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Windows (Home) Server overwrites Dynamic Disk Overlays (DDO). RRS feed

  • Question

  • This forum was rather difficult to get to. The link within the OS install brings one here, but when I logged in I ended up in MSD forum of all places. That seems to be the default after logging on. Rather disorienting!

    If you search for the forum you will get hundreds of pages of stuff on SQL, or JAVA, but not Home Server, nor 2003! Instead apparently one has to type "windowshomeserver" as a single word.

    My hardware problem:

    1) Windows Server 2003 Enterprise RC2 trial & Windows Home Server 2003 beta installs overwrite the DDO (Dynamic Disc Overlay's). And now my primary slave 250 GB disc is only seen as a raw 33 GB HDD. This disc has over 123 GB of data on it, AND was supposed to be my large capacity storage disc with the server. The previous OS, Win2k Pro was happily working with the MBR, without overwriting it. Twice I have been on the verge of recovering my data on this disk with Test Disk, WD, or myriad of utilities (see bottom of message for the full list), but each time Home Server 2003 overwrote the MBR ontop of the DDO.

    What I want to do is a) recover my 123GB of data which I can see is intact via various disk utilities. I have backed up Win2k on dvd's. But didn't expect, nor had the media for 123GB of the storage data. I assumed that Win Home Server 2003 would have more flexibility, not less in accepting larger disk attachment strategies such as DDO's and EZY-BIOS Overlays. It only takes 2 yrs before motherboard manufacturers drop the ball on supporting a motherboard with newer bios. So overlays and other methods should have been accommodated by Win2003, as it is win win2k.

    If I can't recover my data with these two OS's, I will have to ditch win 2003/ Home 2003 and fall back to Win 2k.

    2) Also at one stage Windows Home Server wouldn't boot because the applied DDO obviously overwrote the MBR of the primary master, and ntbooter couldn't find the ntloader. The Home Server rescue disk did a strange thing. It disabled the firewall as it started up, then it couldn't find the install of Server on the same machine, because it tried to find it via the network. And it doesn't seem to have a menu, nor manual way to get into the restore utilities. If it can't find it via the net, it just spits the dummy and shuts down. A second reboot resolved the partition/mbr issues but it has got me thinking. Windows 2003 server variants DO NOT HAVE ERD like Win 2k. Instead they have AVS or AFS or something, which wants to back up the entire 4 gig install on floppies! I mean the rescue CD appears to be not very useful if it doesn't drop to manual recover/rescue. And there doesn't seem to be a way to save the system settings, or create an emergency recovery diskette.

    ** Update. I have changed my mind about Windows Server 2003 Enterprise RC2 trial. If I cant use my large capacity disk, because it overwrites the DDO, then it is not much use to me. So I have ended my trial of Win2k3. It's back to win2k to recover my data, then try either solaris or some flavour of Linux. I will plod along a bit more with Home Server but without DDO and a large disk, it is as useless as a bag of udders on a long horn bull.

    The DDO issue is the main issue right now. If you have suggestions/fixes I'd be helpful.

    Here's the utilities I have tried with no luck;

    1) Western Digital utils,
    2) Ontrack Disk Manager,
    3) Partition Magic,
    4) Acronis Disk Director
    5) Active Partition Recovery,
    6) Paragon partition manager,
    7) Partition Doctor,
    8) Terabyte Image for windows,
    9) Test Disk 6.6
    10) Partition table Doctor.
    11) And another whole host of other lesser known utilities including disk editors, hex editors, and low data recovery tools.

    The most promising one so far seems to be Test Disk 6.6 as it is the only one which still sees ALL the data intact, but but I cant get Windows Server 2003 to recognise any changes to the partition. It automatically reverts it to 33 GB and wants to format it.

    Thanks
    Tuesday, March 27, 2007 5:50 PM

Answers

  • If the data on that disk is "must recover at all costs" stuff, I would send it out for data recovery. Every round of "let's try this and see what happens" raises the odds that you're destroying data on the disk. Seriously.

