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Rebuilding a WHS 2003 box, part I

March 20, 2012 2 Comments

A few years ago, I bought an off-the-shelf (well, delivered from Amazon) Acer Aspire easyStore Home Server. It came with a single 2TB hard drive, 2 GB of RAM, an Intel Atom CPU 230 (1.6 ghz), three empty hot-swap drive bays, and Windows Home Server 2003 pre-installed; I added three more 2TB drives to the box. After some initial issues, it generally worked fine until last fall, when problems began to surface. However, I’ve held off because I knew I would have to back up over a terabyte of files from the various shares on the WHS box…which is why I’m now into March without having done anything.

However, while logging into the WHS box to do some system maintenance, I found that the system partition was full, which was causing system problems. I thought, “How can the system partition be full? That’s a 2TB drive!” Well, Acer in its infinite wisdom partitioned that drive (not a bad idea) and made the C: system partition only 20 GB in size. Now, I’m an old-school geek and can talk about dealing with paper tape and cassette drives, but when you have 2 terabytes[1], why do you only allocate 1% to the system partition? Particularly when, as I quickly discovered, WHS systems have a habit of eating up the entire system partition with log files and $ntuninstall folders.

OK, so now what I really need to do is resize the partitions on the WHS boot drive. Which means, yeah, I really will need to rebuild WHS, which is what I’ve needed to do for some time. Which means I am now backing up all the shares onto external USB hard drives.

Speaking of which: I ran into a problem doing that, namely that WHS wouldn’t recognize the external USB drive. After googling around, I came up with the following solution:

  • Plug the USB drive in.
  • Go to the Device Manager and look under Universal Serial Bus controllers. There I found the USB drive with a yellow triangle. I right-clicked and brought up Properties.
  • In the Properties panel, go to the Driver tab and asked to reinstall the driver. When asked, I told it to go find the drivers itself.

To my delight, it did so, installing the drivers for USB Mass Storage Device, after which the USB drive mounted.[2]

So I’ve been backing up shares (photos, music, videos, etc.) since yesterday afternoon. I’m going to duplicate some of the shares — that is, back them up onto two different external hard drives — just because I’m paranoid.

Stay tuned.  ..bruce..


[1] Yes, I’m very much aware that the marketing types sold us out with regards to how big a terabyte actually is, which means that a “2 terabyte” drive really only holds 1.8 TB. Stop interrupting me.

[2] Actually, the first time I did this, it failed — because there was not enough free space on the C: partition. I went and deleted more stuff, then tried it again, and it worked.



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About the Author:

Webster is Principal and Founder at at Bruce F. Webster & Associates, as well as an Adjunct Professor for the BYU Computer Science Department. He works with organizations to help them with troubled or failed information technology (IT) projects. He has also worked in several dozen legal cases as a consultant and as a testifying expert, both in the United States and Japan. He can be reached at 303.502.4141 or at

Comments (2)

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  1. Girlincloud says:

    Windows Home Server is a great way to protect your data. However you are still vulnerable to physical disk failures and inadvertent deletions. CloudBerry Backup for Windows Home Server provides you with another level of protection by copying your data to secure online storage powered by Amazon S3. You can download a free trial copy at

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  2. David Smith says:

    I have been following your site for a few years now. I’ve enjoyed reading your posts and insight. I know this is a shameless plug, but StorageCraft could backup and restore that system without “too much” headache. Even get it to a larger partition and/or dissimiliar hardware. If you are interested:

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