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Getting "Error Loading Operating System" Message After Migrating Partitions to New Hard Drive

Posted on 2010-09-19
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Last Modified: 2012-08-13
I have a client w/ a Windows Server 2003 SBS running on a Dell Server. The SATA HDD had 4 partitions on it (the Dell FAT16 partition plus 3 NTFS partitions) and space was running low so I brought the HDD home with me and used Clonezilla to copy all 4 partitions over to a brand new 500 Gig HDD. The partitions seemed to have copied over fine but when I put the new HDD into my test system and tried to boot it, I got an "Error loading operating system" message.

I suppose that the Master Boot Record may have not copied over properly or is otherwise corrupted. Should I run the FIXMBR command on this drive? Or what is the proper way to fix this?

Thanks in advance.
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Question by:anuneznyc
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by:rindi
ID: 33712729
Make sure the drive has an active partition (the same one that is active on the original HD). Also, leave all partitions the same size as on the original.
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by:anuneznyc
ID: 33712738
Thanks rindi. How can I verify if the partition is Active. And if it's not, what command do I run to make it so?

I can't leave the partitions the same size. 2 of them were critically low on space. That is why I migrated everything over to a larger drive.

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by:dlethe
ID: 33712743
Did the dell use a RAID controller?  If so, then physical block #0 on the disk is going to have metadata, and you are trying to boot the metadata.  Get a binary editor and confirm that physical block 0 on the disk has the partition table. If not, then the clone may still be good, but it will not boot on your machine unless you have the appropriate controller.
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by:rindi
ID: 33712823
Maybe there is a partitioning tool on the Clonezilla CD. If not, checkout PartedMagic. It includes Gparted, and with that you can select the disk and then check the flags of the partitions. One of those flags is "Active". You can just enable that.

When cloning it is better to leave the partitions the original size. You can later, when the system is running, either add a further partition for the free space to use, or again use the partitioning utility (again Gparted) to resize the partitions after they were cloned and you verified that the server is working.

http://partedmagic.com/
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by:anuneznyc
ID: 33713845
Yes dlethe, there is a SATA RAID controller on the original server. And even though it has only been hosting a single HDD, there probably is some metadata on block #0, like you said. So I will hope & pray that once I reconnect this new HDD to that original controller, then it will boot OK w/o the "No error loading operating" message. But in case it does not, what would be the appropriate steps to take to correct that error?

Rindi, there were already 4 primary partitions on the original drive and thus 4 on this cloned HDD, so adding a 5th partition is not an option. Even if adding a partition were an option, it would not address the problem that the partition hosting Windows Server OS is almost totally maxed out.

I have GParted on my Puppy Linux CD, so I will use that verify whether that first partition is indeed flagged as Active.

I plan to be at the client site by 9am EST on Mon, so I will report back at some point on Mon.

Thanks!
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by:dlethe
ID: 33714152
There is no need to correct the "error", as there is no error.   However, realize that this effort may have been in vain.  The metadata is going to contain some identifying information (at a minimum, HDD serial number), so that the controller can recognize every disk drive that belongs to it.  You copied the metadata, but the unique serial number of your current HDD will not appear in the metadata.

Some controllers will let it slide, and give you a way to import a disk with a foreign config, others will refuse to take this disk.   Only 2 ways to know for sure ... contact the controller manufacturer and ask, or just try it and see.

So forget about mucking with partitioning software, clonezilla, or drivers.  It come down to whether or not that raid controller & firmware will let you image a HDD onto another one, and what you hace to do in order for the controller to accept it.  If the block count changed, then it also may not work, or may not let you see the new empty space.  Only the RAID controller vendor will be able to tell you.
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by:rindi
ID: 33714173
You can easily have more than 4 partitions on an HD. It is just necessary to make one of your 4 primary partitions (preferably the last and largest one) an extended partition. That extended partition can then act as a container for logical partitions, which can be many more than 4....

Also, if you have space issues on your OS partition, you are most probably not doing things the way they should be done. The OS partition is only for the OS, data and software and pagefiles etc belong elsewhere. With proper management you should never get into space issues on drive "C:". Follow the instructions in leew's (one of EE's most capable Experts) link below on how to manage your OS partition:

http://www.lwcomputing.com/tips/static/bootdrivesize.asp
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Author Comment

by:anuneznyc
ID: 33715629
If the RAID controller does not recognize the new HDD, I'm wondering if the Dell server would have any onboard SATA connectors on the motherboard that would allow me to plug the drive directly thus bypassing the RAID controller. There is only have 1 HDD so RAID is not in effect anyway.
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by:dlethe
ID: 33715935
nope. metadata is still there.  
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by:dlethe
ID: 33716000
You could always just get a binary editor, find the end of the metadata, and write a program to shift everything over in place, and get rid of the RAID controller.  But really, best bet is to contact the RAID controller vendor and see if you were wasting your time.
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by:anuneznyc
ID: 33716231
Hmmm, editing the metadata by writing my own program to do so is not going to happen. Unfortunately, my programming skills start & end at "Hello World."

