SBS 2003 Rebuild / Restore Question

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    Here is the history of this problem: –

    We have taken on supporting a client with a Dell PowerEdge 2900 server running Windows SBS Server 2003 SP2.

    When performing a technical audit we were informed that the server has been rebooting at random times throughout the day and night for quite some time (5 months). I said that I would have a look to ascertain why this was occurring but there appears to be no trace.

    There are no dump files being created even though the system is set to create them. The system is set to not automatically reboot on system failure but no BSOD is appearing. There are no error messages in the Windows event logs either other than “The previous shutdown was unexpected “once the server has restarted and “The reason specified by the user for the last shutdown was…”

    I figured that this may well be a hardware issue so contacted Dell support and we have done the following: –

    1. Update all firmware and drivers
    2. Replace Motherboard
    3. Replace CPU
    4. Run DSET utility (No Errors)
    5. Check Dell System Administrator (No Errors) – Only log showing all previous server restarts as (Unexpected Shutdown)

    Dell have said they will not replace any further hardware until we perform a system (OS) rebuild as there is nothing indicating a hardware fault.

    This leads me to the second part of my problem.

    We are now planning to rebuild or restore the server. The client has a successful Full Daily Backup to tape using Back Exec 11d. I have restored servers is the past (although mostly Server 2003 Std with Stand-alone Exchange 2003 etc) so I am more the confident doing the restore, but am a little confused with the following: –

    Most articles suggest re-installing Server 2003 (CD 1of SBS install), then restoring the system state and data from backup.

    All company data is on a separate partition and I have already split the Exchange logs and databases onto separate partitions too.

    My question with this is, if the problem that we are experiencing is caused by corrupt files on the system partition, or a registry corruption won’t restoring the file data on C: and system state from backup just replace the newly installed files with the possibly corrupt files or registry from the backup.
    I would prefer to restore the system state to preserve domain settings and not have to re-join 20 workstations to the domain. (Only 20 I here some of you say….But still!).

    What I am wondering is, is it possible to do the following: –

    1. Reinstall OS from CD1
    2. Restore System State from Backup (Essentially now a standalone DC with up-to-date AD)
    3. Re-run SBS Setup to install Exchange, IIS and everything else
    4. Restore Exchange using Recovery Storage Group or because DN is the same a direct restore over new Exchange DB.

    Obviously my reservation is, won’t there already be Exchange data in the restored AD and would this cause a problem.

    I would be grateful if anyone could offer some advise, as I have said I know I can restore the whole server pretty painlessly, but my reservation with this is ending up will a server that is still restarting and wondering if I have only restored my problem!

    Many thanks
    Geoff Carr

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