How To: Restore a Client Computer Without Using the Client Restore Disk

One of the bigger flaws of Windows Home Server is the restore process.  Not only do you have to rely on the router and other network hardware, but your experience can alo vary depending on the client computer. Even having the right drivers doesn’t mean that it will work all the time, that is, assuming you can even find the correct working drivers.  It’s point of huge frustration for many.

Wouldn’t it be great to have the ability to connect a hard drive to the server and restore any computer to it? It’s just one of those things that would make Windows Home Server just soo much better. Well, there may just be a way.

Well, on the suggestion of the forum member Shidoshi, I investigated an executable file that is installed with the Home Server Connector software and is present on the server itself too:  “clientrestorewizard.exe”.  Don’t believe me?  You can check yourself.  It runs pretty much exactly like a normal full client restore, however you need to be *very* careful about the disks you select. If you aren’t, you may be instore for another restore!

What does this mean to you?  Do you have a laptop or netbook that you need to provide drivers for to be able to restore it, but it still doesn’t work?  Do you have a backup of your friends or parent’s computer who doesn’t leave with or near you? Or you just want to do a HDD upgrade but don’t want to wait three hours for the slow network to finish?

This is not supported, for many reasons. The least of which, just mentioned above. So this is definitely an advanced “at your own risk” guide. If you have any concerns about data loss, do not follow this guide!

I only had my server available to test this one, so pictures may vary or may not be accurate. But it should work on any computer with the client Connector software installed.

Client Restore exe

Client Restore Wizard

client restore password

client restore comp-select

client restore backup-select

client restore disk-select

client restore disk-confirm

client restore process

client restore complete

There are a number of other things that you will likely need to do also, like marking the boot partition as active, or editing the boot.ini file.  I’ve verified that this does in fact work, and if you noticed above, there is a chance that you can and may wipe the wrong disk.

So, that’s how to restore a client computer without using the client restore disk!


  1. hi this is abdi i have problm with m computer,someone deletth whole soud software. so could you pleasefgave e some suggesion that i can reback my sound

  2. Anyone have problems with it not allowing you to enter the server password? It immediately goes to the next screen and it indicates "an unknown network error has occurred during pc restore". Don't know why it would matter on the network, which it is connected without problems, given I installed the drive an an internal sata.

  3. This post really helped me. However in my case, I didn't need to move the disks to the WHS as I only needed to restore the system partition, which was one of several on a RAID pair of disks. What I did was install Windows 7 to a spare partition that existed; installed the WHS Client software; then ran ClientRestoreWizard.exe to restore the corrupted system partition. It restored noticeably faster than the restore CD.

  4. I’m trying to do this right now. I got the infamous “an unknown network error has occurred during pc restore” message so I popped the laptop SATA drive in a USB enclosure and put it directly on my WHS machine.

    After deleting & re-creating the 15GB SYSTEM partition so I could assign the backup image to the physical disk at all (note: this was not a problem when going across the net, only when plugged in directly) it appears to start working. CPU usage spikes, status is “estimating”.

    Then a period of no activity and the “an unknown network error has occurred during pc restore” message pops up even though there is no network involved.

    Anybody have a clue for me?

  5. I am running Windows Home Server 2011 and this doesn’t appear to work. However my issue with network connection failing was resolved by changing the DHCP lease in my router to a longer interval. Then my restore completed just fine. Just wanted to put that out there for anyone having trouble.

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