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can I run fixmbr on windows xp machine with raid 1.

Posted on 2011-03-25
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Last Modified: 2012-05-11
I'm not sure if it's software or hardware raid 1 since it's not my machine and a friend is asking my advice. When he tries to boot his xp pro machine windows never tries to start. The drives are recognized in some utilities he's using. I think it's Dell Utilities.

My question is, can you run fixmbr on a machine with raid 1? I would thinks so.
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Question by:bwierzbicki
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17 Comments
 

Author Comment

by:bwierzbicki
ID: 35220167
one more thing. How do you know if you have software or hardware raid?
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Expert Comment

by:PowerEdgeTech
ID: 35220224
If it is hardware RAID, then there is no harm in running it.  How to find out is the trick.  What model of PC is it?  One possible way is to look in Device Manager under Disk Drives ... if it lists individual disks, then it is likely not hardware.  Look under Storage and/or SCSI and RAID Controllers for some hardware RAID/storage device.
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Author Comment

by:bwierzbicki
ID: 35220241
unfortunately Windows doesn't boot to look in device manager.
Something that just occurred to me, I've seen on other machines the option to Ctrl-C (I think) to enter the raid configuration. If that, or something like it is present does it mean it is hardware raid?
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Expert Comment

by:PowerEdgeTech
ID: 35220330
If it is a Precision workstation, it is possible it was configured with a SAS 5/iR or SAS 6/iR, in which case, CTRL-C would get you into the RAID controller's configuration  utility.  If it is a hardware RAID controller, there should be "some" setup utility for it during POST.
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Expert Comment

by:remixedcat
ID: 35220483
sometimes on dells it's F10 though. I had a system that was. be sure to access the utility and then try to access windows.

also have a look around BIOS as well
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Expert Comment

by:PowerEdgeTech
ID: 35220545
F10 is the Utility Partition on a Dell, which only contains diagnostics.

If he has a Dell-configured hardware RAID controller, it will either be CTRL-R for a PERC 5/6 or CTRL-C for a SAS 5/6.
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Expert Comment

by:remixedcat
ID: 35220560
hrrrm must be a different system then. the one I worked on was older though.
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Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 35221063
what happens when he boots?  any errors or screens?
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Expert Comment

by:David
ID: 35222740
Statistically speaking, this looks like it is hardware (motherboard-based) RAID, and now it is in non-RAID mode.  this can happen if the mobo battery finally dies, or your friend mucks with the BIOS settings.

Ask friend if the clock gets reset if PC is unplugged and this will confirm if that is the case. Solution is to replace the battery, which you can get at a grocery store for a few dollars, then go to the BIOS screen and reconfigure to enable RAID, set the clock etc.

Software raid doesn't spontaneously revert, unless you have a drive failure and the other disk isn't in the boot path.  So no matter what, look at the BIOS.  
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Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 35222952
>>  can you run fixmbr on a machine with raid 1  <<  yes
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Expert Comment

by:David
ID: 35222984
Yes, but if the RAID is screwed up, then FIXMBR pretty much guarantees 100% data loss.

You have to know the disease before you treat it ... or your patient will die.

(Hmm, that's a good one, so put my name on it if you reuse the quote ;)
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Expert Comment

by:remixedcat
ID: 35223010
did the OP look into bios options?

did the RAID setup find anything wrong?

RAID is very touchy with MBR.
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Accepted Solution

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David earned 500 total points
ID: 35223450
remixedcat - if it is hardware RAID (not software-based, or fakeraid), and the raid is actually assembled and online, then it isn't the least bit "touchy" with anything.  It can even be degraded.  The BIOS presents the logical device, and that is all that the O/S sees.

The controller doesn't care if you are copying files, doing a defrag,  fixmbr, formatting, or even partitioning.  It provides a target ID so the O/S can tell it to seek, read, or write data at certain offsets, then does the rest.  It has no idea what program is being run.

If it appears "touchy" then the problem is not with the 1s and 0s you sent the controller, it is with the controller/disk setup and configuration.

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Author Comment

by:bwierzbicki
ID: 35235704
Thanks guys for all the responses. I finally got the machine and it is an older Dimension 8400. The raid is on the motherboard. In the raid config utility status is normal. The time in bios is correct. I do see however that raid conifguration is Stripe instead of mirror.

There are no errors at bootup, it goes through the bios splash screen, gives the raid config option, then just goes blank.

Is it safe to run fixmbr? I started to do it and got a warning about this being a non-conventional configuration and saying that I may lose my partitions.

The config utility is Intel Application Raid Accelorator Option Rom v 4.0.0.6211
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Expert Comment

by:David
ID: 35235764
It is not save to run fixmbr unless you have a full image backup, and/or have gotten out a binary editor and manually looked at the logical / physical devices and determined the state.  You don't know if it is assembled properly the RAID controller has no knowledge of your file system.

If you do fixmbr and problem was something else, then you will likely cost thousands of dollars worth of more work for a recovery lab.  If this customer isn't willing to spend that much money anyway, then have him decide if he wants to pay your time to do a backup first, or just risk it all w/o a backup.
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Expert Comment

by:remixedcat
ID: 35237211
well the touchy raid was a software raid on the mobo it was an hp media pc.
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Author Closing Comment

by:bwierzbicki
ID: 35238282
Hardware Raid handled everything. First I did a clone w/acronis software and booted to the single drive I cloned to. Then I did fixmbr and voila.I got the system up on that drive. At that point I knew I could run fixmbr on the Raid drives and even if it messed up I at least had the system on a single drive. I reconnected the 2 hd's that were in Raid 0, ran fixmbr through the recovery console and It was up and running.

Thanks for all the helpful comments.
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