I have a dell poweredge R610 which has 2 x 140 gb harddrives mirrored (hardware) running a high cpu intensive application in windows 2008 R2. We recentely purchased a new dell poweredge R610 which has a higher spec CPU. Is it possible to put both the drives from the first server into the new server and boot it up without a re-image or re-install ? So basically swap the entire disks between the two servers ?

Update: It's the same hardware appart from CPU, so same raid controller.



  • Yes, it works! I just had a mainboard failure on an old PowerEdge 2950 with a PERC 6/i controller; drives were set up as a mirrored pair a five-disk RAID 5 set and a global hot spare. I had a second PE2950 with identical hardware but a completely different RAID configuration. I simply moved all 8 disks to the same positions in the second server. When the server booted up, it recognized that the drives had been changed and set them all offline. I had to go into the PERC configuration utility and Import Foreign Configuration. All drives were recognized and activated correctly. Upon reboot, my se
    – user152406
    Jan 7, 2013 at 19:33

5 Answers 5


I did this recently between two identical HP G5 servers without problems. Hardware-based RAID-controllers who arent stupid saves their logical volume configuration on the disks, so it should not be a problem if you have the same RAID controllers (at the same firmware version).

You should however make sure you have a very recent backup/ghost image of the logical volume before doing this.

  • Yes, I just did this, and it worked. Had a few prompts from raid controller on boot, just hit continue. Then had to reactivate windows, which was expected.
    – user57753
    Oct 21, 2010 at 0:47

As long as the RAID cards are at the same firmware you should be just find. Dell RAID cards (Re-branded LSI Logic's) store meta data on the drives. Just make sure that you keep the slot assignments the same on the new and old chassis, so:

Old -> New
Slot0 -> Slot0
Slot1 -> Slot1

But i would STRONGLY reccomend you take a full system backup just to be sure.

also this assumes that nothing else has changed besides proc speed i.e. both intel procs, both 64 or 32 bit, etc.


The guys I work with call this "Ghost RAID". It works, but it always feels a bit dicey - get out the labelmaker and mark everything before you start. Visualize the process. Practice the physical movements. As long as the destination PERC has no configuration, it should (will) automatically pull the config if the two spindles are in the correct slots. The PERC bios may ask you to import the foreign config, say yes. Even if you don't say yes, I believe it will automatically import it on the second (nth?) boot.

I've actually done this a few times moving spindles between PERC5 and PERC6 controllers, so the firmware matchup advice is a very good idea, but not strictly requrired. Boot volumes also no trouble, so long as both controller models use the same driver package in the OS.

The Dell support folks refer to recovering the RAID config from the disks as "retagging", so maybe do some googling there.

As always, ensure that your backups are GOOD before you do anything else.

  • ...just confirming controllers don't need to match precisely, at least sometimes. I just moved a 6 drive raid from PowerEdge 2970 to T320 seamlessly. All I needed to do was import foreign configuration in the Bios, switch from AHCI boot mode to RAID, and cycle through half a dozen or so reboots. Probably helped that the destination machine is newer than the old one. Jul 6, 2016 at 20:48

It depends on the CPU? If they are the same architecture (e.g. both Intel, both 64 bit) then you should be ok. I understand that some versions of Windows use a different kernel for single core than for multiple core although that may be less of an issue (I've seen a VM created for 4 cores have 3 cores removed and still run fine).

So if you aren't making a radical change to CPU, and the rest of the server has the same hardware, I think you may be ok. But if the data is valuable at all, be sure to backup before trying this.

If you only want to maintain the data between servers, you could install an additional disk, and then put the OS on that. Then just get the data from the other disk. Disks are cheap. Installing Win2k8 R2 doesn't take that long. Work out the costs against the cost of recovering your lost data!

Update Missed the bit about RAID when answering this initially. Would be interested to know if this affects things in two cases:

  1. Identical RAID controller in new machine - can it handle the RAIDed disks?
  2. Switch the RAID controller from the old machine into the new along with the disks. Does it work?

Worth knowing, as there are other things that can go wrong with a server than hard drive failure...


Not really, because it is a hardware raid. The new machine will have no knowledge about the raid. It's gonna be tricky, but you may be able to put one drive in, and make sure it can boot. Wipe the second drive, then create a raid 1 on the new server, and let it rebuild...

I don't know though, that sounds like a bad idea. It would probably be best to image the server on to an external drive, then restore that image to the new server.

Whatever you do, make a backup before you take the drives out of the current machine.

Edit: You may have to reactivate windows when it sees the new processor, but not a big deal.

Hope that helps.

  • is the raid controller that crappy?
    – TomTom
    Oct 20, 2010 at 22:27
  • I'm pretty sure the raid controller on the new machine would have no knowledge of the fact that the drives were part of a raid pair. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the configuration of the raid is stored in the raid controllers bios, that's how they work. PERC is not crappy at all...
    – lysdexic
    Oct 20, 2010 at 22:41
  • I've just swapped 2 x mirrored + 3 x RAID 5 drives from one Dell 6850 to another and the PERC picked up the configuration and ran with it fine, but I would hesitate to do this between different machines unless I had two darn good and verified backups first
    – Linker3000
    Oct 20, 2010 at 23:30
  • Depends on the RAID - that is why i ask. I use Adaptec raid controllers and they store all relevant metadata on every disc. Put a RAID group into another controller, it is found. This is standard in all major brands of RAID controllers for some years now. Compatible within manufacturers and mostly models (like all adaptec unified SAS controllers).
    – TomTom
    Oct 20, 2010 at 23:51
  • No the RAID is not that crappy. On a Dell R410 I have I just swapped the drives. In the RAID setup, if you want to make changes to the RAID after you have swapped you do need to choose the import configuration function in the RAID setup. But swapping the drives was fine.
    – Zoredache
    Oct 21, 2010 at 0:48

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