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Failed Basic to Dynamic Disk conversion

Posted on 2010-08-24
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Last Modified: 2013-12-01
I have a strange situation that requires me to software mirror my system-boot volume on Windows 2003  to another drive located on a different controller in the system. Please don't tell me to use a hardware RAID, one of these drives is already on a Smart array controller as a stand alone drive (a single drive only - long story.)

My problem: I Attempted to convert the Simple disk to Dynamic so I could mirror it and it failed and now says "offline." I have not rebooted yet, the system (on this drive) is running, and I am making a current backup at the moment. Scary stuff when it says your boot volume is "offline. with a big red X"

The question: Before rebooting, do you think I should use a utility such as offered by dynamic-disk.com to undestructively "convert" it back before I reboot to a possibly unreadable boot drive?

The bad news - I am 2000 miles away on a remote session, so this is making me nervous.

Any input appreciated.
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Question by:ChrisHelvey
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Author Comment

by:ChrisHelvey
ID: 33518312
I attempted to use Dynamic-Disk.com converter but it does not see a dynamic disk to convert.
I'm really nervous about restarting this server.

Drive will not "reactivate" in Disk Manager.

Any thoughts on what to do?
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Expert Comment

by:noxcho
ID: 33520020
Can you take screen shot of Windows Disk Management and post it here? I need to see the current state of all drives before suggesting anything.
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Expert Comment

by:Steve
ID: 33520471
ouch.

heres some good help:
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc771775.aspx#BKMK_6

Sounds like you're caught between basic and dynamic as basic disks dont normally show as offline, only dynamic ones.
Did you get an error or event logged for the failure so we can find out what state the disk is in?
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Author Comment

by:ChrisHelvey
ID: 33523303
Update:
The remote site Internet is down....geez, when does it ever end?

I will get a screen shot as soon as I can. The good news about this is that the system is running just fine. I have no idea how an OS (Windows 2003 Server) that sees a system drive as offline can run, but it does. I just fear it will not after its next boot.

There was one error in the log....LDM error. I don't have the specifics at the moment but will get them as soon as Verizon gets their stuff together. I remember it being very generic.

Just for more info: This is an HP Proliant ML 350 G5 with an installed SAS Smart Array controller (with the 2.5" drives attached to the internal cage,) an integrated Smart Array with no drives attached, and an installed Adaptec RAID controller with 3.5" drives in the upper bays. The Smart Array was configured as a two drive mirror - Disk 0. The Adpatec runs a drive set purely for holding backup data - Disk 1. Also an HP Smart array SCSI controller and Ultrium LTO2  tape drive.

What happened:  After running two years, one drive went down and the array controller took it offline. No problem. I ordered a new drive to replace it. Within the time the drive was ordered and installed, the good drive suddenly had an I/O error keeping the Array from rebuilding. I ordered a second replacement overnight and flew out there on-site. As I was standing there saying "hello,"  the "good" drive started dieing in a big way.  I hooked up the unused internal Smart Array to the second half of the 2.5" drive cage and put one of the new drives into a slot. It configured it as a single drive as expected....and ten minutes later it died (brand new.) So I took the drive I originally used to replace the first failed drive and did the same. It configured as a single drive and I managed to copy the day's data changes to it. Within two hours, the original was dead leaving me with no OS to boot. That was a very bad day.

After a terrible night of disaster recovery that did not go well for 10 different reasons. I had a working system on one 2.5" SAS drive (which so far remains healthy) and all the day's changes. Somewhat successful in my mind.  I also had the drive set on the Adpatec controller. I had to fly back. The system was "up" but without redundancy.

My plan was simply to software mirror the working system drive to the adaptec connected drive, put in two new 2.5" SAS drives on the original smart array controller and configure them as a hardware mirror, then break the software mirror and establish a new software mirror to the new drive set and boot to it. In order to create a software mirror, I needed to change to dynamic disks. Disk 1 converted just fine. Then on Disk 0 , it said it could not complete, put an LDM error in the event log, and shows the Disk 0 as offline but not missing.

