How to perform a full Small Business Server 2011 restore

After your server has become corrupted or doesn’t start anymore or hardware died it would be nice if there is a simple way to restore the whole server. This is how it works with the build in server backup program.

What you need is you’re SBS 2011 dvd or iso and a successful windows server backup. In this blog post (click here) I described how to configure the sbs server backup.

If you have a hardware error fix this first. Then start the server from your SBS dvd or iso.

Choose your language and next to continue

Now we choose Repair your computer

If you are restoring to same hardware and the old installation is still on that disks you will see this here and can try to use the recovery tools before you are going to do a full restore.
If you use a storage controller that has to load additional drivers then choose Load drivers before you continue.

In this case we are going to restore to complete new disks so there can be found no earlier installation. Choose next.

If you got an error make sure you have connect the device with your sbs server backup on it.
Choose if you would like to use the last available backup or select another backup.

Now you can choose if you would exclude disks to restore to, install drivers for you storage controller if your disk aren’t detected or choose to only restore system drives from your backup.
Choose next to continue

An overview what will be restored. Choose Finish

Another warning that your disks will be formatted and all data on i twill be lost. Choose Yes to continue.

Now the restore is in progress, this can take a while depending your hardware and amount of data. After restore is finished the server will reboot automatically. When you first logon it could take a while before everything is started successful please be patient.

You now have successful restored your SBS 2011 server.

Posted in Blog, Howto, SBS 2011 by ronnypot at February 24th, 2011.
Tags: , ,

44 Responses to “How to perform a full Small Business Server 2011 restore”

  1. Dan says:

    “If you ever had any doubts about the capabilities of SBS Backup, put them aside. You can absolutely depend on Windows Server/SBS 2008 Backup to create complete and useable backups of the entire SBS system, including System State, SharePoint, Exchange and anything else you point to on your SBS Server. You can also exclude data items (but not system items) that you want to exclude, such as downloaded drivers, WSUS data files, and so on. ”

    How to Backup and Restore Companyweb in Small Business Server 2008


    • Robert says:

      “If you ever had any doubts about the capabilities of SBS Backup, put them aside. You can absolutely depend on Windows Server/SBS 2008 Backup to create complete and useable backups of the entire SBS system, including System State, SharePoint, Exchange and anything else you point to on your SBS Server.”

      I have doubts, because I have yet to get a restore to work with this pile of shit. I did a full backup to an external drive which completed successfully. I also did a full backup to an RDX drive which also completed successfully. You know, just to be sure.

      I rebooted using the SBS 2011 install DVD. Went to repair, it found the backup and proceeded to click restore and got a message telling me it couldn’t find the image when in fact the step just before this found it. So which is it? So I thought I would try to restore from the RDX but as I figured it did not see it as a backup drive. Not surprised. I plugged the drive into another system and yes my image backups were indeed there so I know that it did backup.

      So I thought, ok I will just reinstall SBS 2011 from scratch to new drives and attempt to restore the images again. Nope, no luck. After wasting 3 full days trying to get this wonderful backup and RESTORE to work I gave up.

      Also, why is that you cannot create a RECOVERY boot DVD? Is that something that Microsoft conveneniently left out? Seems to me you should be able to create a boot disk from your EXISTING configuration that includes all of your updates, drivers and configuration. But no, they leave this CRITICAL component out of the recovery process.

  2. Shane says:

    Hey there, nice blog and good post. Its always helpful to see the images etc of the procedure. I have done a restore on a test system (new) and it worked fantastically and quickly but i have tried this on a working system (both were SBS 2011) and that didn’t go as easy.
    I found that if you have 500GB HD and you want to restore to another 500GB disk then sometimes there can be an issue where the partition size goes over the max disk size and when you try and restore the backup to another 500GB drive it won’t fit!
    Option 1 is to manually use the command line to change the backup partition sizes or Option 2 is to buy bigger disks.
    Great site and keep up the good posts.

    • ronnypot says:

      thanks, for the additional information.

      It is right that if you are restoring the partition must be exact the same size! I have seen before that a disk from one manufacturer could just change some mb or even kb with a same size disk from another manufacturer, this could be a problem. Indeed using a bigger disk is the easiest solution.

