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Increase size of mirrored drive

Posted on 2009-04-23
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I have a server running SBS2003 which has 2 * 36GB SCSI drives windows mirrored (C:) and 2 * 70GB drives windows mirrored (D:)

I have run out of space on both drives. There are only 5 drive bays in the server, so adding an extra mirrored pair is not an option, therefore I would like to replace the 2 * 70GB drives with 2 * 146GB drives. To add a bit of a complication, the Exchange databases are held on the D: drive (and there is no room to put them on the C: drive)

There are only 5 drive bays in the server, so adding an extra mirrored pair is not an option.

What would be the best way of transferring the data to the new drives. The options that I see are :-
a)  Use Backup Exec to back up the data, remove the two 76GB drives, replace with the 146GB drives and restore from Backup Exec. Not sure the best way to handle Exchange with this option - should I stop the services before the backup and backup the whole drive as 'flat files' ie ignore any Exchange options in BE
b) Remove one of the 76GB drives, break the mirror, replace with a 146GB drive, recreate the mirror. Once the mirroring is complete, go through the same process to replace the second smaller disk. Once the mirroring is complete again, expand the size of the D: drive into the unused partition (or just create an E: drive)

I'm reluctant to copy the data off to a USB device etc then replace the disks and copy back, as I'd lose the security / sharing that's been set up.

Any comments as to which would be the best method and why? Need to consider downtime (backup of this amount of data to tape will take approx 2 hrs) as well as likelyhood of encountering problems.

Oh, and I know Windows mirroring isn't great, but haven't got an option here so no suggestions to 'scrap that and do it this way' please!!

Thanks

Mike



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Question by:TS_MikeH
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by:rindi
ID: 24213593
I'd use a partitioning imaging software such as bootit-ng (the trial version is fully workable) or DriveimageXML (which is included or can be included on the UBCD4WIN) to make a backup of your drives to some other place (USB drives are good for this). Then go with your option "b". Once you have synced both new drives, check the raid controller's options, it probably has an option to "expand" your array so the full size of the disks are taken in account for the array. This should be possible without data loss. After that you can try using bootit-ng again or gparted, which is included on many LiveCD's to increase the partition size. If something doesn't work, you always have your backup images to restore.

http://terabyteunlimited.com/
http://ubcd4win.com

http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=partedmagic
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by:TS_MikeH
ID: 24213995
rindi,

How long would backup / restore  of 70GB to external USB take? - from past experience I wouldn't reckon on anything less than 4 hours each way- and I assume this would all be downtime as I'd need to boot from CD to run the imaging software??

As I mentioned, this is Windows RAID so will have to increase the partition size within windows.

Mike
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by:rindi
ID: 24214138
If it is USB 2 and the hardware isn't all too special, 1 hour at the most. Of course you can also make the image to an internal drive. Since you are doing it within windows you have dynamic drives, and should be able to use diskpart which is included in windows (I had originally missed you weren't using a raid controller).

The advantage of using an imaging solution over a normal backup is that you don't have to first install an OS and the backup software before you can do the restore, it is therefore normally much faster, and you don't have to worry about open files, because you are doing it with the OS down.
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SimonL-UK earned 750 total points
ID: 24217966
Hi,
  quite simple really.
1. Break the D drive mirror
2. Remove drive 1 of D drive mirror
3. Insert larger drive
4. Remirror
5. Allow to *bed* in for a suitable period
6. Repeat steps 1 - 5 for 2nd disk
7. Ensuring there are no writes to drive D for safety sake, use diskpart to extend the volume

Prior to this, ensure you have a full working backup - the above method requires minimal downtime as the drive access is only removed while diskpart is run.  In theory, you can get away without stopping drive read / write but I'd rather be safe than sorry.

HTH
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by:garycase
ID: 24218428
I'm a big fan of Boot-It NG (suggested above) ... but it won't work here => it only works with hardware arrays; and you indicated you're using Windows software RAID (which also means these are dynamic disks, which Boot-It won't work with -- nor will most other similar utilities).

And I don't think the last suggestion (break mirror/replace drive/repeat/extend volume) won't work either, as Windows doesn't allow online capacity expansion (so the RAID arry won't be any larger -- thus there's no space to extend the volume.  [Admittedly it's been a couple years since I've tried Windows RAID, so my memory may be wrong here]

I'd do this (Most can be done with the server running, although there's clearly a small window of "at risk" when you won't have mirrored drive protection):

Add a 5th drive -- either internal (best because it's by far the fastest way to transfer data) or external (much easier).  Note that if you add an external USB drive, be sure you format it with NTFS (most commercial external drives comes preformatted in FAT32, so the first thing you should do is format it in NTFS so any files copied there will retain all of their attributes (especially security settings).

Move everything from D: to the new drive (say N:).   Confirm it's working okay on N:

Shut down the server; add two new larger drives to replace your 70GB drives; then reboot and set up the new mirrored array using those drives (call it D:).

Now simply move everything from N: to the new D:

Note that if you don't want to run "at risk" you can shut down Exchange services before moving anything to N: and ensure nobody's logged on (just disconnect the network) => then copy everything to N:; do the shutdown/replace/copy to D: actions; and THEN start things back up.   This way you'll still have your two 70GB drives unaltered in case something goes wrong (not likely).
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by:TS_MikeH
ID: 24222786
Rindi - perhaps should have clarified this a bit more, but although both drives are full, I am expanding the the D: (data) drive - so no problem with having to reinstall the O/S. Still not convinced that the image would take less than an hour.

garycase - "And I don't think the last suggestion (break mirror/replace drive/repeat/extend volume) won't work either," - does that mean you think it will work or it won't work? Also, won't moving everything from D: to N: result in loss of shares / security etc?

I'm looking more at the 'break mirror / replace one disk' etc method as per my option b) (and confirmed by SimonL-UK) - can anyone see why this wouldn't work (remembering that this is the data / exchange drive and not the system drive.

Mike

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by:rindi
ID: 24222917
As gary already pointed out, imaging wouldn't work with OS raid, unless you use a utility that is installed and run under an OS that sees the software raid (I already mentioned I missed you were not using a raid controller, for which my solution was geared). You could still use driveimageXML for that, as it runs under windows and uses the volume shadow services of windows so open files get imaged properly. You'll either have to use that or BE to retain all your settings, just copying or moving won't work.
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by:TS_MikeH
ID: 24243301
OK - I'm going to go for Option B, as confirmed by SimonL-UK, as I don't think a better solution has been offered, or any problems highlighted with it.

Cheers

Mike
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