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Windows Server 2003: converting from dynamic to basic

Hey folks,

we have a server that is running out of space on C: and one solution is to shrink D: which is on the same disk and resize C: but as always there are few pitfalls.

For some reason the disk is dynamic rather than basic and to complicate matters further the D: partition is in 3 separate simple volumes. Here is an illustration to explain.
 Disk managment - Disk 0We have EASEUS Partition Master 6.5.1 Server Edition which can resize the partition but I am concerned about the best most reliable way to go about it.

One idea I had to just to try it out was to use Shadow Protect to capture the disk image so I can play around with it in a virtual machine first before I do it for real.

Does anyone have any suggestions on the best way to resize C: and D: on our server without breaking it? :)

Thanks in advance.
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defecta
Asked:
defecta
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3 Solutions
 
Paul SolovyovskySenior IT AdvisorCommented:
Paragon Partition Manager will do that in under 10 seconds. I'm not sure if the free version will do this but it's worth a try.  I have used the paid versions and it works great

http://www.paragon-software.com/home/pm-express/download.html
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oneitnzCommented:
It looks like there is no way to resize Dynamic Volumes but however you say you own EASEUS software according to their webpage you should be able to convert the disk back to a Basic Disk:
http://www.partition-tool.com/easeus-partition-manager/copy-dynamic-volume.htm

You could try that approach as for Shadow Protecting into a VM for testing please see this post on how to get around the Dynamic Drive Problem
http://forum.storagecraft.com/Community/files/folders/supportwhitepapers/entry302.aspx
and here:
http://forum.storagecraft.com/Community/forums/p/3883/18146.aspx#18146

Regards
Brett Smith
One IT - Windows Server Specialists
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Paul SolovyovskySenior IT AdvisorCommented:
Paragon will do both in the same task.  It will convert dynamic to basic, you can then reduce D and grow C
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Kruno DžoićSystem EngineerCommented:
use EASEUS Partition Master, it's the best program for partitioning, most reliable

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defectaAuthor Commented:
does anyone have any experience in converting a multiple partitition dynamic disk like this one (D:) to a basic disk? Does it create multiple basic disks or is it smart enough to concatenate them? This is my primary concern hence wanting to experiment with it in a VM first.

I have since created VMDKs of both C: and D: using Shadowprotec Server (trial) but I cant seen any way to add both the drives into a new virtual machine in VMware. I also cant see any way to capture the two volumes in a single disk image.

Any hints or experience here?
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defectaAuthor Commented:
i think i have found out how to add the 2 drives to VMware using the 'Map virtual disk' option when configuring the hard disk options for the virtual machine.

I have to wait till i get to work tomorrow to put all the pieces together as the image is too large to download so I can work on it. I will let you all know how it goes.
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Paul SolovyovskySenior IT AdvisorCommented:
when using vmware you should create each disk to a seperate virtual disk with vmware converter (you can point to the shadowprotect image).  This will create 4 independednt virtual disks and allow you to grow each one without affecting another.
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defectaAuthor Commented:
Ill make a copy of the virtual disks before my first attempt so I can have another crack if it all goes south.

@paulsolov: the image of D: is only one file currently, even though its made up of 3 dynamic partitions. Are you suggesting I should break it into 3 virtual disks first?

I'll have a crack at converting it the way it is in a virtual machine first as it would be a lot simpler and more like what I would be doing when it comes time to doing the same thing on the live server.

Ill let you know how it goes tomorrow when I am able have a go.
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Paul SolovyovskySenior IT AdvisorCommented:
I didn't notice..It may be spanning the disk on multiple partitions.

What I would do is download a trial version of Symantec Backup Exec System Recovery or Acronis.  Image system, format and restore.  Before proceeding ensure that you have backed up as a VM as it would allow you to image it from inside the VM and do a restore back to physical hardware should something go awry.  When you restore it will restore as a single volume if you delete and create.
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defectaAuthor Commented:
yeah well the whole VMware thing just didnt work for me.

I tried converting the Shadowprotect image into a VM and importing that into VMware. That didnt work.
I tried using importing the Shadow protect image into VMware. That didnt work.
I tried using VMware to capture the image of the physical machine. That sort of worked but captured drives were not booting a reason I am yet to diagnose.