It is a Dell CERC SATA 1.5/6ch controller. I will call Dell and see if they can help me.
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by:dlethe
ID: 33716431
Agreed, but look at the knowledge base on line, unless end-user has support contract, the forget getting an answer, and I am dubious that you will get correct answer from dell.   The code isn't that bad, once you ID the last block of metadata.  If you have a scratch disk, then it is as simple as:  (I made substitutions for olddisk, newdisk, $COUNT= # of physical blocks on disk - # of metadata blocks, $METADATACOUNT = # of metadatablocks

Below if you have access to a LINUX or unix computer

dd if=/dev/olddisk of=/dev/newdisk bs=4k count=$COUNT skip=$METADATACOUNT

You'll end up with $METADATACOUNT free blocks at end of the hdd.

Then you'll have to expand partition.

OK, see what you mean, it is a bit of a pain.  If Dell can't help you out, then you'll have to just do a bare metal backup/restore using a product that supports this RAID controller, where target disk is also plugged into this same system.   I would think Acronics or Ghost has drivers, I don't keep up with such things. If neither have drivers, then you'll need to pay somebody to do this for you.
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by:anuneznyc
ID: 33716624
OK. I put the original HDD back into the system and confirmed that it would boot up normally. Then I shut down the system and also plugged in the new HDD into the second SATA connector on the RAID card.  When I press Ctrl-A on bootup to go into the Adaptec RAID Configuration utility it shows no detected drives?? Clearly it must be detecting at least the original HDD or else it would not boot into Windows Server, no?
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by:anuneznyc
ID: 33716786
When I'm in the Adaptec RAID Configuration Utility, the 2 options are "Array Configuration Utility" and "Disk Utilities." I chose "Disk Utilities" option where there is a listing for SATA Port #0 and SATA Port #1, but both are showing "No Device." Underneath that it says "Only drives present at POST are displayed."
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by:rindi
ID: 33716976
since you aren't using RAID, I don't think the controllers writes any metadata to the disks, as in non-RAID mode that shouldn't be required.Have you meanwhile checked the boot flag is set on the cloned drive? Most cloning utilities won't automatically make the new drive active, as you should only have one active drive in the system, and that is already the original one.
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by:dlethe
ID: 33717201
This particular controller adds metadata even in JBOD mode. This can easily be independently verified with a binary editor when disk is attached to a non-RAID controller, or it can be extrapolated if you look at the disk capacity that it reports to the O/S.  If the capacity doesn't match manufacturer's specifications, then you know there is metadata.

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Author Comment

by:anuneznyc
ID: 33717272
rindi, even though we were not using RAID I do believe metadata was written to the drive b/c when I connected the new drive to the RAID controller and booted up to Puppy Linux and ran GParted shows the new drive but with all space unallocated. So the partitions I created on my system on home (w/ no RAID controller) are not being recognized on the Dell Server.
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Author Comment

by:anuneznyc
ID: 33717319
dlethe, since I now have the new HDD connected to the RAID controller, if I went through the cloning of all the partitions now, that should hypothetically work, right?
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Author Comment

by:anuneznyc
ID: 33729322
dlethe, when you can, please respond to my last posting. Thanks.
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dlethe earned 125 total points
ID: 33861664
Got your email, here is your response ....

Well, if you did it right, it will work :)

So this is how you can confirm if you did it right w/o paying somebody.
Download your favorite binary editor, one that can work on the raw physical device.   Since end-user booted to windows, get a windows based one (I use stuff I wrote, so am not up on some of the shareware), but they do exist..    
Open up the \\.\PHYSICALDRIVE0, or C:\ raw device, whatever the software you get is, and get a screen shot of hex dump for block zero. (Which is not really physical block 0, it is block n, where n=# of metadata blocks.

Then on cloned drive, open the PARTITION that was created with clonezilla, get and compare hexdump for block #0 on the partition.   You should see the NTFS header.   A few blocks will be different, perhaps, depending on whether or not you resized anything, but it should be obvious if the NTFS stuff is there.

If it isn't, then the process wasn't done properly.
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