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Replacing sata drives in a Raid 1 array

Posted on 2013-05-24
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Experts,

   This weekend I will be replacing the drives in a Raid 1 array on a 2008 SBS server. The 250GB drives in it have been consumed by Exchange accounts and a pagefile to support 32GB of memory.

   I would like to upgrade them to Sata 3.0 1TB drives. The tools that I have to work with are Norton Ghost, and a Windows backup image.

   Being that I have already made one array this week unbootable (whole other issue), I would like to do this one correctly.

    Is it feasible to replace the drives and create a new array and then restore the backup image from the SBS setup disk, or should I break the array, ghost an image to the bigger drive and then rebuild the array? (Or is that even possible?)

   Or, if someone has the best solution, please share as this server is our domain controller, exchange server, and has the iSCSI for our NAS box for our shares. I would be in a world of hurt should this server not boot after I am done.

   I appreciate your comments.
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Question by:riley71
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by:dlethe
ID: 39195676
Same controller, only difference is the disk drive?   Or is this windows software RAID?
Do you have 4 HDD slots?  If so, build another RAID1 at the BIOS, then boot to a LINUX USB or CD, and image copy with the partition magic, or any other freebie linux app you can download.

Change boot path so the other 2 slots are primary, remove power to other disks, done.
Process different if software raid, or only 2 slots  please elaborate.
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Author Comment

by:riley71
ID: 39195708
This is my motherboard spec sheet:

http://www.asus.com/Commericial_Servers_Workstations/Z8NAD6C/#specifications

This is what is says the controller is:

SATA Controller :
Intel® ICH10R
6 x SATA2 300MB/s
Intel® Matrix Storage (For Windows Only)
(Support Software RAID 0, 1, 5, 10 )

I don't believe it is a software raid array, as there isn't any Intel Matrix software installed in Windows. I built this server myself four years ago, and I'm pretty sure I used the Bios raid configuration utility.

There are only three bays on the chassis, two for the array and one for the backup drive. However, there are six sata ports on the board.

Does this help?
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by:dlethe
dlethe earned 250 total points
ID: 39195726
The ICH controller is well known in the industry as crap. Don't use it.  Native windows software RAID is better, more stable, and faster.  (That is because it does read load balancing, so in perfect world, reads will be 2X faster with that then the intel fakeraid).

If you have not tested the backup software then only way to know for sure it will work is to just do it.  That is best practice.  If the backup / restore onto the two disks worked then you use step below to turn off the raid, then reboot. Convert to dynamic, then change the dynamic to software-raid 1.  (Plenty of videos on youtube to convert disk to windows dynamic raid1).

This shows you how to disable the raid, which is what you will want to do once you image backup and restore.

http://yourbusiness.azcentral.com/uninstall-intel-ich10r-raid-driver-20228.html

Then after the restore onto the new disks, you can convert to dynamic raid, mirror.

Then resize the active partition to use 100% of the disk.

You will be MUCH better off, and not only that windows will keep eye on both drives and give you errors and health info if either has a problem.
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Expert Comment

by:dlethe
ID: 39195734
But nobody can tell you if your particular licensed version of norton works with that controller, O/S & drivers. You need to call them to make sure.

P.s. if the restore on the replacement drives fails, then patch the backup & try again.
There is another technique where you mirror the Intel RAID with one of the new disks, break that mirror, then mirror the single 1GB disk with another 1GB disk.   (But this does change the data on the 250GB raidset, and does not give you opportunity to test a disaster recovery with zero risk)
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CompProbSolv earned 250 total points
ID: 39195752
If you can come up with an external hard drive of suitable size, consider using Windows Server Backup to image the existing installation to the backup drive.  Remove the old drives, install the new drives, mirror them with the controller (if you wish; note the warning above), boot the Windows installation disk, and restore from the backup.

If you want to switch to Windows RAID, skip the step about mirroring them above and then do the mirroring from within Windows after the restore.
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Author Comment

by:riley71
ID: 39195794
So let me make sure I have the steps correct here.

1. Take in an external drive and run a backup set to that drive.

2. Disable the ICH raid controller in the bios, and set it back to native IDE? Or AHCI? confused on that one...

3. Install the new drives and restore the backup to the primary drive on port 0, correct?

4. Boot to Windows and install the LSI MegaRAID Storage Manager (MSM) v8.16-02 for Windows platform software that I found on the Asus motherboard support page.

5. Create the new mirror from within the LSI utility in Windows.

I have done this before on my home PC with a Marvell raid utility. It actually went pretty slick. I imagine the process will be very similar?


If this fails.... I am assuming I can still install one of the old drives and have it run as a degraded array. Then ghost that image onto one of the new drives and repeat steps 4 and 5 above?
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by:dlethe
ID: 39195813
keep it AHCI. This turns on features in the drivers that give you better performance.
Do the backup before making any changes.
I *HOPE* it lets you restore on disk with AHCI on, RAID off and it is not for all disks at once.

Where did this megaraid come from???   Your post did not indicate you had that controller.
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Author Comment

by:riley71
ID: 39195833
OK. I just watched a video on converting a basic disk to dynamic. That actually looks the easiest way to do this. Restore a backup set onto a single drive, then connect two other identical drives, convert them all to dynamic in the disk management snap in. Then create a raid 5 array on the fly from within Windows.

Then I could just use an external drive to do back up sets from there every night, and the server would be pretty much bullet proof if the Windows raid array is more dependable than the ICH array, as you described above.

As for the LSI Megaraid, the board must have both as the drivers are on the motherboard download site. There are two black sata controllers which I assume are the ICH ports, and four red which I would also assume are LSI?

In anycase, it looks like the Windows raid is the easiest and most fool proof. Is this assumption correct?
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Expert Comment

by:dlethe
ID: 39195841
No, drivers for lots of things are at a site. many motherboards have multiple options on networking & controllers.  If megaraid shows up on the POST then you have a megaraid.

Do the way the video walks you through. This is really a painless process and no substitute for a decent video that shows you all the screens and you can rewind as needed.
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Author Closing Comment

by:riley71
ID: 39197156
I ran the normal backup to the internal backup drive, then ran one to an external just to be sure. Then I powered down, replaced the drives in the array, defined the new array, and booted to the Server 2008 setup disk. I used the repair my computer option, and chose the full computer restore. It searched for my backup drive, found my latest backup, and away it went. Slick as a whistle. Thanks guys. This took the anxiety out of upgrading our server. Much appreciated!
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by:cyberfool
ID: 39797880
I'm reading this long after the upgrade, but I've got 2 issues I like to mention:

1) 1 TB drives are a bit small even for 5/2013. Certainly 2 TB drives were easily available and 3 TB drives are easily available now. So why go through this hassle and not go to at least 2TB drives

2) If you have a machine with 32 GB of memory, then instead of having your pagefile on the same spindle and cable as your data, put a fast disk in and use it for pagefile. You will get much better performance.
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Author Comment

by:riley71
ID: 39797924
Good questions. As for #1, the windows backup utility is limited to 2Tb in sbs 2008. The windows array is 1, which leaves me 1 for the shares that also need to be backed up in the image.

#2 is a great suggestion. I actually will use it in another server I have. In this server however, there are only three hot swappable drive bays. Two for the array, and one for the backup.
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