Home Server installation DVD (or a USB stick with the WHS software on).
  • A Windows Home Server product key which you will need during the installation.


Exactly the same as when you first installed Windows Home Server, your computer must support being able to boot from DVD or USB stick, otherwise the installation will not be able to take place. You may need to go into the BIOS of your computer in order to set the boot priority so that the DVD or USB stuck is first in the list. Consult the documentation that came with your computer if you are unsure how to do this. The other option is to choose the boot device when the computer starts up – again, check your documentation on doing this.

You should then see a screen displaying Windows is loading files…. (that means it working so far). If you don’t see this, then try again making sure you are booting from either the DVD or the USB stick.


Setup will then initialise – this may take a moment or two so be patient.


You should now be presented with the Welcome to Windows Home Server Setup screen. This step is simple – all you have to do is click Next to continue.


You will now need to select your Regional and Keyboard Settings and click Next to continue.


The next screen is called the Load Additional Storage Drivers screen. You need to ensure that all of your hard drives are listed on this page, for example mine shows a single 75GB ATA drive attached.

  • Vol 1 – this is the SYS volume and contains all the files and settings for your Windows Home Server. This is the volume that will be deleted and recreated during the server reinstallation process.
  • Vol 2 – this is the DATA volume and contains all of your shared folders and computer backups. This volume will remain untouched during the server reinstallation process.If all of your drives are shown just click Next to continue.
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    If for some reason one or more of your hard drives is not displayed here, then it might be because you need to load an additional driver. If this is the case, click on the Load drivers button and then locate the Device Driver File. Click once on the relevant Device Driver File and click Open to continue.

    When you have loaded the additional Device Driver File or files your hard drives should all now appear in the list. If this is the case then just click Next to continue. If they are still not shown then check all the connections inside the computer (sometimes it is as simple as a loose cable) and see if there are any updated device drivers on the manufacturers website.


    The next screen that is displayed is the Select an Installation Type screen. Ensure Server Reinstallation is selected (it should be automatically as the setup program should have detected that you already had Windows Home Server installed) and click Next to continue. Make sure that Server Reinstallation is selected otherwise you will lose all of your existing WHS data (including your Shared Folders and Computer Backups).


    The next screen is the End-User License Agreement (sometimes referred to as the EULA). You should read through this carefully and then assuming you agree to it (and if you don’t then you won’t be able to install and then use Windows Home Server) click the I accept this agreement radio button and then click Next to continue.


    You will then be asked to enter your Windows Home Server Product Key. The Windows Home Server Product Key should be located either inside the DVD case or on a sticker on the actual computer if you have purchased a Windows Home Server computer. Type in the Product Key carefully and then click Next to continue.


    The next stage is to type in the name of your Windows Home Server. You must type in the same name as you used last time and click Next to continue.


    Right, you are at the last stage now before the reinstallation actually begins. You should now see the Ready to Install Windows Home Server screen. All you have to do now is click on the Start button to begin the actual installation.


    The installation will now commence – this could take a little while so again, be patient.

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    When the installation is complete, you will see the Windows Home Server Welcome Screen.


    The next thing you need to do is configure Windows Home Server, so click here to go to that how to guide.

    Now that the Windows Home Server reinstallation process has completed you will need to recreate all of your user accounts and perform all of your setting changes in order to get your Windows Home Server back into the working state you had it in before you needed to perform the reinstallation. You will also need to perform some updates for your Windows Home Server to fill in all the missing updates since the version of the software you used to perform the reinstall.

    Andrew Edney
    Andrew Edney
    I am the owner and editor of this site. I have been interested in gadgets and tech since I was a little kid. I have also written a number of books on various tech subjects. I also blog for The Huffington Post and for FHM. And I am honoured to be a Microsoft MVP since January 2008 - again this year as an Xbox MVP.


    1. Hi Andrew

      Great post by the way – really useful and good to see you also have a site covering Media Centre (my other passion!).

      Actually all i need to do is change my license key for my WHS as I now have technet+ subscription and wanted to use one of the keys – is there an easy way to do it or is a reinstall the only way?

      • Hi Mark – thanks 🙂

        No, its a server reinstall I'm afraid! Make sure you choose server reinstall to keep all your data though.


    2. Hello Andrew,

      Nice concise guide; thank you for assembling it.

      Since the system volume is being replace, you need to reinstall any add-ins or programs that were on your server.

