How To's & GuidesInstalling SBS 2011 Essentials on SSD or SATA Hard...

Installing SBS 2011 Essentials on SSD or SATA Hard Drives smaller than 160GB


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This is a follow up article to Installing WHS 2011 on SSD or SATA Hard Drives smaller than 160GB that deals exclusively with Small Business Server 2011 Essentials. Soon after writing the original article and publishing it on Using Windows Home Server I realized that SBS 2011 Essentials would need a more detailed description in the cfg.ini file for the automated setup. This would have to include NetBIOS name, Domain Name, and the other particulars when setting up an Active Directory Domain. Since Windows Home Server is stand alone and does not include Active Directory the basic cfg.ini file is sufficient for the purpose it was intended for.

Who this Article is For?

This article is to be used with Small Business Server 2011 Essentials who want to install the before mentioned operating system on Hard Drives smaller than 160GB. This can be either Solid State Drives or even the traditional IDE-SATA drives.


· A USB Flash Drive formatted NTFS

· SBS 2011 Essentials Install DVD

· A PC or Server that meets the minimum hardware requirements (with the exception of the hard drive minimum requirement)

· Monitor, Keyboard, and mouse.


The How to information is intended as a guide or a helping resource to those who are trying to install Small Business Server 2011 Essentials on Hard Drives that are smaller than the usually minimum required 160GB. There is no 100% guarantee that this will install correctly as described in this article. I assume no responsibility for any consequences of the install and the user will assume the full risk of any adverse effects of a bad installation.


1. Remove all Hard Drives currently connected to you system with the exception of the targeted SSD or traditional SATA Drive that will be used for either your SBS 2011 Essentials Operating System .

PLEASE NOTE Remember to insure all previous Data you want saved from the targeted drive is removed before installation or it will be permanently lost.

2. Format an NTFS USB Flash Drive, and create a file on it using notepad in the root called cfg.ini. (Insure there is nothing else on the USB

3. Open the cfg.ini in notepad or any other text editor

4. Cut and Paste the following into the cfg.ini file below once you have determined the correct values for the automated file parameters with the examples next to them. For more clarification on the values for the unattended answer file please go to the Blog Site and read the Installing SBS Essentials using an Answer File article by Robert Pearman.


CompanyName=XXXXXX                          (Example: CompanyName=UWHS)
Country=XX                                                    (Example: Country=US)
ServerName=XXXXXXXXXXXX                (Example: ServerName=UWHS-SBS2011)                             (Example:
NetbiosName=XXXXXXXXXXXX             (Example: NetbiosName=UWHS-SBS2011)
Language=en-XX                                          (Example: Language=en-US)
Locale=en-XX                                                (Example: Locale=en-US)
Keyboard=XXXXXXXX                                (Example: Keyboard=00000409)
UserName=XXXX                                        (Example: UserName=Juser)
PlainTextPassword=XXXXXXXX            (Example: PlainTextPassword=Password1)
StdUserName=XXXXXX                            (Example: StdUserName=Jadmin)
StdUserPlainTextPassword=XXXXXXX (Example: StdUserPlainTextPassword=Password1)

Upon completion your cfg.ini file should look almost exactly like the example below, except of course for your own unique values for the unintended answer file parameters.


5. Close the file and save it on the USB Flash Drive.

6. Insert the USB Flash Drive with the cfg.ini file into the targeted SBS 2011 Essentials Server’s empty USB Slot.

7. Power up your Server and insure that either you’re Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials install DVD has been inserted into your Servers ROM.

8. Once your Server has booted off the install DVD the Installer will read the CFG.ini file and begin the automated install process. There should be NO User Input required during this time.

9. When your Server Installer has finished its first part of the Install and goes to reboot for the 1st time REMOVE the USB Flash Drive and the Install DVD from your Server BEFORE your server boots back up(As shown below). This will allow the Server upon rebooting to find your hard drive and continue the installation from there without further interruption.


10. No Further action on your part will be required and the rest of the install will finish automatically, again without any user intervention.

11. Once the installation has completed please plug in any other drives and continue with completing your server build.


I want to give big thanks to the following People in making this article possible…

UWHS Forum Member Mr. John Inwood (AKA Coalfield) for spending countless hours and referencing many different Microsoft forums for initially finding the solution to circumventing the 160GB minimum requirement in Windows Home Server 2011.

UWHS Forum Member Mr. Gnomatic for helping refining the execution of the installation process of this automated solution for installing hard drives less than 160GB.

Finally Mr. Robert Pearman over at; for allowing me to refer to his article on refining the Unattended Answer File in Small Business Server 2011 Essentials.

