server not booting up

Dan
Dan used Ask the Experts™
on
I have a windows server 2003 that one of the drives is bad.  After it passes the bios, it tries to load windows and then it just reboots.  
I have tried to boot up with the good drive alone, nothing, then I tried to boot with the bad drive alone, does the same thing, even with both drives, still the same thing, it just won't complete booting up.  Any suggestions?  Would be much appreciated.
Comment
Watch Question

Do more with

Expert Office
EXPERT OFFICE® is a registered trademark of EXPERTS EXCHANGE®
DanNetwork Engineer

Author

Commented:
I forgot to mention that it's in a raid 1 configuration.  I tried deleting the raid, but it won't.  
DanNetwork Engineer

Author

Commented:
I was able to delete the raid 1 arary with both drives out, but it still not booting to the OS.
Top Expert 2008

Commented:
Are you able to get into the Windows bootup menu by hitting F8 repeadetly during bootup? This is where you usually have the choice to boot your server in safe mode or in the last known good configuration, etc.

Also, you should be able to disable the automatic reboots to better see the reason why it reboots when trying to load the operating system.
Acronis in Gartner 2019 MQ for datacenter backup

It is an honor to be featured in Gartner 2019 Magic Quadrant for Datacenter Backup and Recovery Solutions. Gartner’s MQ sets a high standard and earning a place on their grid is a great affirmation that Acronis is delivering on our mission to protect all data, apps, and systems.

DanNetwork Engineer

Author

Commented:
no I can't get to the F8 menu.   Even though I press hte F8 as soon as the server starts, i can't get to it.

I can only get into the bios and the sata controller bios as well, that's it.

it gets as far as  "boot from CD"...  

that's it, it just stops there, it won't go any further.
DanNetwork Engineer

Author

Commented:
I have identified the bad drive, but it doesn't do any good, as I try to boot with the good drive only, but it won't boot.  

If I delete the array with both drives conencted, will that also delete the data on both drives?
Top Expert 2008

Commented:
OK, so you do not even see the windows logo popping up? If so, your bootrecord is probably damaged and that's the reason why it cannot boot.

Since I do not know the make and model of your RAID controller I cannot suggest to delete the RAID and just recreate it here, on the contrary, I vote strongly against it since you cannot know what exactly will happen to your drives then.

I suggest to boot up with the installation medium and run a bootrecord repair using the repair console which looks like one of the good old dos prompts in which you should then be able to run the `fixboot` and `fixmbr` commands. That might help in installing a new working bootrecord + bootloader onto the now changed disk geometry.

A good RAID controller should work around that though, so either your RAID controller is crap or system files got damaged due to the disk failure (which also should never happen in such a configuration).
DanNetwork Engineer

Author

Commented:
I think that the system files got damaged, as when I first tried  to boot it, it did a check disk on the files and tried to fix corrupted and orphaned files.  Then it deleted a lot of files in the check disk screen prior to boot up.
Top Expert 2008

Commented:
Well, that's bad.
Do you have a backup of the system? If so, it's time to recover the system files from the backup.
If you do not have a backup, try to attach the still working disk to a different computer and make an image backup of it so that you can go back to where you started if anything goes wrong from this point on.

Then you could try to do a repair installation using the Windows Server 2003 CD or manually fix the boot record using this CD.
The first thing you need to do is to get the boot record back working again, otherwise you won't see what system files are missing or damaged because your system currently doesn't even know how to boot the operating system.
DanNetwork Engineer

Author

Commented:
I believe I have a backup of the sharepoint database backed up on tape, I hope.   So I will try to make an image of the drive first, before I try to fix the MBR, but booting to the win 2K3 CD and trying to fix it that way
DanNetwork Engineer

Author

Commented:
im using acronis to make an image of the disk and it gave me an error message that the file system has problems.  But I continued to make an image anyways.

