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New Mirror Drive Installation

Posted on 2013-01-31
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Last Modified: 2013-04-04
We are running Microsoft Server 2008

say: We wish to create a mirror raid. I have 2 identical hard drives installed,I go to disk management,right click on 1 of the hard drives and choose mirror drives - then i get a message saying "something to reflect on conversion to dynamic drives after this - the system wont br able to boot on a single drive. Do you have any idea what this is about?

I was given 2 options - either default, Radio bottom OR an alternate option which was to partition - but i left it and choose default. Can you please ensure me via detailed information that 1 hard drive will boot up should one of the drives fail.

"Can i convert a dynamic disk back to a regular disk?" I do not have any specific requirements on the hard drive but the main thing is that should 1 drive fail - will the other stay intact and keep functioning as it should?
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Question by:shaunwingin
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Expert Comment

by:David Johnson, CD, MVP
ID: 38838670
Yes it will keep functioning until you add the replacement disk then it will rebuild.
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Expert Comment

by:rindi
ID: 38838719
If the first drive should fail it is possible that you won't be able to boot to the 2nd drive. But if that situation arises you would boot with a utility CD like the PartedMagic LiveCD, and then use the Disk Editor on that CD to set the remaining disk's boot flag (or make the disk "Active" as this is called with other tools). After that you should be able to boot with just the 2nd HD.

As far as I know, there are some tricks or 3rd party tools available to return a dynamic disk to basic, but at the moment I don't remember the exact tool. Apart from that it shouldn't be necessary (and it is always possible that the process fails and then you would have to restore from your backups).

If one of the disks fails, remove it. The other disk should keep on running (as I mentioned, if it doesn't boot, set the boot flag). Add a replacement disk asap, then use diskmanagement to create a new array.
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Author Comment

by:shaunwingin
ID: 38838749
Tx. Pls give me the procedure to create a Mirror raid for the above config and OS and the options that I may be presented with during this in the Disk Manager and what choices you suggest.
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by:rindi
ID: 38838777
I think you already mentioned how the Array is built. Enter diskmanagement, convert your disk to dynamic. Then install the 2nd, new, empty disk, go back into diskmanagement and now you have the mirror option available. Use that and it'll be pretty straight forward.
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Author Comment

by:shaunwingin
ID: 38838975
In this case I simply chose option to setup mirror array. It was what I was asked after this step that I'm confused about and made a hasty decision. I neeed to know what I may have chosen(the default option) and what implications may be. We using:
Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard Edition
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Author Comment

by:shaunwingin
ID: 38838994
By the way.
Disk 0 has 100MB NTFS System Reserved partition and 465G NTFS
Disk 1 only has the 2nd
Type for both is Dynamic
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Assisted Solution

by:rindi
rindi earned 250 total points
ID: 38839040
You either need the 100mb partition on both disks, or completely remove it (which I would do).

First delete the partitions on your 2nd HD.

Then assign a drive-letter to the 100mb partition,

If you want to keep it, mirror it, and then the other partition. After mirroring is done you can remove the drive letter again.

If you want to remove that partition, first make sure you have a good backup of both partitions. Now boot your server with the PartedMagic LiveCD, open the file manager there, mount the 2 partitions and copy the contents of the small partition to the root of your system partition.

http://partedmagic.com

When that is done delete the small partition using the CD's Partition Editor (an icon on the LiveCD), and then select the system partition and set the boot flag to on.

After that boot your server normally to check if it works.

If your server is a new installation and not yet used, you can also just re-install the OS and make sure it doesn't create that partition at all. For that, when you get to the point where you select where to install the OS to, press Shift+f10. Then enter:

diskpart
select disk 0
create partition primary
exit
exit

Then do a refresh, and you should see one partition on your disk to which you can install the OS to. That way the small partition isn't created.
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Author Comment

by:shaunwingin
ID: 38839059
"You either need the 100mb partition on both disks, or completely remove it (which I would do)."

Pls give steps to get the partition on both disks as the server is hosted and physical access is a problem.
Why do you suggest removing it?
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Expert Comment

by:rindi
ID: 38839283
I suggest removing it because it often causes issues, like windowsupdates not working properly, or backups failing.

I explained how to get it on both disks in my comment above. assign it a drive letter, and then you can mirror it too.. When it has been mirrored, you can remove the drive letter again if you want.
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Author Comment

by:shaunwingin
ID: 38974012
Hi Rindi,

I've assigned drive letters, but I still can't mirror the 100MB partition.
I believe the issue is the following: The partition order differs.... (See pic)
Capture.JPG
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Assisted Solution

by:rindi
rindi earned 250 total points
ID: 38974031
Clear the mirrored drive again, then first mirror the small partition, and after that the large one.
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Author Comment

by:shaunwingin
ID: 38975255
Will the mirror drive rebuild itself onto the previous mirrored slave drive, even if I break the mirror or remove it?  There is an option to break mirror or remove mirror...  which do I use?
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Assisted Solution

by:David Johnson, CD, MVP
David Johnson, CD, MVP earned 125 total points
ID: 38975276
Remove mirror then follow rinidi's comment
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Author Comment