That's where I'm at. I'll post as much more info as I can as soon as I get access. In the mean time, the system is running and on good UPSes, so unless the power goes out for a while, I hope to come up with a plan. I would love suggestions on a plan without me flying out again - I hate it there.

I'm thinking of purchasing an IP KVM device so I could work on it remotely even if it is completely down. Any thoughts on how to easily power off/on remotely?
 
Although, the best plan will be to figure out how to fix this dynamic disk problem and keep the system up.

The link was helpful. I am wondering if the Smart Array controller has somehow disabled LDM.

Thanks. All input is appreciated.

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Author Comment

by:ChrisHelvey
ID: 33523497
Attached is a jpg screen shot of the disk manager.

The event log shows LDM Event 2 and this is all that is in it:

Unspecified error  (80004005).

For more information, see Help and Support Center at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/events.asp.

I'm all ears....
Diskmgr.JPG
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Author Comment

by:ChrisHelvey
ID: 33523636
Attached is a screen shot of R-Studio as it sees it.
I assure you, the space it shows as "Free Space" is what is running the whole system at the moment.

R-studio.JPG
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Author Comment

by:ChrisHelvey
ID: 33523835
Pardon me. The empty space only shows 3.98M - I was looking at it wrong.
R-studio sees all the files (as does the OS, so no surprise there.)

It almost looks like everything is correct, but that LDM error and "offline" makes me believe it's not.
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Author Comment

by:ChrisHelvey
ID: 33524035
I get the above LDM error when I try to "Reactivate Disk" from the Disk Manager.
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Expert Comment

by:noxcho
ID: 33524601
Do you use any backup tool on this server? If yes then take backup of system drive then copy out data from this LDM drive via R-STUDIO and reboot the server. This should fix the problem. Even if it doesn't you will have backup.
And another last resort you have is deleting this missing disk and restarting the server. It must find new drive after that.
BTW, I would try to take backup of this disk while using boot CD of backup tool such as Paragon, Acronis or Ghost. Do you have any?
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Author Comment

by:ChrisHelvey
ID: 33524931
I do not have any backup tool, but I'll get whatever I need. Recommendations for this situation? This will certainly force whatever to happen. At the moment, users are working with no knowledge of any problem.

I have a system state backup with NTbackup as well as other ntbackups of other critical data.

I am not clear on what you mean by  "copy out data from this LDM drive via R-STUDIO."  I can access everything via the OS.

Also, the disk is not showing as missing. It shows up as disk 0,  just "offline."
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Accepted Solution

by:
noxcho earned 475 total points
ID: 33525128
Download and install this trial version for now: http://www.paragon-software.com/business/db-server/download.html
Run it and see if the drive is detected normally by this software. If yes try to take backup of the system using Paragon Drive Backup 10 Server trial. Does it take it? You do not need to restart server after this tool installation. It will use VSS as hot processing technology.
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Expert Comment

by:noxcho
ID: 33525138
By R-STUDIO I mean backup everything from this drive. But if your OS sees it via My Computer then you can do it via Explorer as well. Try Drive Backup first and report back.
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Author Comment

by:ChrisHelvey
ID: 33525420
Just got worse.
I decided that the Backup drive (Drive 1) which is a striped set of two drives on the Adaptec controller would best server me if they were two separate drives. I copied off what I needed from it and using the Adaptec management software, deleted the logical disk. This is Disk 1  - has nothing to do with the system-boot drive.

The Windows Disk Manager suddenly showed the Disk 0 as online, but with no partition.

Then the system rebooted and is now in a perpetual rebooting loop.

I have an alternate clean Windows installation on that drive but booting in to that installation has the same effect.

I understand that other Windows installed under Basic Disks will not function after the disk is changed to dynamic. Do you think a fresh alternate installation of Windows would be able to boot to the Dynamic Disk? I won't try if the answer is no.
 
