New Technology World
Windows 7 Dynamic Disks, Mirroring and Advanced Format
Recently I wanted to upgrade the 320GB hard drive in my notebook with a 750GB. Previously I went through the debacle of having to restore the 320GB HD from a backup on my Windows Home Server, which I blogged about here.
Normally for backup purposes, I have a pair of 320GB HDs, one internal and one external SATA that I mirror about once a week. The problem with Windows 7 mirroring is that it will NOT automatically re-build the mirror, so once I boot the notebook w/out the second HD connected, I have to manually break and re-build the mirror. My first attempt at migrating to the 750GB HD was to setup a mirror, break it and swap the HDs. Now there are a LOT of stories going around about people who have horrible luck with this process, the second wont boot, blah blah. However, I used this same technique to migrate from the stock 320GB 5400 RPM drive to a 320GB 7200 RPM drive and it worked flawless. If you have a multi-boot system, multiple partitions, or something else extra, it probably won’t work. I have a single partition Windows 7 setup with nothing else.
After trying to mirror the hard drives, I kept getting an error about the hard drive sectors must be the same or valid. The new 750GB HD is an Advanced Format Seagate drive and it uses 4K sectors. The old drive is a legacy (I guess that’s what is considered now) 512 byte sector drive. Since Windows 7 is an Advanced Format aware OS, it will not let you mirror Hard drives that are of different physical sectors (most likely for performance reasons). So now I just want to move the HD to the 750. Because it’s a dynamic disk, Seagate DiscTools won’t support cloning it. So I boot the Windows 7 install disc and perform a restore from the backup I just manually ran. This worked great (about two hours from a USB 2TB HD to the internal 750GB SATA) and the computer rebooted.
However, I was presented with a black screen stating the computer could not boot. Oddly this is the exact same error the primary 320 gave me when I tried to put it back in and boot with it. So something in the source drive changed and I did a backup after the change. Back to the Windows 7 install disc and a system repair. However, the system repair couldn’t find the hard drive to repair the boot problem. So I took the drive out and put it into another Windows 7 computer and it showed up as a foreign disk which I had to import before I could see anything on the drive. Suddenly it dawned on me that installer/repair environment would have the same issue and requirements!
Back to the Windows 7 install disc, select repair, open a command prompt and execute:
- select disk 0
- select volume 0
After this, the drive was assigned to c: and I could properly access it. Then selecting repair boot problems prompting me with “You must reboot to complete the operation” and my trusty Windows 7 installation on the new 750GB booted.
As a side note, I realized what I did to cause the boot problem. I used MSConfig to remove the wrong boot entry (was trying to remove the Secondary/plex boot entry but somehow deleted the main). Therefore when I rebooted either drive it was trying to boot off the wrong drive and failing).