by:shaunwingin
ID: 38975298
Will the mirror drive rebuild itself onto the previous mirrored slave drive, even if I break the mirror or remove it?  There is an option to break mirror or remove mirror...  which do I use?
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Expert Comment

by:rindi
ID: 38975356
If you clear the mirrored drive so nothing is on it you can use it in a new mirror.
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Author Comment

by:shaunwingin
ID: 38975392
Ive tried and this is how it now looks but see attached warning(accepted Yes) and then Error when tried to mirror the smaller drive.
Capture12.JPG
Capture13.JPG
Capture14.JPG
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Expert Comment

by:David Johnson, CD, MVP
ID: 38975404
now mirror the C: partition
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Author Comment

by:shaunwingin
ID: 38975411
Thats what I tried, but see the error in my post
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LVL 79

Expert Comment

by:David Johnson, CD, MVP
ID: 38975522
How I did it Windows 8 Video
Server 2008 Video
 
perhaps you need to break the mirror and then from diskpart
list disk
sel disk XX             (( where XX represents the new disk that you want to mirror to)
clean

and try again
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Author Comment

by:shaunwingin
ID: 38976895
Any other ideas please?
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LVL 79

Expert Comment

by:David Johnson, CD, MVP
ID: 38977069
Did you try using diskpart clean on the new disk and then starting afresh as per the videos?
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Author Comment

by:shaunwingin
ID: 38977457
How do I get to diskpart? cmd?
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Author Comment

by:shaunwingin
ID: 38992314
Say, Ive used the "clean" on Disk 1.
When try Mirror the 100MB system reserved, Get the same error above:

http://filedb.experts-exchange.com/incoming/2013/03_w11/640807/Capture13.JPG

I'm able to Mirror the larger partition..... ?
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Expert Comment

by:rindi
ID: 38992334
Maybe the size of your original disk is a bit larger than the 2nd one and now you don't have enough space. Shrink the large partition by a little, and then try again.
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Author Comment

by:shaunwingin
ID: 38998199
Say, I can't shrink anything without breaking mirror. I can't see why there is a need to shrink as sizes identical.
Please assist with error above.
Capture122.JPG
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LVL 88

Expert Comment

by:rindi
ID: 38998339
The sizes of disks are hardly ever identical, even if they show the same size. Normally some of the Bytes are used up by bad sectors. For that reason you should always leave some free unpartitioned space if you mirror the drives.
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Author Comment

by:shaunwingin
ID: 38998381
This has helped, tx.
Now I can Mirror the 100MB but not the main data 465GB ???
Capture123.JPG
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LVL 79

Expert Comment

by:David Johnson, CD, MVP
ID: 38998535
C: and F: are different sizes! They must be exactly the same... Remove F: and then try and mirror C: to drive 1 again
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Author Comment

by:shaunwingin
ID: 38998546
Perfect ! Tx.
Are you satisfied that this system will boot off either drive.
Capture124.JPG
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LVL 79

Expert Comment

by:David Johnson, CD, MVP
ID: 38998565
you may have to update the boot sector (mbr) but now it should be able to use either disk without much difficulty.
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Author Comment

by:shaunwingin
ID: 38998571
Tx. How would I check if need to update mbr pls?
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Expert Comment

by:David Johnson, CD, MVP
ID: 38998577
I was adding this when you entered your comment

boot from the windows dvd
bootsect.exe /nt60 ALL /mbr /force
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Author Comment

by:shaunwingin
ID: 38998582
sorry... Its a remote server....
Any way to do this without booting?
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LVL 79

Expert Comment

by:David Johnson, CD, MVP
ID: 38998596
check the windows\system32 folder it might be there.. it is on my system Win8.. not on server 2008 system32 folder.. checking for the winre.wim on a server 2008 box
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Author Comment

by:shaunwingin
ID: 38998618
You looking for winre.win right?
can't find such a file - searched entire drive...
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Author Comment

by:shaunwingin
ID: 38998620
a lot if xxx-winre-xxx files though
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Expert Comment

by:David Johnson, CD, MVP
ID: 38998642
here is a x64 version of bootsect.exe (rename from .txt)
bootsect.exe.txt
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Author Comment

by:shaunwingin
ID: 38998652
Tx, but what must I do with it...
The server is hosted in a data centre and can't easily get physical access...
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LVL 79

Expert Comment

by:David Johnson, CD, MVP
ID: 38998672
copy the file to the server and run it via the command sequence I gave you (as an administrator)
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Author Comment

by:shaunwingin
ID: 38998681
bootsect.exe /nt60 ALL /mbr /force
What does it do?

Please explain the parameters
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Author Comment

by:shaunwingin
ID: 39002492
Say, ve3ofa
Are you out there?
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Expert Comment

by:FastFngrz
ID: 39007965
If this is a server-class machine, I *strongly* recommend use you a hardware RAID controller - it eliminates all of these hassles.. including the boot issue should the 'primary' drive fail.  It also provides better performance by offloading the duplicate write to hardware, rather than making the OS mirror.

If it's a workstation, then just get a good bare-metal backup program.

