How to Upgrade PerfectDisk for Windows Home Server

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UPDATE 11/4/2009: I got some feedback on this process from Raxco (PerfectDisk) Support. They say:

The update process is as follows:

  • While connected to your WHS and notified than an update to PD is available, choose Install
  • When notified that the Console is open and prompted to Retry, Ignore or Cancel, choose Ignore
  • When update has finished and prompted to reboot your WHS, reboot
  • Upon reboot of your WHS, PD should be updated.

Note that if you run PD and click on Product Resources, PD shows that it has been updated to new build. If you look in the add-ins, it still says that old PD build is installed. This is due to the way that the add-in manager is looking to see what is installed/available - it is not looking in the “normal” locations to determine what is actually installed - it is using a different set of registry keys. Also note that if you have HP WHS, after updating to a new build of PD, the Network Critical tab displaying PD update as available even though it is already installed. This is something specific to HP WHS and we are currently waiting to hear from HP on what exactly they are checking/doing.

I’m not so sure I like that there are “expected problems” remaining after this upgrade process. Doing it my way, you get the upgrade, the version reads correctly, and there’s no remaining WHS “Network Critical” warning. For reference, the original entry I wrote and the process I followed for upgrade is here…

I’ve got PerfectDisk for Windows Home Server installed and I generally like it but the installation procedure is a little weird.

A fresh install goes like this:

  1. Download the full installation package for PerfectDisk to your client computer.
  2. Install PerfectDisk on your client computer.
  3. As part of the installation, a folder will be created where the PerfectDisk add-in for Windows Home Server will be placed. The location is typically something like: C:\Program Files\Raxco\PerfectDisk10Install\PerfectDisk10_Home_Server\PerfectDisk_x86.msi
  4. Drop the PerfectDisk_x86.msi file into the \\server\software\add-ins folder on your Windows Home Server.
  5. Open the Windows Home Server console, go to the “Settings” tab, and under “Add-Ins” select to install the PerfectDisk add-in.

The last few steps - dropping the installer in the “add-ins” folder, opening the WHS console, and installing add-in - is pretty standard WHS stuff. The weird bit is that you can’t just get the WHS add-in as a direct download - you have to install on a client computer.

Recently I found there was an upgrade to PerfectDisk and the upgrade process isn’t documented. This is what the process is from what I can tell, after some panicking and manually uninstalling things.

PerfectDisk has a feature to “check for updates” from within the Windows Home Server console. It’s OK to use the “check for updates” feature to see if there’s an update, but do not install the update from there.

First, trying that will fail because the Windows Home Server console is open (Catch-22, eh?). Second, if you try to do the update from Windows Home Server via Terminal Services, it doesn’t quite do what you expect. I think the engine gets updated, but the console add-in doesn’t or something. Stuff gets messed up. Just don’t do it.

Instead, it appears that this is the proper sequence of events for an upgrade:

  1. Go to the PerfectDisk site and re-download the full [updated] installer for the client computer.
  2. Install the new version on your client computer. This will update the installer files in the C:\Program Files\Raxco\PerfectDisk10Install\PerfectDisk10_Home_Server folder as well.
  3. Log into the WHS console and uninstall the PerfectDisk add-in. You’ll need to restart the WHS console and possibly reboot the WHS after this.
  4. Copy the new add-in from the C:\Program Files\Raxco\PerfectDisk10Install\PerfectDisk10_Home_Server folder into the \\server\software\add-ins folder on your server. You may want to keep a backup copy of the old version of the add-in somewhere before you overwrite it with the new version. Don’t put two copies of the add-in in the server’s “add-ins” folder, though.
  5. Log into the WHS console and install the new version of the PerfectDisk add-in. It will tell you to restart the WHS console. Do that.
  6. On restarting the WHS console, go to the PerfectDisk add-in and re-enter your product key.

You’ll notice that this is pretty close to what a fresh install looks like. You’d be correct. The in-place upgrade for PerfectDisk doesn’t work for WHS.

This is all, unfortunately, documented nowhere on the PerfectDisk site. I have submitted a ticket to their support people about this. In the meantime, I figured out a bunch of things you shouldn’t do to upgrade the add-in.

Things you should NOT do:

  • Do not try to install the PerfectDisk update on your WHS through the “Check for Updates” feature. This ends you up with a mismatched add-in version and engine version and somehow corrupts the way the add-in is registered with the WHS console.
    • Don’t do it from the WHS console.
    • Don’t do it from a Terminal Service session to the WHS.
  • Do not update your client computer’s PerfectDisk install through the “Check for Updates” feature. That will update your client computer just fine, but it won’t update the installers so you won’t get the updated WHS add-in.
  • Do not uninstall PerfectDisk on your WHS through Add/Remove Programs. I didn’t do this, but it will end up corrupting the way the add-in is registered with the WHS console. Use the WHS console to remove PerfectDisk.