Moving System Drive to Larger Disks Using Acronis

We have a Dell PowerEdge 2900 running Windows Small Business Server 2003 that is getting very low on disk space on the system drive (C:). Although we plan to replace the entire server within a few months, we need to buy some time by expanding the drive ASAP. (I've already moved everything I could think of off the C: drive.) The current setup is using two 73 GB drives in a hardware-based RAID 1 arrangement. I have two new 146 GB drives ready to replace these with, but the question is how exactly to do it.

Dell tech support recommends the following general procedure for migrating to the larger drive:

1. Take an image of the existing C: drive
2. Swap out the existing disks and build a new mirrored set with the new disks
3. Restore the image to the new drive

The question is: how will I take/restore the image? We have a copy of Acronis True Image Echo Workstation which I have used for images of workstations. Ideally I would like to just boot from the bootable rescue disk I made with this software to take the image to a USB drive. But I'm not sure if the workstation version will work with the RAID setup.

I know Acronis also makes a server version of this software, but it is very expensive, and this is a one time deal. (Although we will probably be looking at the server version as a possible backup solution when we replace the server.) I see that they have a trial version, but there is no room to install it on this server. We have a second server (Windows Server 2003) that has plenty of room, so I could install on that and make a bootable disk from there. Note that I will be doing this over a weekend and can take the server(s) down as necessary for this work.

I would appreciate any comments, based on your experience or knowledge, on any of these options:

1. Using bootable rescue disk created from Acronis True Image Echo Workstation.
2. Using bootable rescue disk created from Acronis server trial software installed on second server.
3. Any other inexpensive option for moving the system drive to larger disks.

Thanks,

bhaf
bhafAsked:
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sjklein42Commented:
I think you are good with the Acronis True Image version you have already.

http://kb.acronis.com/content/11681

Acronis True Image Home supports hardware RAID arrays of all the popular types both with and without the Plus Pack add-on, in any case. Thus, the supported hardware RAIDs are:
RAID 0
RAID 1
RAID 5
RAID 0+1
RAID 1+0

As to specific RAID controllers - when running the product in Windows, the product will support them if Windows itself does. From Acronis Bootable Media most of the RAID controllers are supported.

Acronis True Image Home does not support software RAID implementations (Windows Dynamic Disks) if Plus Pack is not installed. See also Acronis True Image Home Does Not Support Dynamic Disks or Disks with GUID Partition Tables (GPT);
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ThethicalCommented:
go with acronis, I've been using it for many years. To make an image it's better if you run it from a boot disk (offline mode) and follow as advised, swapping the disks, creating the array and then restore. If you prefer to run it in online mode check first if it recognizes the storage controller booting from the disk and checking the hard drives are available. For a server you should use the server edition, it is expensive but a really good product.
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delandaleCommented:
Unfortunately, Acronis True Image Workstation will not allow you to take a backup of a server os. The only other way I can think of doing this is without spending money (and without using NT Backup!) is as follows:

1) Install VMWare converter on the SBS
2) Install VMWare ESXi (free download) on a spare box with enough hard drive space
3) Perform a P2V (physical to virtual) conversion of the server to the esxi box (make sure the VM boots on this box before proceeding)
4) Reconfigure the drives as required in the 2900
5) Install ESXi on the 2900
6) Use VMWare converter to perform a V2V (virtual to virtual) conversion from the spare ESXi box to the 2900 with ESXi on it

This method will also virtualise your environment. If you have an OEM version of SBS, you will need to purchase a new, retail license as SBS cannot legally be virtualised.

This will be a time consuming excersise but the only downtime you will have is from point 4 to point 6 as you can P2V with the source OS operational. And its free!
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millardjkCommented:
Check again with your Dell tech, but you should be able to:
1) pull one of the 73GB drives
2) insert one of the 146GB drives
3) allow the array to "heal" (will take several hours, but host stays online the whole time)
4) Repeat with the second drive

At this point, the host should now have the new drives, but the Windows partition (and possibly the virtual volume from the raid controller) will still be just 73GB(raw) from the old setup.

At this point you have several options. First, you can expand the RAID volume (if it isn't already 146GB) to the full size supported by the drive. This would allow you to use GPARTED (or equivalent) to move and expand existing partitions to consume the new free space.

If the RAID volume didn't expand automatically, you could also create a new virtual volume (same raid level) and use GPARTED to move non-system partitions to the new RAID volume, then expand the system partition into free space.

Finally, you should be able to drop your two new drives directly into the 2900, and create a new RAID volume. Use GPARTED (or equivalent) to copy and resize the system partition, then copy the other partition (and resizing as desired) to the new RAID set. After the partition layout is the way you desire on the new RAID set, reboot into the PERC control panel and switch the boot volume n the controller to use the new RAID set. Once you verify that things are behaving, you can delete the old RAID set and remove drives, or you can re-purpose them for additional user storage on the host by deleting the original partitions.
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delandaleCommented:
I dont think you can expand the RAID volume from the RAID manager. You will need to delete the volume and recreate (see: http://unixwiz.net/techtips/dell-perc6-extend.html). Apparently, you can expand the volume from Dell OpenManage Server Administrator (see: http://blog.unixwiz.net/2010/03/expanding-raid1-arrays-on-dell-perc-6i-integrated-raid-controllers.html, 1st reply / comment)
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bhafAuthor Commented:
Thanks for all of the helpful information, everyone!

My original plan was to do what millardjk suggested and add one of the new disks, let the mirror recover onto the new disk, then add the other new disk. After both new disks were installed, I would need to somehow increase the partition size. But the Dell tech said this was an "unsupported" method and recommended the image based approach. However, I still may use this as a fallback.

Based on the link sjklein42 provided, I'm feeling more confident that I can just use the Acronis Workstation version I already have to take the image. I think I'll try that first. I'll also download the trial of the Server version of Acronis in case I need that. I've used Acronis Workstation for years and am happy and familiar with it. Since I would be doing this off the Acronis boot disk, I don't think it should matter which OS is on the system, but I guess I'll find out.

If those methods don't work, I may try what delandale suggested. This seems more involved than I was hoping for, but it is free as was pointed out.

I'll be on-site at the location this weekend to do the work, so I'm going to leave this question open for now, then post back what I did and assign points after that. Thanks again for all of the useful suggestions.
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delandaleCommented:
Just to clarify, if you do perform millardjk's suggestion, increasing the partition size is very easy using 3rd party tools but the difficulty lies in increasing the *RAID VOLUME* size - see the links I posted.
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bhafAuthor Commented:
Got it. The links you included will be quite helpful if I go that route.
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bhafAuthor Commented:
I successfully replaced the 73 GB drives with the 146 GB drives using the workstation version of Acronis. Specifically, I:

1) Shut down the server and disconnected the network cable from it.

2) Booted the server from a bootable rescue disk I made from Acronis True Image Echo Workstation 9.7.

3) Backed up the existing C: drive to a USB drive.

4) Replaced the two 73 GB drives with two 146 GB drives and built a new RAID 1, 146 GB virtual disk with Dell PERC 5i utility.

5) Restored image of C: drive from USB drive.

6) After checking that it had worked thus far, booted from EASEUS Partition Master Server Edition boot disk (Windows PE) and expanded partition to use all available space.

I appreciate all of the suggestions, as they probably all would have worked, but based points on the method I actually used.

Thanks,

bhaf
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