  3. Debug says:

    Hi there love your blog I’m new to the SBS2011 environment got one question I took my current backup of my SBS2011 and try to restore it on a virtual PC using VM ware workstation the backup restore part worked like a charm but as soon as the pc rebooted I got a BLUE SCREEN OF DEATH.

    Can you restore SBS 2011 on completely different hardware than the server hardware? The drive space was the same size but the CPU, Motherboard & RAM were completely different from the server and I was not using RAID as on the server.

    Thanks again

    • ronnypot says:


      The problem with restoring to complete different hardware could be a driver issue. So restoring to complete other hardware can be a problem, in most cases it is the storage controller driver that is causing the issue. You could try to install the driver of the new server before you create a backup but this will not work in most cases, you cannot replace the driver during restore. If this is what you want you need to use a third party product that have this option.

  4. Kevin Mahoney says:

    I need to install a new RAID controller in my server (using software RAID now and it’s horribly slow) and was hoping to do a backup/restore once the new RAID array was set up. After reading these comments, I’m scared now!

    • ronnypot says:

      Because it is a full server backup you also backup the software raid configuration with the SBS backup.

      You might want to start with inserting the raid controller and make sure you install the driver before you create the right backup, after the driver is installed make a backup and it would be wise to create a new array with new disks and just put the original ones away, if something might go wrong you can just put the original ones back in the server.

  5. Kevin Mahoney says:

    Thanks for the suggestion about installing the RAID card. That’s a good idea. As cheap as it sounds, our budget is stretched about as tight as it can go right now. I’d love to buy some more drives, but I might have to just practice with some cheap drives. Either way, the server will still be down for a few hours while I “play around”. That’s not good for a single server running our Exchange. That’s why I’m concerned with the backup not working the first time around.

    • ronnypot says:

      You are right that the server will be down for the time you are restoring.

      Maybe you have a desktop available where you can try a restore?

  6. Kevin Mahoney says:

    Spent most of the day today trying to do a restore. I installed 3 new HDs and connected them to the Adaptec RAID card. The RAID 5 volume created by the onboard Intel ICH10R RAID chip is 931.5 GB and the Adaptec card will only allow me up to 930 GB. So, I put the original disks back in expecting it to boot right up, but all I got was “BOOTMGR is missing”. I took me a few hours to figure out how to fix it.
    I guess I’m still going to have to use Clonezilla or something else to get my image on a new RAID array. Will something like Shadow Protect let me restore to a slightly smaller partition?

    • ronnypot says:

      I have never used Shadow Protect myself, but as far as I know this should do it. I am sure this can be done with Acronis backup and recovery with the universal restore option. This option will give you even the possibility to change or add drivers during restore, so restoring to another server or storage controller is no problem at all.

  7. Arno says:

    With the recovery the time-zone used at the SBS 2011 is “GMT+1”, but when restoring the time-zone shows “GMT-8”
    This what confusing during a restore if you want to go more then one step back.

    I haven’t found any time-zone setting in the restore console yet.
    So a list of the latest backups and calculating a new time could help during the set-up of a SBS 2011 server and it’s Event ‘features’.

    • ronnypot says:

      Didn’t noticed that before, but you are right my server is also GMT+1 and displays GMT-8. As far as I know there is no time setting you can change over here, I will see if I can find anything on this.

  8. awcacpc says:

    Great Blog! I setup SBS2011, but could get Backup Config. to recognize my usb drive. Says I have a 7.6 GB drive. Tried serverl diff sizes. Never made backup. Now want to try and leave D: drv RAID 5 alone. Maybe repairs will work? How can I save what I have now, perhaps for a partial restore later?

    Problem is:
    Attempted to setup on VPN on Server, didn’t understand I need separate box. Then removed it after Internet went down. Connection wizard Can’t find router. Fix My Network doesn’t work.

    Message is:
    Cannot find DHCP server

    The dhcp server you specified cannot be located. The dhcp server might be down, there might be network problems, or the dhcp service might not be installed.

    The error was: The dhcp server is not running on the target computer.

