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Upgrading the system disk w/o duplication RRS feed

  • Question

  • I've read lots of threads here & elsewhere about upgrading the system disk.  Seems to be quite involved.  (also, lots of info -- including the FAQ on this topic -- predates the architectural changes in PP2...best up-to-date guide I've found is here: http://www.xpmediacentre.com.au/community/windows-home-server-whs/40926-replacing-whs-system-drive-relatively-painlessly.html)

    One thing I haven't seen directly addressed is how to remove the system disk from the storage pool.  Ok, that's probably not the right terminology; the WHS console certainly seems to think it's a silly notion.  What I mean is: how to ensure that the primary storage volume contains nothing but tombstones and metadata on D:\, moving any actual data to shadow drives as necessary.

    Some guides suggest turning on duplication as a workaround.  That way you don't have to worry about any "real" data that might reside on D:\ prior to replacement.  Unfortunately it's not feasible...I have >4TB of unduplicated data. 

    On a secondary note, I wonder if any Acer 340 owners have attempted this feat.  If you don't know, the machine is completely headless -- doesn't even have a video chip nor room to add one.  So obviously I can't "choose Server Reinstallation" like all the guides say to.  I assume the provided Acer DVD does a restoration in noninteractive mode, but that still leaves the question of how to invoke the RebuildPrimary operation...
    Monday, January 11, 2010 6:02 AM

Answers

  • I've read lots of threads here & elsewhere about upgrading the system disk.  Seems to be quite involved.  (also, lots of info -- including the FAQ on this topic -- predates the architectural changes in PP2...best up-to-date guide I've found is here: http://www.xpmediacentre.com.au/community/windows-home-server-whs/40926-replacing-whs-system-drive-relatively-painlessly.html)

    One thing I haven't seen directly addressed is how to remove the system disk from the storage pool.  Ok, that's probably not the right terminology; the WHS console certainly seems to think it's a silly notion.  What I mean is: how to ensure that the primary storage volume contains nothing but tombstones and metadata on D:\, moving any actual data to shadow drives as necessary.

    Some guides suggest turning on duplication as a workaround.  That way you don't have to worry about any "real" data that might reside on D:\ prior to replacement.  Unfortunately it's not feasible...I have >4TB of unduplicated data. 
    If you don't have enough disk space to turn on duplication for all shares there's a few other (UNSUPPORTED) methods you could use:

    A.
    1. logon to your server (remote desktop)
    2. in explorer browse to D:\DE\shares
    3. checkout which shares are listed, you may have enough to enable duplication for these shares. If not proceed with B.
    4. Browse to D:\DE\folders\\{00008086-058D-4C89-AB57-A7F909A47AB4} (backup db) and check total size. If you have enough free space left after step 3 you can enable duplication for backup database, can also be done using the BDBB Add-in. If you do not have enough space for backup DB duplication proceed with B. or accept loss of your backup database.
    5. Allow some time for duplication, depending on your server hardware and the amount of data this may take a few hours
    6. Power donw server, replace the system drive, the do server reinstall

    B. 
    1. logon to your server (remote desktop)
    2. Do Start, run, type services.msc and Hit Enter. In services console stop all services starting with Windows Home Server
    3. in explorer browse to D:\DE\shares
    4. for each share listed copy or move the contents to the corresponding share C:\fs\X\DE\ (Where X = driveletter or number, there should be one for each of your data drives).
    4a.If you have many subfolders this may be a time consuming operation, you may try and use a tool like Synctoy or Robocopy to perform this task.
    5. Browse to D:\DE\folders. For each folder copy or move the contents to the corresponding folder in C:\fs\X\DE\
    6. Power down server, replace the system drive, run server reinstall.

    Like I said before both methods are unsupported and you risk messing up your server or loosing data. Also if you're going to try this please use your brain. I may have made typing error or overlooked something obvious

    On a secondary note, I wonder if any Acer 340 owners have attempted this feat.  If you don't know, the machine is completely headless -- doesn't even have a video chip nor room to add one.  So obviously I can't "choose Server Reinstallation" like all the guides say to.  I assume the provided Acer DVD does a restoration in noninteractive mode, but that still leaves the question of how to invoke the RebuildPrimary operation...

    For headless OEM machines like Acer and HP server reinstall (server ecovery) is done by running the restore CD from the client. Please read server manual or follow on screen instructions. For AcerH340 also please checkout these forums, I think the instructions Acer provides to get the server in recovery mode are not 100% correct (post from user "Foden" in this thread)
    • Marked as answer by Richard Berg Monday, January 11, 2010 8:48 PM
    Monday, January 11, 2010 11:16 AM
    Moderator

All replies

  • I've read lots of threads here & elsewhere about upgrading the system disk.  Seems to be quite involved.  (also, lots of info -- including the FAQ on this topic -- predates the architectural changes in PP2...best up-to-date guide I've found is here: http://www.xpmediacentre.com.au/community/windows-home-server-whs/40926-replacing-whs-system-drive-relatively-painlessly.html)

    One thing I haven't seen directly addressed is how to remove the system disk from the storage pool.  Ok, that's probably not the right terminology; the WHS console certainly seems to think it's a silly notion.  What I mean is: how to ensure that the primary storage volume contains nothing but tombstones and metadata on D:\, moving any actual data to shadow drives as necessary.

