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Convert existing disk to GPT

Posted on 2012-08-14
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I have a virtual server running on a Hyper-V machine that I need to increase the size of the data drive on.  I know I can just shut down the VM, increase the vhd, and then reboot it and extend the volume and the space should be there.  Problem is, I need the disk to be converted to a GPT disk instead of an MBR.

I found this article on doing this and it seems simple:

http://notes.ponderworthy.com/convert-mbr-to-gpt-without-destroying-data

The data drive isn't currently extended so it shouldn't be a problem I don't think, as long as it's ok if I extend it afterwards.  

Has anyone successfully done this before while preserving the data or should I just backup everything and create a new vhd and then restore the data.  The latter is a big task since it's about 600GB already and has numerous shares and different permissions for each share.  The process in the article should work as long as I extend the volume AFTER I add the new free space correct?

Thanks for the help!
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Question by:ryan_johnston
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by:Brad Bouchard
Brad Bouchard earned 1000 total points
ID: 38292859
I've always understood the change from GPT to MBR and MBR to GPT to be something you can't preserve the data on.  I'd backup and restore even if it is longer, it's better than losing data.

You can change a disk from GPT to MBR as long as the disk is empty.
Source:  http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc737510(v=ws.10).aspx
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btetlow-expert earned 1000 total points
ID: 38292872
The "tool" noted on that page may in fact work --- it is rather interesting...

So far as I know however, converting to GPT from MBR is destructive, so I would definitely be wary of such a tool that while it might work........you're using it on your live data.

That's not to say I wouldn't try it -- but I don't think I would risk it on live data....

Notes from that link do suggest it would work.....but..... Still....     I guess IF you backup everything on the drive first, IF it breaks, then at least you still have the data....

Note that there is a NEWER release listed at:  http://sourceforge.net/projects/gptfdisk/files/gptfdisk/0.8.5/gdisk-binaries/

Always good to use latest version if possible...

Would love to know if it REALLY works....

Good luck....
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by:ryan_johnston
ID: 38292882
Bouchard, that's what I've always thought as well and saw that same technet.

btetlow, That's the same thing I was thinking.  That server is always backed up daily so I know I have a backup, but running a manual backup at the time of conversion will take too long.  I guess I'll have an early morning so I can get to it before people come in.  Thanks for the sourceforge link.

Regardless, this will be done tomorrow morning so we'll find out what actually happens...
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by:Brad Bouchard
ID: 38292946
What I'm guessing that program you linked to does is actually back your data up somewhere on its own so that it basically clones your HDD, converts it, then restores that clone to the new GPT disk.  That may be a false theory, but that's my guess.
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by:ryan_johnston
ID: 38292990
If that's what it does, then that would provide an issue since this site doesn't have a SAN available to me and I'd have no space to put the clone anywhere :(

I'm currently researching to see if Hyper-V has an export/snapshot option that I'd be able to restore to a new drive.  I know Citrix XenServer has this option but I haven't used Hyper-V for very long.
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by:Brad Bouchard
ID: 38293045
I love XenServer for that.  Don't quote me on it, but I can't imagine Hyper-V or ESX/ESXi wouldn't also have that feature.
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by:ryan_johnston
ID: 38293909
I couldn't tell you if this would work or not.  We have decided not to convert the existing disc.  We were able to remove a development VM which free'd up enough space to create another vhd.

The solution is to create and mount the new vhd as a GPT disk and then use the File Server Migration Wizard to move all the data on the drive.  This seemed to be the best option since it didn't look like Hyper-V had the same feature as Xen as far as the export goes.  It can snapshot but that's about it (Either that or it's not easy to find how to do it....).

And the best part about the FSMW is that it will automatically stop the old shares and share the new folders on the new drive.  

Thanks both of you for your input.
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Expert Comment

by:A-T-1
ID: 40461179
I figured out a way to do it after having the issue of the blinking cursor and the message that I had the wrong Windows version when trying to repair it. It took about 8 hours of research and figuring it out but I got it to work. I made a ten minute You Tube video that walks you through it. I have been an Expert Exchange subscriber for years and you all have helped me out, so I am giving you one back.

https://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=DDaSFRAviq4

Let me know if it helps.
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