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Force or Manually invoke the "RebuildPrimary" function without resorting to full Server Reinstallation RRS feed

  • Question

  • I've spent nearly a day and half trying to swap out my failing primary drive without success.  The difficulty seems to stem from the installation process not being able to succesfully load the drivers needed for a SIL3124 SATA RAID PCI card during the multiple reboots thereby resulting in the process not being able to rebuild the primary data drive (tombstones, etc.).

    I've gone through the painful process at least a half a dozen times, the latest after reading a post that indicated you may need to install the drivers again when the installation process restarts (press F6).  Even after trying this last iteration, I still received errors upon each restart that a device driver failed to load (when the install completes it is evident that it is the SATA RAID controller driver that is not loading).  The existing install of WHS uses these drivers without issue and I am able to manually update the driver after all of the server reinstalls, allowing WHS to see the drives and indicate in the console that the drives are there as part of the storage pool.  Unfortunately, I cannot see any of my data; it is there on the drives (I've confirmed this by manually inspecting the folders under DE for each drive).  This is a 5TB server so manually copying the files over and manually reloading them on the server is obviously a task I wish to avoid if possible.  Even if I were to perform this task, I am bothered by the fact that since duplication is enabled won't I have multiple instances of the same data across many of the drives?

    Anyhow, is there a way to manually invoke this mystical "rebuildprimary" routine or force the install process from within a running copy of WHS (as opposed to off the DVD; I am presuming that this would avoid the issue of the SATA RAID driver not being loaded properly).

    The Primary drive is "failing" but is not DOA.  In fact, I currently have it running WHS in light of my inability to successfully swap the drive out for the new replacement drive but I prudently want to swap it out before I get to the total failure point.  If there is no way to force the rebuild primary or tombstone recreation, are my only options trying to image the drive to the new drive or manually copy all of my files (dealing with the duplicates one by one).

    TIA
    Sunday, January 31, 2010 6:21 PM

All replies

  • I've spent nearly a day and half trying to swap out my failing primary drive without success.  The difficulty seems to stem from the installation process not being able to succesfully load the drivers needed for a SIL3124 SATA RAID PCI card during the multiple reboots thereby resulting in the process not being able to rebuild the primary data drive (tombstones, etc.).

    I've gone through the painful process at least a half a dozen times, the latest after reading a post that indicated you may need to install the drivers again when the installation process restarts (press F6).

    Are you using a floppy disk for the F6 part?

    Even after trying this last iteration, I still received errors upon each restart that a device driver failed to load (when the install completes it is evident that it is the SATA RAID controller driver that is not loading).  The existing install of WHS uses these drivers without issue and I am able to manually update the driver after all of the server reinstalls, allowing WHS to see the drives and indicate in the console that the drives are there as part of the storage pool.  Unfortunately, I cannot see any of my data; it is there on the drives (I've confirmed this by manually inspecting the folders under DE for each drive).  This is a 5TB server so manually copying the files over and manually reloading them on the server is obviously a task I wish to avoid if possible.  Even if I were to perform this task, I am bothered by the fact that since duplication is enabled won't I have multiple instances of the same data across many of the drives?

    Yes.

    Anyhow, is there a way to manually invoke this mystical "rebuildprimary" routine or force the install process from within a running copy of WHS (as opposed to off the DVD; I am presuming that this would avoid the issue of the SATA RAID driver not being loaded properly).

    No.

    The Primary drive is "failing" but is not DOA.  In fact, I currently have it running WHS in light of my inability to successfully swap the drive out for the new replacement drive but I prudently want to swap it out before I get to the total failure point.  If there is no way to force the rebuild primary or tombstone recreation, are my only options trying to image the drive to the new drive or manually copy all of my files (dealing with the duplicates one by one).

    TIA
    Imaging the primary drive is not supported and may cause even more problems than you already have now.  Which means (if Server Reinstallation isn't working), your only real option left is to recover the data manually.  See the FAQ post:  How to recover data after server failure for details on how to do that.

    Having said that, if you can see all of the drives during the GUI portion of the install (when you get the window that says Load Additional Storage Drivers) after providing the necessary drivers and see all of the drives during the text portion of the install (when you have to press F6 to load drivers) after providing the necessary drivers, I don't see why you would be having any installation issues.  The other option would be to see if you can switch your SATA drives to IDE/Legacy mode (so that the install DVD will provide the drivers automatically).
    Sunday, January 31, 2010 8:14 PM
    Moderator
  • Thanks for the reply.

    Yes, I am using a floppy for the F6 portion, or at least I was prepared to do so.  I did press F6, however, I was never prompted to insert the floppy on the last go around.  Since even the primary drives requires that I provide drivers (not using any onboard ports, instead using PCI add-in cards), and the installation proceeded without error, I presumed that it had all the drivers from the first time I provided them (which, frankly is the way I would expect it to work :)).

