Remove NT fault-tolerant disk sets before upgrading to Win2003 Server

When it comes to storage options, one of the key differences between Windows Server 2003 and its predecessors is that Server 2003 has dropped support for classic fault-tolerant (FT) disk sets. Under Windows Server 2003, if you have classic NT FTdisk striped or volume sets, you must remove them prior to upgrading.

To remove the FTdisk set, you must back up and delete the FTdisk set, do the upgrade, then convert the disks to dynamic disks and configure the volume, then recover your data from tape.

If you use FTdisk sets to mirror the operating system drive on a classic Windows NT machine, you must break the mirror, do the upgrade, then make the disks into dynamic disks and recreate the mirror.

If you attempt to upgrade a system with FTdisk sets, you will get an error message right at the start of Setup. This error is a little misleading, because it refers to NT4 basic disks when it should say NT4 fault-tolerant disks. If the operating system is mirrored, the error is critical and you cannot upgrade. If data disks are mirrored, striped, or have volume spans, the error is simply a warning. But if you go ahead and upgrade, you'll notice that the FTtdisk drive set appears in the Disk Management console with a drive letter, but it is inaccessible.

Fortunately, if you neglected to back up the data in the FTdisk set prior to upgrading, there is a workaround. The Support Tools on the Windows Server 2003 CD contains

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a utility called FTONLINE that you can use to mount the FTdisk set in read-only mode so you can recover the data.

About the author: Rahul Shah currently works at a software firm in India, where he is a systems administrator maintaining Windows servers. He has also worked for various software firms in testing and analytics, and also has experiences deploying client/server applications in different Windows configurations.

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This was first published in September 2006

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