I recently purchased a Sony Vaio F-Series laptop (December 2011). Of course I installed Windows Home Server v1 (WHS) Console and set up a nightly backup, which went flawlessly and somewhat automatically due to Windows 7 64 built in settings.
For kicks, I thought I’d test out the WHS Computer Restore just to make sure the program would recognize the hardware and network drivers to perform the OS restoration should a dire situation come my way at some future time. To my surprise, WHS Restore did install what appeared to be the proper drivers for my 64bit Realtek PCIe GBE controller and hard drive drivers, but upon moving forward WHS Restore could not find my WHS via the network. Oh, boy.. Not even opening up the Console and pulling the WHS Restore files out of a recent back up would work. Which made no sense given they ARE the correct drivers!
I did a little Google searching and found that other versions of Sony, Alien Ware and anything using a newer Realtek PCIe network card would have this issue. Seems that WHS V1 Restore installs the correct driver for the hardware, but it’s not compatible for the restore OS that’s running.
So, I go to Realtek’s driver site and get a few versions and load them onto a USB thumb drive. No matter what driver I put on the drive, WHS Restore would show “no drivers available.” But I found that can mean two different things: A-the drivers are not compatible with the hardware or B-the USB thumb drive is not being read. Well, be careful Sony Vaio F-Series owners as these laptops have two USB 3 and one USB 2 jacks. WHS v1 Restore cannot recognize or read from a USB 3 jack! I found out the hard way by finally using a thumb drive with a LED indicator of connectivity. When plugged into the USB 3 jack it did not light up…which got me thinking. So I put it in the USB 2 jack…wha-la…connection.
After a combination of research and trial and error, I found that the the Win-7 64 bit driver did not work. So, then I tried the XP/Server 2003 64 bit drivers. No go either.
So, I dug around some more and found that this fix typically involves running the 32 bit version of the network driver. With that I found the following: For an XP OS restoration, you’d install the 32 bit XP/Server 2003 driver from the Realtek website. Same goes for Windows 7, but with a twist. This OS requires the 32 bit Vista/WinServer 2008 drivers. I downloaded the Vista/WinServer 2008 32/64 driver pack, extracted it to a USB flash drive. Plugged it into the USB 2 jack and ticked the button to install driveras and BAM. It found and installed them. Of course it listed it as a Realtek driver but not the correct hardware version number. As is to be expected given that the hardware was newer than the driver. I progressed further and Bingo, WHS Restore found my server on the network! I proceeded through the typical WHS v1 restoration process as usual. Within 35 minutes my Vaio F-Series was restored to the settings from the night before. Perfect!
Bottom line: WHS v1 Restore disc was made waaay before a lot of newer hardware and Realtec network cards are a bit temperamental. Be sure to use the 32 bit driver even if restoring a 64 bit OS and driver! In the case of Win-7, you must also take a step back and use the 32 bit Vista/WinServer 2008 driver. Bit quirky, but it works. Needless to say, I’ve got the driver installed on a dedicated USB thumb drive marked accordingly and “use USB 2 jack” just for good measure.
Hope this helps a few of you Sony Vaio F-Series owners running WHS v1! Or, anyone running WHS v1 and using newer Realtek NIC cards.
Realtek PCIe Network Card driver support page Be sure to download the correct driver listed. You can go back and select either PCIe or PCI. For the newer Sony Vaio F series, you’ll need the PCIe link.