    Does PP3 change any of this behavior or provide a way to invoke the "rebuild primary" routine.

    If I wasn't reinstalling the server and one of the drives died, isn't there a way to "rebuild" the drive?  Since some of my drives are available (4 out of 8), I was hoping there was a way to force this rebuild.

    Sunday, January 31, 2010 10:29 PM
  • Thanks for the reply.

    Yes, I am using a floppy for the F6 portion, or at least I was prepared to do so.  I did press F6, however, I was never prompted to insert the floppy on the last go around.  Since even the primary drives requires that I provide drivers (not using any onboard ports, instead using PCI add-in cards), and the installation proceeded without error, I presumed that it had all the drivers from the first time I provided them (which, frankly is the way I would expect it to work :)).

    No, you need to provide the drivers twice (especially for the primary drive), once during GUI and again during text.  If you didn't provide the drivers both times, that could be your problem.  What is the exact error message you get and at what point do you get it (after how many reboots)?

    Does PP3 change any of this behavior or provide a way to invoke the "rebuild primary" routine.

    No.

    If I wasn't reinstalling the server and one of the drives died, isn't there a way to "rebuild" the drive?

    No, but any of the secondary drives failing is different than the primary drive failing.

    Since some of my drives are available (4 out of 8), I was hoping there was a way to force this rebuild.
    What do you mean some of them are available?  When you do see 4 out of 8?  Do you ever see all 8?
    Sunday, January 31, 2010 10:36 PM
    Moderator
  • I have two ATA 100/133 PCI cards with five (5) drives connected (so I misspoke, 5 out of the 9 installed in the system); one of which is the primary drive.  These cards require drivers at the GUI phase as the install doesn't see any drives at this stage.  I also have a SIL3124 SATA RAID PCI card with four (4) drives connected.

    For discussion let me break the install into 1) First GUI Portion; 2) Text Portion; and 3) Second GUI Portion.  I provide the drivers via floppy for the ATA 100/133 PCI cards and also at this time provide the drives via CD for the SATA RAID card during the First GUI Portion.

    Once the computer reboots, and the Text Portion begins, I was initially not pressing F6, but the install proceeded (I presume that WHS had drivers for the ATA card; this however did result in error messages during the text portion but again the install proceeded.

    Upon noticing in one of the posts here that you should also provide the drivers during the text portion, on my final reinstall attempt I monitored the install process and when the text portion began, I pressed F6 repeatedly but was not prompted for the drivers.  On this attempt however, I did not receive any error messages in the text portion so pressing F6 changed the behavior of the install but never prompted me to insert a floppy with the drivers.

    So on any of the attempts (both with/without pressing F6 during text phase), I was left with an install where all the drives on the ATA cards were present and properly part of the storage pool.  The folders in the "Shared Folders" that were part of the original server install were all present, but when I clicked into any of them they were empty; which makes sense since there was never a lengthy "rebuildprimary" phase.

    During the multiple reboots within the Second GUI Portion, I received an error message upon each reboot indicating that at least one device failed to load (I'll have to note the exact error message next attemp).  After the install completes, the drives attached to the SATA card are reported as "missing"; this must be a result of the error message i would receive on the subsequent reboots in the Second GUI Portion (again, the drives attached to the ATA cards were present but the rebuildprimary routine never occurred).  The SATA RAID controller is show in the Device Manager with an error; I manually reinstall/update driver, providing the same driver off the CD I provided in the Text Portion and then the card is installed and the four (4) drives are mounted.

    At this point, I can see the drives in an Explorer window and inspect their contents but WHS doesn't seem to see them as they are still reported as missing and I am not even given an option of adding them to the storage pool as a new drive (NOT THAT I WOULD DO THAT AT THIS POINT :)).  When I reboot the server, they are no longer reported as missing, they are part of the storage pool, but none of the contents is available to me; all of the Shared Folders are empty.

    Monday, February 1, 2010 4:41 PM
  • If it turns out that my issue is primarily with the drivers for the drive controllers, I wonder if I can't slipstream the drivers into the install?

    Has anyone done this?  If so, is there a simplified explanation of how I would go about doing this?  I wouldn't have to slipstream all the service packs/updates, etc., just the drivers (even though I suppose it would be ideal to slipstream everything at this juncture).

    Is the WHS team working on an easier way to deal with this situation?  If this were in my paren't home and their primary drive started failing, they would be clueless and certainly crazed at the thought of losing everything via a device that they purchased to avoid this very situation :o
    Monday, February 1, 2010 7:36 PM
  • Slipstreaming isn't supported. It can be done, however it's not easy. I believe there's a good writeup of how to do so over on We Got Served. I'll warn you that you will need to identify (usually through a successful installation) the drivers that need to be slipstreamed.