    Some guides suggest turning on duplication as a workaround.  That way you don't have to worry about any "real" data that might reside on D:\ prior to replacement.  Unfortunately it's not feasible...I have >4TB of unduplicated data. 
    If you don't have enough disk space to turn on duplication for all shares there's a few other (UNSUPPORTED) methods you could use:

    A.
    1. logon to your server (remote desktop)
    2. in explorer browse to D:\DE\shares
    3. checkout which shares are listed, you may have enough to enable duplication for these shares. If not proceed with B.
    4. Browse to D:\DE\folders\\{00008086-058D-4C89-AB57-A7F909A47AB4} (backup db) and check total size. If you have enough free space left after step 3 you can enable duplication for backup database, can also be done using the BDBB Add-in. If you do not have enough space for backup DB duplication proceed with B. or accept loss of your backup database.
    5. Allow some time for duplication, depending on your server hardware and the amount of data this may take a few hours
    6. Power donw server, replace the system drive, the do server reinstall

    B. 
    1. logon to your server (remote desktop)
    2. Do Start, run, type services.msc and Hit Enter. In services console stop all services starting with Windows Home Server
    3. in explorer browse to D:\DE\shares
    4. for each share listed copy or move the contents to the corresponding share C:\fs\X\DE\ (Where X = driveletter or number, there should be one for each of your data drives).
    4a.If you have many subfolders this may be a time consuming operation, you may try and use a tool like Synctoy or Robocopy to perform this task.
    5. Browse to D:\DE\folders. For each folder copy or move the contents to the corresponding folder in C:\fs\X\DE\
    6. Power down server, replace the system drive, run server reinstall.

    Like I said before both methods are unsupported and you risk messing up your server or loosing data. Also if you're going to try this please use your brain. I may have made typing error or overlooked something obvious

    On a secondary note, I wonder if any Acer 340 owners have attempted this feat.  If you don't know, the machine is completely headless -- doesn't even have a video chip nor room to add one.  So obviously I can't "choose Server Reinstallation" like all the guides say to.  I assume the provided Acer DVD does a restoration in noninteractive mode, but that still leaves the question of how to invoke the RebuildPrimary operation...

    For headless OEM machines like Acer and HP server reinstall (server ecovery) is done by running the restore CD from the client. Please read server manual or follow on screen instructions. For AcerH340 also please checkout these forums, I think the instructions Acer provides to get the server in recovery mode are not 100% correct (post from user "Foden" in this thread)
    • Marked as answer by Richard Berg Monday, January 11, 2010 8:48 PM
    Monday, January 11, 2010 11:16 AM
    Moderator
  • Hi Richard
    The H340 has a video chip onboard, but you need to open the unit and add a video cable to make use of it.
    Cautionary note: I have done this in a test situtation, I would be careful doing this with your only copy of data!

    But, the process works on the H340 without a direct video connection. The process of getting to the System Recovery prompt using the Recovery Cd is  two major steps:
    1. Remove all drives from your system
    2. Insert new system drive
    3. do a fresh install, you won't be offered a recovery install because there is no Data partition yet.
    (ensure you do ALL updates to get the server to PP3)
    4. Turn off the H340, thisends the full re-install portion.
    5. Install your data drives
    6. turn back on while pressing the button in back 4 or 5 times.5. Start the System Recovery CD again
    7. You should see the Recover data option, use that
    8. When done, use Robocopy to copy any possible remnants from your old system drive to the shares. Do not install this drive on an eSata port, use USB. (There are reports of WHS getting confused by the old System partition.)

    Notes: I have only used the above process in a test situation.
              I always have a second copy of my data, in addition to using duplication.
              One possible way to test this process would be to copy one of your drives and use that to test with. If it doesn't work you don't lose your data.

    Disclaimer:
    I make no warranties on the above process but do plan to thoroughly test it this spring. I went through 2 weeks of tribulation in Dec, due in the end to a bad memory chip. The above is my recollection of one of the recovery scenrios I tested. Acer online and phone support was very thorough. In the end the unit was RMA'd and repaired. I used the Robocopy method to restore my 4 TB of duplicated data because I was paranoid about not losing any (200GB of photos! alone). But I wll be taking time this spring to get very comfortable with the process I tested above because I am expecting to have 12TB on the server by end of 2010. The prospect of robocopying that amount of data is not appealing :-) 

    Gerrit
    Monday, January 11, 2010 3:19 PM
  • Regarding your ">4TB of unduplicated data": how do you protect it today, of not through duplication? Do you use the server backup tool to take regular copies of shares on external drives? If so, perhaps you just don't worry about it. Instead you do your server recovery onto a new drive, then you restore your (current) backup of the shares.