    Beyond that, I have no real advice for how to recover from your W2k3 Enterprise issues. That you had problems trying to run a modern operating system on old hardware isn't a surprise, but it sounds like my answer, which would be to upgrade the hardware, isn't an option.

    As for WHS, once again, if your hardware doesn't support 48 bit LBA (which has been around for a decade or so), your options are limited. You're right that a single 60 GB disk is going to be limiting for testing WHS. Does the vendor of your P4 motherboard offer a BIOS update that supports 48 bit LBA?
    Wednesday, March 28, 2007 12:08 PM
    Moderator

All replies

  • For drive overlays, I don't know the compatibility. I'm using a 5 year old motherboard which is quite happily seeing my 250gig drives without using any form of drive overlay. (The mobo is an ECS mobo, can't remember the model, with a 1 GHz AMD Althon)

     

    Also, to install WHS, there is no way you would have been able to retain your data on that drive - in the documentation AND in the install itself it gives you plenty of warnings that it will format ALL attached drives. So to install WHS you will need to have made a backup of all your data that you aren't prepared to lose.

    Tuesday, March 27, 2007 6:05 PM
  • I have to ask: why are you using a Dynamic Drive Overlay? Does your hardware not support your disk? (The only reason I can think of...)

    If you absolutely must recover the data on that disk, your best bet is to remove it from your WHS computer and do so on some other PC in your home. WHS expects complete control of the drives installed in your system, so I'm not completely surprised that the DDO was overwritten.

    After that, I'm not sure what to tell you. It sounds like your BIOS/chipset doesn't support the drives you have installed. Does your system otherwise meet the minimum hardware requirements? What motherboard are you using?
    Tuesday, March 27, 2007 7:44 PM
    Moderator
  • Hi Ken,

    "I have to ask: why are you using a Dynamic Drive Overlay? Does your hardware not support your disk? (The only reason I can think of...)"

    Thanks for your response.

    I was both trialing Windows Server 2003 Enterprise RC2, AND WHS on two different machines.

    The WD2500JB was a primary slave on my Gigabyte GA-6VTXD, a dual processor PIII server. Before installing the Win2k3, I had Win2k Pro running on this machine. BTW, the last time Gigabyte put out a Bios patch on this mobo was in 2002. It's still listed in their server mobo's products archives. So, the bios doesn't see drives bigger than 137GB, and WD's fix is an overlay. I presume when I first installed the drive, WD used to use EZ-Bios DDO's. AND NTFS installed would have been an earlier version, eg ~ Win2k SP1, or SP2. I had kept the Win2k up to date, but don't know if patching the OS also updated the ntfs file versions? Dynamic Disk Overlay's and NTFS versions make a BIG difference apparently.  Also, whilst I imaged up Win2k, I didn't have the media for 123 GB of the data on the WD2500. I also didn't think I needed it.

    So upon Win2k3 installation the first thing was that it showed my primary slave 250 GB drive as a 33 GB drive, and raw. It DIDN'T format/partition all drives as you stated above, but then it wasn't WHS, but Win2k3.

    Several diagnostic and recovery tools later I came to the realisation that Win2k3 with it's NTFS MBR pedanticity was not going to coexist with any DDO. So I pulled the drive out of the Gigabyte server and slaved it to my more recent machine (only 4 years old) with a functioning WHS beta install on it.

    Since WHS is a configured version of Win2k3, I didn't get anywhere. In fact I nearly lost the WHS install trying to apply the DDO over the NTFS MBR. The rescue disk did jack! I left the WHS problem till later as recovery of the data is more important, but when I came back and restarted it, WHS must have healed itself. It booted straight in.