    In general, the sequence of events for a server reinstallation is as follows:
    • Check in your server's BIOS to make sure that your system drive will be the first drive presented for booting. (This eliminates a lot of potential issues).
    • If you have SATA drives, consider setting your SATA controller(s) to legacy IDE mode. You give up a small amount of theoretical performance and gain a huge amount of compatibility. (Usually you can just skip all the driver BS if you do this...)
    • Boot the installation media. If you don't see one or more drives listed on the hardware detection screen, install drivers for the controller(s) with missing drives.
    • If you don't see your system drive, prepare an F6 floppy for it per the instructions in your drive controller manufacturer's manual (often your motherboard manual). (You might as well prepare F6 floppies for all storage controllers without inbox drivers in this case.)
    • Proceed to the screen where you're asked what kind of installation you want to perform. You should be given the options "Server Recovery" (or "Server reinstallation" if your media is pre-Power Pack 1) and "New Installation". Choose the recovery/reinstallation option, and proceed.
    • Continue to the first reboot. If you needed to supply any drivers, you should be asked at some point if you want to cache your drivers on disk for later use. Go ahead and say "yes", but realize that if you need drivers for your system drive, you may still need to supply drivers on floppy for other controllers as well.
    • Just after the reboot into text mode, you'll see a prompt at the bottom of the screen to "Press F6" to add storage drivers. Tap F6 a few times when that displays, then supply your drivers, starting with the drivers for your system drive.
    • Everything from that point should be smooth sailing.
    ...
    Is the WHS team working on an easier way to deal with this situation?  If this were in my paren't home and their primary drive started failing, they would be clueless and certainly crazed at the thought of losing everything via a device that they purchased to avoid this very situation :o
    The easy way to deal with installation issues, for non-technical users, is to buy an OEM server from HP, Acer, etc. That's how Windows Home Server is currently designed to be sold (Microsoft hasn't made any statements regarding distribution channels for future versions; if they opt to go with a retail channel for the software they will need to improve the installation experience dramatically): as an OEM hardware/software package, or preinstalled by a system builder. If you examine the original packaging for the disks you have, you'll see that it's marked as system builder software, and if you check wherever you bought it, you'll see the same. (The fact that end users can buy system builder software is the result of loopholes in the system builder channel, rather than Microsoft's intent.) Tens of thousands of HP and other servers have been sold, and the number of people having issues with them is tiny.

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Monday, February 1, 2010 8:38 PM
    Moderator
  • I attempted another "reinstall" last night.

    Everything appeared to be going smoothly; I did get the opportunity to provide the driver controller drivers during the text portion.  I walked away from the installation after providing the drivers as it is automated after that point, requiring, nor permitting, further user intervention.

    I returned to find the installation completed, HOWEVER, again none of my data was present.  This time, all the drives were successfully enumerated and mounted.  WHS console showed all of the drives present and healthy, but again, no data...I can only conclude that the "rebuildprimary" routine did not initiate or complete successfully.  WHS also was reporting the full server storage capacity; i.e., if all of the drives were indeed empty...this had me panicked!

    I connected the original primary drive in again, rebooted, and thankfully all of my data was there; i was quite fearful that the install may have nuked all of my drives even though it was supposed to be carrying out a reinstall.

    Could it be my SATA controller isn't behaving nicely during install/setup?  Should I buy another, different brand, and give it a go?  I really want to replace the primary drive before it has a critical failure.
    Tuesday, February 2, 2010 8:36 PM
  • Yes, it's possible that your SATA controller is causing problems for you. I think it likely, given that at a critical stage Windows Home Server setup was unable to reintegrate the storage pool...

    There are additional options beyond server reinstallation. The supported option is a lot of work:
    • Pull (disconnect) all the drives in your server.
    • Remove/Replace the system drive with a drive as large as the largest other drive in your storage pool.
    • Perform a new installation on the system drive.
    • Install any additional drivers you need for other storage controllers.
    • Complete the Out Of Box Experience on your server. (Note that at this point, duplication will be off for all shares. Leave it that way until you've completed the following.)
    • Connect your largest other drive and copy the contents of <driveletter>:\DE\Shares\etc. from that drive to your shares, via the link to your server's shares that's placed on the server desktop.
    • Add that drive to your storage pool.
    • Repeat for each drive from the old storage pool.
    • Turn on duplication for the shares that need it.
    This is effectively a manual version of the RebuildPrimary process. Also, it sacrifices the backup database, while the rebuild process will attempt to preserve it.

    Another option, unsupported and potentially risky (because you could find yourself needing a reinstallation again if something goes wrong), is to clone your system drive if it's still working properly (no file corruption, etc.). See e.g. this post on MediaSmartServer.net for more details.

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Tuesday, February 2, 2010 9:31 PM
    Moderator
  • There appears to be a way to run the reinstall program from within an existing/running instance of WHS.  Within the \install directory is the program qs.exe; if you launch this application it proceeds stating that it will reinstall WHS.

    Has anyone done this?  Wondering if I do this if it will force the rebuildprimary routine...
    Friday, February 5, 2010 1:39 AM