Stale mirrors, stale data: Fixing Disk Management in Windows Server 2003

Mirrored disk arrangements may cause the Disk Management tool in Windows Server 2003 to give you a message regarding Stale Data. If you get that message, here's what to do.

Disk Management is Windows Server 2003's basic tool for managing a system's hard disks, including such jobs as moving disks or volumes to another computer. When performing this task, Disk Management checks the status of the disks and volumes to make sure everything is coming over properly.

Of course, there are times when not everything does come over properly. This is most likely to happen with complex disk arrangements such as mirrored disks. If you try to move a mirrored volume and have a problem, the status box on the Disk Management tool may give you this cryptic message: "Stale Data."

This usually happens when you try to bring over physical disks that contain a mirrored volume, and one or more of the disks had a problem, such as stale mirror information, stale parity information or I/O errors. You must fix the problem before you can move the disks to a new system.

The first thing to do is to move the disks containing the affected volume back to the original computer. To do this, in Disk Management click Action>Rescan Disks, or make sure all the disks are installed correctly and restart the computer.

Now check the status of the volume in Disk Management. If the status box shows Failed Redundancy, check to make sure the disk is not shown as Offline. If that is happening, check for hardware problems, reconnect the disk if necessary and bring it back online.

If the volume still shows Failed Redundancy, reactivate the volume and the Disk Management program will attempt to bring the volume back online. You will get a warning message saying Disk Management may not be able to bring back all the data on the volume. This message is normal.

Once you have the volume status back to Healthy, the mirrored volumes on the disks will be resynchronized. Now you have a healthy volume to work with and you can proceed to move all the disks that contain the volume to another computer and import all the disks at the same time.

Microsoft discusses stale mirrors in a Technet article on Troubleshooting Disk Management.

About the author: Rick Cook specializes in writing about issues related to storage and storage management.

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This was first published in June 2006

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