    1) I am still trying to recover the data on the WD2500.
    2) I have abandoned the Win Server 2003 Enterprise RC2 trial, and restored my Win2k Pro.
    3) The WD2500 is again slaved in the Gigabyte dual processor server, but because I spent days trying all sorts of utilities,... it's gotten a bit intractable. Some show it as Unrecoverable. Active Partition shows all the folders intact, but I don't know the state of the files nor partition.
    4) Data recoverability is not going to be straight forward.
    5) Applying the Dynamic Disk Overlay onto the restored Win2k is not going to be straight forward neither as:
    5.1) NTFS is Win2k SP3 level,
    5.2) Western Digital now use Ontrack Disk Management Overlays.
    5.3) Bios still see's it as 33GB.

    6) I still don't see what benefit WHS will be to me if I have to spend $$ to update my current P4 machine with at least a new controller card, if not additional hardware like mobo. Because as it is, WHS will be limited to a 137+137 GB maximum capacity. Though I'd have to buy those HDD's. Current one in it is only a 60GB. Not ideal for media storage as WHS was proposed for.

    Thank you again for your response.
    Wednesday, March 28, 2007 4:30 AM
  •  Richard Holland wrote:

    For drive overlays, I don't know the compatibility. I'm using a 5 year old motherboard which is quite happily seeing my 250gig drives without using any form of drive overlay. (The mobo is an ECS mobo, can't remember the model, with a 1 GHz AMD Althon)

    Also, to install WHS, there is no way you would have been able to retain your data on that drive - in the documentation AND in the install itself it gives you plenty of warnings that it will format ALL attached drives. So to install WHS you will need to have made a backup of all your data that you aren't prepared to lose.



    Hi Richard,

    Thank you for your response.

    The drive mentioned was at first a slave to an Windows Server 2003 Enterprise RC2 Trial on a much older ~ 2001 Gigabyte dual processor server/workstation mobo. Gigabyte has not updated the BIOS for that board since 2002. It doesn't support drives greater than 137GB, so it requires DDO. Or an additional controller card. And W2k3 Enterprise RC2 did NOT format and partition all drives. It gave me the option of drives and partitions to delete, erase, partition and format. When I installed WHS that machine (a p4) only had a 60GB drive.

    Thanks again for your response.
    Wednesday, March 28, 2007 4:36 AM
  • If the data on that disk is "must recover at all costs" stuff, I would send it out for data recovery. Every round of "let's try this and see what happens" raises the odds that you're destroying data on the disk. Seriously.

    Beyond that, I have no real advice for how to recover from your W2k3 Enterprise issues. That you had problems trying to run a modern operating system on old hardware isn't a surprise, but it sounds like my answer, which would be to upgrade the hardware, isn't an option.

    As for WHS, once again, if your hardware doesn't support 48 bit LBA (which has been around for a decade or so), your options are limited. You're right that a single 60 GB disk is going to be limiting for testing WHS. Does the vendor of your P4 motherboard offer a BIOS update that supports 48 bit LBA?
    Wednesday, March 28, 2007 12:08 PM
    Moderator
  •  Ken Warren wrote:
    If the data on that disk is "must recover at all costs" stuff, I would send it out for data recovery. Every round of "let's try this and see what happens" raises the odds that you're destroying data on the disk. Seriously.

    Beyond that, I have no real advice for how to recover from your W2k3 Enterprise issues. That you had problems trying to run a modern operating system on old hardware isn't a surprise, but it sounds like my answer, which would be to upgrade the hardware, isn't an option.

    As for WHS, once again, if your hardware doesn't support 48 bit LBA (which has been around for a decade or so), your options are limited. You're right that a single 60 GB disk is going to be limiting for testing WHS. Does the vendor of your P4 motherboard offer a BIOS update that supports 48 bit LBA?


    Ken,

    Thanks for responding.

    As I stated earlier, Gigabyte is a well known brand. They stopped providing bios updates and support on a server motherboard within 2 years of manufacture. The WHS was installed on a machine with a motherboard, the manufacturer of which is lesser known, and is no longer in business. This is not the exception, but actually the norm! Only well known brand names with high volume sales are likely to get sustained bios support of 5 yrs or more.