It does cost a little more, but...

Either way (OS mirroring or hardware), after you've got the mirror set up, please make sure to test by pulling a drive (hot or cold) and making sure things stay up and can reboot too!
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Expert Comment

by:ArneLovius
ID: 39008279
if you want to test disk mirroring for a boot drive, I might try something along the lines of the following.

Start with two "identical" disks, without a partition table on either of them

Do the initial install to the first disk
After you have done your initial install, shrink the c: dive leaving ~10mb free space at the end of the drive. The easiest free tool to do this with is partedmagic
After shrinking the parttition, reboot and let Windows chkdsk the drive
Now reboot again with partedmagic, and this time use clonezilla to make a block level copy of the first disk to the second disk
Reboot into windows, and you should now be able to enable mirroring for both the boot volume and the C: drive

You can boot partedmagic from PXE if USB or Optical boot is not possible.
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Author Comment

by:shaunwingin
ID: 39010389
This is a life PC and remotely hosted....
Pls assist..
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Expert Comment

by:David Johnson, CD, MVP
ID: 39010663
bootsect.exe /nt60 ALL /mbr /force

Bootsect  -- writes the boot sector
/nt60  -- version 6 boot sector
/all      -- all drives
/mbr   -- writes master boot record
/force -- forcibly
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Author Comment

by:shaunwingin
ID: 39014212
Does this make any changes?
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Expert Comment

by:David Johnson, CD, MVP
ID: 39014715
YES it makes changes to the boot sector!
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Author Comment

by:shaunwingin
ID: 39015510
Is it safe? Can one predict what it will do?
How can one see what is in bootsector of each of the mirror drives and make the 2nd drive the same as 1st?
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Expert Comment

by:ArneLovius
ID: 39015679
Might I suggest that to gain familiarity with the commands that you setup a VM even just in Virtualbox to test it out
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Author Comment

by:shaunwingin
ID: 39042720
Hi ArneLovius
Please review all posts as don't understand...
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Expert Comment

by:ArneLovius
ID: 39045817
I'm not sure what you think I do not understand.

I am suggesting that as you will be running commands that you are unsure of in a live environment, you could practice/test what you will be doing in a virtual environment.
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Author Comment

by:shaunwingin
ID: 39046800
I'm asking the Experts to tell me what is needed to ensure this Server reboots after a single drive failure...
Pls review the setup and advise....
Tx
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Expert Comment

by:ArneLovius
ID: 39047401
you initially asked for how to mirror a drive and what would happen in the event of a drive failure.

the best way to survive a single drive failure is to use a hardware RAID controller that abstracts more than one disk to a single logical disk. With suitable RAID controller, a drive failure would not cause an outage.

if you want to use operating system mirroring, I would still suggest testing it in a virtual environment so you know what to expect. If you want to simulate a drive failing in a vm it's a little harder, but not impossible, you could have one disk on a USB drive that you just unplug, or use the Starwind iSCSI target for hosting the second disk and stop the service...

Virtualbox is free for non commercial use, and the base level Starwind iSCSI target is also free.
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Expert Comment

by:FastFngrz
ID: 39047786
This is a live server and remote from you?  If that's the case, either:
a) get on a plane/train/automobile and get in front of the computer
b) get an out-of-band management solution like HP ILO, or Dell DRAC

in either case, you'll need to test the strategy, which almost guaranteed will NOT work the first time, requiring you to be at the console during boot.

It's VERY RISKY doing this remote, the chances of torching the machine are high.  I assume you have a full DR backup so after the boot sector or bootcfg/boot.ini are toast, you can restore from an off-server backup

Just my $0.02 (having done exactly this with web servers in a hosting farm, I speak from experience!  - btw: after trying software mirroring, I went a bought a hardware RAID controller :)
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Author Comment

by:shaunwingin
ID: 39048754
Tx  FastFngrz
I read some valid points..

I was hoping that if Microsoft offered this option in their SERVER software that it would work....

Any comments out there?
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Expert Comment

by:ArneLovius
ID: 39048935
just because you can do something, doesn't mean that you should...
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Author Comment

by:shaunwingin
ID: 39049111
What do others say re this commercial product please?
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Accepted Solution

by:
FastFngrz earned 125 total points
ID: 39049218
Yes, Microsoft supports software (OS) mirroring.  You'll read in the fine print that they also recommend a "MIRROR BOOT DISK" to be able to boot the system from floppy should the primary disk in the mirror fail.  (32 bit only!)  See http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc738132(v=ws.10).aspx

Now, should the primary or secondary fail, the system will keep running.  However, when you go to replace the disk and reboot (because you'll have to reboot, even with hot-swap disks), if it was the primary... sad day.  Hence the need for a boot floppy or alternate boot method.

If you are on a x64 system, then read http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=23476 (perhaps you already have)  It discusses exactly how to change the system to boot off another disk.

Then, after you've waded through all that, you'll buy a hardware RAID controller :)
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Author Comment

by:shaunwingin
ID: 39049349
Wow FastFngrz
This is useful info. Its a 64bit system...
I'm locked into the server hardware as this is all the host provides....
This is enlightening...
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