      The first time I reinstalled, I didn't allow for that and really had to install my server enhancements from the ground floor. This time I am reviewing my system volume first and seeing if there is anything I need to retain. For example, I have some scripts that I can store on the data volume.

      I also use a bit torrent client that is on the system volume; I can retain all the .dat files and rebuild my client more eaily, as well as a virus scanner which has configuration files.

      My question to you is: can you think of any other things on the system volume that might be nice to keep?



    3. Hello, this is the best "server reinstall" guide for WHS I have seen.

      My situation is this:

      Primary 500GB IDE drive failed; got a replacement. I had 1.5TB SATA drive (via controller card) in original WHS server, all data.

      Taking the opportunity to install into newer spare system with onboard SATA. Plugged replacement IDE drive and 1.5TB SATA drive in. At the screen that shows my hard drives, the SATA drive is listed as Disk 0, IDE drive is listed as Disk 1.

      There does not seem to be an option later on to select which disk should contain the system partition. I am very nervous about proceeding at this point.

      What are my options? Should I re-install WITHOUT the SATA drive first, and then plug it in after? How will WHS handle that? I.e., will it want to format the SATA b/c it thinks it's a new drive?

      Any thoughts you have are appreciated. I am missing my WHS more than I thought I would right now.


      • Hi Sherman

        Thanks 🙂

        the safest option would be to connect them up exactly as they were before, that way WHS would see them.

        If it cant see the data drive where it thinks it is supposed to be, then there is a risk that it will no do a server reinstallation but it will do a new installation and your previous data will be lost. The drive has to be there for it to work – you cant connect it later either, otherwise your backups are gone!


        • Hi Andrew,

          Ya, I figured I could put them into the old system and re-install, but wanted to use the new(er) system that has the SATA onboard.

          I borrowed a 1.5TB drive and am cloning it. This will allow me to try the re-install to see what happens. I was able to see the drive's contents (note to anyone reading this: plug drive into an NTFS-capable system, then turn on 'hidden folders' in Explorer) and copy most of the stuff off to another system. Just ran out of room, so if my test re-install doesn't work, the worse case scenario is that I copy everything off to the spare 1.5TB via robocopy, perform new install of WHS, and then copy everything back to the new shares.

          Here is something I can tell you though:

          I had plugged in a spare SATA drive instead of the 1.5TB drive to try a re-install that way. No can do, as WHS seems to be smart enough to know there is no valid WHS data on any of the connected drives. The only option was a "new" install. I didn't even bother continuing at that point.

          Thanks for confirming what I already thought about plugging in the 1.5TB drive AFTER an install (which I now presume will only allow a "new" install). One could have hoped WHS again is smart enough to say, "hey, this drive has WHS data on it, want me to try to rebuild the tombstones?" 🙁

          Well, in the end, this process is going to take a while. Cloning the drive is about 8 hrs. Then I think here's what I will do:

          Attempt a re-install using the cloned drive to see what happens. If successful, I will repeat using the real drive (*after* wiping the fresh WHS on the IDE drive).

          If unsuccessful, then I will robocopy the data from the 1.5TB "master" drive to the spare 1.5TB drive, perform a new install, and then copy the data back after re-creating the shares. Painful, but I can now feel safe doing it w/o losing any of the data on the drive.

          Thanks for your feedback; hope this information helps someone out there.

    4. Hi Andrew

      Thanks for a very useful guide. I have to replace the system drive and when I try a reinstall I only get the option of a new installation which will result in the loss of all my data. Presumably this is because the old installation is on the dead drive. How can I get round this?

      Is it related to using OEM version software?


      • Martin

        Did you have more than one drive in your Windows Home Server? If so, are those drives still connected?

        The OEM software doesnt have anything to do with it, so dont worry about that.

        When you perform a server reinstallation WHS should see the other drives and then rebuild everything from there.

        By the sounds of it your WHS cannot see the other drives. Is the replacement system drive in the same place and the same type of drive?


    5. Hi Andrew

      Thanks for the quick response.

      As you suspected it wasn't simply the system drive that was missing but all 5 of them. It turned out to be a power problem and forunately not a dead system drive.

      For future reference is there any way to backup the system partition (including settings, updates, add ins etc.) to simplify a reinstall or do you have to start from scratch.


      • Hi Martin

        Well I am glad to hear that!

