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Copy data to each drive of a 2 drive mirror separately - Will it work?

Posted on 2006-11-20
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I have a working RAID 1 mirror with 2 SATA WD 250 GB drives. (Epox 8RDA3iPro) NForce2 chipset, Nforce RAID. The mirror is working fine. The problem is I need to copy data off of 2 or 3 other PATA drives to this mirror. But, when I install them, the PC doesn't boot, just reboots in a constant loop. So Instead of trying to fix that issue, I wondered if I can boot off of one of the PATA drives (which was the old drive in this PC) and copy the data I need over to the SATA drives. The SATAs show up as two separate drives when I boot from the PATA drive. Can I copy the same data to both SATAs and then set the SATA mirror as the boot volume and boot from it? I'm wondering if the RAID array will freak out for any reason by doing this?

Maybe the second option is to enable the RAID mirror in the PATA setup by installing the drivers in XP on the PATA drive, then maybe the 2 SATAs will show up as one volume then I won't have a problem. Or will that screw something else up?

Thanks for the help
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Question by:RickNCN
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rindi earned 250 total points
ID: 17985310
Don't copy the data separately to each sata drive, rather remove one from your raid, boot your ide disk and copy to the remaining sata disk (having turned off raid beforehand). Then repeat on the other ide drives and once finished rebuild your array making sure that you select drive you have copied the data to as the one which contains the good data.
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by:kode99
kode99 earned 250 total points
ID: 17986068
The constant reboot is somewhat unusual.  You can't mess with a RAID 1 array as you describe,  it needs to do the mirroring itself.    So in rindi's method at the end when you install the 'mirror' disk it will take care of things.

I prefer to not actually tinker with arrays if possible, too easy to muck it up and wipe out a disk if something goes wrong.  You could get a simple USB to IDE unit like this,
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16812156101

And then just connect each drive externally and copy the data to the ready and waiting array.  If networked you could also hook the drive to a different system via IDE and copy it over the network.

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by:RickNCN
ID: 17986719
That's what I thought - that you can't mess with the disks separately like that, though I did consider breaking the array and copying data to 1 disk and re-mirroring. The trouble I always have with that is:
1- I'm not confident that all raid controllers will mirror a drive with existing data to a second drive. I thought I've read that some controllers always destructively create  raid arrays. On this controller, it does give an option after you create the array whether you want to delete data or not, so that indicated it would mirror existing data, but the manual is unclear about what would happen.
2- the raid controller also seems vague about which disk it will use to mirror 'from', (the one with the good data you want to keep). I'm always afraid I'll select the wrong one. I've seen controller utilities that are very clear about it, but this one isn't. (It's the same fear I have with norton ghost - I triple and quadruple check the source and destination, always afraid I 'll copy from the wrong one. I think their interface could use some improvements there too to be clear about that... but I digress)
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by:rindi
ID: 17987432
A raid controller must be capable of using an existing HD and mirror the contents of that disk to the new disk, or there is no point in having raid. The point of raid 1 is that if a disk breaks you have all your data on the other disk still, you get a new disk and replace the bad disk with it, then your good disk is mirrored to the new one.

Not all raid controllers are as easy to manage though, for that reason it is allways a good idea to run at least one test after the first installation, before putting any important data on it, and then document the procedure, particularly if the manuals aren't easy to follow.

It can also be a good practice to first get into touch with the support people of the manufacturer to make sure the procedure is right.
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by:RickNCN
ID: 17996757
I understand what you're saying, but I think there's a difference here; there's 'building' or 'rebuilding'. I understand that if a mirror is already created and a disk fails, you install another cold disk or use a warm standby and integrate it into the existing array by rebuilding. But in this case the array was never removed - the raid controller still sees a 2-disk mirror, one disk just happens to be dead or missing. In that case, deleting the dead one and replacing it is supported.

What I'm talking about is starting out with no array and two disks, one with data and one without. I've come to understand, correct me if I'm wrong, that not all controllers will *create* an array, (not talking about rebuilding an existing failed array) from one disk that has data and make a mirror that copies that data to a second disk (with or without existing data). I'm fairly certain I've read Adaptec manuals that state that clearly - that you have to get a certain controller that will create a mirror with existing data.