    Where to start? How to get usb to work? Try repair (from Disk as you discribe from restore process).

    • ronnypot says:

      Because you have a lot of problems it is hard to just say do this or do that, ik might be best to get yourself some good support by microsoft or any other local it service specialized with SBS 2011 support. Beside that you could post your question on the SBS Technet forum there are a lot of well willing it professionals that try to help people with problems.

  9. Eppie says:

    A very nice and usefull blog.
    We are running out of disc space. So I have to use new discs and RAID controller for the SBS2011 server. A migration to new hardware is out of scope, because most of the hardware wil be used again.
    I hope this totturial will help.
    I will keep you informed.

    • ronnypot says:

      Please make sure the driver for the raid controller is already installed otherwise you might get blue screens on startup. I have to say I do not have good experience using the SBS backup and restore it to other hardware. I have far better experience with Acronis Backup and Recovery and universal restore which always works restoring to other hardware (components)

  10. Sahalu says:

    Thanks for the helpful blogs. Really great community service!

    SBS 2011 is a great OS, but I have had several problems leading to days and hours of wasted time after installing SharePoint and Exchange service packs. This would be my third fresh install and second restore of SBS all resulting from installing SharePoint and Exchange service packs. I am seriously considering not installing the service packs at all until future releases.

    Thanks again from the Mile High City.

    • ronnypot says:

      Installing service packs on a SBS server should work fine, but as I have noticed before there can be some issues with SBS because of the highly integration between all products. So it would always be wise to wait a couple of weeks or maybe months after release before you install it. Keep a look at the SBS forums and SBS team blog for additional information.

      About the nowadays service packs, I know there is an issue with Sharepoint SP1 you need to manual run a psconfig command. See this blog post.

      For Exchange service pack 2 I don’t know about any issues, but for sure SP1 with rollup 6 works fine without any problems.

  11. Vark says:

    I have tried to create a baremetal backup using a seagate freeagent 3tb external hard drive and I could not make a backup. I have used a seagate freeagent 1.5 tb hard disk and could make a backup.

    I think you cannot use a hard drive more than 2tb.

    I restored, with baremetal backup created earler, following the procedure shown above and it was flawless.

    I did not see any issues with clock or timezone settings. They were exactly what I had before.

    • ronnypot says:

      I know there are some issues with some drives indeed I thought 3TB drives give problems. There is also a technet wiki article about this, see this page

  12. Daniel says:

    Just tried to restore a windows server sbs 2011 using a chuffing HDD with 4k sector size!

    Absolute nightmare!!

    Do not buy the 3TB Seagate Go Flex drive for Windows backup!!

  13. sfinks says:

    I have SBS 2011 installet to 2TB drive (its VM in citrix xenserver).
    Now since I really need only ca 300 GB and turns out that for snapshots etc 2TB is way too much I want to reduce disk size to 300GB.

    Whats would be the best way to accomplish that? As I understand, makeing new install + recover from backup doesnt work, since it reuirec exactly same sized or larger partition?

    • ronnypot says:

      Indeed with the built-in SBS backup program you can only restore to a disk / partition of the same size or bigger. You could use another backup program that allows you to do so. Or but I have to say never tried this before on a system partition, you can Shrink your volume using Disk Management.

  14. sharma says:


    i have a dell server which is giving my trouble so i backed up and tried to restore it on a HP server, the restore process went well, however when the system rebooted it failed to start.

    gets to the windows loading screen and then just restarts. it did that over and over so i decided to re-install sbs 2011.

    please suggest a way to get all my data from the dell server to the hp server

    • ronnypot says:

      The problem you are probably expriencing is that there is no raid / storage driver for the HP server available in your installation. This is one of the problems I ran into when trying the SBS backup feature, there is as far as I know no way to change a driver during restore.

      You could try if you can install the HP drivers before you create a backup on the Dell server, but most of the times this will fail because it will nog find the adapter installed in the Dell server. This is why I use Acronis Backup and recovery with universal restore, this has the abillity to change or load drivers during restore.