John Keller
John Keller
John has been in the IT profession for over 20 years along with being certified in both Comptia Security + (2008 edition) and a MCP (Microsoft Certified Professional) on Both Windows XP & Server 2003 Administration, He currently works as an Windows System Administrator for Northrop Grumman in the Greater Los Angeles Area and manages 3 Windows Active Directory Private Networks (Two 2008 R2 and One 2012 R2) along With 2 VMware EXSI 5.5 Servers in the US. He has been an avid fan and follower of Windows Home Server (Now the Essentials Role of Windows Server) and Visualization Since 2009. He is currently trying to exploit the full potential of Microsoft's Windows Server Operating System to the Home & Small to Medium Business Community along with the power of Visualization. When not being a Nerd and a Geek he likes to watch Movies, Read Comic Books, and most importantly spend time with his family.


  1. Great troubleshooting. People forget that Windows Setup has been “answer file” aware for a long time. But who knew you could use it to get around the 160GB issue.

    This puts some lower cost SSD drives in ranger for running the OS.

    That being said, do you have a suggestion for a minimum size HD for the OS? 60GB ok? More?

    Thanks again.

  2. Thanks Adam,

    As you know I had some help from 2 other forum members from UWHS who did the intial concept in Windows Home Server 2011 (The code that SBS 2011 Essentials is based on) and Robert Pearman from the blogsite with setting up the Domain end of the answer ini.

    For the OS Drive if using SSD I personally would use a 128GB SSD Drive for the OS. Overtime 60GB is just not going to be enough between Windows Updates, URP’s, and Service Packs which from working with both OS’s already takes about 30GB of the 60GB partition. Plus if you decide to add SharePoint or other services that will take room of that 60GB partition. A 128GB SSD is approximately $200(US) at either Amazon or NewEgg. However, if your IT budget can’t quit handle that then go ahead and do the 64GB SSD for the moment and once the SSD’s drop in price you can do a image restore onto the new SSD Drive.

    If you are going the way of traditional SATA drive I would insure you have at least 100gb (perferably 120gb) system partition (OS partition) on the primary hard drive for the same reasons listed above. By using the traditional SATA drive you can even use the built in partiton drive extender per this how to article I wrote up…

    But, if you do go SSD for the system partition (OS) then the Unattended Answer File is the way to go. For additional storage make sure you just use the traditional SATA drives. It’s cheaper and it won’t make a differences in your systems overall performance.

    Hope this answer’s your questions.

    • It does. I had my heart set on an Icy Dock so I could mirror the OS drives. The difference between a 120GB and 250GB 2 1/2″ drive appears to be minimal. So, I’ll be able to do a traditional install, I assume. My HP MSS 470 is still running fine, so I’m waiting for this new Milstead line of CPUs to come out and then I’ll pull the plug.

  3. Didn’t work for me. Is it perhaps because I’m trying to install the Dutch version of WHS 2011?

  4. Didn’t work for me either, and I am a sysadmin who has been using unattend files for years,

  5. work perfekt for me in danish and german, so need be error 40 with the sysadmin who has been using unattend files for years, u anytime needed to whrite one urselv 😀
    and Dutchman, try
    Keyboard=00000413 (dutch standard) or 00000813 (dutch belgian)

  6. I failed a few times until I saved the cfg.ini file follow the instructions given by Robert Pearman : )
    Save your cfg.ini file – Save As
    file name (with ” “):
    All Files (*.*)

  7. I could not get this to work at all. I am installing from a flash drive and tried placing the cfg.ini file on the same flash drive in the root directory but it never would get picked up during the install. I tried putting it on a separate flash drive but had no luck with this either. As a last resort (didn’t think it would actually work) I pulled the SSD, attached it to another machine, formatted it, copied the answer file on the SSD (so it was on both the flash drive and the SSD), and put it back in the WHS machine. For some reason this worked. Go figure.

  8. I tried now several times to enter the setup with the cfg file mentioned above. i have entered my values and i always get the error win7 exited setup with 31. I do not know what it is or how i can fix it. There is nothing on the internet that specifies that problem. I tried installing essentials 2011 on a raid1 and i tried it on a single ssd with 128gb as a normal ide drive. Both ended up in this error. Here is my cfg:



    i just replaced users and passwords. Any help would be appriciated.

    Thank you very much

  9. When I tried with the file on just the USB stick it did not work. Putting the cfg.ini file on the SSD I was installing to AND on a USB stick did work. Not sure why this was necessary or if you can just put it on the drive you’re installing to but I’m not complaining!

  10. Worked great for me once i figured out how to get WHS to see my SAS adapter and attached drive.
    The error logs kept stating it couldn’t locate a boot disk.
    To get the drivers to load on install I used the optional ‘Drivers’ parameter defined at . I put my drivers into a folder on the USB named ‘drivers’ and since I didn’t know what drive letter was getting assigned I also used the wildcard path ‘_:drivers’. Went smooth after I did this.

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