        There is no supported way to backup everything unfortunately – the server reinstallation process works really well but it does then involve having to recreate users and adding add-ins again.

        Other people have played around with imaging the system drive but this is really dangerous as it wont match your data drives.

        Hopefully there might be something coming in WHS V2 next year to take care of that 🙂


    6. Andrew,

      Great site. I'm new to WHS but not to Window Server technologies. I have a question. Is it possible to use a program like Acronis True Image or Ghost to image the SYS partition to an external drive and then use it to restore the image in case of a hardware issue or SYS volume problem? Ive used it in the past for server and workstation restores and find it to be invaluable. It certainly beats reinstalling from scratch. Will it work with WHS?



      • Hi Mike

        Not really no because of the various tombstones and pointers to the data drives wont be current and you could have problems. I think people have done it but I have heard stories of more problems it then created.

        To be honest though doing a Server Reinstalltion is fairly straighforward and quick and all you have to to is recreate your users and reinstall any add-ins – all your data is safe.


    7. Hello Andrew, thanks for spending time helping all of us. These write-ups are very useful.

      I wanted to get your opinion with my situation. I want to change the machine I run WHS on. I guess I could move all the drives in the current machine to the new one and try a re-installation. Would this work? I also read your article on backing up the shared folders and the backup database. If I backup these two blocks of data:

      1. Does it contain all of the data I would care for? (don't care for add-ins at this point.

      2. Can I then install the backup database and files in shared folders to any computer?

      3. What implications (good or bad) do you foresee with this approach?

      Thanks very much in advance for any help.



      • Hi Jimmy

        thanks 🙂

        To be honest, when I have migrated to a new WHS I have just moved over my shared folder data and then performed fresh backups of all my machines as its cleaner.

        You could try moving the drives and performing a server reinstallation – that might work – it should work, but I havent tried it myself.

        Hope that sort of answers the question? If not, why not post a question in our forums for others to respond to as well, as I am sure people have done this before 🙂


    8. Andrew, thanks for the quick response. I guess that makes sense as that would be the only machine changing in my network. Fresh backups would not be a problem.

      thanks very much and thanks for your time.



    9. Andrew,

      Thanks for the detailed walkthrough and question answering. However, I am still not clear on something.

      I currently have an ACER WHS with 4 x 1 tb drives in it. The first 1 tb drive is the system drive, but it is also about half full of data from (presumably from some shares). If I want to upgrade that drive to a 2 tb drive, How can I retain the data that is on that drive?

      I am guessing that a server reinstall wouldn't not work, since I would have to pull that drive out and replace it with the new 2 tb drive. Would I go through into the console, and select that drive and select "remove"? Would it move all the data off of that drive onto one of the other drives in the pool?

      I understand that a server reinstall keeps all the data on the drives in the pool, just not sure about replacing the system drive that has pool data on it as well.

      Any help you can provide would be appreciated.



      • Hi Justin

        The best advice I could give is to make sure that all your shared folders are set with duplication enabled and then replace the system drive and perform a server reinstallation. Then check all your files are still there (if they are not you still have the original drive which you can plug into a computer and pull off any data).

        Let me know how you get on.


    10. Hi Everybody! I realize this post and comments are a couple months old, but hopefully someone is still lurking.

      I had to do a reinstall of my WHS, and have followed the instructions here. The problem I have is it seems to be stuck on the finalizing installation stage of the re-install. I hear the drives working, so I am assuming it is still doing something, but I have been looking at the same screen for over an hour. I have over a TB of data on my server, does it make sense that this step would take so long?

      I am hoping it will finish soon , but I am starting to get worried.


      • I would leave it for several hours, as it could also be downloading updates, etc.

        Be patient – and if it still hasnt done anything after a few more hours post a question in our forums as more people will see it.


    11. Hi Andrew,

      I have an external RAID 5 box from Rosewill connected via eSATA to a PCIe controller card on a PC running WinXP. The RAID 5 box with 5 1.5TB drives appears as a single drive to WinXP. There is almost 2TB of data on the box and is currently accessible by WinXP. I recently purchased WHS and and want to know my options of connecting my RAID 5 box to it without losing all the data and without having to copy it to a different location and then re-copying back to the box through WHS. I know that WHS is going to format the single drive appearance once I load the controller card driver and add it as a new drive in the storage pool.

