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Hard drive change: advice please


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#1
bobmad

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I have 2 physical drives I need to replace on my Windows 2003 Small Business Server. (1 has C: and D: due to partition). C: is our boot drive, D: holds our programs and E: holds data.

I'd like to copy C and D as they are and copy and expand E: (C, D and E have 240 GB of space TOTAL). I have 2, Western Digital 500 GB SATA drives. I'd like to have 1 hold C, D and E while the other acts as a mirror.

I have only the built in windows mirroring tools (as far as I know) available for my Dell PowerEdge SCI 420. I'm replacing SATA drives with SATA drives.

I need advice please.

Right now I plan on:
Removing "E: Data" drive and replacing with 500 GB Drive. Then mirror C and D to 500.
Remove C and D. Insert E, copy E: to 500.
Remove E add second 500 and Mirror.
3 restarts if all goes perfectly. I'm not familiar with mirroring, so that's where I THINK I need sanity checking.

I do NOT want to try to rebuild our server. Last time someone tried that it took 4 days (2 of those were weekend days, so we lost 2 work days) and it had issues for 4 months after that. (I arrived 2 months after attempted rebuild and took 2 months to find and fix errors).

I have done some reading on Microsoft's mirroring, but I'm not experienced with this type of operation.

Thanks for your time.

Edited by bobmad, 27 June 2007 - 09:06 AM.

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#2
Troy

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Hi bobmad, it looks like you have got it in the right order, but I'm not experienced in this kind of deal. I just wanted to pop in and say that you should make sure that you have a complete, separate backup of all of your data (in your case, C:, D:, and E:) that stays separate the whole time. If anything does go wrong during any of those steps then there's well and truly no chance of you completely losing all the data.

Just my two cents worth, and good luck :whistling:
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#3
bobmad

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Thanks ruthandtroy. I've got a daily tape backup, that I can use to recover all data. I'm worried about active directory settings and the like, because I'm not sure how well those backup.

I'm also worried about the mirroring.

I'm also concerned about the partitioning on the new 500 gig, I assume I'll have 4 partitions (C D E and the leftover room). I'd like to just add space to all 3 (almost all added to E) but I'm concerned about repartitioning in windows 2003 server.

I've been reading, but I get a LOT of things like:
"Plan your hard drive usage well because windows 2003 server will NOT allow you to re-partition..."
and "Windows 2003 is not very good at re-partitioning hard drives..."
and "Windows 2003 server make re-partitioning your drive easy..."

So I don't know what to think. That's why I posted this in the first place.
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#4
Troy

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As for partitioning, I've never used Windows 2003 myself, but if you know what size partitions you want, just use something like GParted to partition the drive/s beforehand... You can select NTFS setting so it's all good.
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#5
dsenette

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gparted will deffinitely do the partition resize...windows is abismal at resizing anything...

your AD concerns are valid...but i THINK those settings should be fine...you would have HUGE issues restoring AD to a diff hardware profile (ie diff computer)...i'm in the process of trying to figure out the best wat to do that at the moment...not fun at all

are the current drives in any type of raid array?
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#6
bobmad

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are the current drives in any type of raid array?

No the company that set this up told the boss that they didn't think mirroring would be good. The boss does not remember why.


I just purchased an external drive enclosure. I'm thinking that if I use this, I can set up mirrors with the current drives in place and only pop the case once (to remove old and insert new drives).

I do realize that USB2 will be slow to get the mirror established, but I was thinking that starting it on Friday (13th Oh my, I just noticed that) after everyone leaves (about 6:30PM) and coming back on Saturday (10:30-11:00) to check progress and finish up (optimistic I know) may be the best plan.

I'm not permitted to do it this weekend (didn't really want to anyways).

Any of you know mirroring?

Thanks ruthandtroy and dsenette, I don't feel quite so isolated and alone now. This project scares me because I'm doing several things that I've never done before and I'm doing them consecutively. If I have an issue at any point I'm not sure I'll recognize when I went wrong until I'm several steps past my error.
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#7
dsenette

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i've got a question for you about this mirroring you keep talking about...what method are you using to copy the info over?

since there's no raid array...i wonder if it would be worth a shot (since you're doing this on a weekend when the place is closed) to just restore from your tapes? slap the new drives in...intsall the OS and your backup software...then restore from the tapes?

or even better/theoretically safer (though it would actually cost something)....invest in an imaging software ... like norton's corporate level backup stuff...or heck...even regular Ghost or acronis would work if there's no raid array in play....then use that to restore the image once the new drives are in...most imaging packages have the optioin to either do a bit level (everything about the drive even partition size and empty sectors) or higher level backup (just the info..not the free space info)....the second option would probably allow you to restore to a larger partition without having to expand the system partition.....or alternately....image the system partition at bit level...restore that image to the new drive...wich would place it on a partition of the exact same size...then expand that partition with GParted...then image and restore the other partition on that drive as a non-bit level...and restore that info to a premade partition of whatever size you choose...and do the same with the second physical drive
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#8
bobmad

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I've got a question for you about this mirroring you keep talking about...what method are you using to copy the info over?

