While I personally see absolutelly no reason to have WHS around, there seems to be a lot of people who do. One of those, a relative, called me the other day because his box was so slow that was almost unresponsive.
I tracked down the problem to a faulty HDD, so I told him to go buy a new one and we would set up the machine from the beginning. Although my instructions were clear, instead of buying a SATA disk, he went ahead and bought a 120 GB SSD, because and I quote “They are faster”.
At this point I have a confession to make. I never intended to make a fresh install. I was hoping I could clone the old disk (it was not completely bust) onto the new one and save me from a lot of work. I have used this tactic before, but only from smaller to larger disks. I knew there were ways to clone on a smaller disk, so I thought to give it a go.
After I had successfully cloned the old disk on the SSD, I put it back on the server, and – as you might have expected – it refused to boot. The message I was seeing was something about a device that was not found and it prompted me to repair the installation from the Windows CD. I was never able to do that mind you. The reason?
For some reason, Microsoft has decided that you need at least 160GB in order to installl WHS.
That’s right. For a 10-12 GB installation, your HDD needs to be at least 160 GB. Well done Microsoft! As you probably guessed, there are a lot of people with the same problem and thankfully there is a solution.
Windows Home Server (as other versions of Windows) can be installed unattended with the use of a special text file called answer file. Sean Daniel has written an excellent post on how to do that and I can testify that following his post, I was able to install WHS on a smaller disk.
Although Sean is talking about a specific piece of hardware, I assure you this method works perfectly. Make sure that the drive you want to install to is formatted!