How does system restore media work?

Updated: March 30, 2011

Applies To: Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials

The system restore media supplied with Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials installs Windows PE (pre-installation environment) on the computer. Windows PE replaces the MS-DOS environment and contains the core program files for Windows.

The system restore media comes with 32-bit (x86) and 64-bit (x64) program files. After inserting the system restore media, choose the appropriate version of the files. 32-bit (x86) is the default, and is selected automatically if you do not choose within 30 seconds. If there are updates to the restore files on the server, the updated files are downloaded to the computer automatically.

After the pre-installation environment is set up, the Full System Restore wizard starts. The wizard helps you restore your computer from a previous backup. You can also use the system restore media to restore a backup to a new computer with similar hardware.

In most instances, the program files and drivers contained on the system restore media are all that is needed to restart the new or restored computer. Depending on the new or restored computer hardware, the system restore media may not include all of the storage and network adapter drivers that are required when you restart your new or restored computer. The Full System Restore wizard gives you an opportunity to install drivers, if necessary. For information about finding your hardware drivers, see Where can I find the drivers for my hardware?. For information about how to use the system restore media, see Using the Full System Restore wizard.