Saturday, November 01, 2008

Windows Server 2003 ASR – It DOES Work!

It’s been a bad day for my home network. We’ve had several hours of continual power cuts overnight, and when I woke up, my ISA Server Firewall had suffered a disk failure. I can’t really complain – the box is an old Dell desktop I bought around 4 years ago from E-bay, and it’s been running the firewall 7x24 ever since. I’d been meaning to take a backup, but, well I had none.

The symptoms were all too familiar – the dreaded startup screen that said disk failure. So I fired up the built-in IDE diagnostics which confirmed a serious disk error. Next I ran Sysinternals ERD (now part of the Microsoft Desktop Optimisation Pack) to find I could see the disk. Surprisingly, the Disk Commander could see the disk, and I managed to get all the non-OS files stored on another drive on my network. Nothing important, except all the installation files for the box.

I tried to take a Ghost image of the drive, but that did not work (too many disk errors), so I turned the machine off for a while, and had some breakfast. A bit later, I managed to get it to boot and also managed to get an ASR backup done!

Those nice folks in PC World sold me a new Hitachi Deskstar disk (500 GB replacing an old Maxstor 40GB!) and after lunch that was installed and working. Once that worked, I booted the Windows Server 2003 boot disk, hit F2 to select ASR Recovery and sat back and watched. Around 40 minutes later I was up and nearly up and running. During the re-install, the Windows Firewall had been installed, which stopped ISA from running. The Event Log helpfully suggested re-installing ISA server – and sure enough that worked a treat and we’re back up an running. Sart to finish just over 6 hours (which includes breakfast, lunch and a drive to PC World).

Some key take-aways:

  1. ASR does work, but it needs working floppy disks. That proved harder than you might think – but I know have a small stash of new-ish floppy disks.
  2. The Event Log sometimes really is your friend.
  3. The ISA Server team deserve a bit pat on the back for great (and accurate) event log messages
  4. Hundred Years Hall is a great CD to listen to whilst fixing a broken system!
  5. There may be an economic crisis, but PC World sure was busy.

No comments: