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Hello and mtia,
Is it OK to use dd on raided drives? I feel semi-confident that it is, but I just thought I would ask. I thought about imaging software, but I think dd would be the better fit for this and just dump individual partitions and then restore them; am I off my rocker?
 I searched AwesomeMachines dd thread and found conflicting answers on whether or not dd was suitable for this task.
Last edited by lord-fu; 08-13-2007 at 12:29 PM.
Use the filesystem's dump utility to be safe. The utility dd is meant to be used to do an exact sector to sector copy. If the hardware is not the same (model, brand, and capacity) on other system or you change something on the present system later, dd will not work in a predictable manner.
Eh? dd copies files (of course, in Linux that's a very lose definition) and offers
certain commodities and conversion if these are required... to limit it in the sense
you've done is unfair :} .... plus, there's nothing wrong in copying from one
"(model, brand, and capacity)" to another; I've cloned HDDs over the net between
different sizes and makes and models.
I still recommend using filesystem's dump utility to be safe than sorry. dd does copy sector by sector or bytes to bytes. Also dd can be the wrong tool to use when the source has a bad byte in raw form which can screw up the destination.
Another tool to use that is better than dd when cloning a disk is Partimage from System Rescue CD.
I think there could be a problem if the device is live. Suppose the you have 3 drives that make up the array. You make an image of the first one, and in the meantime they change. When you make an image of the 2nd drive, the first one may be invalid.
If you are using a redundant raid, then backing up the data may be a better way to go than backing up the image. Maybe you want to back up the image of the entire array after the initial installation, but relying on such massive backups may be asking for trouble. Suppose for example that you hit a bad block on a disk. That could cause the backup to fail. Going the other way, a small error in the restore could cause a recovery failure. Even if it occurred on a part of the image that didn't contain files on the original disk.
Last edited by jschiwal; 08-15-2007 at 08:14 AM.
Reason: fix typo
Wow thanks all for the awesome explanations. I am sorry for my lack of verbosity in the explanation of my setup. I do use software raid on this machine, it is redundant. However after my initial post I was like "duh!" and a few of you touched on why I felt that way. The reason I was wanting to do a dump was to move the data we have to another machine as this one is starting to experience all sorts of "weird" behaviors, bad blocks, random freezes, fans shutting off on there own, staying out late, drinking beer, etc.
So I initially thought, just dump and restore on new machine, but the unreadable sectors reported by the smart utility makes me second guess dumping and restoring to a new machine. I have heard not to put too much faith in the software raid error reports so I was still possibly considering it.
On these servers I only have 3 partitions, /boot /home and / . I just didnt know if I should dump for example sda1, sda, or mda* etc.
In short though, I still have too many questions to feel comfortable enough to proceed with dd.
I have used gparted, but I did not know that it has the ability to clone raided drives. eventually when I have time I will setup a test machine and mess with both of these methods, but for right now and the sake of time I feel it is in our best interest to proceed with just restoring backups on the new machine.