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Preserving OS when switching to/from RAID

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Hello guys,

I originally ordered my system with 1x 10k rpm 300 GB WD VR, but I just purchased a second one so I can setup RAID0.

Dell-Chris M's FAQ talks about toggling RAID settings here: http://en.community.dell.com/forums/t/19313861.aspx

However, I'm curious how to do a proper factory re-install so I can get the utility partition and all the Alienware drivers installed without having to do a lot of work myself.  I read in my manual about a "Alienware Respawn" disc, but I was only sent the Windows 7 DVD, and a Resource disc.

Also, I know I have to fully backup and re-install once I switch it to RAID, but was wondering if anybody can suggest a good way to image my install (with all my games, etc).  I was going to try something like: http://clonezilla.org/ and if that doesn't work just booting up to a Live Linux image and doing a dd *might* work, but I don't know.

I really don't want to have to reinstall all my apps if I can avoid it.

Thanks.

 

System: Alienware Area-51: Core i7 920 @ 3.2 Ghz, OS:  Corsair Force Series GS Red 480GB; Data: 2x 300GB Western Digital VelociRaptor in RAID0 (OS/Games), RAM: CORSAIR DOMINATOR 12GB (3 x 4GB) DDR3 1600; Video: ATI 5970 + 5870

Displays: HP zr30w + Dell U2410 + Dell 2709W 27"

Peripherals: Belkin n52te, Logitech Driving Force Pro, Logitech G9, Alienware TactX Keyboard, TactX headset, PS3 Dual-Shock3 controller (using MotionJoy)

 

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8 Krypton

Re: Preserving OS when switching to/from RAID

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If you have a second drive installed then run Windows 7's "Backup and Restore" Control Panel and select "Create a system image".  Save the image to another hard drive or external hard drive.  Once done, install the second drive for your RAID configuration and follow the instructions to configure the RAID type you desire.  This will destroy anything on the original OS disk.  Once completed, restart the system with the Windows 7 installation disk using these instructions:

Restore your computer using a Windows installation disc or a system repair disc (if you have one).

  1. Insert the installation disc or system repair disc.

  2. Restart your computer using the computer's power button.

  3. If prompted, press any key to start the computer from the installation disc or system repair disc.

    If your computer is not configured to start from a CD or DVD, check the information that came with your computer. You might need to change your computer's BIOS settings. For information about which settings to change, check your computer manufacturer's website.

  4. Choose your language settings, and then click Next.

  5. Click Repair your computer.

    This step only applies if you are using a Windows installation disc.

  6. Select a recovery option, and then click Next.  You will have the opportunity now to restore from a previously saved "System Image".  Point to where the image is stored and initiate the restore.  Once complete your original OS installation will now be installed on your new RAID setup.

Doug

M17xR2
Win7x64
ATI 5870 (single)

10 Replies
8 Krypton

Re: Preserving OS when switching to/from RAID

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If you have a second drive installed then run Windows 7's "Backup and Restore" Control Panel and select "Create a system image".  Save the image to another hard drive or external hard drive.  Once done, install the second drive for your RAID configuration and follow the instructions to configure the RAID type you desire.  This will destroy anything on the original OS disk.  Once completed, restart the system with the Windows 7 installation disk using these instructions:

Restore your computer using a Windows installation disc or a system repair disc (if you have one).

  1. Insert the installation disc or system repair disc.

  2. Restart your computer using the computer's power button.

  3. If prompted, press any key to start the computer from the installation disc or system repair disc.

    If your computer is not configured to start from a CD or DVD, check the information that came with your computer. You might need to change your computer's BIOS settings. For information about which settings to change, check your computer manufacturer's website.

  4. Choose your language settings, and then click Next.

  5. Click Repair your computer.

    This step only applies if you are using a Windows installation disc.

  6. Select a recovery option, and then click Next.  You will have the opportunity now to restore from a previously saved "System Image".  Point to where the image is stored and initiate the restore.  Once complete your original OS installation will now be installed on your new RAID setup.

