Microsoft SBS2003 server RAID problem

nigelbeatson used Ask the Experts™
We have a single SBS2003 server on its way to us, that one of our clients has been working with, so details are general, and wondered whether you could provide any guidance.

The server is made by Dell, and has 2 drives connected via a SCSI interface. There is no hradware RAID conrtroller, so I am presuming that the RAID is software implemented.

The boot drive failed, and the server would not start up. The client decided to re format the replacement drive and re install SBS2003. On doing this, they find that the second drive still holds all of the OS and data from the server.

My question is, if the second drive is viable, can we remove the newly installed volume, and somehow activate the second drive, so that it boots up OK, and then introduce the new drive, therby making a functioning software RAID again?

If this is possible, what steps would we need to take to make the old drive bootable, and what would we need to do to the freshly installed sbs volume to make it ready for including in the new RAID pair??

Any help you can give would be much appreciated.
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You have to modify the boot.ini file to point to the working physical drive for NTLDR to work correctly.  If you are familiar with how to modify SCSI addressing within the file, should fire right up for you.

EDIT:  Got ahead of myself on this one - so, need to make a decision.  Is the old SBS install the one you want to work from or is it the new?  You can't have both.  If you choose to run the old SBS install, then proceed with modifying the BOOT.INI file while running the new SBS's the easiest way to access the file without a NTFS Live-CD or tool.  Once you do that, you remove the new drive with the new SBS install and let the server come up.  Make take you a few tries to get the correctly SCSI disc/partition right for the NTLDR to start - have patience.

Once you've successfully started up the old SBS install, you'll have to go into the Drive Management MMC under the Computer Management MMC and you'll see that the software RAID is broken or degraded.  You can at this point, right click on it and permanently break the RAID configuration.  Now, you can shutdown the box and make sure it reboots.  If that checks out, you can put the new drive back in it, and format it and recreate your software RAID1 configuration.

Don't like all this mess?  You need to recommend to your client that in the furture, use a hardware based RAID controller, life is much simpiler at that point.




Thankyou for your reply.

I have now got the server up and running, and can see the boot.ini file on the old broken RAID partition. I have opened it up, but as this is a RAID (mirror), there is only one drive specified in it.

Do we need to modify this, or do we just make sure that the SCSI controller points somehow to the old drive for booting purposes??

I seem to recall from somewhere in the distant past that the controller specifies which is the boot device, first of all.

If not, what changes do we need to make to the boot.ini

If you could helo, I would be very much obliged.

Many thanks.


I have tried physically switching the drives to the oposite bay location, and also tried having the required drive installed in th eboot bay on its own, but the server will still not boot.

I cannot see any jumpers on the scsi drives which allow me to change the device ID.

I cannot find an option on startup that allows us to specifiy which device is to be used for boot purposes.

Urgently need any assistance.

Many thanks.
The MS article is your guide on this one.  Take some time to read through it.  It's going to take a few tries before you nail it down and get what information you need to put in the BOOT.INI file to make this work correctly.

For starters, you should only need to modify the "disk" parameter.  Instead of (0), this more than likely needs to be (1).  Check in the disk management what SCSI address the old disk is regesitering as.  Remember, SCSI addresses by channel and then disk slot number.  For instance, a disk on Channel 0, Slot 1 would look like this in the BOOT.INI file:


The rdisk parameter determines RAID5 stripe order not RAID1 mirror.  The mirror drive will never show in the BOOT.INI file, hence the mirror.

FYI - SCSI controllers do not determine which disk is the "master" disk like old IDE controllers did.  The MBR sector on the active partition of any disk in a SCSI controller is the one who "boots".  Hence the ability to use Boot Loaders like GRUB or LILO to boot multiple OS installs.


How does it know which drive to boot from if there is a different boot.ini file on each drive??

Do I need to change the boot.ini file on both drives, ie the current fresh OS install drive and the mirror, as I am just a little confused as to what determines which one to use??

Many thanks
Because the mirror drive doesn't have an active partition, the new drive does.   Take out the new drive once you have corrected the boot.ini file.  Now, you may find that it won't find a bootable drive once you remove the new from the server and this is right because the partition is not marked active.  You'll need to mark it active so the SCSI controller BIOS knows that this is now a "bootable" disk.


That sounds just the ticket.

How do I make the drive 1 "active"?

gparted or any Linux type partion tool will do the trick.  you could try and set the partion active with the new SBS install thru Disk Management, but this may give you some trouble.


you are right, when I use diskpart to try and set the second drive as active, I get the error :-

This disk is not a fixed basic MBR disk.

is gparted the answer??



Really struggling with getting this drive set as an MBR and active.

I note in the Disk Management that the current fresh installation (disk 0 ) as described as basic. I also note that the mirror drive (disk1) is stated as dynamic. This is marked as drive e.

There is also a third entry which is marked as drive f, and both are described as failed mirror. Drive f is also marked as missing.

Can I remove the missing mirror altogether, and is there any significance to the different types of drive ie basic & active, and dynamic, as far as making the dynamic drive a MBR bootable partition.

I am so surprised at how complicated restoring a mirrored drive is. I have installed several, and am wondering whether this in fact is an even a reasonable basic protection, if it is so difficult to recover.

Any further help you can give would be very much appreciated.



Thanks for your assistance.

I did not manage to get the drive booting correctly, but you did manage to get the drive bootable, so thanks for your efforts.

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