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Help with my 7TB WHS - MOBO Failing! (Fixed the garbage, sorry) RRS feed

  • Question

  • Hi everyone. I’m brand new on this Forum. This is my first post.

     

    I have searched my topic and read many posts that kind of hint around at what my solution might be, but since I have over 5 TB of data at risk, I though it would be prudent to outline my scenario to the group to be safe. I do not have the capacity to back it all up before I make the change, and I cannot afford to lose it all.

     

    So, here goes and thanks in advance for your indulgence:

     

    In a nutshell, the motherboard in my 7TB Windows Home Server is starting to give me trouble and I am going to replace it before it fails completely. I think the Capacitors are starting to go. My WHS is a Home Built system, around an ASUS P4P800 and a P4 2.4MHz Prescott chip. My System drive is a WD 80GB IDE unit, and I have 2 PCI 4-Port SATA expansion cards (SiI 3114 Chip) (cheap cards) connecting 3x1TB WD Green HDD’s and 2x2TB WD Green HDD’s. All Data HDD’s are therefore on the ones connected to the PCI card ports.

     

    My Plans are to replace the MOBO with a more energy efficient unit using a 45NM chip. I already own an Intel Pentium Dual Core E5300, so I will probably just use that and purchase a new MOBO that will accept that chip. I would also prefer to run all drives off the SATA ports on the new MOBO and possibly the System drive also, converting that drive from IDE to SATA in the process.

     

    First of all, I would like to hear your comments as to just how I would go about doing this properly to safeguard my data. The questions dancing around in my head are:

     

    1. Would it be safer (better) to just leave the Data HDD’s connected to the PCI cards? Most of the newer MOBO’s have at least 2 PCI slots. Am I placing my data at undue risk by moving them to different SATA ports on the MOBO? Or is this not a concern – the reinstall process will handle it safely.
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    2. The system HDD: Should I be moving that to a SATA port or just leave it as IDE. Efficiency wise, I would prefer to upgrade to a more modern HDD that uses less energy and would be much newer. However, if this is too risky, I could just leave it IDE.
    3. What would be a good MOBO to purchase for this chip. I need to keep it under $100, and it needs to be as energy efficient as possible with good power saving options since it will be powered up 24/7. Electricity is ridiculously expensive in this state of California. Tier-5 cost is now $.29/KWH.

     

    Secondly, I know from reading the posts here that you are probably going to recommend I do a Server Reinstall, but just to make sure I get it right, has anyone written up all the steps involved? If so could you possibly point me to it? I could not find anything like that. The possibility of losing all that data is just scaring the devil out of me and I need to see that procedure outlined step-by-step if possible.

     

    Thanks in advance for any and all efforts to help me here. I sincerely appreciate it.

    -Gary

    Wednesday, December 23, 2009 6:14 PM

Answers

  • Hi Gary,
    the main problem with self built servers is, that the reinstall option is difficult to perform due to the lack of SATA drivers in the Windows Server 2003 setup files.
    So it is more a matter of luck to have the proper configuration, if you cannot access all drives involved as IDE drives.
    Also the system disk must be configured as boot disk and should be attached to the first port of the primary controller. In all other case, even if you can get a server reinstall offered, you may run into the fact, that after the first reboot Windows Server 2003 compatible drivers have to be provided on a floppy drive during the classic text mode part of setup in the time, in which a message like Press F6 to load additional drivers is shown on the bottom. Not each new board is having a floppy connector, and not in each case a USB floppy drive will work (depends from how the Bios presents it to the OS).

    If the new board is in the same chipset family, it might be possible to attach the disks and simply boot. Adding the drivers and reconnecting the clients by running discovery.exe on each of them would then be relatively easy.
    You could still perform a clean install and use the method described in the FAQ How to recover data after server failure to bring your data to the new configuration - although this will be time consuming.

