Bare metal restore - winloader.exe

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Bare metal restore - winloader.exe

Postby Sysadminx » Thu Aug 18, 2016 5:29 am

So, I got 'the call' this morning and had to drive over 2 hours into work (I'm supposed to be on holiday) because of an Exchange server that went offline last night.

HP ProLiant, 32 GB RAM, 4 x 600 GB fast disks, in 2 RAID logical drives:

Logical 1:

144 GB partition for Windows Server 2008 and Exchange 2007 (sorry - I don't control the IT budget)

2nd partition is for Exchange logs.

Logical 2 on RAID 2:

Mailstores

In plain English, C: is stuffed, going in an endless boot loop.

I've tried the semi-automated repair options, I've done the manual:

bootrec.exe /fixmbr
bootrec.exe /fixboot
bootrec.exe /RebuildBcd

Then ran the ‘Startup Repair’ option three times.

No joy.

Bought and ran third party "Easy recovery essentials" for Server 2008, ran it, found problems, alleged to fix them.

No joy.

After much fiddling and getting nowhere fast I finally decided on a bare metal restore of last night's C: partition using BackupAssist's bootable disk which, magnificently, took several minutes to fail to load and gave me this error:

Image

Assuming I'd missed something blindingly obvious here, I quickly registered for a 30 day trial of the latest version, downloaded and installed it on a similar Windows 2008 server, created a bootable recovery disk, booted from it, and it too took some time before ending up at exactly the same screen as above.

Meh.

Documentation suggests I should be able to boot from the bootable disk and use the options therein to perform recovery.

So I'm still sitting here in front of an uncooperative Exchange server that's caught in a reboot/fail to start loop, only now I am unable to use the BackupAssist backups I thought I could use.

So, in summary, Server 2008/Exchange 2007, OS and apps on 144 GB partition, Exchange logs on second partition, Exchange mail stores on separate pair of Raided drives, Backupassist bootable media from version 7.4.7 or from the latest version 9 are both unable to, well, boot.

What next ?
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Re: Bare metal restore - winloader.exe

Postby Stuart » Thu Aug 18, 2016 9:36 am

Hi there,

Thanks for posting on our forum.

When you say it took some time to eventually get back to the screen, did get into the RecoverAssist UI (did you get to the screen provided on page 9 of the document https://www.backupassist.com/downloads/ ... rguide.pdf)?

If you're not seeing the screen I've pointed out, then the system isn't even booting into RecoverAssist.

Also which option did you use to create the RecoverAssist media? Was it build from the OS disk, or directly from the installed OS?
I ask this as it's known that windows updates change system based files on the running OS which in turn causes issues with RecoverAssist. It's therefore recommended to create the RA media off of a Windows disk (in your case Server 2008).

Other examples of creating the boot media from the installed OS and running into boot issues are outlined on the following thread (just as proof as what I've mentioned above): viewtopic.php?f=18&t=8113.
Stuart Edwards
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*Have you tried restoring from your backups lately?*
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Re: Bare metal restore - winloader.exe

Postby Sysadminx » Thu Aug 18, 2016 9:50 am

Many thanks for your reply Stuart

Bootable recovery disk was created using a Windows Server Standard 2008 with SP2 disk (same one that was used to originally set up the servers).

I don't reach the expected RecoverAssist UI

Attempting to boot from the disk involves several minutes looking at:

Windows is loading files...

... and then it flips straight to the error screen I posted a picture of (apologies for the image rotation).

I am about to reburn the Windows Server Standard 2008 with SP2 disk from our Vol License download and re-attempt creation of the BackupAssist recovery disk. I am suspecting the source disk at the moment - it's been a very bad day so far :(
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Re: Bare metal restore - winloader.exe

Postby Sysadminx » Thu Aug 18, 2016 11:22 am

The plot thickens :shock:

Using the trial of version 9 Backup Assist I created another recovery disk using a fresh DVD burn of our vol license Server 2008 with SP2 ISO.

This time I created a bootable USB stick with no additional drivers and it loaded straight into the recovery GUI

After creating the USB stick I chose the option to create an ISO to burn to DVD, which is exactly the same bite size (878,400 KB) as my first attempt. When I burned that to DVD it wouldn't boot to the recovery GUI and threw up the same error as my first DVD.