I was planning on using the built in Windows 2003 server mirror tool, to establish a mirror. I ASSUMED from my research that as soon as it was established as a mirror it would start Mirroring (copying) data. Is my understanding fundamentally flawed?

I've been wondering if the mirror is of a virtual (partition of a) drive, or a mirror of the entire physical drive.


As far as install the OS and VERITAS Backup Exec, then restore from backup tapes...I have used the tapes to restore a file every now and then even a directory once, but I have little confidence in the tapes. The backup tape drive has been replaced twice (it's a dell unit) and I'm not certain I know where all of that software is...

If those issues were resolved (I find all needed software and have good, solid, complete, backups) do you see this as a better way of doing this? I 1/2 liked the symmetry of mirroring in place and swapping disks. That way I am sure I know how to set up a mirror that works before I go live again.

The boss is thinking heavily about us going to USB external drives for data backup once the tapes need replacing again. The cost will be close to the same and it will be a LOT faster to recover from a catastrophe with those external drives because we could get some machines from Staples or Walmart (only computer stores in area) and be up and running fairly quickly (we cannot get a new tape drive quickly).
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#9
dsenette

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i'll have to check out this mirroring jazz you're talking about...i've never heard of it (unless i'm stupid)

i can't say that it would be a better way...but it might be a safer way....because with the tapes...or any other FULL backup of your system...you're able to remove your production drives during the restore process....leaving less of a chance of something bad happening to them

there are some intriguing backup sollutions out on the market now...really good stuff...there's a few physical devices that do "snapshot" or "live state" backups...where they use VSS to take snapshots of changes on the system...so it backs up your system 24/7...every time there's a change...it writes it to a seperate disk....there's also some software that does the same...my company is looking at NSI doubletake for having redundant mail servers...you set up two servers (don't have to be completely identical as far as hardware) and install doubletake on them...then set the replication direction up...and server1 will replicate every change to server2 as it happens...so you've always got a "hot backup"...just a matter of pulling it online and changing some IP stuff to put it back in production....with some real fancy foot work (and or complex DNS/routing configs) no one would ever know it was down...really fun stuff
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#10
dsenette

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http://www.doubletake.com/ <--linkage!
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#11
bobmad

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YOU are not stupid . It is a term equivalent to Raid Level 1 (Mirroring and Duplexing). At least I thought it was a term. I'd hate to think I was using slang without knowing it.

I was planning on using windows 2003 SBS 's disk management to "ADD mirror"

Even if the Mirror term is common, and you are not familiar with it under that name...you are STILL not stupid. I've read too many of your posts... and PM'ed with you too often...and you saw the brilliance in my posts at the academy..YOU CANNOT be stupid.
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#12
dsenette

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mirror is the term...and it is common...i was assuming you were using a term for "imaging" or something to that effect....but....wasn't thinking of raid...and when i'm thinking of raid...i always live under the impression that setting it up involves doing all that stuff BEFORE anything is setup/installed....but...i don't mess with anything below raid5...so...i could be mistaken.....i didn't know you could add a mirrored drive after the fact...something new every day eh?
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#13
bobmad

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I was/am stoked about it. IF I read the info correctly I can mirror C D and E (240 GB total) onto my new EXTERNAL 500GB drive, pop the case replace old 2 drives (C D and E) with the new 500 GB drive (1 written already. the other blank) boot from my 500 GB drive. Then move some data around and once I'm happy, add a mirror with the blank disk.

I will have added double the capacity and increased safety for <$300.

Now all I need is to do it...
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#14
dsenette

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hmm...i guess you wouldn't have a spare machine to test this on first would you?....just set up some dummy partitions (that would match your plan) etc...and try it on that machine?
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#15
bobmad

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I'm running a 266 MHz machine. One of our machines is down because it's NIC died and I've been waiting a week for a replacement NIC from Staples.

The office manager decided it wasn't a rush because we could just have our CAD operator use an Engineer's machine while he was out of town this week. She also decided we "couldn't justify the cost" of keeping a spare NIC around. The NIC is $14 from STAPLES, cheaper almost any ware else.


So NO, we don't have an extra machine. We do have a P133 running 98SE the boss wants to keep around in case we need it, that may work for something...probably not Windows 2003 Server though...


You sound...concerned...are you aware of pitfalls or just naturally paranoid? I do know you are paranoid...you're an IT pro after all.
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