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Expert Comment

by:noxcho
ID: 33525455
Windows 2003 is able to boot from Dynamic drive if you install it onto dynamic drive directly.
Did you download the tool I suggested? If not please download it install on any working system and create boot CD via its Tools - Recovery Media Builder.
Boot the server from it - select Normal Mode - Drive Backup. Does it see the volume on the drive?
If yes then take backup of this volume from the same interface to external drive. Then convert the drive to basic. As far as I can remember it can convert in CD mode.
If not then get a full version of Drive Backup 10 with its WinPE CD and boot the server from this very CD. It will convert the drive into Basic state and you will be able to boot it without rebuild.
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Author Comment

by:ChrisHelvey
ID: 33525724
Thank you. I will follow this advice.
All of this will need to be done on-site, so first I must arrange a flight there. (Yuch.)
I'll download the tool, create a bootable Cd and take it with me from here.
I will keep the question open and respond as soon as I can do this.
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Expert Comment

by:noxcho
ID: 33525760
Ok. Let me know if you need assistance.
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Assisted Solution

by:Steve
Steve earned 25 total points
ID: 33530280
blimey, this is a real nightmare for you!

With regard to accessingit remotely, does the server have ILO in it? this is like a builtin KVM and more! If it has one, get it set up when possible so you can use it in future.

Anyway, as your server wont boot you're clearly not in a good place. I'd use the boot cd suggested above to check the state of the drive before doing anything else. if you can see it and convert to basic then its worth a try.

Just to confirm, this server is now running on a single disk with no mirror or raid?
Do you still have the old drive that this was mirrored with? That drive may still have the drive image on and may still be useable if you're lucky.

Either way, if the disk shows as OK you may be able to take an image of it and apply it to another drive (whether a physical or logical drive)
Software like ghost can usually copy server OS without a problem. If you can i'd see if you can ghost it before making any changes just in case. a backup is always good if its possible.
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Author Comment

by:ChrisHelvey
ID: 33531801
Thanks for the input...and the sympathy. It seems the only people who are in the business understand the anxiety that goes along with it.

Yup. Single drive only now. Flying without a net.

I do have the original mirrored drive and the array controller is still configured to see it in slot one. I'll give it a try. I have a feeling the array controller sees that serial number and won't even turn it on though.

My first hope is that, after taking an offline backup, R-studio's bootable CD can switch it back to a basic disk undestructively and make it OK again. Life will be better. Then I'm still left with trying to get redundancy set up again. Methinks the easier, softer way of using OS mirroring is not going to work with the Smart Array. It'll be a restore to a blank set. I don't like doing that.....

I do have a tape backup from no more than a few days ago, but I had issues doing a restore last week. (Incompatibility with the download version of NovaBackup with the version I was using. After importing the tape, it would not see the system state backup. Once I had enough of a system to access the older version, it worked fine.)

Thanks guys. Gotta catch a plane....
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Expert Comment

by:noxcho
ID: 33534771
Boot CD should help here. But as told many times - backup first.
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Author Comment

by:ChrisHelvey
ID: 33542512
Well, I'm on site now.

The Paragon Backup CD sees the drive as unformatted. I have the option of changing it to a Basic Disc but backing up didn't fly (of course.)

I put the 1st failed disc back in slot 1 and reactivated it on the controller. 'm attempting to get a backup of that drive with Paragon, but it just dies with error 0x80. It was a shot at just having another backup.

My next step will probably be to try converting back to a basic disc on the good drive. I was a bit confused about the question of how many partitions to create. The old drives have two partitions: The 1st is 137G and the 2nd is 7.8G (Free space)

If anyone is listening and happens to be able to respond, I'll wait a bit to see.....otherwise, I'm going to have to attempt the conversion and if that fails, re-initialize the drive, install Windows server, install Novabackup (I'm afraid of the version difference thing,) and restore from tape. Bummer. Lost day of work.

Let me know if you think of anything please.

Chris
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Author Comment

by:ChrisHelvey
ID: 33542881
R-Studio Emergency Boot CD sees the drive as a Windows 2000 Dynamic partition, NTFS. Size is correct.

Hmm. I'm hoping changing it back to basic will do the trick.
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Author Comment

by:ChrisHelvey
ID: 33543040
Paragon will not change it back to a Basic disc. It says .* is in use, prompts to close any open files and forces a close.

