Q

Hardware mirror migration

Backup expert Ashley D'Costa offers troubleshooting advice for a reader who asked how to migrate a hardware mirror without losing data.

I have a server running Win2k Server, it is a P4 2.0Ghz (Epox). It has two drives ATA133 wired and the board doesn't have SATA sockets. I heard that software mirroring isn't that bright, can you please tell me how to migrate to a hardware mirror without losing any data and maybe not having to reinstall the OS? We recently suffered a crash where an imaging program was used to create a clone on a second drive. It wiped out the servers system drive and also the other PC's C drive that I used to create the clone with. It's a mystery. Please help.
First off, I would strongly suggest that you discuss this problem with the manufacturer of your OS imaging software (i.e., place a technical support call). In no way should any kind of imaging software wipe out any data residing on the source. I would suggest that unless the software is a hack, it is possible that you cloned the OS in reverse by mistake (i.e., cloned the blank data from the destination PC to the source PC which would result in two blank systems as was the end result in your case).

Once you've determined the problem and resolved it, I would say that you are on the right track. You've chosen

a good easy option which is to use OS imaging software that can do a recovery (such as Symantec Live State); although, in your case, the software might be of the more dubious nature if it's not working as advertised. The more tedious method is backing up and restoring the OS using backup/recovery software such as NT backup that is built into Windows or whatever third-party backup software you may have.

The only final suggestion I would have is perhaps to consider server virtualization software such as VMware or Microsoft Virtual Server. These products allow multiple Windows systems to run simultaneously as "virtual machines" (VMs) on one physical host server and OS. The VM's drives are simply large files that the VM boots its OS from. As a result, this makes your OSs highly portable since all you have to do to move an entire server is to simply shut down the VM its running in, copy the files associated with the VM to another set of drives on the same server (or another physical server running VMware/Virtual Server) and then boot up the VM again to have the entire system back, but on completely different storage (or completely different server).

Some companies have only one VM running on their physical servers just so that they have the option to move them around while they are still running using tools such as VMotion from VMware. Also using special tools, you can create virtual machines from existing physical servers. VMware has a tool called P2V that creates virtual machines out of physical servers, thus allowing you to migrate to a server environment without having to reinstall and start from scratch. VMware also allows you to import images created by Symantec Live State. I've successfully imported Live State images into VMware and have had a running virtual machine on a different server exactly the way it was on the original server in less time it takes to install the OS, to install all the applications and to recover the data associated with the applications.

To sum up, I believe that you are on the right track with using an OS imaging tool to move your OS, but I would first reconsider the software you are using or at least follow up with the manufacturer to solve "The Mystery of the Wiped out PCs" before moving forward.

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This was first published in June 2006

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