    Aiming an Enterprise Server for systems that meat high standards is understandable. But Microsoft is aiming the WHS for the home environment. Not corporate server environment.
    Therefore Microsoft's rigid hardware requirements (with respect to partitions & MBR's for example) for the WHS only narrows down it's potential market.

    Thank you again for your response.
    Thursday, March 29, 2007 1:08 AM
  • As far as installation and hardware support are concerned, for the most part Microsoft is aiming WHS at the OEM manufacturers like HP with their MediaSmart Server. Everything I've seen in blogs (especially this post), interviews with team members, and other channels (like the WHS documentation) makes that clear. Enthusiasts and developers are a secondary market. Which is a good thing, by the way; what if Microsoft was planning to ignore us entirely?

    I honestly think that the desire to run WHS on hardware that's several years old will result in disappointment for many (if not most) users that go that route. Especially when you can buy a new motherboard for $50 or so that will not have most of the limitations people are running into with older hardware.

    I ran across this link this morning, which may help you in your data recovery effort. Good luck!
    Thursday, March 29, 2007 2:56 PM
    Moderator
  •  Ken Warren wrote:
    As far as installation and hardware support are concerned, for the most part Microsoft is aiming WHS at the OEM manufacturers like HP with their MediaSmart Server. Everything I've seen in blogs (especially this post), interviews with team members, and other channels (like the WHS documentation) makes that clear. Enthusiasts and developers are a secondary market. Which is a good thing, by the way; what if Microsoft was planning to ignore us entirely?

    I honestly think that the desire to run WHS on hardware that's several years old will result in disappointment for many (if not most) users that go that route. Especially when you can buy a new motherboard for $50 or so that will not have most of the limitations people are running into with older hardware.

    I ran across this link this morning, which may help you in your data recovery effort. Good luck!


    Ken,

    Thanks for your response.

    I disagree with you regarding purchasing another motherboard when these ones I have are perfectly fine. If anything, a controller card would be lower in cost.

    Additionally, the link you provided, albeit in an attempt to help, has a shorter list of recovery tools, than the list I provided on my first post.

    If anybody else is following this, the most useful partition/data recovery tools in my opinion have been;

    test disk 6.7, which is free, and it identified that my drive had an EZ-Bios overlay,

    Active Partition Recovery, which showed that all my data was still intact, though it couldn't extract it, nor reconstruct the partition header,

    And the one that actually seems to be able to resolve the problem with DDO's and overlays is RecoverySoft Media Tools.

    What makes MediaTools the best so far is that it reads the HDD directly via the IDE interface, and not the BIOS. Why is this better? Because in cases where the hard disk install has an overlay to support older BIOS's, the BIOS will report false details (33GB instead of 250GB), whereas the IDE interface will give direct access to the HDD. As far as I know, of the 20 or so utils I have tried, this is the only product that does this, read HDD's directly off the IDE interface. It also does a far more comprehensive scan (4+ hrs) and recovered everything, all 123 GB, including deleted files, invalid files, found files, all which can be individually selected on/off via masks, and saved to another HDD. It has a built in Hex editor with templates to guide users that don't know what to look for. For example, in my case, it is not a standard ntfs 07h partition file format, but a 55h Ez-bios overlay. There are nearly 100 templates for different partition file systems to guide the user. It can also cycle-clone and reverse clone (for bad sectors), as well as repair partitions. It comes with a detailed 81 page manual, complete with screen cap diagrams, troubleshooting, and further support. Albeit, you will end up spending your $50 to enable it, but it's a lifetime investment well worth spending!
    Friday, March 30, 2007 11:27 AM
  • Can't you get an IDE controller card with updated bios for < $20? Seems cheaper and more permanent than any of the other fixes if you can spare a PCI slot.
    Sunday, April 22, 2007 10:11 PM