So, let's assume I'm correct for a second, that means to be on the safe side, I should break the mirror (maybe by just removing SATA-2) and boot up with SATA-1 as a secondary drive to my PATA boot drive, copy data from PATA C: to SATA-1 (E:) , then restart, reconnect SATA-2, go into the raid bios utility where I'd expect it to see a broken array and rebuild it using SATA1 drive as the good disk.

What do you think?
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by:RickNCN
ID: 17996783
yeah - re-reading what you posted before I think I just re-iterated what you already suggested - DOH! too many krispy kreme donuts for me this morning
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by:rindi
ID: 17997428
No problem, but I think you got it. I do agree that many of those cheap controllers have a crappy firmware which makes it really difficult to use, and that's why it is better to do some tests at the beginning.
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by:RickNCN
ID: 18044705
I think that's what I'm up against here - crappy firmware all around. I'm not very happy with my Epox board right now.

WELLL... I'm having all sorts of problems now. I think I'll have to get the enclosure and copy one at a time like you suggest. That just aggravates me that it can't work the way it should.

I made a copy of the mirror with a fresh copy of XP and the beginning of my software setup to another disk just in case. Then I turned off raid in the mobo bios, set my PATA hdd as boot drive, booted to my old setup with a single SATA as an E drive, copied some data to the SATA, then reversed the process. Turned on RAID, went into raid bios and created the mirror again, selecting the 'good' sata as the first drive in the array (I assume because it doesnt state explicitly that the array will create and rebuild from the first disk in the array list. ) I also selected the 'rebuild' option and selected the first good sata disk as the source (that source selection is also a very vague indication). It showed absolutely nothing indicating it was rebuilding, just acted like all was complete and finished. So, I rebooted and it booted to the sata mirror. After this it gets a bit fuzzy because I tried so many things, but I think those folders I added showed as corrupted in Windows. So I again broke the mirror and booted to the single good sata drive with the second sata as a secondary drive. In WIndows the second drive showed up and had some files on it but not a mirror of the first. It seems like the rebuild had started but hadnt finished. I just don't know what the heck its doing with the raid rebuild because it doesn't tell you anything. Also, there's an option in the raid bios for setting a boot disk, but it's not available ( greyed out). Though the system doesnt seem to have any trouble booting to the array.

THe result of all of that is I now have one working sata disk and one not working and I cant get them synched up and useable in windows.

AND - if I try to wipe out the mirror, clear the disks, recreate a clean mirror and use ghost 2003 to copy my backup to the mirror, ghost gives me an error that it can't find the raid driver. I did load the raid drivers at ghost bootup, but when it gets to finishing its boot, it dies with an error stating it cant find the driver (nvraid.sys maybe? I didnt write it down). So now I can't copy my backup back to a clean mirror AARRRGGHHH. So now I'm screwed, seems like I need to reload everything again onto a clean mirror.

I'm ready throw in the towel and close this question unless anyone has any breakthrough suggestions.
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by:RickNCN
ID: 18375415
SO - the resolution. I used a different imaging program - not Ghost, but Powerquest Drive Image 2002 and it had no problem seeing my SATA drive on the RAID controller, so I copied it to a PATA drive backup then wiped the 2 250 sata disks and recreated the mirror and re-imaged the pata drive back to the sata raid mirror. I also used an external USB enclosure to copy data, so I'm splitting the points.

I've also come to learn - once again - that you always get what you pay for and RAID on an EPOX motherboard for whatever it cost me - $75 maybe- is worth just that. The motherboard RAID solutions are like the old "winmodems" remember those days? the controllerless softmodems where the CPU did the gruntwork? These mobo raid controllers rely on the CPU for all their overhead, there is no dedicated processor doing the raid work. AND the firmware is crappy/cheezy lightweight stuff. You're much better off buying a separate dedicated card from a major manufacturer for a couple hundred bucks. The time and hair-pulling it saves is worth it.
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