I wonder, if I reinstall windows overitself, without formatting, will that keep all my previous settings and programs and everything intact, like windows XP?  Anytime I reinstall windows xp over itself, it keeps all the settings, but it just loads the OS again.
Top Expert 2008

Commented:
That's the repair installation I mentioned above. You really need to make sure that you choose the repair install and not a fresh install just without formatting the drive. You can find a detailed guide here:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/325375
DanNetwork Engineer

Author

Commented:
got it, yes, that's what I was going to try next, so does that work as well with servers I'm assuming?
Top Expert 2008

Commented:
Well, a workstation is still different than a server in many ways, so there is no common way to tell if this will work for you or not, but I've done it a couple of times already and it worked most of the time. If some things do not work after the repair installation, you do need to fix them manually anyways, but at least your system should be up and running again. If files are missing or got overwritten during this process that you really need again, then the Acronis image of the drive kicks in. So, with a proper backup you do not have anything to loose.
DanNetwork Engineer

Author

Commented:
got it, almost everything on the article you gave me, needs access to windows.

I will try the recover console, fixmbr and fixboot and see what happens.
Top Expert 2008

Commented:
You need to scroll down to the very bottom of the KB article, there are the disaster recovery steps like "How to Repair Your Installation of Windows".
DanNetwork Engineer

Author

Commented:
the backup didnt' work, it's blank, I tried to view and explore the image, but it's blank
Top Expert 2008

Commented:
OK, so maybe your hard disk drive cannot be used "outside" of your RAID controller?
Did you pull out the disk and run the backup on a different machine or did you boot your server with Acronis while the disk was still plugged in?
DanNetwork Engineer

Author

Commented:
I have acronis on my workstation.  I pulled out the drive and plugged it in to my PC, and I then ran acronis to make an image of it.  Acrons DID see the drive, but it did give me an error message or information message that there's issues with the drive.
DanNetwork Engineer

Author

Commented:
so should I try to fixboot and fixmbr first, or perform the steps to repair the instalation of windows,
Top Expert 2008

Commented:
Do you have the bootable version of the Acronis rescue CD? If so, plug it into your server, boot from it and save an image of the disk to another harddisk or network share then.

fixboot fixes the NTLoader, fixmbr installes a new bootloader.
I would try fixmbr first since it seems as if your bootloader is missing.
DanNetwork Engineer

Author

Commented:
when I boot the server with acronis, acronis does not recognize the drive
Top Expert 2008

Commented:
Sicne Acronis uses linux as the base for it's operating system, it might be missing the RAID Controller driver to properly identify the drive. Are you using the latest version of Acronis?

Maybe there's a way to get an updated version of Acronis or an addon image that contains a driver for your RAID controller?

I do usually use Paragon Rescue and Recovery Manager CDs for issues like that, based on Windows and works in most situations but that doesn't help you right now I guess.
DanNetwork Engineer

Author

Commented:
Actually, I just tried the safe mode version of acronis and so far it seems to see the drive and it started to make the backup, well, seems like it will work, but the progress is at 0.

with this verion of acronis, it only lets me save the backup to another disk, not a network location, so I'm saving it on the data disk array. I'll let you know if it works.
Top Expert 2008

Commented:
OK, at least it doesn't look that bad right now. Let's just hope this version of Acronis let's you ignore filesystem errors...
DanNetwork Engineer

Author

Commented:
the progress is not moving, it says 5 days remaining, so there's definetly something wrong even with the so called "good drive"
Top Expert 2008

Commented:
I would give it another 30 minutes, if the progress bar then doesn't move significantly or if the estimated time of completion doesn't change, we need to look for additional options. But doing anything on this disk without having a proper backup is not the best idea.
DanNetwork Engineer

Author

Commented:
it down to 2 days now
DanNetwork Engineer

Author

Commented:
is there another imaging software out there for free?
DanNetwork Engineer

Author

Commented:
what do you think of http://clonezilla.org/
Top Expert 2008

Commented:
I'm not sure if there's anything out there that is reliable and free. Acronis isn't free either, you know :)
There are several tools available for backing up a complete disk, the cheapest being the linux command `dd` which is completely free and makes a 1:1 copy of the disk to either another disk or a file on an already existing disk, with all the problems that has (it doesn't have a clue about the filesystem on the disk, so it copies block by block, even free space and might take quite some time).

