Restoring WHS (v1) backups into a Virtualbox VM

This article relates to restoring backup images from the Original Windows Home Server (version1) into a virtual machine running on Virtualbox 4.0.12 r72916.

In preparation to  upgrade my existing HP MediaSmart EX475 server to Windows Home Server 2011, I have been reviewing the data held on the server and planning the best way to migrate it. However, one area that it will not be possible to migrate to the new OS version  is the automatic backups that have been made of the machines on my home network.

For the most part I am not too concerned about these backups as I can simply perform new backups of my existing machines using WHS2011.Tthere are a few backups that I do need to keep because they contain legacy software or are images of work (and development environments) that I have completed in the past for clients - and this post describes the method I used to restore these backups to a virtual machine running on VirtualBox prior to the upgrade to WHS2011.

It's actually very simple to restore a backup to a virtual machine, although I did have a little trouble identifying the correct networking settings to ensure that the WHS Baremetal Restore CD was able to identify the virtual network adapter. The necessary network settings can be seen in the screenshot below:

11. Setup Networking
VM Network Settings
  1. The  adapter type (in the advanced section) needs to be set to Intel PRO/1000 MT Desktop (82540EM) as this is the only adapter that the Restore CD has drivers for.
  2. The virtual adapter needs to be attached to your physical network card as a Bridged adapter to make sure that the HomeServer and virtual Machine are able to communicate.

Restoring to a Virtual Machine

Firstly, create a new Vitualbox Virtual Machine (VM) with sufficient hard drive space to restore the backup. The sequence for this can be seen in the following screenshots (clicking on a screenshot will show it full size):

Next, start the virtual machine and it will boot the WHS Baremetal Restore CD image. You will be walked through the process of connecting to your Windows Home Server and selecting the computer backup to restore. When the restore is complete, disconnect the restore CD image from the virtual machine and reboot the virtual machine.




  • Mooncalf

    What version of virtual box were you using? I cannot get the ISO to boot beyond the loading windows…then the vista bar keeps spinning..did it take a long time to get to the restore screen?

  • Robert Taylor

    I have just re-tested this on Virtualbox 4.0.12 r72916 and it took less than 2 minutes for the restore CD to boot to the point where it prompts for region settings. The settings I used for my virtual machine were for the same as the screenshots in the main article.

  • André-Claude

    Thank you so much for this. I just reinstalled my whole system and forgot to export a few projects from a custom application and would have lost a ton of time formating a second time only for those few files (plus the time to reformat a 3rd time and reinstall everything another time). This saved me quite a lot of time :)

  • Mjordan

    This worked great until I rebooted. The newly installed whs backup would not boot under VB. Geting a hardware configuration error message. Have not been able to find a work-around.

  • Hermann

    i have Problems to find my Home Server when starting the Restore CD.
    A Network Card is found. Also when I enter the Name of the Home Server manually nothing is found. The Workgroup is called “Arbeitsgruppe” and the Name of the Home Server is “ASPIREH340”.
    Maybe There is a Problem with the IP of the Network Card from the virtual Maschine?
    Can you help?

    • Did you use the settings I described in step 11?

      It could be an issue with newer versions of the network drivers that come with VirtualBox. Unfortunately though, I don’t have a Windows Home Server any more so I don’t have any way of testing or troubleshooting.

      After Microsoft announced that the product would be discontinued I installed Windows 8 onto my HP Gen8 Microserver. Windows 8 makes a surprisingly good “Server OS” and programs that are free for home & non-commerical use do not refuse to install as they would on a proper server OS.