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NT Backup from MBR to GPT

Posted on 2013-11-27
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Last Modified: 2016-11-23
I ran into a snag.

Dell Prosupport helped me figure out how to best expand my storage on a single tower server box running 4x 250gb drives in RAID5.

So, MBR and BIOS is what I have on SBS2008 running Exchange '07.

Got 4x new 1TB drives from Dell, backed up, pulled drives, slid in new ones, rebuilt raid, loaded driver for external backup drive and restored. Awesome. Oh wait, I can't expand the volume or affect the other available space.

So I need to convert it to GPT.

I am reading about nightmares, NO and DON'T when it comes to backing up an MBR volume and restoring to a GPT disk. So how do I go about this?

Here's two plans that I'm looking for feedback on...

PLAN A) Nab two spare 2TB external 3.5" drives and slot #1 into my quick dock unit. Do a full backup to the official Seagate backup drive used for the native NT backups. Then make a clone of that Seagate drive. Safely stash the clone.  Disconnect the seagate drive. Then slot #2 drive and reformat as GPT disk. Setup NT backup to complete a full backup to the #2 drive (now GPT) and give it a try. If successful, Then wipe existing RAID5, reformat as GPT and switch BIOS to UEFI. Restore from #2 drive.
If fails, wash rinse and repeat but switch back to MBR and backup from official NT drive to properly restore.


PLAN B) Buy a QNAP 4 or 5 drive NAS (Which I have been wanting to get for failover, space, etc.. anyways) and backup the volume there in a GPT partition. Partition? vPartition? Here is where I'm lost. How to make this work with a NAS? I havn't takled to QNAP yet to find out if I can build a RAID as GPT in their box.

I've already dug around the Acronis product and it has severe deficiencies when it comes to GPT according to their website. The product they specified for me is the Backup & Recovery 11.5 Advanced SBS edition.

I just know that with one box.. I need to make sure that I have adequate solid backups to restore from. I don't have other test machines and especially none with the H700 controller.
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Open to any and all criticism, feedback and recommendations. Oh, and I will not be using freeware for anything on this project.
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Question by:TimberJon
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Assisted Solution

by:rindi
rindi earned 250 total points
ID: 39682431
Most RAID controllers support the creation of multiple volumes in an array. I would use that option and create a smallish (say about 500GB Volume for your OS) and have that as an MBR disk. That simplifies the task greatly, and you don't need to change from conventional to UEFI BIOS. The other Volume you can then make larger for your data, and that can be a GPT disk.
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noxcho earned 250 total points
ID: 39683460
Actually what you are describing in your plan B is wrong. NAS is using Linux file systems and RAID configuration. There is no way to select which type the drive is going to be, GPT or MBR. I admit that it could use automatically GPT format if the total size exceeds 2TB.

As for the plan to switch from Legacy to UEFI mode. Are you going to backup only data or system as well?
Beware, if you backup system drive which is MBR and then restore it to GPT with UEFI enabled - it will not boot. You need here a special Migrate to UEFI approach. I remember once there was a beta version of Migrate OS to UEFI from Paragon. Google it.
The simplest approach is to reinstall the OS after the BIOS is set to UEFI. Normally 64bit Windows will convert the drive into GPT automatically and create EFI partition.
So my suggestion would be - save the data and even data partitions into backup using some third party tool (Paragon, Symantec, Acronis, StorageCraft etc) and then install the OS new - copy back the data and restore partitions to the GPT drive. A partition imaged from MBR drive can be restored to GPT drive. That is not a problem.
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Expert Comment

by:andyalder
ID: 39686772
Is the current system configured as one huge C: ?

If so I would create a new virtual disk on the RAID controller the same size or at least big enough to restore to and then a second one for the data. Then you can then use GPT on the 2nd logical disk and move the Exchange database to it.
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Author Comment

by:TimberJon
ID: 39690762
Thanks for all comments so far.

All drives are located on this single raid5 volume.