I want to see what Windows setup sees. I am booting from the CD now.
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Author Comment

by:ChrisHelvey
ID: 33543134
Windows setup in repair console sees the disc as a dynamic volume. I'm going to install Windows server to another alternate directory in hopes that it will be able to boot and get the data from the dynamic volume to an external drive. We'll see...
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Author Comment

by:ChrisHelvey
ID: 33543158
Nope, unrecognized.
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Author Comment

by:ChrisHelvey
ID: 33543485
R-studio Emergency CD in text mode sees all the files. I will purchase this to overcome the demo limits and attempt to copy everything to a USB drive.
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Author Comment

by:ChrisHelvey
ID: 33544026
R-studio may well save the day. I am now copying files off the bad partition to another drive.
Awesome news.
At least now, with a tape recovery, or even a fresh install (or two,) I can get back to the last moment before the drive went down.
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Expert Comment

by:noxcho
ID: 33544265
When the files are copied away from this drive try to connect it to another PC (best if Windows 2003 is installed). And try to import the drive. Most possibly the dynamic volume list has errors on this drive and till they got fixed you will not be able to convert it to basic or boot from it.
Another question - did you try to take sector per sector image with Paragon?
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Author Comment

by:ChrisHelvey
ID: 33544517
I'm not sure that's possible with the hardware I have. I only have one Proliant like this with this type of expansion slot for the SAS RAID. However, I can install windows to a different drive, update it, and boot to it. I think the problem was trying to change the Smart Array attached drive to dynamic. Is it otherwise OK to convert a Windows system/boot drive to dynamic once it is installed on a basic drive?

If so, then I can install Windows, boot it, convert the drive it is on to dynamic, reboot, and import the drive.

Sound like a plan?

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Expert Comment

by:noxcho
ID: 33544594
You can do the import process even before converting the Windows drive into dynamic.
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Author Comment

by:ChrisHelvey
ID: 33544722
I'm not following. How can I do this? Will it show up as an option in disk manager once windows is running and can see the drive?
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Expert Comment

by:noxcho
ID: 33544754
Yes. When you connect this dynamic drive to Windows 2003 installed or XP installed machine it must let you import the foreign dynamic drive.
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Author Comment

by:ChrisHelvey
ID: 33544945
Will do. Thanks. I'm installing an IDE drive to do just that.
So, once imported, am I correct in saying that the LDM data is put on all the drives and then the faulty drive may be able to be converted back to simple using R-Studio? Or perhaps that isn't even necessary?
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Expert Comment

by:noxcho
ID: 33545065
When it comes online (crossing fingers it will do) you can take backup of it with Paragon and restore it to another HDD or format this  drive and restore the image to basic drive with attempt to convert it dynamic again.
But before conversion to dynamic next time please run CHKDSK /f on partitions on basic HDD. This is obligatory.
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Author Comment

by:ChrisHelvey
ID: 33554299
System is up. Brute force method: Reinstalled Windows, restored everything from backup, and copied over recently changed files from the files I was able to retrieve via R-studio. R-studio is certainly a great tool. This was the first time I have used it.

Paragon backup is obviously very good for recovery.

Since I am STILL functioning on one drive due to the circumstances, I have yet to make any mirroring happen. Creating a hardware mirror will wipe everything out.

Software mirroring will require changing to dynamic disk on the Smart Array controller which is what got me in to this mess and I am very gun shy to try that again.

However, this case is closed and I will award most points to noxcho for his extensive help and an assist to tottalytonto. Thanks guys.
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Author Closing Comment

by:ChrisHelvey
ID: 33554307
Thank you , gentlemen.
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Expert Comment

by:noxcho
ID: 33554470
You can avoid erase by hardware mirror. How it can be done. Backup existing configuration using Paragon. Then build hardware mirror and restore from backup to this hardware mirror. There is P2P adjust OS feature on the WinPE CD of Paragon that will let you adjust the OS to new hardware (RAID) and let boot from it and install RAID drivers while working in CD.
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