HDD Mirror options

Discussion in 'Storage Solutions' started by shravank30, Jan 25, 2013.

  1. shravank30

    shravank30 Active Member

    I have a 500GB HDD which is used only to the extent of 100 GB

    I am getting a 2nd 250GB HDD after RMA, which is surplus to my requirement

    Is there any way I can use the 250GB HDD as disaster recovery in case my 500GB HDD fails ?

    Is the Windows 7 backup facility good enough for my needs ?
    Will it work when my backup drive 250 GBis smaller then my main drive 500GB ? (The data is lesser then the capacity of the backup drive)
    But in this option I have to give the backup command every week or so.
    Can I automate it to do the backup every week say on a Sunday or so ? or is there any other better solution ?

    My complete setup is given in my signature.
    Please let me know if you need any further details

    Thanks for advising
  2. cranky

    cranky Well-Known Member

    It will work, Win7 backup does not check the available space beyond the required free space.

    I still think SyncBack Free is one of the best little utilities and enough for me to maintain a mirror for 7+7TB worth of drives. Once you set up the profile you can get it to run automatically. However even the built-in Win7 utility should be enough for such a minor task.
  3. shravank30

    shravank30 Active Member

    Thanks for the advise

    In case of failure of the Main drive, I have to simply change my boot drive to 250GB & go on with my work as if nothing has happened ?
    All drivers, all files, all programs will be as it is as was on my main drive?

    Thanks for advising
  4. cranky

    cranky Well-Known Member


    I'm not sure file backup will be able to copy files 'in use', which is the OS. You need a separate disk for that, though you can use the 250GB drive to store a copy of the windows image.

    Read the Windows image creation and restoration guide on the Microsoft site. It's pretty simple and the links are all part of the main backup utility, but the restoration process is slightly different.
  5. shravank30

    shravank30 Active Member

    Thanks for the details

    Just researched more and found that the closest to my requirement is RAID 1.

    How to Set Up RAID on Your PC | PCWorld

    RAID 1 (Mirroring):
    A RAID 1 setup protects data from drive failure by simultaneously writing the same data to two hard drives. Since each drive is an exact duplicate of the other, you can continue working if one fails. RAID 1 offers no gain in performance and effectively reduces available capacity by half -- two 2TB drives provide only 2TB of storage.

    Can a novice like me set it up successfully with the software and hardware I have and without having to reformat my HDDs & installing the OS again?

    Thanks for advising
  6. vivek.krishnan

    vivek.krishnan Workaholic + Teetotaler + pfSense FTW.

    You will need to do software RAID. Ensure that you make an exact same size partition on both drives and mirror them.
  7. shravank30

    shravank30 Active Member

    Unfortunately I have done a partition of c: 270GB & d: 195GB in my 500 GB

    I want to mirror the c: drive but that will not be possible with the 250GB if both partitions have to be equal as advised by you/ (although c: drive has only 50GB data used)
    Can i re partition the c drive to 250GB without damaging the existing data ?

    Can I repartition my hard disk?

    Is this utility recommended ?

    Also are you sure that the RAID 1 can be successfully installed without 2 clean HDD's.
    There are very confusing articles posted on the net.

    Thanks for advising
  8. vivek.krishnan

    vivek.krishnan Workaholic + Teetotaler + pfSense FTW.

    No matter whatever form of RAID you go for, AFAIK, you need to start with clean disks.
  9. 6pack

    6pack Well-Known Member

    why are you trying complex solutions like raid when a more simpler solution was already given by cranky? just get a hdd cloning software like easus disk copy or buy acronis true copy. you can save your entire os hdd to another hdd and backup the entire contents including os (by booting from a usb disk in case of hdd failure) to any available hdd.
    afaik, you can make these disk cloning software take scheduled backups whenever you require.
  10. booo


  11. shravank30

    shravank30 Active Member

    Cranky in his last post said that I would not be able to backup the OS. For that I would have to mirror it and the restoration process is different.
    Microsoft link was not very enlightening for a newbie on mirroring.
    Hence the Raid 1 query

    Thanks for advising
  12. cranky

    cranky Well-Known Member

    RAID will mean wiping both disks, and RAID1 limits you to the size of the smaller drive in the array. Plus, it's really slow at writing.

    The backup utility is all you need, but you will need a third drive to store the resulting image. Windows can neither restore to drive on which the image is stored, nor from the drive where it needs to write the image. It's pretty simple to figure out once you look at the links and press F1 for help. This is the MS link I wanted you to look at: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-IN/windows7/Back-up-your-programs-system-settings-and-files

    You can keep all your files on the second drive. You can also ask Windows to copy over bookmarks and suchlike.