Doug

M17xR2
Win7x64
ATI 5870 (single)

8 Krypton

Re: Preserving OS when switching to/from RAID

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Thanks for that, but that still won't backup my utility partition, and involves a lot of extra steps.  It'd rather fully start from scratch, and install the drivers manually just to be sure, than rely on Windows backup.

I have clonezilla going now, I'm going to do a block copy, rather than a filesystem image, then just restore it to the new disk and see if it works.  If it does I'll swap to RAID0 and restore.  I'm just not sure how Windows will handle booting up into an environment slightly different than before, since the Intel Matrix drivers will be needed.  This would even be an issue with Window's system image, I'd imagine.

I have a 1TB drive connected via eSATA, which is great for storing images.

 

System: Alienware Area-51: Core i7 920 @ 3.2 Ghz, OS:  Corsair Force Series GS Red 480GB; Data: 2x 300GB Western Digital VelociRaptor in RAID0 (OS/Games), RAM: CORSAIR DOMINATOR 12GB (3 x 4GB) DDR3 1600; Video: ATI 5970 + 5870

Displays: HP zr30w + Dell U2410 + Dell 2709W 27"

Peripherals: Belkin n52te, Logitech Driving Force Pro, Logitech G9, Alienware TactX Keyboard, TactX headset, PS3 Dual-Shock3 controller (using MotionJoy)

 

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8 Krypton

Re: Preserving OS when switching to/from RAID

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Also, just for kicks I started up that backup app, and it requires an NTFS partition to save the image to.  My 1TB is Fat32 formatted so it is completely universal (Mac, Linux, Windows, PS3, etc), so that definitely will not work.  All my network shares are Linux based, sharing over samba, so can't use that either (it doesn't even list my mapped drives in that utility).

 

System: Alienware Area-51: Core i7 920 @ 3.2 Ghz, OS:  Corsair Force Series GS Red 480GB; Data: 2x 300GB Western Digital VelociRaptor in RAID0 (OS/Games), RAM: CORSAIR DOMINATOR 12GB (3 x 4GB) DDR3 1600; Video: ATI 5970 + 5870

Displays: HP zr30w + Dell U2410 + Dell 2709W 27"

Peripherals: Belkin n52te, Logitech Driving Force Pro, Logitech G9, Alienware TactX Keyboard, TactX headset, PS3 Dual-Shock3 controller (using MotionJoy)

 

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8 Krypton

Re: Preserving OS when switching to/from RAID

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I understand your situation and agree it's a bit thorny.  However, I've been running a Windows Home Server (HP variety) for over 2 years now and it's backup functionality completely images all the drives on each of your connected PCs.  I have used it countless times to restore a PC to a past configuration, Utility partitions and all.  I realize this would be a fairly expensive solution but believe it would do everything you're looking to accomplish. 

No doubt someone else here can offer you another workable solution that won't cost as much 🙂

Doug

M17xR2
Win7x64
ATI 5870 (single)

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8 Krypton

Re: Preserving OS when switching to/from RAID

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Thanks DMiannay!

It looks like I will have to use this method afterall.  I was hopeful, but in the end support for writing back to the raided device is not yet in the Clonezilla Live, even beta release.  But the issue has been reported.

If anybody is interested, though, Clonezilla Live http://clonezilla.org/ works really, really well.  I haven't used it in a long time.  It is basically an opensource version of Ghost/Partition Imager.

