How to undo RAID: best practices

Changing from a RAID 0-array boot drive to a single-drive boot should be easy, but the operation can be more complicated than anticipated.

By Loyd Case, PC World |  Storage, Corsair, Intel

I attached the SSD as a secondary drive and canceled the Windows message that asked me to create a volume after booting up. Then I fired up Acronis Backup and Restore, and launched the process to clone a drive. I cloned the drive "as is" (meaning that all of its partitions would be the same size), having discovered on an earlier occasion that this is the best way to guarantee proper cloning of a boot drive. I also confirmed that options to make the cloned drive bootable and to copy the NT signature were selected.

The system rebooted, and Acronis launched as a pre-Windows boot process and cloned the drive. I then set up the drive in the system BIOS to be the boot drive. After restarting the system, everything booted without any trouble.

Feeling pretty confident now, I detached the two Corsair Force GT drives, but kept RAID mode enabled. I even went so far as to blow away the RAID array, leaving the backup drive image I'd made earlier as my only security blanket.

'Boot Drive Inaccessible'

The system attempted to boot, but didn't like the boot drive, despite having just booted from the same drive a few minutes earlier.

At this point I went through a systematic process of boot-drive troubleshooting:

  • I checked the BIOS to make sure that either RAID mode or AHCI was enabled. Neither would boot.
  • For the sake of completeness, I tried booting with the BIOS set to IDE mode. Still no boot.
  • I also tried booting from a Windows 7 Setup disk and selecting the system. The following error popped up: "This version of Windows repair is incompatible with the version of Windows installed on this system."

That last error message made no sense, as I was using a Windows Ultimate x64 setup disk to attempt to repair a Windows 7 Ultimate x64 installation.

Finally, I tried booting from my most recent Acronis Backup and Restore boot disk. When I selected the image backup file, however, Acronis asked me for my "credentials"--and my Windows login and password failed. I was stymied.

It was time for coffee and a little thinking.

I returned to my office, fired up a laptop, and searched the Acronis website. I discovered a much more recent version of Backup and Restore 11. The version number--11--was the same, but the actual software revision code had changed. I downloaded the new version and created a new Acronis boot disk.

Holding my breath, I booted the Acronis restore disk. I wasn't asked for a password this time. I checked to make sure the NT signature wasn't cloned, but created fresh. The restore went flawlessly. When I rebooted, I was greeted with a Windows screen. Life was good once again.


Originally published on PC World |  Click here to read the original story.
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