Moving Windows to a new server

By | January 22, 2007

Or I should have called this creative use of Microsoft software mirroring ! I have stuffed around with this for a while now and found
something this morning that works. WASP is our big daddy server that does just
about everything, it is also 6 years old and I really do not want to reinstall
it, there is just too many things that you can miss or have go wrong, so …… As
you all should know, Windows is fairly forgiving about moving from one motherboard to
another AS LONG as the hard disk controller is the same, if it is different,
say one was VIA and the other Intel it will just blue screen, there are ways
around this but they are a bit complex and require that you can physically
connect the old hard disks to the new server

What I am doing is taking a 6 year old HP Netserver 700Mhz
dual Xeon PIII, HP RAID, 8 x 18Gb SCSI hardsisks, Windows 2003 and moving the
O/S “as is” to a new server based on an Intel Serverboard 7525RP with 2 x 3Ghz
Xeon, Adaptec 2820SA 8 port SATA II RAID controller with 2 x 250mb hard disks mirrored.

Option 1) Backup and restore, forget it, a waste of time,
for same hardware to same hardware even I have never had much luck with this.
Not a real option. Last resort.

Option 2) Put the WASP RAID controller into new server with SCSI
hard disks attached and powered by old server, try to boot new server with old
hard disks, mirror old hard disks to another hard disk in the new server,
remove old hard disks and boot off new hard disk. Well, this sounds complex but I have actually done this once with an IBM RAID. But (and there is
always a but) it does not always work, I took an old HP server almost the
same model as WASP with a HP RAID card, put it into a new server and I could
not get it to boot, so I gave up on this one. This one also might introduce a
lot of downtime and can be a bit scary with 2 meter long SCSI cables going from one server to the other.

Option 3) a brainwave I had one night at 3 AM, tested and
works, should work in just about any situation..  This would probably work
with a SATA PCI card but we had an Adaptec 1200A which is a 4 port Highpoint
IDE RAID card, in this case I was just using it as an add-in IDE controller as
you can’t always hook up a hard disk to the on board IDE controller on HP
servers. Plus, any add in IDE controller or SATA controller will be treated by
Windows as a SCSI controller, this is important.

1) Attach a hard disk that is larger than all the
space on the server you want to backup to the add in controller. My test server
I am trying to replace had 8 x 18Gb SCSI hard disks, 1 x 18Gb mirror and 1 x
70Gb RAID 5 volume. Or about 90Gb, so I used a 160Gb Samsung IDE drive.

2) Install the card in the old server with the drive
attached and power up.

3) See if you can see the new drive OK. The Adaptec
1200A has the advantage that Windows 2003 knows what it is and does not need
drivers, it just works.

3) Start software mirroring your volumes in logical
order (ie c: then e: etc ) to the new hard disk, what you are doing here is
software mirroring already hardware mirrored volumes  !

4) When that’s done you now have a copy of
everything that was on the old server spread over 8 hard disks on one hard
disk, shutdown the old server and pull out the card and hard disk.

5) Install the card and hard disk into the new
server, do not at this stage install any other new controller you might want to
install, we just want to get it to boot.

6) Turn it on and it should boot, in my case I had
to disable on board SATA before I could get this to happen.

7) Let it come up and install any drivers you might
need to install, in my case I only had to install the network drivers.

8) Open disk manager and break mirrors and delete
missing drives.

9) Reboot and let it come up clean, check everything
is OK. At this point this server will do everything the old would have if
networking is up and you have given the server the same IP number etc. In a
production environment if you got this far your downtime would have only been
about 5 minutes or so, once to install controller in old server, then once
again to shut down old server then bring up new server. Of course I don’t need
to state at this time that bringing up the old server is a very bad idea. While the machines are software mirroring they can still be used.

10) Shutdown one more time the new server, install my
Adaptec 2820SA RAID card, attach 2 drives

11) Start up the new server, create 1 x 250Mb
mirrored volume.

12) Boot the server into O/S.

13) Check you can see your new volume, if so start
software mirroring volumes in logical order to the hardware mirror volume.

14) When that’s done shut down and remove the IDE

15) Now the fun part, mine would not boot until I re
enabled the on board SATA even though nothing is attached to them, once I did
that the server came up, everything was working and running just as on the old

16) Open disk manager and again drop all the
software mirrors and delete missing drives. Mission accomplished.

And the best part ? if it doesn’t work out you simply shut
down the new server and fire up the bold one again, you lose nothing, then back
to the drawing board.

Leave a Reply