Can I reinstall Windows but keep my dynamic drives?
December 31, 2012 6:43 AM   Subscribe

I want to clean-install Windows 8 on C Drive, but D drive is actually a pair of software-mirrored, dynamic drives. Will I be able to restore the mirrored drive setup, after the clean install?

I want to clean-install Windows 8 on C Drive, but D drive is a pair of software-mirrored, dynamic drives. Will I be able to restore the mirrored drive setup, after the clean install?

I've heard it called a "software raid" or Dynamic drives, and for more information about the setup but I don't see anything about how to retain the mirror setup after a reinstall.

(In my searches, I do see a lot of caution about how dynamic drives aren't a great backup solution. I know that, so there's no need to caution me about it.)
posted by dylan_k to Computers & Internet (11 answers total)
If it is possible to restore the dynamic drives setup after the clean install, I think it would help to have some instructions on how to set that up. Thanks!
posted by dylan_k at 7:08 AM on December 31, 2012

If you're clean-installing Windows 8, none of your data will be left on the hard drive(s). Why not just enable the same dynamic dives on Windows 8? I'm pretty sure the process would be identical to as described on that page (hint, Windows+R brings up the "run" dialog in Windows 8 just as it does in Windows 7). I went through the process with Windows 8 Pro as far as I could before mirroring the drives and everything was the same as described on the page.

Windows 8's function licensing is very similar to Windows 7. In particular, I expect that you will need Windows 8 Pro to do what you are suggesting.
posted by saeculorum at 7:32 AM on December 31, 2012

So I just realized I completely misunderstood your question - you are referring to a non-system drive. I realize my answer is useless, and will try to avoid using the edit function to delete it.
posted by saeculorum at 7:37 AM on December 31, 2012

I have windows 8 Pro.
The hard drive I'm reinstalling to is C. The dynamic drives are not the C drive. So yes, this is a non-system drive.
posted by dylan_k at 7:45 AM on December 31, 2012

I can't find a procedure indicating to do this, so take this with a grain of salt.

I don't see why you can't just remove the mirror in Windows 7, upgrade the OS to Windows 8, have Windows 8 redetect the (mirror-less) dynamic drive and (empty) mirror drive space, then re-mirror the dynamic drive.
posted by saeculorum at 8:01 AM on December 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

saeculorum, that sounds practical. So, when I remove the mirror before the clean install, one of the two drives will be erased, correct? Then, when I re-mirror it, the contents will be copied back onto the erased drive?

By the way, this isn't an upgrade install, it's a clean install.
posted by dylan_k at 8:04 AM on December 31, 2012

Yes, that is correct - one drive will be erased and when you re-mirror the two drives will synchronize. That will take a while, so be prepared for the two drives to syncing for a long time depending on the size of the drive.

Again, I've never actually done that, so it's just an idea. The fact that it's a clean install is why I suggested it - it's roughly equivalent to any other Windows install, in which case the install doesn't touch non-system disks. This is how I switch OSes - all of my user data is kept on a second disk and then I can do whatever I want with the primary disk. Just make sure you install Windows on the correct drive when you do the install - it would be unfortunate to overwrite your mirrored drive with the operating system.
posted by saeculorum at 9:17 AM on December 31, 2012

Just out of curiosity... What would happen if I didn't remove the mirror? Would the reinstalled windows then see two identical hard drives?
posted by dylan_k at 11:12 AM on December 31, 2012

I can't answer that question because I don't know. I have never tried that, but I have tried reinstalling Microsoft OSes with non-mirrored "Basic" and "Dynamic" drives, so I'm more confident that will work.
posted by saeculorum at 12:24 PM on December 31, 2012

Thank you for your help and honesty. It's more than I could get from Microsoft today :)
posted by dylan_k at 12:37 PM on December 31, 2012

I'm guessing - and this is a guess, that Windows won't touch your non-system drives when you upgrade. Microsoft is generally pretty good about this stuff. If you're worried about it, do this:
1. Break the mirror
2. Pull one drive
3. Make sure the remaining drive works and has data.
4. Format the pulled drive
5. Backup the contents of the remaining drive to your now blank drive.
6. Upgrade.
7. Make sure everything works.
8. Put the drive back in, empty it and re-mirror.

Or, it would be a hell of a lot easier to just back it up to an external drive, upgrade and restore the data to the mirror, if need be.
posted by cnc at 1:55 PM on December 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

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