Using an Answer File to Install and Configure Windows Home Server 2011

Updated: June 30, 2011

Applies To: Windows Home Server 2011

This document provides step-by-step instructions for installing and configuring Windows Home Server 2011 using an answer file.

To install using an answer file

  1. Create an answer file for the unattended installation and then save it to the root of a USB flash drive. For more information, see Server setup answer file.


    The server setup answer file must be named cfg.ini and must be saved on the root of a USB flash drive.

  2. Insert the USB flash drive in your server, and then start your server from the DVD.

  3. The installation proceeds as in the manual installation procedure, except that it does not pause for you to type configuration information. Instead, it reads the configuration that you provided in the answer file saved to the USB flash drive. If there are errors in the answer file entries, you are prompted to fix them, and then try the install again.

  4. On the Your server is ready to use page, click Close.

  5. Windows Home Server 2011 should be remotely administered. You can perform administrative tasks using the Dashboard on a networked computer after you install the Windows Home Server 2011 connector software. For information, see How do I connect computers to the server?.

Return to top

Server setup answer file

The [WinPE] section is required to install the operating system in an unattended manner. After the operating system installs, a wizard walks you through initial server configuration. If you want to configure the server unattended, include the [InitialConfiguration] section in your answer file.


Windows® Home Server 2011 must be installed to the C: partition. The parameters in the strings are case-sensitive.

Sample File


PasswordHint=Passing by


The default value is used for optional parameters that are not included in the answer file.

The available parameters are:

WinPE parameters

Parameter Name Parameter Description


(Optional) The path to a folder that contain drivers for the server. You can only define one path. If you do not know the drive letter you can also specify _:\Drivers. (_ is the wildcard).


(Optional) Specifies the hardware identification number of the disk where the Windows operating system image is installed. Disks are numbered 0, 1, 2, and so on, depending on how the disks are ordered in the hardware. For example, if you have an IDE hard disk and a SATA hard disk, the IDE hard disk is Disk 0, and the SATA is Disk 1. If you add another IDE hard disk, the IDE hard disks will be Disk 0 and Disk 1, and the SATA hard disk will be Disk 2. If no value is specified, the server system disk (typically Disk 0) is used.


(Optional) Specifies the partition on the hard disk that is identified by the InstallDisk parameter, where the Windows operating system image is installed. If not specified, partition 2 is used for MBR-based systems, and partition 3 is used for UEFI-based systems. This value is ignored if the ConfigDisk parameter is missing or equal to 1.

If you are using UEFI and you have already configured the hard drive, WindowsPartitionId must be set to 3. For more information, see “Recommended UEFI-Based Disk-Partition Configurations” in the Windows OPK.


Specifies the product identifier (PID) that is passed into Windows Setup for automatic activation of the product. The format includes dashes. For example, xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx.


(Optional) The value of this parameter can be 0 or 1.

  • If the parameter is missing or equal to 1, all partitions and data on the hard disk that are specified by the InstallDisk parameter are deleted, and then the required partitions are created.

  • If the parameter equals 0, no partitioning or formatting occurs, and the Windows operating system image is deployed based on the WindowsPartitionID parameter.


(Optional) Specifies the size in GB of the system partition. The size must be in the range of 20480 MB to 102400 MB. A value of MAX can be specified. If not specified, a value of 61440 MB is used. If the specified value is MAX, the Windows partition uses the entire disk.

Return to top

Initial configuration parameters

Parameter Name Parameter Description


Indicates that the user accepts the Microsoft Software License Terms. The value can equal True or False, but the installation proceeds only if this is set to True.


(Optional) Indicates that the you accept the OEM license agreement. This is required only when an OEM license agreement has also been specified for Windows Home Server 2011 via the OOBE.xml file. The value can equal True or False but the installation proceeds only if this is set to True when an OEM license agreement is included.


(Optional) String representing the desired country. Example: US for United States.


The server name uniquely identifies the server on the network. Your server name must meet the following criteria:

  • Can be up to 15 characters long

  • Can contain letters, numbers and hyphens (-)

  • Must not start with a hyphen

  • Must not contain any spaces

  • Must not contain only numbers

Example: HomeServer


(Optional) Specifies the display language. It can only be one of the installed languages. Example: en-us for English as used in the United States.


(Optional) Specifies the time and currency format by using a LocaleID format. Example: en-us for currency and time displayed in English and formatted according to standards used in the United States.


(Optional) Numerical identifier for the desired keyboard. Example: 00000409 for US English


Sets the user selection for updates. Use one of the following values:

  • All equals “Use recommended settings”

  • Updates equals “Install important updates only”

  • Noneequals “Do not check for updates”


This is the server password and the password for the built-in Administrator account.

  • Must be at least eight characters long

  • Must contain at least three out of the four following categories:

    • Upper case characters

    • Lower case characters

    • Numbers

    • Symbols


The password hint helps you remember your password if you ever forget it. Do not include your password in your password hint. Anyone on your network can see your password hint. It can be up to 254 characters long.

Return to top