    Best greetings from Germany
    Olaf
    Thursday, December 24, 2009 7:24 AM
    Moderator
  • Hi Gary,
    the Windows Home Server setup process consists out of two important stages. Stage one is Vista PE based. This still supports more controllers out of the box than stage two, which is the old native Server 2003 setup part. To have a successfull server reinstall working, all drives must be attached and detected during both stages.
    It is always recommended to leave the controller the same - although it is not as difficult any more as in the times of early SCSI controllers, which sometimes couldn't be switched to another makers product without having to repartition the attached disks.
    The method in the FAQ as well keeps the usual risks of data loss - user error during attaching the drive, mechanical or electrical damage to name a few. So it is only recommended for somebody, who has his experience with that kind of stuff and knows what he does.
    If you try the reinstall and get it offered, only read all shown messages carefully and be aware, that during the installation process there will be a time, in which the system seems to do nothing. It is busy with rebuilding the tombstones then.
    Best greetings from Germany
    Olaf

    Saturday, December 26, 2009 10:59 PM
    Moderator

All replies

  • Hi Gary,
    the main problem with self built servers is, that the reinstall option is difficult to perform due to the lack of SATA drivers in the Windows Server 2003 setup files.
    So it is more a matter of luck to have the proper configuration, if you cannot access all drives involved as IDE drives.
    Also the system disk must be configured as boot disk and should be attached to the first port of the primary controller. In all other case, even if you can get a server reinstall offered, you may run into the fact, that after the first reboot Windows Server 2003 compatible drivers have to be provided on a floppy drive during the classic text mode part of setup in the time, in which a message like Press F6 to load additional drivers is shown on the bottom. Not each new board is having a floppy connector, and not in each case a USB floppy drive will work (depends from how the Bios presents it to the OS).

    If the new board is in the same chipset family, it might be possible to attach the disks and simply boot. Adding the drivers and reconnecting the clients by running discovery.exe on each of them would then be relatively easy.
    You could still perform a clean install and use the method described in the FAQ How to recover data after server failure to bring your data to the new configuration - although this will be time consuming.

    Best greetings from Germany
    Olaf
    Thursday, December 24, 2009 7:24 AM
    Moderator
  • Olaf, THANK YOU so very much for attempting to help me with this. I sincerely appreciate it!
    Regarding the driver issue, I know for certain that the drivers for the SiI 3114 PCI cards are supported by WHS OS directly, so it might be very much safer for me to just leave the drives connected to those expansion cards when doing the switch. IF I do that, would you concur with that assumption? If THAT is OK then, would running a different system drive off the SATA port instead of the IDE pose any unmanageable risks?

    Beyond this, I know how to build driver disks to be used during install, and my server has both a 3.5" Floppy Drive as well as a CD-ROM drive still attached. I would not purchase a new MOBO that does not have a FDD port nor compatible SATA drivers. Given that I could supply the correct drivers (which I would of course verify in advance), would attempting to move the data drives to the MOBO SATA ports present any unmanageable risks?

    Finally, if I have to use the method described in the FAQ, I do not mind that it is time consuming as long as I could be assured of no data loss.

    ALSO, if you think it might be a better solution, I have a ADAPTEC 2810 8-Port RAID card I could use as JBOD instead.

    Again, thank you so much for your help!
    Gary

    Appreciate any comments from other members as well.
    Friday, December 25, 2009 5:04 AM
  • Hi Gary,
    the Windows Home Server setup process consists out of two important stages. Stage one is Vista PE based. This still supports more controllers out of the box than stage two, which is the old native Server 2003 setup part. To have a successfull server reinstall working, all drives must be attached and detected during both stages.
    It is always recommended to leave the controller the same - although it is not as difficult any more as in the times of early SCSI controllers, which sometimes couldn't be switched to another makers product without having to repartition the attached disks.
    The method in the FAQ as well keeps the usual risks of data loss - user error during attaching the drive, mechanical or electrical damage to name a few. So it is only recommended for somebody, who has his experience with that kind of stuff and knows what he does.
    If you try the reinstall and get it offered, only read all shown messages carefully and be aware, that during the installation process there will be a time, in which the system seems to do nothing. It is busy with rebuilding the tombstones then.
    Best greetings from Germany
    Olaf

    Saturday, December 26, 2009 10:59 PM
    Moderator
  • Hi Olaf,

    Thanks again for your efforts to help me! I have been “thinking”, and I have come up with a totally different approach which in MY mind is totally safe, but I just don’t know if it will work. I would like to run it by you (or anyone else who would like to comment) for your opinion(s).