I will try the Symantec System Recovery Server Edition (AKA Backup Exec System Recovery) as soon as their website stops being crap and lets me register for the trial. (i completed all the required info but was told the form could not be submitted and to try again later 'at another time'. =/ )
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oneitnzCommented:
Hi Defecta

If you are using ShadowProtect you should be able to create 1 VMDK file for your Virtual Machine. Just one big Empty One. Then mount the ShadowProtect ISO and Boot from the CD. This should get you into the ShadowProtect Recovery Environment and from here you can restore the ShadowProtect Backup that you took from the Physical Box. You will also probably want to perform a Hardware Independent Restore this will fix any driver issues when restoring to the VMWare Virtual Machine.

Also be sure to follow the instructions from my earlier post about how to restore Dynamic Disks because they aren't the same as Basic.

Regards
Brett
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defectaAuthor Commented:
can you tell me how to create 1 VMDK? no matter what I try it always creates 2. 1 for each volume. I think because I have to exclude the other drives that are part of the SAN.

how do you get the VM to see the Shadow Protect images?
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oneitnzCommented:
You would need the shadow protect images on a USB Drive or Network Share.
Boot into the Shadow Protect recovery environment and restore those backups into different partitions on the 1 large VMDK.
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defectaAuthor Commented:
OK, so yesterday the big day came. But before I get to that let me tell you about the virtual machine testing.

VM TESTING

I had access to two Shadow protect recovery CDs. One was version 3.5 I suspect from a licensed version and the other version 4.1 from the trial I downloaded.

Following oneitnz's directions I was able to restore to the server image successfully to a VM with a larger VHD than the original physical machine so I didn’t have issues trying to restore the images into a smaller partitions (more on this later).

Using the 3.5 disc I was able to recover to a booting VM without any need for a repair as consequence of recovering from an image of a Dynamic Disc. Curiously, following the exact same procedure with the 4.1 disc from the trial wouldn't recover like the 3.5 disc did. It went to a blinking cursor like described.

I didn’t try too hard to get it working with 4.1 because 3.5 worked but booting with the original Server 2003 disc, I wasn't able to repair the boot because it would just go straight into an install without providing the option for the recovery console. =/ Could it be because VMware was scripting the install without my knowledge?

Anyway after recovering to the VM the dynamic disc was now a basic disc anyway so trying to test Easus's ability to convert from dynamic disc to basic in the VM was impossible.

Because of my findings with experimenting with VMware and because we now had two backup and recovery options (Shadow Protect trial and our current backup and recovery program Symantec Backup Exec 12.5), we decided to take the plunge and give it a crack on the mail server yesterday.

SERVER RECOVERY

Nothing had prepared us for what was meant to be a 2 hour job on a Saturday morning, turning into a 10 hour stint indoor on the first beautiful warm autumn day for about a week.

Here is the short version.
•      Easus, through an escape clause in the fine print could never do what it was purchased to do, which is convert a dynamic disc to basic.
•      Symantec Backup Exec was so difficult to get working we stopped trying and ended up using ShadowProtect Trial to save the day.
•      ShadowProtect is a great piece of software that we will most definitely be purchasing. It got us out of a real bind and its sooo much faster and reliable than Backup Exec, not to mention cheaper.

If you would like to know the details of what happened, enjoy the following wall of text.

The long version.
After verifying that we had two successful backups and was able to load the ShadowProtect image in the VM we had our first go at using Easus on the server.

A long story short, Easus couldn't convert the drives because it said it could only covert standard drives or mirrored drives and we needed to break the mirror in order for it to be able to run. (yes I thought that sounded like a contradiction too) The drive was a RAID 5 and could only be converted to RAID 0 easily so that was the next issue. Easus still couldn't do anything with a RAID 0 so we basically left with no other option than to nuke the drive and restore from backup.

So we booted with the ShadowProtect CD and was presented with an unexpected drive layout. Instead of having the 3 smaller dynamic disks that made up the D: drive, ShadowProtect showed 3 500+gig drives. With no other option, I deleted one of them which resulted in some partition space in front of C: being released as well as some other unallocated space after C: but the I still had the 3 D: drives showing. Not to be discourage I tried again and again but I couldn't get rid of them so i rebooted and tried again. After a reboot we were presented with no C: or D: even though I only consciously deleted D:.