    RAID 1 will work for you with the caveats stated by others and repeated by me. Note that you will also need to reinstall Windows to be able to boot from the array, and you will *probably* need a floppy drive to load the drivers for the RAID chipset or Windows will not be able to see your array when installing.

    There are some (not free) utilities like Ghost and Partition Manager (which have to be run in DOS mode) and can give you a 1:1 partition copy. I use stuff like that all the time to copy disks over without reinstalling, but that's because I'm lazy. If all you have is two disks, I wouldn't advise this way of working.

    You'd be much better served by creating two partitions on each drive, a small one that you can restore to and from the system images, and a second bigger one for all your data. You can use the Windows Backup to maintain the bigger partition, and if you lose the main drive you can install on the small partition of the secondary drive. That's a process that should take no longer than an hour with a very slow drive.
  13. shravank30

    shravank30 Active Member

    I tried to take the mirror image on a 8GB USB drive formatted in NTFS
    But the system says that the portable drive is not a valid option ?

    Thanks for advising
  14. booo


    I was talking to my coleague about this, seems there is a CA's D2D product that you can use. you can get a trial version from here. if you like it and want a license for free, I can arrange that.

    Actually there is a product from our company, but it seems they've not released it to the public yet. here is the datasheet.

    Seems our product is going to be released sometime in the march. desktop edition is going to be free and will replicate from a hdd to usb disk(not thumb drive but usb hdd). will support snapshots, retention, consitency points blah blah blah.
  15. 6pack

    6pack Well-Known Member

    dude, you're giving a newcomer to dr, server level dr software when he cant even understand basic home use software?

    Shravan, usb pen drives are not meant as fail safe backup solutions for hdd's. Their use is mostly for sharing photos or files. For a fail safe backup solution you need internal or external hdd's.
    i suggest you to download acronis or easus and make a disk image of your os volume to the free space on your 250GB hdd. Acronis/ easus will compress the files as much as possible so, by the time the disk image is done it night be around 30-40GB in size. Honestly speaking for data recovery, you should not install anything on os partition other than windows. as far as possible you should install programs or games on a separate volume. You can make a bootable usb stick from acronis/ easus settings that will allow you to boot from the usb stick in case your os fails. booting from the usb stick means the usb stick will contain a small custom made linux os that the software has designed specifically for this purpose. It wont mean that you can boot to windows from the usb. the usb is just another operating system with gui mode with the complete backup software on it, so you can select your backup file to be deflated to a new hdd. you will need a new hdd in order to copy contents of the backup and get your system up and running. You cannot use the 250GB hdd now since you have less space on it than the os volume.

    Alternatively, you can just make a 1-1 copy of your existing os volume on the 250GB hdd. You said in above post that the os volume does not take more than 50GB space. So, suppose you do not have anything written on the 250GB hdd. Make 2 volumes on the hdd, 1 - 80GB for OS and rest for whatever you want like games etc.
    Make 1st volume bootable in windows. Now using acronis or easus, take backup of os on some free space on 500GB hdd. Then extract the contents of the backup file to 250GB file from the program itself. The program might say something about new volume not big enough or something, but you can make it copy to a lesser size volume. Now you have 2 bootable volumes of windows. shutdown your system, remove, 500gb hdd and try booting from the 250gb hdd (after checking hdd boot sequence in bios).
    I'd suggest you to delete or format the old os volume from 500GB hdd (if everything runs fine from the new 250GB hdd for a week or month). You wont be able to delete the partition from within windows, so you will need to use some bootable disk like ubuntu or whatever to delete it. Or use easus to delete the partition if it allows.
  16. shravank30

    shravank30 Active Member


    The C drive in 500GB has used only 45 GB
    So once I install the 250GB I will try to make a disk image of the C drive on the 250 GB drive using the programs you have recommended
    I was expecting my 250gb drive to be ready yesterday from RMA , but still no message. maybe a delay

    Thanks for advising
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 9, 2014
  17. 6pack

    6pack Well-Known Member

    To reiterate, you need one more hdd in case your hdd fails in future. Just remember, you cannot use the same hdd on which backup is taken to restore a previous backup. Its because, during this process, the volume information is re-written and the space increase or decreases by 1-2MB on the volume on which you're restoring the backup os. So in short, you require 3 hdd's in total. One os hdd. One backup hdd, and one hdd with atleast one bootable partition the same size as that of os partition. Also remember never take scheduled backups of os on the same disk as os. Once hdd dies, you will or might loose all partitions on the disk and your backups too. Always take backups on another different hdd, preferably an internal or external hdd.

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