    I have enough parts lying around to build a totally new system around that new MOBO, including a 500GB system drive, and a spare 2TB data drive. So, here’s my plan, steb-by-step:

    Step 1:    Build the system out with ONLY the 500GB system drive initially. Install the OS with my old Key (30 days to activate).

    The next step depends on (1) whether I can connect the two servers (OLD: Server 1 & NEW: Server 2) together with a crossover cable, or (2) whether or not the two servers can co-exist on the same local network or not. These are questions I need answers to from you beforehand if possible.

    Step 2a:    If I CAN connect the two Servers via the crossover cable OR if the two Servers can co-exist on the same Local Network & workgroup, I will install the extra 2TB HDD into Server 2, and transfer the data over in chunks equal to the sizes of the remaining data drives (3 x 1TB HDD’s and 1 x 2TB HDD) in Server 1. I would transfer over say 2TB of data to Server 2 via the crossover Ethernet cable; then delete the transferred files on Server 1; then remove the remaining 2TB drive from Server 1 and install it into Server2. I now have 2TB of available storage on Server 2. Repeat this process for all the remaining drives.

    Step 2b:    If I CANNOT connect the two Servers with an Ethernet crossover cable, I would then NOT install the extra 2TB HDD into Server 2 yet, and use it as an external HDD to either “backup” 2TB worth of data from Server 1 or just copy 2TB off Server 1 to it; Then I would either “restore” those files or just copy them to the Server 2.

    VERY tedious, but VERY safe as I see it. And when this process is all finished and all files are now residing on server 2, I would take Server 1 off line and begin using Server 2 exclusively.

    A couple of questions:

    (1) Before I begin all this, would I need to take all client PC’s off line? Should I? If so, how should I do this? Uninstall the connectivity software? The whole process will probably take an entire weekend, so I can’t leave them turned off that long which would be simpler.

    (2) Should I delete all client backups and let the Server 2 do them all again? Could I? Doing so would save me almost 1TB of data I would not have to transfer to Server 2.

    (3) Am I risking data corruption by having the 2 servers living on the same LAN and Workgroup? Is this “Safe”?

    Please let me know what you think ASAP, as I want to get started on this as soon as possible.

    Thanks again Olaf!!! (sorry for the length)

    Gary

    Sunday, December 27, 2009 6:42 AM
  • Hi Gary,
    two servers in the same network are possible, as long as they do not share the same name.
    And this approach is equally to the method I performed as I moved my server to different hardware.
    Be also aware, that if the network connection is less than GigaBit ethernet, the transfer will take ages. Before starting, apply all WHS related updates through the console of the new machine.
    Regarding the clients: it should work to disable backup in the console by right clicking the computer and selecting that entry in the context menu.
    Later, after you have migrated the data (which works most easy, if both machines have the same Console password and you login on one of these machines directly copying data from or to the shares via shortcut Shared Folders on server) and recreated the user accounts you can run discovery.exe on each of the clients from C:\Program Files\Windows Home Server to establish a connection to the new server.
    You always can start from the scratch with client backups - this is the recommended method.
    And transfering this part of data via network would be also difficult. If you would need to do, use the Add-In WHS Database Backup to save/restore the backup database via an external disk.
    Best greetings from Germany
    Olaf
    Sunday, December 27, 2009 8:37 AM
    Moderator
  • Thanks again, Olaf. You are a lifesaver!
    Great news on the two servers on the same network! All I did was name the NEW one “Server2” (the OLD one is named "Server") and it all seems to work just fine. Yes, my NW is a GigaBit NW for sure. I could not imagine doing it this way if it were not. I have it all going full steam now, but after I got Server 2 up and running and on the same NW and Workgroup as Server 1 was on, I was able to “see” all the data folders (Shares?) on Server 1 by just going to Network Places on Server 2 and pointing to them. NOTE: I assembled my Windows Home Server machine with its own video card, monitor, keyboard and mouse so I could operate it directly without going through the console. So then I went ahead and installed the extra 2TB HDD into the data pool on Server 2 and tried just “copying” a few small shared folders on Server 1 over to the shared folders on Server 2 and it seemed to work just fine. So then I installed (directly on Server 2), a very excellent Network-Aware Synchronization program called “Beyond Compare”, and started a one-way synchronizing of a few data folders over to Server 2. THAT seemed to work just fine also. So, given the “apparent” success of this method, I jumped into it full bore and started the whole mass-migration of my data over to Server 2. I am getting speeds of about 1.25GB/Min. That is about 13.5 hours per TB. It will take a while, but THIS method seems to be absolutely as safe as it can possibly be.

