Friday 10 January 2014

Hyper-V: Set Up A Permanent Host OS Flash Drive

All of our Hyper-V hosts whether standalone or clustered 1U/2U nodes have a permanent flash drive plugged into the server.

They also have an Intel RMM, Dell iDRAC Enterprise, or HP iLO Advanced set up for full remote KVM over IP access.

We can then flatten and restore that host to production worthy status in about 30-45 minutes. PowerShell has a lot to do with the ability to make this happen as far as post OS configuration.

Here's how we do it:

  1. DiskPart
    1. List Disk
    2. Select Disk x (flash)
    3. Clean
    4. Create Partition Primary
    5. Select Partition 1
    6. Format FS=NTFS Quick Label=”HV_Node-01”
    7. Active
    8. Assign
  2. Have the host OS ISO mounted and copy its ENTIRE contents to the root of the flash drive.
  3. We then create the following folders in the root of the flash drive:
    1. _Drivers
    2. _Utilities
    3. _Software

What goes into those folders:

  • Drivers = obvious
  • Utilities = things like HVRemote, the bind tools, ETC
  • Software = Server Management software

We _never_ back up the host. Period.

Once the host OS has been set up please make sure that having that USB flash drive permanently plugged in does not interfere with the host's boot process by verifying the boot order and USB boot settings in the BIOS.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Cluster MVP
Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Chef de partie in the SMBKitchen
Find out more at
Third Tier: Enterprise Solutions for Small Business


Anonymous said...

Nice to hear what others are doing to quickly restore their servers. I hope you will go into more detail on the PowerShell scripts you're mentioning so we can see the process to restore the server.

Rob Pelletier said...

If I understand this correctly, you don't boot from this flash drive, just keep it handy in case you want to quickly rebuild your host. Correct?
Have you used a USB key for your host, and booted from it? I found a number of docs on this, but just can't get it to boot...

Philip Elder Cluster MVP said...

We boot from the flash drive only. It has an extracted from ISO copy of the host OS instller files, drivers, Hyper-V utilities, and a few other bits on it.

I don't see any point to using a flash drive to install the host OS to. They were not designed with that kind of read/write usage in mind.


Rob P said...

OK, so you are just providing an easy way to rebuild a boot/host drive, if required. We have ben fighting for two days trying to get HV to boot off a flash drive and have given up. Just can't get it to work...

Philip Elder Cluster MVP said...

Did you try to boot from VHDX on the flash drive?