TechMicrosoftPC Hard Drive Restore from Windows Home Server to...

PC Hard Drive Restore from Windows Home Server to a USB Drive


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What do you do if your PC cannot connect to your network or server during a PC Restore from Windows Home Server? If you have another PC on the network and a USB enclosure you can remove the drive and Restore from outside the PC.

USB Drive Restore


My moms Inspiron 15 was having a conflict with SlingPlayer and simply removing the program did not solve the issue. Her work tech had made some changes and the laptop turned into a brick after Windows started.

I had a clean backup from a few weeks ago and told her I would Restore it last night. My plan was to stop by the parents, start the Restore and go home. I have done this a dozen times. Easy right?

Not tonight.

Video of the Error

Every time I got to the Server connection screen it would NOT find the Server. What’s a boy to do? (insert Google rejected curse word here)


Restore to a USB Drive?

Yes, you can put the existing drive in a USB Enclosure and Restore your PC to that drive. This also means if you want to upgrade your drive for example, you can do it outside your existing system and just swap the drives out when you are done. How cool is that? I love Windows Home Server. Seriously.

Remove Drive

Pull the drive out of the Inspiron 15. Two screws.

USB Drive Restore

Remove the drive from the tray. Two more screws.

USB Drive Restore

Hold drive in hand. Take picture with phone.

USB Drive Restore

Timothy Daleo
Timothy Daleo
Timothy Daleo is a Project Resource Analyst and Oracle Applications Trainer in Pasadena, California. In addition to financial analysis, Tim has been developing training materials since 2003 and supporting direct projects through various auxiliary databases since 2005.


  1. Most likely the network drivers are not on the restore disk. I would use the x files restore disk.

  2. I had the Dell drivers on a separate USB stick and they WERE found during the configure process. In the video it shows the Marvell and WLAN drivers as installed. I was also checking my router during this Restore and the Inspiron 15 did not connect so I knew it was an issue with the laptop itself and NOT the network. Since I had no other alternative I HAD to do a USB type Restore.

    The other laptop (older XP) on the network was the one I used for the USB Restore.

    I will have another article out soon on possible solutions for the network driver issue.

    Stay tuned.

  3. HI Timothy,

    Much like Diehard pointed out there is a simpler, to me, way to do this kind of restore. I do it directly in Windows on my client so there is no need to boot from the USB flash drive and run the restore that way. Just run Client Restore Wizard in C:Program FilesWindows Home Server and you can restore the drive right inside of your Windows client.


  4. The PC was a brick so I was out of luck. I did try it last night on my test machine and it saved a lot of steps. I plan on upgrading the drive soon so I will document the times. I can see the set up was faster but was the Restore?

    • Timothy,

      The Restore in this fashion using a USB drive will always be kind of slow because of the slow USB speeds. If you can hook the drive direct to the SATA port on the mother board it will go much fast. This is of course provided you are not connected wirelessly to your WHS which will also make it slow but not any slower than if you booted off the Restore CD/USB disk/stick. The external USB drive is a slick way to do this kind of restore though because you don

  5. If I was at home I would have been able to do it faster. Since it was a laptop drive, and remote site, the USB was the easiest.

    If it was a 3.5" drive I could just insert it into my test case 5.25 SATA bay adapter and run it from there.

    I was at Frys last weekend and bought this model:

    It is cool and I will have a quickie write up on it. I am also going to get the 2.5" version next paycheck. Of course these only work when I can do the Restore and images at home.


  6. Just went looking at the 'Egg and found this which does both 2.5 & 3.5 drives.

    Of course it requires that you have an external eSATA port on your PC (I do). I've also got something very similar to your removable drive bay. Mine is a 3×2 3.5" drive model where I put three 3.5" hdd in the space of 2×5.25" drive slots and is hot swappable too.

    The above product would make for nice mobile unit if your laptop has an eSATA port. If not just buy a PCM/CIA eSATA card for the laptop and you have it whipped.

    Good post Timothy! It led to lots of creative ideas and ways to do this kind of restore.


  7. If we did this for a living I am sure we would have all sorts of mobile gadgetry. I think most of what I have is bolted to a bench or stand!

    I am glad you like the posts.

    Now if I just had the money to buy an old ambulance and convert it to a mobile PC repair WHS rig…

  8. Dude, have you done the Restore from the C:Program FilesWindows Home Server on your own machine? Did it need additional steps? There was just a new post saying that the Win7 installation DVD was required along with multiple restarts. The process I listed with the USB maybe slower but seems less complicated, does not require the Win7 DVD and did not require any restarts.

    Let me know.

    We may have to do some additional testing!

  9. I think I am just going to to stick with the CD Restore for now. I mean either way you still have to insert a CD, right?


  10. Her Inspiron 15 is a 64-bit Win7 machine. When I ran the PP3 Restore disk everything worked fine until I tried to connect to the server. Server not found. Since the drivers loaded (and showed) but the machine was not connected the network router I assumed it was an issue with the laptop (or Dell settings) and pulled the drive.

    I then put the laptop drive in the USB and connected it to a D610 Dell XP (already on the network) on a dock hardwired. I booted from the CD and the process worked fine. Since the Inspiron was a brick I had no other option at that time.

    The current question is whether I need to Restore from the CD image (which worked fine but a little slow) or if I could just Restore to USB from the Restore exe file on the D610.

    I am giving myself a headache.

    • And now you are making my head hurt too…crap. That's what I get for ASSuming!!! Now I'm really cornfused!!! Time for some more testing (read playing) and see if I can get to the bottom of this. I think I see already what's going on. Ugh… this means I'm going to have to load XP om some drive for testing. Damn.

      None the less this all started with the fact you couldn't get the CORRECT drivers loaded for the Restore to work like it is designed to. This NIC drivers issue has to be the biggest bone with the otherwise great WHS.

      As Mr. Baker said Drashna's X:files works very well and MIGHT (most likely) have loaded the correct drivers for the NIC. I'll bet you first round that if you could find Vista 32bit drivers for that NIC the Restore would have worked like it is suppose to. And they wonder why we drink 🙂


  11. I think it may be an issue with 32-bit CD vs. 64-bit PC. Will forward an article I have in draft so you can check it out.

    Check your email in a few.

  12. I dunno if you were on wireless or wired. But whenever I restore and if I'm not wired to the network it always show that the network card is not found like how it happen to you in the video.

    • Dueto the amount of data moved during a restore you should always perform a restore over a wired connection. Remember that you can always load your drivers during the restore process.

      Check out more of our videos for the driver process.

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