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mirroring harddrive

This article created on MiniTool official webpage gives a thorough introduction to harddrive mirroring. It covers its definition, functions, advantages, as well as application in Windows 10. It also introduces one of the best hard disk drive mirroring programs to you.

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What Is Disk Mirroring?

Disk Mirroring Definition

What is mirroring of a hard drive? In data storage, mirroring harddrive refers to replicating logic hard disk volumes or partitions onto another physical hard drive in real-time to ensure continuous availability. It is mostly applied in RAID 1. A mirrored volume is a complete logical representation of separate volume copies.

Mirroring vs Replication vs Shadowing vs Snapshot

In a disaster recovery context, mirroring data over a long distance is regarded as storage replication. According to the adopted technologies, the replication can be carried out synchronously, semi-synchronously, asynchronously, or point-in-time.

Replication is enabled through microcode on the disk array controller or server software. Typically, it’s a proprietary solution not compatible with various data storage device vendors.

However, typically, mirroring is only synchronous. Synchronous writing achieves a recovery point objective (RPO) of zero lost data. Asynchronous replication can achieve an RPO of just a few seconds whereas the remaining methodologies provide a PRO of a few minutes to perhaps several hours.

Disk mirroring is different from file shadowing and disk snapshot; file shadowing operates on the file level while disk snapshot data images are never re-synchronized with their origins.

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Why Need Mirroring Harddrive?

hard disks are an inherently unreliable component of computer systems. Hard drive mirroring is a technology enabling the operating system (OS) to automatically maintain multiple data copies or a dual backup. Thus, OS can quickly restore data and continue to process quickly after a disk hardware failure.

How Does Disk Mirroring Work?

Mirroring harddrive can be carried out locally or remotely. Locally, it is specifically to cater for disk unreliability. Remotely, mirroring a harddrive forms part of a more sophisticated disaster recovery scheme. Also, it can be done both locally and remotely, especially for high availability systems.

Although mirroring a hard drive can be used on logical hard drives where the underlying physical format is hidden from the mirroring process, usually, data is mirrored onto physically identical disks.

Mirroring harddrive typically is offered by either hardware solutions like disk arrays or software within the system like Linux mdadm and device mapper. Besides, file systems such as ZFS or Btrfs provide integrated data mirroring. Both file systems also maintain data and metadata integrity checksums, making themselves capable of detecting bad copies of blocks and relying on mirrored data to pull up data from correct blocks.

The mirroring process can be conducted from site to site through quick data links. Fiber optic links, for instance, can maintain adequate performance to support real-time mirroring over distances of 500 meters or so.

Tip: The duplicating of data from one side of a mirror pair to another is known as rebuilding or less commonly called re-silvering.

Longer distances or slower links maintain mirrors using an asynchronous copying system. For remote disaster recovery systems, such mirroring may not be done by integrated systems yet simply by extra apps on primary and secondary machines.

Tip: Data is redundant on all hard disks that exist in the mirror.

Disk Mirroring vs Disk Cloning

Disk mirroring creates a single copy that replicates the source in real-time (mirroring is always processing) and can be used for backup and disaster recovery purposes. If one of the mirrored disks fails, you can still access your data from the other disk. Moreover, you can rebuild the mirroring with new healthy disks.

Whereas disk cloning simply duplicating all contents including preferences and settings from the source disk to the destination drive. It is usually a one-time operation applied to migrate system or data from one hard disk to another such as when you decide to switch your work from the old machine to a new computer. Also, costing more time and less flexibility restricts disk cloning from being performed with a high frequency.

Advantages of Mirroring Harddrive

When a hard drive fails, several scenarios can happen. In a hot-swap system, a system that can be replaced without stopping, shutting down, or rebooting, in the event of a disk failure, the OS itself usually diagnoses a disk failure and signals the failure.

If it is a sophisticated system, it may automatically activate a hot standby disk and make use of the remaining active disk to duplicate live data onto this disk. Alternatively, a new disk is installed and the data is replicated to it. While in less sophisticated systems, the OS is operated on the remaining drive until a spare disk can be installed.

Besides offering an additional duplication of the data for the purpose of redundancy in case of hardware failure, disk mirroring can also allow each disk to be accessed separately for reading purposes.

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In certain situations, that can greatly improve performance since the system can choose for each read with the disk that can seek most fast to the required data. This is especially important where there are multiple queries for data on the same hard drive. Thus, the switching between tasks can be reduced. This is a significant consideration in hardware configuration that frequently access the data on the disk.

In some applicating scenarios, the mirrored drive can be split off and used for data backup allowing the first disk to remain active. Yet, merging the two drives may need a synchronization process if any write input/output (I/O) activity has happened to the mirrored disk.

Some mirroring schemes take advantage of 3 disks with 2 of the disks for the redundancy mirroring and the third to be split off for performing backups.

