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Why can I not configure this partition on a 4TB RAID5 array?

Posted on 2011-09-06
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Last Modified: 2016-10-27
We have just added a RAID5 array to a Windows 2008 R2 (Dell Poweredge) server, consisting of 3 x 2 TB drives. (4 TBs effective.) The desire was to have this array as the system drive, so we cloned the old one over with Acronis. It seems to have worked fine, as the server boots up nicely. There is only one problem...  The 4th partition will not cooperate...

 100 MB NTFS  |  65 GBs NTFS    |   1983 GBs NTFS  |   1677 GBs unallocated

In Disk Management, when I right-click on this 4th partition, it only gives me the option of "Properties", nothing else. In general, the entire virtual disk, reads as 3725.0 GB online. It is a Basic disk, and it is MBR-partitioned.

I have wondered if it should have been GPT-partioned, but I was concerned whether I would be able to successful clone it while going in that direction. Just haven't worked with it much. I have also heard a bit about converting it. However, I really don't want to risk this. Can anyone out there with experience with this speak to this situation?  Any solutions to be able to partition and format this unallocated space?

Thanks.

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Question by:gs-rho
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12 Comments
 
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Accepted Solution

by:
Lee W, MVP earned 500 total points
ID: 36493716
Yes, it must be a GPT disk to be able to access the space beyond 2TB.  No idea if the cloning would work to that - but forget cloning - use this as a back test and backup the old partition and restore the data as if you had to completely restore after a failed array.  You'll get the array size you want and valuable experience performing a restore.
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Expert Comment

by:gtworek
ID: 36493782
You definitely have to use GPT disk as leew wrote. Cloning success depends on the tool you use for cloning. If you use backup software, robocopy, fsmt or any windows based method - it should be ok. If you use utility working at the sector level - you may experience several issues.
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Expert Comment

by:kevinhsieh
ID: 36493816
I believe that you need to blow away the RAID configuration and recreate it as two virtual disks. The first disk will be for the OS and will be MBR. The second disk will be GPT. You can then put the OS back on by whichever method you choose.
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by:kevinhsieh
ID: 36493831
Most systems can't boot to GPT disk, which is why you need to have a MBR disk for booting and then a GPT disk for your data.
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by:gtworek
ID: 36493849
2008 R2 can boot from GPT so this is not a problem in this case.
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by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 36493945
2008 R2 can boot from GPT, PROVIDED the system has an EFI instead of BIOS.
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Expert Comment

by:kevinhsieh
ID: 36493987
The current generation of Dell's PowerEdge Servers (11th generation R and T series) look like they can boot to GPT disk if you configure them for UEFI.

http://en.community.dell.com/dell-blogs/enterprise/b/tech-center/archive/2010/08/06/uefi-aware-os-deployment-on-dell-poweredge-servers-using-unified-server-configurator.aspx
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Author Comment

by:gs-rho
ID: 36500843
This server is an 11th Gen Poweredge, and it has UEFI. I don't really know if it was installed using the Server Configurator (or if that's a requirement). As I mentioned it has Windows 2008 R2 on it, but it wasn't installed by Dell. It was installed at our company. I suppose if it was installed with UEFI, it would've been partitioned with GPT, and it's not, or else I wouldn't be having this problem. (Funny, it seems to have all the prerequisites though.) This is good information.

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/hardware/gg463525.aspx
This URL confirms that booting is supported for 64-bit editions of Win 7, Vista, Win 2008 on UEFI-based systems.

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Author Comment

by:gs-rho
ID: 36500845
Since converting to GPT and backing up and restoring after converting has come up, does anyone know if cloning tools, such as those like Acronis or Ghost work the same way on GPT disks as with MBR disk? thanks.
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Author Comment

by:gs-rho
ID: 36500851
I guess gtworek kind of addressed that.
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LVL 26

Expert Comment

by:gtworek
ID: 36501001
Acronis and Ghost are pretty good piece of software and they are well documented.
Acronis works with GPT disks except older "Home" versions.
AFAIK Ghost Solution Suite will work too.
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Author Comment

by:gs-rho
ID: 36541848
So, I went with leew's suggestion to forget cloning... yes, it was valuable experience to back up the whole system and restore. I used diskpart to clean the disk and convert it to GPT. After that, I restored from the backup (Windows Server Backup). HOWEVER, it didn't work out for the intended purpose. I am back where I started. I'm glad I am, to some extent. This server is important and it restored like it was before, and I'm glad it's intact (except that the Event Log had a "Kernel Power" error and said it didn't shut down properly). When I say, it didn't work out, the system restored the disk to being an MBR-formatted disk, not a GPT one. So, I still don't know how to do this. I still need to recover the unused space on this array, by converting to GPT, with the installation intact. (It would be very lengthy to reinstall/rebuild everything.)
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