Blonde Guy

How to replace a server hard drive

The Blondeguy server hard drive needed to be replaced. Because the server is a retired ThinkPad, the procedure is fairly complex. The server needed to be backed up, the hard drive replaced and the server restored, without the luxury of having a second hard drive.

A workstation with a CD-RW drive was available to hold backups and create the bootable CD used.

The procedure required a bootable CD. I made mine with the bootAble program. The networking was temporarily not working for me, so I used a boot CD without that feature. Once the bootable CD was created, I copied it to the hard drive. I can make new boot CDs quickly by copying the files to a blank CD. I used the RSJ program cdboot.exe to make cdloader.bin the startup file.


  1. Back up the entire server. The server has two bootable partitions, the alternate partition  can be backed up to another computer with no fuss. Any directories on the data drive that don't have open files are backed up this way, too.
  2. Down the web, ftp, and e-mail servers. This will unlock the log files, and e-mail directories. Back those up to another computer.
  3. Boot from a bootable CD, and back up the principle boot drive. At this point, all further logs and changes will be lost until the new drive is functioning.
  4. Reboot from the principle partition, but don't start web, ftp or e-mail servers.
  5. Copy the archive of the boot partition to another computer and burn a new boot CD with the archive on it.
  6. Down the server and disconnect it.
  7. Replace the hard disk.
  8. Reconnect the server and boot from the new boot CD.
  9. Partition the new hard drive.
  10. Restore the boot partition from the archive on CD.
  11. Reboot from the new principle partition, not letting web, ftp or e-mail servers start up.
  12. Restore all partitions from the other computer.
  13. Reboot normally.
  14. Ensure that all servers have started and are running.

The entire procedure took 1 hour and 45 minutes to complete, from the time the e-mail server was down to the time it was running again.

Last Modified: 6 Aug 2006
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Copyright 2006 by Blonde Guy