About Windows 10 Mirror Boot Drive

To mirror a boot drive is to make an exact copy of everything on your system hard disk including the OS (Windows 10), boot information, applications, personal files, as well as hidden files to your preferences and settings. Disk mirroring software will back up all those data to a new location, usually another hard disk, while ensuring that the new disk is bootable after the mirroring process successfully completes.

With the mirror copy of your system, once you receive a catastrophic system crash resulted by file/software errors (inner causes) or malware attacks/physical damages (outer reasons), you can recover your system as soon as possible with the backup image.

Next, it will teach you how to mirror a drive in Windows 10 with the built-in utility. To build a mirrored copy, you need to connect at least one extra disk that is no small than the source disk to the computer where the source drive is installed.

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Windows 10 Mirroring Harddrive – Create a New Mirrored Volume

The following is the guide to create a brand-new mirrored volume where neither hard drive has any data.

  1. Open Windows Disk Management by right-clicking on This PC, select Manage, and choose Disk Management.
  2. Right-click on one of the drives and choose New Mirrored Volume.
  3. Click Next. Click on the other drive from the left list and Add it to the right list. Then, specify the amount of storage space for the mirrored volume. The size can’t exceed the available space in the smaller hard drive.
  4. Assign a drive letter or leave the default settings.
  5. Under Format this volume with the following settings, make sure the file system is NTFS, allocation unit size is default, and give a name for the volume. Also, tick Perform a quick format.
  6. Click Finish and select Yes to convert the basic disks to dynamic.

When it finishes, you will only see one volume created. When you save data on the volume, the data will be mirrored to the secondary drive automatically.

Windows 10 Disk Mirroring – Create a Mirrored Volume on a Used Drive

Follow the below steps to set up a mirrored volume when one of the disks is already used.

  1. In Disk Management, right-click on the used drive and choose Add Mirror.
  2. Select the other drive in the list and click Add Mirror.
  3. Click Yes to convert the basic disks to dynamic ones.

When the mirrored drive creation completes, it will start to sync the data on the used primary drive to the secondary mirrored drive. The data stored to the primary disk in the future will also be synced to the secondary disk.

Windows 10 Drive Mirroring – Recreate a Mirror after Drive Failure

If one of the set mirrored disks fails, you can still access your data. Also, you can replace the failed drive and recreate a mirror ASAP.

  1. Within Disk Management, right-click on the still working disk of the mirror and choose Remove Mirror.
  2. Select the failed drive that should have a label Missing and click the Remove Mirror
  3. Click Yes.
  4. Then, connect a new disk to your computer and recreate a new mirror with it relying on the instructions above.
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Hard Drive Mirroring Software

As mentioned in the above content, mirroring harddrive relies on either hardware solution or software. If you do not have hardware equipment that enables you to set up disk mirroring such as RAID disk arrays, then, in order to protect your crucial data from loss or damage, you should rely on disk mirroring software such as MiniTool ShadowMaker.

It is a smart action to create an exact copy of your precious files and save the copy somewhere safe. Then, even if something bad happens in the future, you can still own your important data by recovering it from the previous copy.

This theory is simple when applied to single files like documents or photos. However, when it comes to the entire computer, many people may find it difficult to understand. To mirror disk, what is it and how to perform it?

Luckily, with mirror drive software, things become clear and easy. All you need to do is just a few simple mouse clicks.

How to Mirror a Hard Drive Windows 10 with MiniTool ShadowMaker?

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1. Download, install, and launch MiniTool ShadowMaker on your source computer.

2. If it asks for purchase, just click the Keep Trial button on the upper right.

3. Then, it will enter its main interface. There, choose Backup on the top menu.

4. In the Backup tab, click the Source module to select the hard drive and all partitions within the disk including partition C that you want to mirror.

5. Click the Destination module and select another hard disk to save the mirroring image. You can choose HDD, SSD, USB flash drive, NAS (network-attached storage), etc. Yet, an external hard drive is recommended.

mirroring hard drive with MiniTool ShadowMaker

6. Click the Schedule button in the bottom left corner to trigger the automatic backup settings.

7. Switch on the schedule settings and select a backup schedule that suits you, daily, weekly, monthly, or on special events (system logs on/off).

hard drive mirroring schedule settings

You can also use the Scheme button to define the type of disk mirroring, full, incremental, or differential backup to decrease image size.

8. Finally, click the Back up Now button to start the mirroring process.

Besides mirroring harddrive, MiniTool ShadowMaker also enables you to clone a hard drive, mirror files/folders, partitions/volumes, as well as your operating system.

Those are all about Windows 10 mirror system drive. If you have something to share with us or other readers, you can leave it in the below comment zone. If you encounter any problem while using MiniTool ShadowMaker, please feel free to ask for help from our support team at [email protected].

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