imaging solution to use with Dell Poweredge 2950 and SAS RAID 5

Hi all,

We have to upgrade a client's old Dell 2950 Poweredge, first of all imaging the machine, then swapping out the current 6 SAS disk RAID array for higher capacity disks, then restoring the image to the new array.

I know from past experience that these machines and RAID arrays don't always play nice with imaging software (last time it was Ghost I think, can't remember if tried Acronis).

Does anyone have similar experience doing a similar thing with the same server, and can they recommend an imaging utility that is known to work?

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Mango-ManConnect With a Mentor Author Commented:
OK,  will it didn't all go quite according to plan, but got there in the end.

The 300GB of database data proved to be the main issue.

Booting from a certain common Linux boot CD, Ghost and Acronis were both able to see the arrays in the end, but had no options to set ethernet addresses and store the image to the network, something we wanted to fall back on, rather than relying on a single backup to USB HDD.

Tape backups had been failing, were spanned over 2 tapes, and couldn't be counted on.

Installing Paragon Trial to Windows server whilst running seemed to work, and I was able to backup an image to the network, but then discovered that to restore it I would need to purchase the product to obtain the Win PE Builder.  $75 for the standalone product would have been acceptable, but the full purchase price of $699 just for this one job then ruled that out.

The existing ARCServe backup should have had the ability to create a Win PE recovery environment too, but this options wasn't installed for some reason.

In the end I went with another admin's suggestion (senior network architect for a major international law firm).

Clonezilla! (running from live USB stick)

Apart from being free and opensource, it's is also very fast, and supported several different ways of doing the job locally or across the network.  It detected the controller and RAID array no problem, and was really simple to use despite its' old school DOS VGA GUI.

I put one image file on the network (going across VLANs to  a VM server), then as a backup also used it in CLONE mode, to clone to the external USB SATA disk.  The software gives options to include the boot sector or not, as well.

In the end, the image stored on the network failed in the restore, but falling back on the cloned USB disk, it cloned back perfectly to the new RAID virtual disk, and all was good!   Then just Acronis to extend / resize al the partitions to take advantage of the new space.

Thanks for everyone's help, but I'll leave the above for anyone else to take advantage of - have to say, I can't recommend Clonezilla highly enough after my experience with it.
I have created a bootable CD with Bart PE documentation adding the drivers for the storage controller for the server. This allow me to boot from a live Windows 2003 CD and access the information in RAID 5. Then I use a tool called snapshoot drive, you don't need to install it or anything, only run one exe file. Create a full backup and check it. Then I change the HDs, delete the old array and then create the new one with new hds. Boot again with Live CD and use the same tool to restore.
noxchoGlobal Support CoordinatorCommented:
I would suggest you Paragon Drive Backup 10 Server
Image the configuration either from installed copy of DB or using boot WinPE CD.
Then reconfigure it with newer drives and restore from backup.
WinPE CD has Add Driver option that allows you loading driver for this specific controller while you are working from WinPE (store the drivers on diskette or USB flash stick). Thus it guarantees that the RAID is detected properly.
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Mango-ManAuthor Commented:
thanks both of you, interesting that you both use PE environments...
While I've not heard of snapshoot drive, Paragon has cropped up once or twice.

still awaiting the downtime to do this job, amidst some other details.

no-one has mentioned Acronis yet, although I thought that would be popular?

Does anyone else have input?
I have used Acronis to restore a image in another server, it has many good features, like add drivers and change hardware to destination server. IF you have the budget or the right license, any of these softwares are good options. I have used norton ghost. And I have used Windows 2008 backup tools and windows deployment services too (WDS).

The important is to get access to the RAID to write in them, you can use a live cd (Bart PE is one option, UBCD another, Windows 2008 boot cd another) but the storage drivers is the main component to restore the server image.
noxchoGlobal Support CoordinatorCommented:
I never had problems with Paragon. It uses Windows VSS service for online backups. And for restore you boot from its own WinPE which has Add Driver feature in case standard WinPE does not detected the controller with default pack of drivers.
Mango-ManAuthor Commented:
Thanks everyone, Paragon deos seem to be well liked.

The following is also of interest regarding Paragon, and gives a great step by step.

Also I've just discovered that the ARCserve backup software already used for backups on the server (this is not administered by us) has the ability to create boot images, with the correct RAID drivers, although I have not used this before, to allow subsequent restore from Tape backup.   I am not sure if I fancy trying it for the first time on limited downtime for a crucial production server though.

The server we are upgrading is holds about 300GB in data, so time is a major issue here, with only 24 hours to do the work.
Mango-ManAuthor Commented:
question can be closed
Mango-ManAuthor Commented:
attempted to use suggestions from this question, but found another more suitable solution that worked really well from elsewhere, so am giving as solution to my original issue
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