i started a thread on the DELL community forums asking about migrating my windows 2003 software RAID setup to a hardware RAID controller, without reinstalling windows. you can read the thread to get the context for these documented instructions below:
success. after a marathon 7 hour session in the datacenter it finally
works. however the whole thing was much too stressful for my liking!
problems were significantly compounded by the lack of a CD drive, so i
had to get my imaging software (Terabyte Unlimited 'Image') to boot via
a USB drive, which was never going to be easy with a Dell BIOS etc.
although to be fair it does work, once you understand that you must
reboot after configuring the BIOS to recognise the USB drive, and then
go into the bios again and tell it what order to boot in.
i thought it useful to document the steps i took in case anyone else is in a similar situation.
summary, i wanted to do an in-place migration from software raid in
windows 2003 to hardware raid with the dell/adaptec CERC 6 channel SATA
RAID card. all without using a CD drive (trust me, get one if you ever
have to do this. i tried but couldn't get the BIOS to recognise the
i got a very helpful email from Terabyte support before starting the migration:
you just have a single simple volume (once the software RAID is broke),
you can remove the dynamic drive by changing the file system ID back to
7 (via BootItNG partition work/properties). If you backup while
dynamic, it will just backup the whole dynamic partition sector by
So what I'd personally do is:
1. break the raid, (maybe remove the secondary drive as a backup)
2. ensure it's a single simple volume that's left (I'm assuming you just have c
3. boot BootItNG, change the file system ID to 7,
4. boot back to windows (if it didn't boot, just put back the file system id to dynamic),
5. install the CERC drivers (if needed),
6. do the image, with byte-for-byte validation (slower in windows because it thrashes a bit),
7. ensure I can access the image to restore with Image For Dos or Image For Linux.
8. Configure the hardware RAID,
9. restore the image (use additional option of TA when restoring the boot partition).
software RAID requires dynamic disks, which are not officially
reversible back to basic disks. this further complicated the process
because i wanted to go back to basic disks for the RAID. you can
convert back to a basic disk as described above with BootItNG, and also
via the DskProbe windows support tool, instructions available from:
http://www.nthelp.com/NT6/dynamic.htm. although i also read that if you
use software raid, you shouldn't use this approach, so i unplugged the
second drive, booted into windows and removed the mirror, and the
offline disk from Windows Disk Manager. Then i changed to a basic disk
via DskProbe and it did work, although DiskManager reported a single
drive, which was marked offline or something very worrying like that.
however the files were all there and working etc.
i followed the
instructions above, although i did install the RAID card before
changing any drivers or removing the software RAID, and i got windows
to load up the drivers for it, so it would work automatically once
booting from the RAID controller. this was one less problem in the
equation and i was keen to get it out of the way as early in the
process as possible.
to get Image For Dos to boot off USB, i
used the bundled 'makedisk' utility without any init strings. I
configured the BIOS to emulate a USB drive as a hard drive, floppy did
not work. Then rebooted and changed the boot sequence so that the USB
drive came first.
the disk image (of the 'active' drive, the other
was still unplugged) took about 30 minutes with byte-for-byte
validation, ~25Gb of data, copying to an external USB drive, using
ImageForDos. i had to change the keyboard to a PS2 connection because
in my first attempt the program locked out the keyboard after
identifying the USB drive.
then i verified that i could access
the image with the restore option. and went ahead with setting up a
RAID mirror in the CERC configuration utility. plugged in both drives
into ports 4 and 5. incidentally i needed a longer SATA cable for
drive0 because it only had a 4inch cable and the RAID plugs on the card
are miles away from the drive bays. The cable for the other drive fit
with a stretch into the last port on the card.
so i did a reboot,
pressed Ctrl-A etc. initialise the 2 drives. set up a RAID 1 mirror as
per the manual instructions. i used the quick-init option because i was
really in a hurry to get the job done. i set high priority also. i did
not 'clear' the drives, but this may have been no harm to do.
i rebooted and loaded my restore image with ImageForDos. the 'TA'
option referred to in the instructions marks the partition active and
inserts a standard MBR. it took about 30 minutes again and finished
successfully. i was a bit worried because the restore program asked me
which drive did i want to restore to, i assumed it didn't matter and
chose the second drive. my cause for concern was that i wasn't sure if
the controller would do it's mirroring thing during this restore
operation. my fears were doubled when i rebooted after the restore, and
got a message something like "no operating system, F1 to continue, F2
to setup". at this stage i had about 5 minutes before 'visiting hours'
were over in the datacentre and i would have had to take the server
home for the weekend to get it ready before monday 9am, no thanks! i
thought it had failed. i was about to pack up and go home when i went
in to look in the bios one last time in case i missed anything. i
didn't change anything, and i also inspected the RAID config via the
BIOS utility, but again, didn't change anything. i tried to turn off
caching as a desperate attempt to fix the boot problems, but it
wouldn't accept the change for some reason. anyhow, i rebooted again,
said a quiet prayer, and i couldn't believe it but windows started
loading, i was never so happy to see that Windows logo appear on screen
(you probably had to be there to understand, 7 hours of white noise
from being surrounded by a gzillian racks, no lunch, very frustrated
now all is well with the 2 drives showing up 'optimal' in
the DELL/Adaptec storage manager. i gather this means that the
build/verify has already completed in the background. the URL for the
storage manager is http://tinyurl.com/2nddta
i didn't want to install all that dell 'management' software that came with the RAID card.
good thing i forgot to mention. windows disk manager now shows a
healthy primary partition for C:. it doesn't say 'fault tolerant'
anymore obviously because the software raid is gone and the hardware
RAID is abstracted away from the windows disk manager.
hope this helps someone someday.