Here is what I did.  Perhaps in the future if the raided device support is added, this method will work for someone.  At least this works for making a full backup for free:

  1. Downloaded Clonezilla and added it as PXE boot entry on my server (you can just as easily do USB boot or burn an ISO)
  2. With my existing drive and OS intact, and a 1TB external drive connected via eSATA, I booted into Clonezilla
  3. Chose "device-image" option (there are only 2 options) which can read the filesystem contents and create an image smaller than the disk size, but preserves the entire disk, including partitions.
  4. For my image location, I said it was local (first option), and chose my 1TB drive - but you can save to network locations too.
  5. After a few output screens, and hitting ENTER to confirm and select the right disks, choose a place to store images.  I have a directory called "backup", but since you can't create a new folder on this screen, you can shell out and do it (alt+F2) or just create one ahead of time.
  6. Then I chose "save disk to image", selected the source disk to image, and gave it a name, and started it

This works really great, especially with eSATA.  The entire disk was backed up (about 200GB).  According to the final output, the speed was:

3643.05 sec 60.717 minutes 4440.0 MB/min (roughly 74MB/s)

Amazing speed, took just over an hour.  To restore, follow the same procedure and select "restore to disk" instead of "save to disk".

So, after the backup was created, I installed the new drive, and removed the original drive.  Then I restored the image to it, rebooted, and made sure everything worked.  Windows wanted a reboot since the disk was physically different, but it worked fine after that.

So, then I attempted to enable RAID in the BIOS, and wanted to create a single-disk RAID0 and try to restore the image to, just for a final test.  Problem was, the BIOS OptionRom screen would not show up, even though it was enabled in the BIOS.

So I installed the original drive, and sure enough, the RAID OptionRom displayed with more than 1 drive in the system.  I created a RAID0 set, and booted into Clonezilla to restore it.

This is where I had problems.  Others are reporting it too, it looks like it hasn't been fix yet.  I will get on their mailing list and see if I can help, since I have a good backup image.  It just takes time, an hour to backup or restore, so I may have to use my XPS m1730 which has similar ICH RAID controller, and 2x500GB drives.  I can create a small image to test with.

Here is a thread discussing the problem: http://www.mail-archive.com/clonezilla-live@lists.sourceforge.net/msg00380.html

Basically, normal disks are typically called /dev/sda, /dev/sdb, etc. under Linux, but since the Intel ICH RAID controller is not a real RAID controller - (it is FakeRAID, or "firmwareRAID, since the OS takes over once it is loaded), these devices are called /dev/mapper/isw_xyz_YourDeviceName (YourDeviceName is what you called it in the OptionRom BIOS), which Clonezille doesn't support writing to yet.  I could see the raid device, and write to it manually, so this should be a relatively minor work around.  I was trying to play around with UDEV and MAKEDEV to create a pointer to this raid device, but didn't get it to work.

So I broke up the raid set and restored the image to the new disk, and here I am.  Now I just need to find an NTFS disk with enough space for an image.

One last question, if I use the Windows backup utility, I will lose the utility partition AND the Recovery partition too, right?  That's one thing I'd like to keep.

I still never heard anything about the Respawn Disc, maybe I should start a new thread for that.

 

System: Alienware Area-51: Core i7 920 @ 3.2 Ghz, OS:  Corsair Force Series GS Red 480GB; Data: 2x 300GB Western Digital VelociRaptor in RAID0 (OS/Games), RAM: CORSAIR DOMINATOR 12GB (3 x 4GB) DDR3 1600; Video: ATI 5970 + 5870

Displays: HP zr30w + Dell U2410 + Dell 2709W 27"

Peripherals: Belkin n52te, Logitech Driving Force Pro, Logitech G9, Alienware TactX Keyboard, TactX headset, PS3 Dual-Shock3 controller (using MotionJoy)

 

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8 Krypton

Re: Preserving OS when switching to/from RAID

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Took almost 3 hours, but finally finished resizing my 1TB drive to have enough space to create a 250GB NTFS partition.  Funny thing though, Windows backup won't let me create a system image there, as it needs at least as much free as your drive size it seems.  So I need to move some stuff off and resize again.

I used trusty old PartedMagic: http://partedmagic.com/ - which I have used many, many times and never had issues, but YMMV.  Another great opensource tool, which has live images just like Clonezilla.  In fact, up to version 4.5 Clonezilla was bundled in, looks like they stopped doing that with 4.8.