  15. Michael Wyse says:

    I see a lot of posts regarding drivers during a restore, here’s my experience, and I make no claims that this will work in anybody else’s circumstances.
    I recently upgraded my SBS Essentials from the on-board SATA RAID controller to an Adaptec 6805e PCIe RAID controller using a system image created prior to a HDD failure & installing the Adaptec controller. If you use the SBS installation DVD and select repair an existing installation, with the drive containing your backup image installed, it will scan for system images, & select the most recent. Or you can choose to browse for a different image.
    After selecting the appropriate image, you then are able to Exclude any drives you don’t want formatted during the process (any drives containing backups is automatically excluded), and then you can select to Load Drivers. You will be prompted to insert the media with the drivers, and browse to to proper file (usually a setup information file). In my case the Adaptec has a known issue with this phase in that the driver installation fails on the first attempt, therefore it has to be ran a second time. This is documented in the release notes for the controller, so I was aware of what needed to be done ahead of time. After that the restore proceeded as normal.
    I’m not sure if this will work in all cases, but I had no problem booting to the the new RAID 10 array afterwards. I have some other issues regarding the connector software on the client computers, but that’s a topic for another thread perhaps.

  16. Jadranko Mates says:

    THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR YOU POST. Simple and easy!

    I just wanted to add some information if somebody else will have a similar case like I did.

    Well, I had a HP ProLiant ML110 G6 server which had problems. It was freezing more and more often, then it didn’t want to start at all, it was (re)cycling all the time. Well, it ended up that the MOBO was fubar(actually one memory chanell!!!) So i got it to live again but the Windows installation wasn’t working either. So i Googled and came here…

    But, with the ML110 you need to:

    1. first you need to find the driver for the B110i on-board RAID controller.

    If you go on HP driver pages (as of June 2012) there are only for 2008R2, not for SBS 2011, so I used those. You need to find a driver (file) called “hpahcisr” (3 files) here are a few links to read on to this subject:



    or go to HP drivers, search for ML110 G6 series, select 2008R2 as an OS, and there you have (under Driver – Storage) “** CRITICAL ** HP ProLiant Smart Array Embedded SATA RAID Controller Driver for Windows 2008 x64 Editions ” ver. 4 Jun 2012 or go to:


    2. After you boot from your SBS 2011 DVD, it will start Windows, there will be some HP screen saying HP validating or simmilar, but at some point it will say “BIOSLOCK could not find media” or something. Well it seems that in HP are also some geniuses at work that made it so that you must install from an USB DVD becouse apparently “The Internal SATA Optical Drive and the Internal SATA Hard Drive apparently share the same bus, so a conflict arises when attempting to read from the ODD and the HDD simultaneously, so using external USB ODD fixes it” it seems that it only happens if you select RAID in BIOS instead of AHCI!?!

    Read here:


    If you don’t have an external USB DVD then:

    “Run “Easy Setup DVD”
    Follow the process through, -it will crash and reboot.
    Leave the 2008 disk in the drive but boot from the HDD. It will attempt to restart the installation and fail on a load of unattended errors.
    Click okay takes you to a command prompt.
    Type D:\
    Type WS2008_setup.exe

    I have also seen this problem on an ML350 when installing SBS2011”

    And another post

    “The problem is caused by the blue ports on the motherboard becomming part of the RAID system when RAID is enabled. Therefore as the drivers arn’t inclluded in the base operating system the CD ROM gets unloaded at the start of the installation. The Easy setup method above basically installs the correct drivers for you.”


    So to recap, first you need the driver for the RAID controller, then an USB DVD (watch out the DVD is double layer), and then you can continue.

    For me the restore needed approx. 45 minutes (only system state with 54GBs on c:)

    Well, hope it’ll help to someone, and sorry if it’s a bit of a long post…

    Best regards and good luck!


  17. Edwin says:

    I want to do a full restore, will the restore procedure overwrite any user data with older versions? (including the Exchange storage)

    • ronnypot says:

      yes a full restore will overwrite everything that is on the disk with everything on your backup disk

  18. Dan says:

    Firstly you should always be running EVERY server as a VM by using Hyper-V and DPM.

    If you don’t know how to do this, it’s time to up-skill yourself.