Then, there's G4L (Ghost for Linux) which does quite a good job usually, and maybe a few others, but I'd check if it's possible to get an evaluation version of one of the big players like paragon or an updated version of acronis, etc.

May I ask what exactly the make and model of this RAID controller is?
Top Expert 2008

Commented:
Didn't know about clonezilla, but it sounds nice - worth a try I guess.
DanNetwork Engineer

Author

Commented:
I don't know what the model or brand the raid controller is, I will look at it when I reboot, so it will be a few minutes, as I want to see if acronis makes any progress.
DanNetwork Engineer

Author

Commented:
its still on 2 days, that's not good, because when I did backup on my PC, it only tooks 8 minutes
DanNetwork Engineer

Author

Commented:
the raid controller is a raidcore BC4852

When i restart it without cutting the power, there's a small high and low beep coming from the motherboard, so something is messed up pretty bad
Top Expert 2008

Commented:
Maybe the RAID controller is broken?
DanNetwork Engineer

Author

Commented:
the clonezilla didn't work either, it's not supported on my processor so it says.

I have no choice, but I'm going to try to fix the mbr
DanNetwork Engineer

Author

Commented:
should I power it down and reset it, take it out and put it back in?
DanNetwork Engineer

Author

Commented:
is there a way to test to see if hte raid controller is bad?  Also, I can go to the store and pick a new one up, but the problem is, since the drives are part of the existing array, won't that give me problems?
Top Expert 2008

Commented:
That depends. If it's a good controller (never heard of yours though), it should have an option to read the RAID configuration from the drive(s) after a controller replacement. Ideally, everything will start working again then.

But there's still a chance that your mobo is fried or anything like that, so helping in this particular situation being a few thousand kilometers away from you is probably not the best idea. I strongly suggest you get some professional help on-site who helps you fix your system.

Without a proper backup, things just can get worse by playing around with the disks and the controller.
DanNetwork Engineer

Author

Commented:
Thanks, I know it's hard for you to assit being so far away.
I even tried both drives conecting them straight into the SATA port on the MB, and boot that way, but it doesn't work.  I tried fixmbr and fixboot, but it does nothing.   I tried chkdsk, and it says the following " the volume appears to contain one or more unrecoverable problems".   It says this on both drives, so I think I'm toast.
Top Expert 2008
Commented:
Yap, I guess either the harddrives or the controller are in a pretty bad condition. If you're unlucky, drives and controller are dead.

The drives will usually _NOT_ boot when connected directly to a SATA board on your system, because of the missing RAID controller, some controllers do write signatures on the disks which prevent them from booting when not connected to their home RAID controller.
Anyhow, if it's possible for you to get the same controller again for testing purposes, plug it in and see if it recognizes the disk, if backup goes faster there then f.ex. or if it even boots with the new controller.

I'd strongly suggest to change that controller in favor of something more sophisticated like one from Adaptec f.ex. or anyone else who's in the business long enough to build good RAID controllers. Depending on the make and model of your server, it might even be possible to get a raid controller from the hardware vendor, if it's a HP, Dell, IBM or FuSi system.

I'M off for today now, it's very late already here - hope you can find a solution to your problem!
DanNetwork Engineer

Author

Commented:
thanks, we're virtualizing our servers in a month or so, so I don't want to poor any more money into this server
DanNetwork Engineer

Author

Commented:
thanks for your help, even though I didn't get it back up and runnig, I do appreciate your help.

Do more with

Expert Office
Submit tech questions to Ask the Experts™ at any time to receive solutions, advice, and new ideas from leading industry professionals.

Start 7-Day Free Trial