Fix to make Server 2012 R2 Essentials Connector compatible with Windows 10 – backups are back!

Backups – from manual to Windows Home Server to Windows Server Essentials

After 2 lightning strikes and occasional HDD crashes I’ve really valued regular backups first hand, but have also realised the need to automate backups as it is all too easy to forget, get lazy and get caught out if left to chance.

Enter Windows Home Server – probably the best product no-one ever knew about.

I guess it was hard for the larger market of everyday people to understand and yet this was a real life saver. Ideal for the small 1-5 or even up to 10-man business, it just worked and worked well. Simple, inexpensive but unknown it fizzled away but had been having a problem keeping up with newer versions of Windows. Eventually Home Server was ‘replaced’ by a cut down Windows Server called Server Essentials. Still overkill for home or small business, but it came with a new issue – your PCs need to join a domain. Having no workgroup option meant some editions of windows, or the desire for a simple easy home dev network all just more complicated.

Then someone came up with a hack/workaround to allow your PC to stay in a workgroup and still connect using the Server 2012 R2 server connector. (details below)

Enter Windows 10 and it seem like Groundhog Day. The story got repeated. backups fell off again, initially the excuse given was Windows 10 Internal Preview or Tech Preview were not production OS’s.

When the final version Windows 10 upgrade compatibility report said my system (with the connector) was compatible I found the connector didn’t work, the report lied and trying compatibility settings didn’t help. Early reports were that the connector would not be available until at least September/October 2015.

compatibility report

Attempts to run the connector gave the error:
“An unexpected error has occurred. To resolve this issue, contact the person responsible for your network.”

connector issues

Workaround / fix:

This evening I stumbled across a patch linked from a forum post last year here that has Windows 10 updates!

I used the patch Windows10.0-KB2790621-x64.msu was dated 29/07/2015 with my Windows 10 x64 Enterprise desktop (running in a workgroup).

Run the patch then navigate to your Server 2012 R2 Server, download the connector but do not run yet.

Go to your download folder, in Windows Explorer, right click and change the properties to run in Compatibility Mode as if under Windows 8 (you can use the long winded trouble shooter, or just the properties as below).

compatibility mode

Follow the rest of the prompts, then if you want to not need to join a domain, and stay in a workgroup as well, then do these steps

(start of Windows Server 2012 R2 hack to avoid having to join a domain)

This useful hack/patch will allow you to leave your workstation in a workgroup and yet still use the connector:

just prior to entering in your username and password, open up a admin windows console (Windows + X, A) then type in:

reg add "HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows Server\ClientDeployment" /v SkipDomainJoin /t REG_DWORD /d 1

then open up regedit, go to
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows Server\Networking\ServerDiscovery
then open the string “SkipAutoDNSServerDetection” and change the value from True to False

(end of Windows Server 2012 R2 hack to avoid having to join a domain)

Now get back to the connector install window, enter in your server username and password and follow the rest of the prompts and voila, you have been connected!

connected to server