    * Install windows server 2008 r2 std with hyper-v role,
    * Install data protection manager and backup the VM/VHD’s to tape and rotate offsite etc.
    * Configure shadow copies within the guess OS for short term file recovery.

    1x SBS 2011 Std with Premium Add-on (or Essentials with additional server license)
    1x System Center Standard Suite

    Any other method is ripping your client off (i.e. Expensive VMWare) and you are not properly protecting them (For people recommending backup to USB drives, this means you!).

    I’ve NEVER had an issue with any of my SBS/BackOffice (2000 to 2011) deployments because I do it properly the first time. Tip: use the wizards!

    Doing it any other way means your clients will eventually be mine.


    • ronnypot says:

      Thanks for you reply, I think this is a great solution if you run SBS as a Virtual Machine, but there are a lot of people who run SBS 2011 as a physical installation, because to virtualize a single SBS server you need an extra windows server license for the host and adding System Center suite is another additional costs. This is a problem for a lot of SBS customers, so to save money the built in backup solution is a cheap alternative, if you know the limitations.

      I personally think another additional backup solution is always worth the money certainly when it comes to disaster recovery possibilities.

  19. Glen says:

    “I’m scared that the restore from image won’t work because in the existing set-up the raid is software and the new is hardware…
    Dell Agent told me: “Windows is not currently controlling this RAID. Windows sees the data as being from a single disk, so it should restore correctly. That being said, if you are concerned, you could back up your data without using an image, reinstall, then restore the data”
    via backup.
    “There is hardware in your server controlling the RAID, but the RAID is done through software. Essentially, this means the RAID is controlled by the controller, but all the actions are performed and done when the operating system is active.” My question to you Ronny: would you agree. should I try using a window backup image in this scenario?

    • ronnypot says:


      I think the Windows Server backup will give you trouble because the Windows installation does not have a driver for the new controller (correct me if I am wrong) if this is the case the windows server backup will fail after restore and restart.

      If you need to change a driver during restore we always use Acronis Backup and Recovery with the Universal Restore function this gives an option to change or instal a driver during restore.

    • anthonycat says:


      i have the same situation going from software to hardware RAID on a Dell Server. What was your solution? Were you able to restore from an image or windows backup?

  20. Gary says:

    I need to do a bare metal restore to my SBS 2011 Essentials server. I believe that the backups for the past 2 days are suspect but that the backup from 3 days ago is OK.

    Is it possible to select that (good) backup when I do the restore? If so, is there something that I could read that would give good step-by-step? If not … any suggestions?


  21. Paul says:

    I did a bare metal restore from an external usb drive. Looks great, found latest backup. Say restore C and Restore D. Takes quit some time, which is logic (about 400GB). De result is succesfull restore.
    Then the server reboots and windows starts with logo like normal. Then crashes and reboots.
    Then starts again and I get into some kind of repair mode. I have to select keyboard language and then go through a screen with login as administrator. It knows the administrator password because that has to be correct. Finally I get into a repairscreen where I can start again an restore of go to command prompt.

    What can that be??

  22. Aran says:

    Hi, not sure this thread is still monitored but here is what I would like to try:

    Due to hardware issues Windows Image Backup and other disk-based backups fail. I am able to do a full backup with ArcServe 16.5. I would like to wipe the hardware mirror and get AD, DHCP, Exchange, DNS back exactly how it is now but without the “possibly” bad drive and the errors in Updates, Backups, etc that are experienced now.
    Can I install SBS 2011 and then restore System State, Exchange, DNS, DHCP over-top and have it work or time-wise is it easier to start from scratch, rejoin client machines, transfer profiles, etc.?

    Thanks…been out of the SBS world lately and can’t find information about restoring a domain (and all that goes with it) but not restoring the entire backup of a system that was having issues.

    Thanks for any input you might have.

  23. […] How to perform a full Small Business … – “If you ever had any doubts about the capabilities of SBS Backup, put them aside. You can absolutely depend on Windows Server/SBS 2008 Backup to create … […]

  24. David c says:

    Not sure if people still monitor this site
    Trying to restore from backup I get no usable disk error. The disk show up in the exclusion window so system is detecting hardrive

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