Recovering SBS 2003 after hardware failure - WOW!

Yesterday afternoon after 6 years of solid uninterrupted service my hard drive on my SBS 2003 server failed.

I was pissed, the server had been telling me for about 3 months that it was coming, and I had just ordered a drive to mirror the system volume, and it had failed 2 days too early. My BAD.

After calming down I thought well I better pop out and get a new SATA drive (or 2, to do the mirror). I had been backing up; using standard NTBackup, to an external drive (which I was alternating) and the backup has been reporting success. I also use SyncToy to backup the critical data to an external drive attached to my Laptop, so I was confident the critical data could be recovered. I saw a mountain ahead to climb as I was a bit worried about all the settings for:

  • users
  • firewall,
  • RRAS,
  • VPN,
  • SSL certificate for Active Sync access
  • mailbox data on Exchange
  • my SQL Express data and
  • the internal websites

Once I had purchase a drive, I started loading the SBS box again. I googled to see if there were any white papers and found this one:, which I used as a guide.


So what was the process, and it is this simple:

  • Install SBS2003, but stop once it gets into Windows (see doc)
  • Go to windows update, and get the latest service packs and updates (this took 4 hrs.)
  • Once that is done, restore (I have used the standard backup using the scheduler) everything but NOT the Information store. Basically data, and system state
  • Once that is finished, reboot
  • AND IT IS all back to normal, WTF I was blown out of my chair.

Everything that was MS based worked. The only problem I had was with QuickBooks, it would not run. Repair did not I had to uninstall and delete the program files, including the license data under appdata, and then install run QuickBooks update and then people could access QuickBooks on the server, but the server QuickBooks did not run. Will try a reboot to see if that fixes it.

So 14 hours and about 12 cups of coffee later, we were up and on brand new drive! QuickBooks took 2 hours of that.


Well done Microsoft!