@rindi & andyalder - My OS takes up about 80gigs at the moment since I offloaded the WSUS folder to another drive. So I guess I can make a 200gb partition or so then move the C: drive to that partition, and then re-create another ~2TB partition to use for migrating all other data to? Migrate / move OS volume to the smaller partition. Then backup everything in the other one, wipe that partition and re-create it at ~2TB and then restore to that new partition? I think that's how I'm reading all this. If I do this then I won't be using all of the available drive space but It should be plenty of space for another 3-4 years of data growth.

There is no second disk too unless I have my storage knowledge all twisted up. GPT would need to be assigned to the disk correct, not a partition? If I do the dual partition setup then I wouldn't have to really worry about GPT or unlocking that 2TB limitation right?

@noxcho - Scratch plan B. I wasn't sure of that anyways. Though I did plan on using something like a NAS for a more reliable backup volume than my single Seagate drive.
Both system and data is on the existing RAID5. I'm confused, you say near the end that an imaged MBR partition can be restored to GPT no prob. But earlier you say an MBR system drive cannot be restored to GPT with UEFI enabled. Does that only apply to the boot/system volume?

I will have a chat with Paragon. It looks like their product for Win 7 can do the migration without a restart on the same machine. I would rather back it up / convert to an external drive of some type and then restore to the server that way. I'd rather convert it in place but as long as the software converts the data properly then I don't mind wiping the raid and re-creating it with the proper settings. It looks like Paragon might utilize a wizard to get all these settings right prior to a restore.

I'll find out from them and get back asap. Thanks so far.
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Expert Comment

by:rindi
ID: 39691007
GPT is how the disk is setup, not the partition. Currently you have your RAID setup as one large volume, and that volume to your OS looks like one large disk. Of that single large disk only 2TB can be used by windows if it isn't a GPT Disk. So it wouldn't change anything whether you partition that "disk" or not.

But most good RAID controllers allow you to create more than one RAID volume. Each of those RAID volumes again looks like a separate disk to the OS. So you could make the first RAID volume small, like your 200GB you mentioned above, and then use that as an MBR disk on which you have the OS. The other RAID volume(s) you create in your array can be setup as GPT disks within your OS, and then you can use their full size. For this you don't need UEFI since your OS boots from the MBR disk (RAID Volume).

Check the manual of your RAID controller for details on how to create more than one RAID volume.
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Author Comment

by:TimberJon
ID: 39691335
Confirmed. Because my "G" drive (data) is in between my "C" drive (OS) and unallocated space I cannot manipulate the unallocated space. I've been directed to backup only my G drive, delete that volume, then I can expand the C drive as Rindi suggested, then create a new partition as large as I want for G and restore back to the new space. No GPT needed in this case. I am OK with the loss of the excess storage space.

Does this sound correct?
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LVL 46

Expert Comment

by:noxcho
ID: 39691337
@noxcho - Scratch plan B. I wasn't sure of that anyways. Though I did plan on using something like a NAS for a more reliable backup volume than my single Seagate drive.
Both system and data is on the existing RAID5. I'm confused, you say near the end that an imaged MBR partition can be restored to GPT no prob. But earlier you say an MBR system drive cannot be restored to GPT with UEFI enabled. Does that only apply to the boot/system volume?
When I said backup partition from MBR drive and restore it to GPT drive - works - I meant data partition.
System partition backup and recovery to GPT drive will not work. Because UEFI boot means special boot order which must be configured during migration. That was my point.
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LVL 46

Expert Comment

by:noxcho
ID: 39691350
Confirmed. Because my "G" drive (data) is in between my "C" drive (OS) and unallocated space I cannot manipulate the unallocated space. I've been directed to backup only my G drive, delete that volume, then I can expand the C drive as Rindi suggested, then create a new partition as large as I want for G and restore back to the new space. No GPT needed in this case. I am OK with the loss of the excess storage space.

Does this sound correct?
Yes, absolutely correct.
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Author Closing Comment

by:TimberJon
ID: 39691376
I just want to mention that SBS2008 has several quirks that the standard Server 2008 does not have. So some things that work in Standard could destroy an SBS enviro.
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