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Moving a Set of Spanned Drives from One Windows 7 Machine to Another

Posted on 2012-03-25
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Last Modified: 2012-03-26
Hi all,
I have 2 computers that each have multiple hard drives installed. Windows has set up these drives so that they are formatted and configured as spanned drives meaning, the drives are "combined" and show as one large drive.

I want to take all of the drives from both computers and move them to a different Windows 7 machine. If I do this, will the new machine see the spanned drives and show it as one large drive, or will it corrupt everything and I will loose all of my data and I will have to start again?

Please advise! I really need to move the drives to this other computer, but I cannot afford to loose all of my data!!
Thanks!
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Question by:mfranzel
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18 Comments
 
LVL 39

Expert Comment

by:Aaron Tomosky
ID: 37763382
Any time you span drives, expect to lose data. If any of the drives in a span error, the whole thing is gone. This is called a raid 0. It sacrifices reliability for speed.

Yes, you should be able to move the drives, but please back up your stuff. The span will fail at some point.
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Author Comment

by:mfranzel
ID: 37763466
Well that's the thing... I use these drives to back up all of my media... home movies, photos, my DVD and bluray collection... I have terabytes of data... there is no place to back it up.

What would you suggest I do to store the data? Just have each drive as an individual drive?
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Author Comment

by:mfranzel
ID: 37763467
BUT, I should be able to move the set of spanned drives to another Windows 7 machine and it will read it?
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LVL 39

Expert Comment

by:Aaron Tomosky
ID: 37763487
1. Yes you should just be able to move it.

2. If they were individual drives and one fails you only lose that one. As a span if one fails the whole thing is gone.

If you have an old pc you can put 4 or 6 drives in, download zfsguru and run that in a "stripe of mirrors". Basically a raid 10. Zfs has compression built in which wont do much for movies and mp3s but it will help. Any old core 2 with 4 gb of ram using the builtin intel Sata ports will perform more than adequate for your needs. I don't recommend raidz (raid5) as it runs much slower and a fails disk takes forever to rebuild. Just not worth the little extra space you get.

Around $900 will get you a least 6tb (compression will give you more) of fast reliable storage. If you get a case with more drive bays and a hba (something to plug more drives into, about $100) you can build some really large storage for really cheap.
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Author Comment

by:mfranzel
ID: 37763492
So just to be clear, you are suggesting building another machine or taking an old one, adding storage to that and using that as backup?
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Author Comment

by:mfranzel
ID: 37763499
Let me put it this way... I have one computer with terabytes of data... all the other computers, TVs and media devices in my home connect to this to share the content. How should it be configured and what should I put into place so that if it fails, I can get my data back easily?
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Accepted Solution

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Aaron Tomosky earned 500 total points
ID: 37763550
If you don't have a raid card and tler drives, I'd go zfsguru. But to make any type of safe setup, you can't use the drives you already have because they have stuff on them.
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Expert Comment

by:David Johnson, CD, MVP
ID: 37764072
no matter what you are going to have to buy more drives and then copy the data off (so you at least have a backup), you can never have 2 many backups, but you can have 1 too few. Drives have a limited lifespan, and one should always be prepared for a drive to fail.

I want to take all of the drives from both computers and move them to a different Windows 7 machine. If I do this, will the new machine see the spanned drives and show it as one large drive, or will it corrupt everything and I will loose all of my data and I will have to start again?

 No you can't unfortunately as the risk of data loss is too high
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Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 37764788
how much data you have?  the solution will be depending on that
there are 2 TB drives now, but if you have hundreds, you need a NAS disk, or backup storage on the net
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Expert Comment

by:andyalder
ID: 37765155
Contrary to the first post a spanned volume is not a RAID 0 volume. A spanned volume is created from concatenating one partition after another, not striping the data evenly across two or more partitions. You'll still lose data if one breaks of course since there's no redundancy but you may not necessarily lose the whole lot.

Moving to another system involves connecting them and then importing dynamic disks.
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LVL 39

Expert Comment

by:Aaron Tomosky
ID: 37766277
I was over simplifying, a spanned volume COULD lose everything or nothing depending on where windows decides to write data. However I have yet to see any kind of span that didt try to balance the data across the disks. Try searching for windows 7 spanned drive failure and see what you get. It may be slightly better than a raid 0 but not really. You will lose stuff. The only question is how much.
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Expert Comment

by:andyalder
ID: 37766541
If you defrag a 2 disk spanned disk set that's less than half full the data should end up on just the first disk, so there's a difference as to how much you lose.
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Expert Comment

by:Aaron Tomosky
ID: 37766786
Yep. And use that disk more. So what happens a when THAT is the disk that dies?
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Expert Comment

by:andyalder
ID: 37766890
Then you lose both lots of data.

I was simply pointing out that...

[A spanned volume set] is [NOT] called a raid 0.
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Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 37766945
what i would do is :

1- make sure i have a complete backup (just imagine if you loose everything)
2-then try whatever method to move the disks, or convert them
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Expert Comment

by:David
ID: 37769475
Just get a crossover network cable and transfer the data directly.  Set MTU to 9000, static IPs,   Full duplex.  Use some  shareware software that does data compression and 1GigE and you'll get maybe 50 MB/sec.    (If you have 2 x 1GigE on each computer, you can bond them and get close to 100MB/sec)

It probably would have been transferred by now had you done this from the start.
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Author Closing Comment

by:mfranzel
ID: 37769558
I basically used ZFSGuru. I used a program called Drive Bender. It allows me to pool my drives, but at the same time, if one fails, I can replace it without loosing data... pretty much RAID5.

I took some old drives, copied the data to those drives, deleted the data off of the good drives, added them to the computer with Drive Bender and then copied all the data back.

Time intensive, but it is working how I need it and have backup protection in place.
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Expert Comment

by:Aaron Tomosky
ID: 37769786
Good to hear!
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