Well, at least I can use my system while the drive dumps data 🙂

 

System: Alienware Area-51: Core i7 920 @ 3.2 Ghz, OS:  Corsair Force Series GS Red 480GB; Data: 2x 300GB Western Digital VelociRaptor in RAID0 (OS/Games), RAM: CORSAIR DOMINATOR 12GB (3 x 4GB) DDR3 1600; Video: ATI 5970 + 5870

Displays: HP zr30w + Dell U2410 + Dell 2709W 27"

Peripherals: Belkin n52te, Logitech Driving Force Pro, Logitech G9, Alienware TactX Keyboard, TactX headset, PS3 Dual-Shock3 controller (using MotionJoy)

 

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8 Krypton

Re: Preserving OS when switching to/from RAID

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This time I was a bit smarter and put the 1TB drive on a UPS connected to my XPS m1730, which has a battery, so I'm set in case of a power outtage.

I left it over night since I had to resize and grow the NTFS partition, but it worked great. I just finished creating a system image, and for fun created a repair disc too.  The full image is over 300GB!  I didn't realize, my disk is 275GB full, so the Clonezilla image did a great job of compressing the image (under 200GB).

However, I had an issue I'm wondering if anybody else has.  I inserted the Alienware disc that came with my system labelled "Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit" , but all I get prompted for is my language, then it goes straight to drive options.  I never get the screen with the big button "Install Now" in the middle, with the options on the left including "Repair".  I tried twice, once before resetting the raid, and again after creating a raid0 disk.  It shows my new disk 500GB (I left 50GB on each physical disk free so I can install Fedora Linux and use software raid), but all I can do is manipulate the disks.  I click forward, and it starts installing Windows.

So I could not get to repair options to use my system image.

Next I tried to boot to the newly created "Repair Disc".  It started to load, then stopped at an "Error 0x4001100200001012" looks like I'm not alone:

http://social.answers.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/w7repair/thread/0565a440-3c80-4af7-8f03-e994d3cdb3fc

I tried twice, and also tried on my wife's XPS m1530, same error.  So I had to use a Windows 7 Ultimate x64 disc I have for another system, and was able to get to repair and am doing a system image restore right now.  How else can I get to repair if I didn't have another copy of Windows?

Another annoying issue, Windows installation environment doesn't detect my 1TB drive over eSATA, so I used firewire instead.  Noticeably slower.

 

System: Alienware Area-51: Core i7 920 @ 3.2 Ghz, OS:  Corsair Force Series GS Red 480GB; Data: 2x 300GB Western Digital VelociRaptor in RAID0 (OS/Games), RAM: CORSAIR DOMINATOR 12GB (3 x 4GB) DDR3 1600; Video: ATI 5970 + 5870

Displays: HP zr30w + Dell U2410 + Dell 2709W 27"

Peripherals: Belkin n52te, Logitech Driving Force Pro, Logitech G9, Alienware TactX Keyboard, TactX headset, PS3 Dual-Shock3 controller (using MotionJoy)

 

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8 Krypton

Re: Preserving OS when switching to/from RAID

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DMiannay, instructions worked great, using the same OS on RAID now, thanks!

 

System: Alienware Area-51: Core i7 920 @ 3.2 Ghz, OS:  Corsair Force Series GS Red 480GB; Data: 2x 300GB Western Digital VelociRaptor in RAID0 (OS/Games), RAM: CORSAIR DOMINATOR 12GB (3 x 4GB) DDR3 1600; Video: ATI 5970 + 5870

Displays: HP zr30w + Dell U2410 + Dell 2709W 27"

Peripherals: Belkin n52te, Logitech Driving Force Pro, Logitech G9, Alienware TactX Keyboard, TactX headset, PS3 Dual-Shock3 controller (using MotionJoy)

 

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8 Krypton

Re: Preserving OS when switching to/from RAID

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Great to hear!  I have learned so much over the years posting in forums, etc.  Feels good to give back once in a while

Doug

M17xR2
Win7x64
ATI 5870 (single)

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