    Regarding recovery/reinstallation/etc.: I like z80yyz's method better than brubber's, as it's less invasive. I would not recommend connecting your old system drive to your server at all, however, I would connect it to some other computer on your network and copy to the shares.

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Monday, January 11, 2010 3:32 PM
    Moderator
  • Regarding recovery/reinstallation/etc.: I like z80yyz's method better than brubber's, as it's less invasive. I would not recommend connecting your old system drive to your server at all, however, I would connect it to some other computer on your network and copy to the shares.

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)

    Hmm. I think my first method (A) is the least intrusive. Also with the method from z80yyz you will almost certainly loose all aclient backups. Furthermore I don't think steps 1 -5 are z80yyz are not necessary. You should be able to just replace the system drive, then start system recovery from CD. (unless there's an undocumented data recovery option on the recovery cd which can only be accessed in this way). I don't H340 at hand so can't test this.
    Monday, January 11, 2010 4:21 PM
    Moderator
  • I should have enough space for brubber's Plan A.  I agree it's the least intrusive, assuming it's safe to use D:\DE\shares as my only guideline for what to dupe.

    Ken - you're right, having unduplicated shares w/o external backups make me a bad bad person.  Much of it exists on physical media (CDs, DAT masters, DVD/HDDVD/BluRay).  Much of it would be fairly straightforward to recreate (TV recordings of popular shows).  Some of it is irretrievable -- I'd turn on duplication for those specific files & folders, but WHS doesn't have that feature.  Hopefully the storage upgrade I'm now undertaking will allow me to improve redundancy :)

    Thanks for the tips & links on working with the H340.  Sounds like the best course of action is:
    1) power down
    2) remove all drives, carefully recording which is which
    3) put 2-3 random drives I don't care about into the machine
    4) practice installing & repairing WHS a couple times using this test configuration
    5) when I've got something that works, put the "real" drives back in the system and repeat
    6) write a guide that doesn't suck :)
    Monday, January 11, 2010 7:02 PM
  • I like your planned course of action best. Especially steps 4 and 6. :) That practice is something too many people never think to do, especially if they have home-built servers with hardware that requires odd drivers, or that uses RAID (known to complicate recovery). After you've lost a drive and need to recover your server is not the time to be practicing your Frankenserver recovery techniques for the first time...

    As for data not protected with duplication: that's a choice that you have made. I have data that I wouldn't have a problem recreating, for example 500 GB of Apple Lossless audio, and that's not duplicated. (It is, however, regularly taken off-site in a backup.) For stuff that's just too much trouble (video, for example; I hate ripping DVDs with a burning purple passion), or that's unique and can't be recreated (like business records) I have duplication turned on and I take backups off-site regularly.

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Monday, January 11, 2010 7:25 PM
    Moderator
  • Hi Brubber
    If you read between the lines of my approach, it implies copying stuff of of the original system drive's d: partition :-) But I wasn't explicit so yes, he probably would have lost the backups. Turning on duplication for backups would of course resolve that anyway.
    The problem is that you can't 'just replace a system drive'. the first recovery does not give you an option to recover your data.

    I have 41 years of working on and with computers. I don't have difficulty in figuring this stuff out (except it is often time consuming and tedious). I find it disappointing that there is both a lot of good information and also a lot of conflicting information on recovery. It would be in MS benefit to do this officially but I would propose:

    I am off on a 2 month cruise soon, but when I get back I would love to get a group together to detail the recovery steps in the 'replace system drive' scenario. We probalby all have a few spare drives available to play with, they need not be large. We could cover various scenarios, 1) failed data disk, 2) failed c:, 3) install larger system drive, etc. The details should include what light sequences to wait for, time delays between events etc. Brubber and Richard can I contact you in end March?

    Bottom line, If there were a manual way to kick off the 'recover data' option to qsm/demigrator we would all be much happier!
    Tuesday, January 12, 2010 12:07 AM
  • ...
    The problem is that you can't 'just replace a system drive'. the first recovery does not give you an option to recover your data.
    ...
    Actually, you can. A system drive replacement is identical, as far as Windows Home Server setup is concerned, to a system drive failure. Just like any other disk in the storage pool, you risk the loss of files in shares that aren't duplicated, and you also risk the loss of part or all of your backup database. Additionally, with the system drive, you have to re-join your client computers, recreate users, reinstall add-ins, and re-do any "outside the console" customizations.

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Tuesday, January 12, 2010 12:44 AM
    Moderator
  • Hi Ken
    I couldn't get that option of recovering data to appear on a fresh, never been formatted drive. but I confess that I didn't keep detailed notes. As indicated in the rest of my post, I think it beneficial to have several people contribute to the 'last of all the great howto-new-sys-drive' tutorials :-)
    I will take my stab at it when I get back, at least for myself I need to be more confident in this process before pushing my less-computer-capable friends onto the WHS train. If anything goes wrong, they will come to me :-)

    I really love the product, it is a sleeper and worth much more than its present cost.
    Tuesday, January 12, 2010 1:08 AM