    QUESTION: Am I making a mistake by moving this data by working directly on Server 2 and OUTSIDE of the Console? It SEEMS to work just fine. Am I missing something?

    Thanks again, Olaf!
    Gary
    Sunday, December 27, 2009 11:09 PM
  • I'm starting a second build of WHS with the same idea you have.  I found this reference using synctoy that implies it will work between two WHS builds: http://www.homeserverhacks.com/2009/02/syncing-two-windows-home-servers.html .  At 13.5 hours per TB, it's going take me 37 hours for the initial sync.  Hope there's a faster way.
    Monday, December 28, 2009 12:23 AM
  • Well, if there is a faster way that doesn't put my DATA at risk, I can't think of one. I have 5.5TB which amounts to over 74 hours. WHEW! As far as I can tell, there is no way to get data into the shares except through the network. Even if you COULD use a SATA connection, that would require a SECOND copy of the data instead of ONE. One copy to make the backup, then another to restore that to the new server. That's TWO steps instead of just one using the network, PLUS doubling the chance of failure or corruption along the way. I thought it out, and the best overall solution is to transfer over a GB network making just ONE copy.
    Monday, December 28, 2009 3:23 AM
  • This is how I did a re-install on a different motherboard without having to transfer everything across the network.

    1. If you use a new MOBO with the same chipset as your current one you can just move everything over and re-install. A newer may also work, but it is less likely.
    2. On the new mobo you can go into the BIOS setup and put the SATA controller in IDE mode, not AHCI or RAID. If you do that then the install program will see the new SATA controller's as IDE and no data migration will be required. Just remember, it takes hours and hours for the install program to scan your existing drives and rebuild the tombstones. There is no status update on the UI. It's just working. It took mine nearly 24 hours to complete before the next step of the install came up.
    3. The disadvantage of IDE mode is that you cannot do hot swap or install of new drives without rebooting, nor can you use RAID, if that is your preference.
    1. If you want to have your cake and eat it too... install the controller cards you currently use on the new mobo, re-install WHS with the onboard SATA controllers in AHCI mode.
    2. Once the install is competed and your data is recovered install the drivers for the mobo SATA ports.
    3. With the controller in AHCI mode you can do all of this without shutting down the system.
    4. Then insert a new or spare HD in one of the SATA ports on the motherboard. Add it to the drive pool.
    5. Remove on of your drives from the drive pool using storage management.
    6. Move it onto another mobo port and add it back into the storage pool.
    7. Repeat until everything is off your add-in cards.
    8. You CAN do this with your system drive also, I have. A lot of mobo use a separate controller (Promise or Sil) for IDE and additional SATA support, if yours does either put that controller in IDE mode and connect your new SATA system drive on it, or just use your current controller card. After you have installed the mobo SATA AHCI drivers and installed a HD to it and verified WHS recognizes the drive, shut down your system, connect your system drive to the first port on the on-board SATA controller. Go into the BIOS and change the first or boot-up drive to your system drive.
    There, that wasn't so bad :) It will take awhile, but very little actual live intervention is required once you have re-installed. I used a bunch of hotswap drive holders, actually a 5 drive bay that fits in three 51/4 bays.

    By following the second set of instructions, WHS MAY not need to be re-installed. You will have the same IDE drive controllers on the old and new systems on initial boot. The controllers are usually what causes a BSOD when swapping mobos. Server 2003 seems to be less picky than XP was about changing hardware.

    Sunday, February 14, 2010 9:01 PM