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It's Upgrade Time
Previous | Next by elfie 02 October, 2012 - 11:42 AM

Okay, so right now I've got two 1TB drives set up as a hardware RAID1 as my main system disks and two 3TB drives set up as a software RAID1 as my media disks. The media drives have about 200GB free are are storing nothing but movies and music (mostly movies). The system drives are using up 430GB. I'm running Windows 7.

End goal is to upgrade to Windows 8 using an upgrade key (when it comes out), replace the system drives with 256GB SSDs (still in a RAID1), and move the entire Users folder onto the Media drives.

So my question is, how should I set out to do this and in what order? Some things that immediately jump to mind are

  • The existing media drive isn't big enough to hold what it's currently got AND the Users folder (which right now is 240 GB).
  • I have another 3TB drive waiting in the wings to expand that drive, but Windows 7 doesn't support adding that to the existing RAID1.
  • Windows 8 will allow me to throw any number of random disks together and it will handle setting up parity (essentially a RAID5 but with variable disk size).
  • Should I do an in-place upgrade to Windows 8 or do a fresh install? My current install is an upgrade from Vista that has worked perfectly so far. Along with that, CAN I do a fresh install with an upgrade key?
  • The extra 3TB drive is currently new in the box and could be returned if I don't need it. Theoretically, the two 1 TB drives that are my current system drives could be used to expand the media drive, so if I CAN return that 3TB drive unopened, that'd be nice. I also have an external 1 TB drive that could possibly be used as part of this process.
Shortcut to latest upgrade plan(s)

10/2/2012 >> elfie

One possible approach, which assumes that I can do a fresh Windows 8 install with an upgrade key:

  1. Install two 256GB SSDs in a RAID1
  2. Fresh install of Windows 8 on the SSD RAID
  3. Convert the old Media Raid to a Storage Space
  4. Add the new 3TB drive to the new Storage Space
  5. Move the Windows 8 Users folder to the Storage Space
  6. Reinstall all my crap using the old System RAID as a reference, copying settings files and saved games as needed
  7. When I'm completely confident that everything is moved over, add the old System RAID drives to the Storage Space
Biggest question mark on this plan is whether I can do a fresh install. Biggest hassle is reinstalling all my programs. Biggest benefit is that it'll be a brand new clean install, which I haven't done since Vista.

10/2/2012 >> elfie

Here's my first attempt at an in-place upgrade approach:

  1. In-place upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 8
  2. Convert Media RAID to a Storage Space
  3. Add the new 3TB drive to the Storage Space
  4. Move the entire Users folder to the Storage Space
  5. Shrink down the System RAID to 256 GB
  6. Swap out 1 of the 1TB System drives for a 256 GB SSD and let everything re-sync
  7. Swap out the other 1TB System drives for another 256 GB SSD and let everything re-sync
Biggest downside is that if I've got a bunch of extraneous system files that I don't really need anymore, I'll still have those taking up precious disk space on the SSDs. Biggest hassle is going to be swapping the SSDs one at a time and figuring out how to shrink the existing RAID without breaking everything. Biggest benefit is that I don't have to reinstall all my software.

10/2/2012 >> muhgcee

I would:
1) borrow a drive to temporarily move your /Users dir, and do so
2) install your SSDs
3) clone your current system drives to the SSDs. Check out Clonezilla. There may be a way to clone your current shit, seeing as how it won't have /Users, even though the partition size will be larger on the old drives.
4) move the /Users dir to the 1TB drives. This will be the permanent location.
5) Return the temporary drive to your friend
6) in-place upgrade to win 8
7) celebrate

10/3/2012 >> elfie

Why keep the /Users directory on a separate RAID from music and movies?

10/3/2012 >> muhgcee

Well, yes, I suppose you could do that. I forgot about your third bullet point.

And you could also throw your 1TB drives in a big lump with your other, existing, 3TB drives, right?

10/3/2012 >> elfie

Yeah the only thing I'd be worried about at that point would be physical space in my case for all those drives hehe. But I'm pretty sure I've got enough room for 1 more 3TB and 2 SSDs in there :)

I just bought the two SSDs I'm going to use, which means I'll have them in advance of Windows 8 coming out, which makes your approach even more appealing because I can take advantage of those new drives sooner :)

And I COULD still do a fresh install if I really wanted by just breaking the SSD RAID temporarily while I do a fresh install on one of the drives and keeping the other one as a backup until everything is reinstalled.

10/3/2012 >> elfie

So... new in-place upgrade plan that gets my SSDs installed sooner:

1) Install extra 3TB drive and move Users folder there
2) Shrink System RAID down to 256GB
3) Swap 1TB HDDs for 256GB SSDs one at a time to let the RAID re-sync
4) Set up 1TB HDDs as a fresh RAID1 and move Users folder there
5) Wait for Windows 8 to come out
6) In-place Upgrade to Windows 8
7) Convert Media RAID to Storage Space and add 3TB drive to that
8) Move Users to the Storage Space
9) Add 1TB HDDs to the Storage Space

Alternative clean install path starting at step 6:

6) Break the SSD RAID, format one of them, and clean install Windows 8 on it
7) Convert Media RAID to Storage Space and add 3TB drive to that
8) Move new Windows 8 Users folder to Storage Space
9) Reinstall all my programs using backup SSD and 1TB RAID as a reference
10) Add backup SSD back to the System RAID
11) Add 1TB HDDs to the Storage Space

In-place upgrade is still the easiest solution, but I still wonder if I'm gonna end up with a bunch of system files that I've had since Vista that I just don't need anymore.

10/3/2012 >> muhgcee

So what if you have unused system files?

Also, great deal on those SSDs. I almost ordered one... I want to upgrade the hard drive in Mags's 2008 Macbook Pro. But then I realized that I should probably wait until I move, and unpack all my boxes, so that I can find the OS X DVD which will allow me to clone the disk using disk utility.

10/3/2012 >> elfie

I guess it's not a huge deal, but with my SSDs being so much more limited in size than my other drives, I don't want to waste the space if I can help it.

10/5/2012 >> elfie

So I managed to simplify a couple steps in the process by uninstalling a few things and fitting my current Users folder on the 3TB RAID (3GB left!), and thereby reducing my OS RAID to 200GB.

I've run into several problems at step 2/3 though. Windows will only let me shrink the partition down to like 800GB. GParted told me there were errors and I needed to run chkdsk /f before continuing, so I did, but it found no errors. Clonezilla will not clone a larger drive to a smaller one. And Windows Image Backup fails halfway through reporting an I/O error.

Right now my plan is as follows for what to try next:

Plug in a spare 1TB drive. Clonezilla the 1TB RAID to the 1TB spare. Boot to the 1TB spare. GParted the 1TB spare down to 256GB. Make sure I can still boot. Clonezilla the 1TB spare (now 256GB) to the SSD RAID. Boot from the SSD Raid.

This avoids all of the problems I've run into so far, but introduces several new places for problems to pop up.

10/5/2012 >> elfie

Phase 1 complete! Only tricky part was that cloning to the SSD RAID did not create an MBR for some reason, so I unplugged one of the drives (without disabling the RAID first), and started a clean Win7 install on the remaining drive just long enough for the MBR to get created. Then I cloned from the 220GB partition (on the 1TB drive) to the broken SSD raid, and everything booted beautifully. Plugged the other half of the RAID in and it's re-syncing now.

Great success!

I do think that Windows 8 will probably be a fresh install though. We'll see.

10/7/2012 >> ben

yeah! clean install!

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