So when trying to restore C: and D: we could not recreate them without the 7.8mb space before C: meant that, no matter how many attempts at deleting and recreating the new partitions as close to original size we just couldn't get the restore to succeed because we could never recreate a D:  partition large enough to accommodate the image, presumably because of the unallocated space in front of C: that wasn’t there previously.

So decided to take a different approach to recovering D: but try ShadowProtect for C: A subsequent reboot presented us with a PXE boot loader meaning we had an unbootable C: drive even though we checked the options to restore the MBR etc., contrary to my trials in the VM.

After a fair bit of to-ing and fro-ing with my colleague about how MBRs and boot sectors are written to RAID drives and trying to boot into a recovery console which required floppy drivers etc. we proceeded to install Server 2003 again from disc because once we did get to the recovery console to run FIXBOOT C: and FIXMBR  we still did not have a booting HDD.

Its at this point we thought that seeing as were installing windows again, we might was well complete the job so we could use Backup Exec to finish the restore, with ShadowProtect as a backup.

Not having had any experience with restoring with Backup Exec I was hoping my colleague would show me the way but we were both just as lost as to why it wouldn’t work and Backup Exec couldn’t authenticate against the new server to finish the restore so it was back to using ShadowProtect now that we had a bootable partition.

So next we restored C: to the partition we created from the Server install disc without the option to restore the MBR etc and BAM we had a booting windows server again and Backup Exec was able to authenticate against it to finish off the restore of D: into the new smaller D:

An hour later, the Backup Exec restore finished or so we thought. The mail store needed to be restored separately. And not matter how much we argued with Backup Exec and power cycling everything it would keep telling us that the media that it just restored the rest of D: from was unavailable.

It was at this point that I remembered we could mount the ShadowProtect image of D: as a drive and just copy over the mail store from the ShadowProtect image.

JOB DONE!

What did we learn?
•      Easus was a waste of money
•      buy a copy of ShadowProtect
•      drop Backup Exec like a bad cold.

Does anyone know why we were unsuccessful in repairing the boot sector etc from the recovery console of the server disc?
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oneitnzCommented:
Glad your another ShadowProtect convert, I just can't stand Backup Exec.
If only ShadowProtect was a little cheaper maybe more people would buy it.

Glad it all worked out for you in the end.
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defectaAuthor Commented:
Its cheaper than Backup Exec isn't it?

AFAIK there are ongoing licensing costs for Backup Exec too. Or is that bad info?

oneitnz, no insight into why we couldn't repair the boot sector using recovery console?

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oneitnzCommented:
Hi Defecta

Not sure what exactly was your problem but if you had an empty partition before the C Partition and your Boot.ini file was trying to load from the first partition this will have been your issue. Normally I go into ShadowProtect and manually edit the Boot.ini file using the builtin file browser and text editor.

Also not sure you know this but with ShadowProtects newer versions (not sure if it was in 3.5 or not) but if you boot into the Vista/Win 7 Environment you can actually shrink the partition so you can restore the backup to a smaller hard drive.

What you do is mount the image as Writeable then unmount it straight away and when its unmounting it will ask if you want to shrink it.
This will create a small Incremental file that when you restore from that the Required partition size will be smaller. Obviously there has to be enough free space on the partition to shrink it first.
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defectaAuthor Commented:
Ok I will keep that in mind for next time, we have 1 more server to do the same thing on so that may come in handy.

The sales rep from ShadowProtect will be giving me a call next week so I will discuss that with him then. That sounds like a really big missing from our process yesterday.

thanks oneitnz!
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Paul SolovyovskySenior IT AdvisorCommented:
If you would have use Backup Exec System Recovery it would have done the same thing as Shadow Protect. Always use the right tool for the job. Acronis as well does the same thing
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defectaAuthor Commented:
@paulsolov, yeah I wasnt aware that Backup Exec was not designed to do system recovery and that there is different specific product for that purpose. I dont think that the person who implemented it at work was aware either as it was meant to be our backup in case ShadowProtect trial wasnt successful.

Thanks for clarifying that.
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