Restore a Hyper-V Server to an Optiplex 960, Take 3

This is the third in the series of almost annual articles about my experiences testing a Hyper-V restore. I’ve done this successfully in 2011 and 2012. Why repeat? To make sure disaster recovery is still possible, and to try a new approach.

To recap, I have a Hyper-V server (Dell PowerEdge 1900) running one Hyper-V guest. Both run Windows Server 2008 R2. Both the host and guest run daily backups using Windows Server Backup. My emergency restore machine is a client desktop, a Dell Optiplex 960.

In the past, I’ve restored the entire host machine, which included the volume holding the Hyper-V guest VHDs. Today I want to try a different approach:  only restore the client, basically a virtual-to-physical (V2P) restore. The basic approach is as follows:

  1. The guest backups reside inside a VHD on a Bitlocker-encrypted external USB drive. Copy the backup out of the VHD and onto a second, unencrypted USB drive (a spare that I brought along from my office).
  2. Boot the Optiplex 960 from a Server 2008 R2 installation disk.
  3. Restore the backup from the temporary USB drive.
  4. Test server functionality.

The Procedure

12:55pm Arrive on-site and prepare for the test.

Log in to Windows 7 on Optiplex 960. Attach encrypted USB backup drive.  Supply Bitlocker password to unlock.

1:08pm In diskmgmt.msc, Action > Attach VHD.  Open the VHD on the external drive that contains the Hyper-V guest backups. Open writeable. The VHD mounted as drive G:.

In drive Properties, take ownership of drive, give my user Full Control permissions.

1:14pm Start copying G:\WindowsImageBackup to second, unencrypted USB drive.

Copy stopped on a .vhd file, showed 0 bytes copied even after several minutes. Cancel the copy.

Probably a permissions issue on the backup folders/files. Open an administrative command prompt and use this command to assign ownership to administrators group recursively:

takeown /f WindowsImageBackup /a /r

My user already has full control permissions on WindowsImageBackup, which should be inherited by subfolders and files.

1:20pm Re-start copy to second USB drive.  Approve prompt asking for administrative permission to copy 23 files.

1:55pm Copy finished.

Reboot the 960 from the Server 2008 R2 setup disk. Disconnect the original, Bitlocker-encrypted USB drive while the system is down—we’re done with that drive.

Press F12 during boot to boot from CD-ROM, then when prompted, press any key to boot from CD-ROM. Boot to Setup when prompted. (Note that we won’t be running Hyper-V, so there is no need to check virtualization support.)

At the installation screen, choose Repair, then Restore your computer using a system image you created earlier. The wizard automatically finds the image on the attached, unencrypted drive. Accept the defaults to restore the entire system.

2:00pm Restore started.

2:14pm Drive C restore completed, drive D: not restored (why not?).

Rebooted into Drive C:. For this test, disconnect network cable from the 960 because the real server is still online. “Applying computer settings” taking a long time.

2:18pm Logon prompt, but seemed to hang after accepting 6 password characters. Character cursor blinking but mouse cursor not visible.

2:21pm Full password accepted, group policy objects applied, logon complete. Loading roaming profile failed because it is stored on drive D:, which did not restore. Starts installing drivers; most succeed but one “Unknown Device” fails. “You must restart your computer to apply these changes.” I planned to choose Restart Later, but external drive not visible, so restarted now.

2:29pm Back to desktop but external drive still not visible. Disconnect and reconnect it and it shows up. In diskmgmt.msc, create and quick-format partition for D: drive. Original was 60GB exactly. Make it 60.1GB.

Run Windows Server Backup in GUI mode to restore (“Recover”) drive D:. In the recovery wizard, choose A backup stored on another location, then Local drives, then the USB drive (F:), accept server name, accept latest backup date, choose Volumes, choose to restore D: to the empty volume created just above. I had to restart the recovery wizard a couple times to get the new, empty Drive D: to populate.

2:40pm Start restore of D:.

4:00pm (estimated) Finish restore of D:. Estimated based on approximately 1% per minute speed at the beginning of the restore.

I was away for a while here—this time not counted in “Duration” section.

4:50pm Put restored server online and test.

Close inbound port 25 on router so inbound mail will not be accepted.

Shut down live server (Hyper-V guest).

Attach 960 to network and restart it.

5:07pm Assign same static IP to server. Click OK at the warning that another adapter has that address and both should not be active at once. This was the cause of slow logon before.

Test the server:

a. Check Event Log > Administrative Events.
b. Check that Web server works. (May need to test from outside network—the wireless guest network at the client, which I’m using for my laptop, doesn’t bridge to wired network.)
c. Check that Active directory works, including accepting a logon from a client, running group policy, and redirecting folders.
d. Check that shared drives are available from a client. Try opening QuickBooks and other data on test server.
e. On the test server run the diagnostics of the mail server program (MailEnable) and make sure they pass. Log on to through webmail and test that you can successfully send an outbound email.
f. Print a page to a network printer.

5:27pm Testing of clients, etc. completed.

Now that network card has the correct IP, try a reboot. Still seemed like it lingered on Applying Computer Settings for too long. Logon prompt after 2 minutes 28 seconds. Actual login is fast:  14 seconds to the desktop.

Workstation Restore

5:40pm Boot from WHS restore CD. Go through restore wizard. In Disk Management, delete volumes used by test restore, create 80GB C: volume.

5:49pm Start restore. It says estimated time is 7 minutes, but bar is not moving.

5:56pm Bar jumped a little, now shows estimated time 2 hours and 28 minutes, then 2 hours and 10 minutes.

6:30pm Restore apparently hung:  still shows 2 hours and 10 minutes.

Cancel restore. Disconnected temporary external USB drive. Reboot from WHS CD again.

6:40pm Start restore using yesterday’s backup rather than today’s. Allow system to choose volumes. Seems stuck on estimating time.

6:55pm Shows 6 hours 8 minutes remaining. Will leave on.

By 10:00am the next morning, the machine was showing 4 days remaining on the restore. Strange, since this worked fine last year. I encountered the same slow restore issue a few months ago with a different machine. This time I know to just directly attach the 960’s drive to the Windows Home Server to do the restore. Details in this thread. The restore took about 40 minutes and the 960 booted right up once I re-installed its drive.


So 12:55pm to 5:07pm when the server was ready for logon: 4.2 hours, less the 50 minutes I was away, leaves about 3.4 hours to actually get the server to a usable state. That’s two hours faster than previous years.

Lessons Learned

  • Use the command line (takeown) to quickly get permissions to a backup drive.
  • If there is only one guest and you have a good backup of the guest, restoring only the guest (physical-to-virtual) saves time.
  • The new server will create a new network connection for the client’s network card. As soon as the restored server boots and you can log in, set a fixed IP address and DNS to match the real server’s IP and DNS. (DNS in this case points to itself since it’s a domain controller.) This will speed up logins, group policy, etc.
  • Since Windows Home Server restores have become problematic (though not impossible), before the next test, back up the client to a local USB drive.

3 thoughts on “Restore a Hyper-V Server to an Optiplex 960, Take 3

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