      • Manish

        WHS doesnt support RAID. If you connect your current drive set to Windows Home Server you will only have the option of formatting the drives to add them to the WHS pool, formatting them to add as external backup drives, or just connecting them. If they are just connected then WHS wont be able to use them or do anything with them.

        So, if you want your data on WHS, which I am guessing is one of the reasons for getting WHS, you will have to copy it over unfortunatly.

        If you have any more questions, please feel free to post a question in our forums so that others may be able to answer them.


    12. I have the following problem:

      I want to install a faster more reliable drive for my current system drive (320gb)

      I have tried several times to add a 300gb Velociraptor and the only option offered from the WHS DVD is a new install. I have tried, now, several drives larger than the original and still only get the new install option. I have read in another forum that I should proceed anyway and that after a point WHS installer will note the D: drive and rebuild the tombstones. Is this true or is there a way to to get the WHS install dvd to offer me the reinstallation option?

      • Hi Randy

        Can I ask you to post this question in our forums as I know a number of people who answer there may have done something similar before.


    13. Hello,

      I have had WHS for a couple of years. All of a sudden today, I am getting the error: NTLDR is missing. When I try to perform the reinstall as explained on this site, I am unable to. My DVD only gives me the option to do a NEW Installation. The Reintallation option is not listed. Any idea on how I can get my server up and running?


      Vineet Agarwal

      • Vineet

        If you are only offered a New Installation then WHS cannot see your hard drives.

        Can I ask you to post your help request in our forums please so people can help you?


    14. Hi Andrew,

      Thanks for your quick response. In my system I have 4 hard drives connected to the motherboard then another 8 connected to two sata to pci adapters. Could that be a reason why my system crashed or why a reinstallation is not possible. However I do have the system drive connected directly to the motherboard.

    15. Hello, Just found the post and site via Google. My WHS has been running since 2007 and due to some unknown problem will not boot. I have verified that my c:/sys vol, data, and shares are still on the drives. I am going to do a reinstall. My question is after putting in server name, admin password and user accounts will Those PC backups that were stored on the server come back.

    16. Great site! Thx. I reinstalled WHS and everything went well. But now all the computers have to be re-associated with the server. Is there anyway of relinking each computer to the server without setting them up as a ‘new’ computer?

    17. Great site! Thx. I reinstalled WHS and everything went well. But now all the computers have to be re-associated with the server. Is there anyway of relinking each computer to the server without setting them up as a ‘new’ computer?

    18. One additional note that you might add to this is that after the installation commences, it will reboot along the way, and when it does, you should remove the cd or usb drive to allow it to reboot from the hard drive. If you don’t, it will restart the installation process again, but will only offer you the option of a fresh install, which will wipe your data. I started the process and walked away, and when I came back was presented only with a choice to do a fresh install (since it rebooted while the USB drive was still inserted). I went ahead and did a fresh install, but now realize that I could have unplugged the USB, rebooted, and it would have finished the reinstall process.

    19. I’ve been having problems where my WHS Console is not working as well as other add-ins so i’ve finally decided to do an Server Reintallation….I had problems at the end where i had errors (0x8000703EB and 0x80070003) mostly relating to an “qs.ini” not found. I try again later to do the Reinstall later but get an “Server Restore” option instead of “Server Reinstallation”. I still get the “New Installation” option too so I know it something different. What I want to know is how safe is it to use this option compared to “Server Reinstall” I don’t want to loose all the data I have on drive….I have an 400Gb PATA (Primary SYS/DATA) and 2 2Tb SATA (DATA). I have most of the DATA from the 2 SATA backup to an ext. but not all…only what I need. I’m not worried about the computer backup but only the Shared Folders. I need some help fast. Thanks.

    20. I went ahead and selected the “Server Restore” process…doesn’t seem like any data missing/deleted but still cannot complete the process due to errors (0x80070057). When I check the log it always point to a missing .INI file (qs.ini). I’ve even created an qs.ini in Notepad and placed it in the C: folder and still the same error. I’ve been working on this for 3 days straight. HELP.

      • I would suggest posting your question in the Windows Home Server forums on the Microsoft website – someone there should be able to give you some specific advice.

    21. I am having major issues with my WHS2003. I have booted vix PXE and opted for the factory option, but my Home Console will not boot correctly and my drive are not fully recognized. Ahhhhh! Can anyone help?

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