Go figure...

I am about to attempt C: partition recovery using the bootable USB stick - fingers crossed....
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Re: Bare metal restore - winloader.exe

Postby Stuart » Thu Aug 18, 2016 11:46 am

Hi again,

Always love a good recovery scenario! :|

Glad to hear that you got it to boot into RecoverAssist - I've got fingers/toes crossed.

I wonder if it's something to do with the DVD ROM in the system being unable to read the DVD correctly and that's the boot error is just the result of that?
I have seen faulty DVD drives unable to boot - but usually you just get the flashing cursor in the top left corner without any movement.
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Re: Bare metal restore - winloader.exe

Postby Sysadminx » Thu Aug 18, 2016 11:48 am

Recovery fails with two different errors.

First one I didn't note down, second was:

The Windows Complete PC Restore Operation failed.

Error details: Element not found. (0x80070490)

I'm going to retire and be a potato farmer...

Just fooled with the USB boot priority and boot controller order in BIOS and about to have another run at it...

I have to say, I'm used to smoother sailing.
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Re: Bare metal restore - winloader.exe

Postby Sysadminx » Thu Aug 18, 2016 12:14 pm

Continuous failure, no matter what combination of BIOS settings I use for USB/boot.

Element not found 0x80070490

I've wasted 15 hours so far on this.

About to get a redundant server out and build the whole thing from scratch, assuming I can get at the mailstore and log partition backups :cry:

If I can't, I effectively have backups I can't use.

The server has to be running in a few hours so options are now very, very limited, and this approach very clearly just isn't working.

Very frustrated.
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Re: Bare metal restore - winloader.exe

Postby Sysadminx » Thu Aug 18, 2016 12:41 pm

OK, I'm officially dead in the water.

Brand new identical server with identical hard drives in 2 logical RAID arrays.

BackupAssist recovery GUI fails when I tell it to recover just the Windows system partition, the complete logical drive, or both logical drives (everything) with the same error as before.

That leaves me precisely nowhere to go.

Happy days.
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Re: Bare metal restore - winloader.exe

Postby Stuart » Thu Aug 18, 2016 1:24 pm

Hi again,

Element not found is typically caused by drive/hardware configuration (either related to the RAID configuration or potentially free space within the partition you're recovering itself).

Have you copied the backup from the original destination to another location then tried to run the recovery? I wrote the following blog outlining this:
https://www.backupassist.com/blog/suppo ... imitation/.

Since the error is coming directly from the Microsoft Recovery Environment at that point, there are a number of articles and forum threads from MS that have details:
https://social.technet.microsoft.com/Fo ... dowsbackup
http://blog.mpecsinc.ca/2009/03/sbs-200 ... t-not.html
http://myworldofit.net/?p=1261

Unfortunately this is a common error which does seem to occur on the Server 2008 generation predominantly (as it's the first generation (i.e. experimental guinea pig) release of the Windows Recovery Environment). All OS versions within this family (SBS2008, Vista, etc.) experience these types of reliability issues with it.

It's little consolation with this scenario at this point, however it may give you some ammunition to go to your employer to get them to upgrade the OS to a newer version (Server 2008 R2 at the minimum) as the recovery environment is a lot more stable and reliable in later operating systems.
Stuart Edwards
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Re: Bare metal restore - winloader.exe

Postby Sysadminx » Thu Aug 18, 2016 2:13 pm

The backup was originally written to a network share on a NAS, and then copied from there to external USB for offsite purposes. On that basis you could argue that it has already been relocated.

I am currently looking at another product to extract the VHD to a physical partition, which appears to be progressing.

Desperate times, and all that.

I'm too pooped to pop now, and staff will be onsite in a couple of hours, so it's do or die.
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Re: Bare metal restore - winloader.exe

Postby Stuart » Thu Aug 18, 2016 4:08 pm

Hi again,

Did you try the recovery from the network share on the NAS device? If so, that should work (unless there is something else going on).
But as the blog says, if you've copied it to the USB drive and you're trying to recover from that then that'll be the cause of the error.

Sounds like you've made some progress with the vhd extraction so hopefully you have some success!
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