DRBD driver for windows
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First things first

Clone this repository with

git clone --recursive <url>

else you get an incomplete checkout.

If you need installable binaries please contact Linbit (www.linbit.com) at sales@linbit.com

What is WinDRBD?

WinDRBD is a port of Linbit's Distributed Replicated Block Device Linux driver to Microsoft Windows. Technically it is a thin emulation layer that maps Linux specific kernel API calls to the Microsoft Windows NT Kernel API.

DRBD itself is used to build High Availability clusters by replicating contents of one block device over a network to (up to 31) other nodes.

WinDRBD is based on DRBD 9. It was originally started by Korean company Mantech and later resigned by Johannes Thoma for Linbit to match more closely the Linux device model. In particular the DRBD devices are not stacked over existing Windows devices (like Mantech WDRBD does it) but creates DRBD devices upon creation with the drbdadm primary command.

To avoid confusion with ManTech's WDRBD we called our WDRBD-fork WinDRBD.

What else is needed?

For detailed build instructions, please see the file INSTALL. Having said that you need a Windows 7 box with CygWin installed (Windows 10 works in theory, but hasn't been tested. Nor has Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL)) to run WinDRBD. If you have a binary package, you don't need to install CygWin since the Cygwin DLL comes with the binary package. Commands like drbdadm and windrbd should work out-of-the-box with the Windows cmd shell.

For building you need Ewdk from Microsoft and a separate Linux Box with spatch (concinelle) installed.

You need the windrbd branch of drbd-utils. To obtain it, do a:

git clone --branch windrbd --recursive https://github.com/LINBIT/drbd-utils.git

and follow the build instruction in INSTALL.windrbd file of the repo.

To test it, we use the WIN32 API test suite in windrbd-test. This is based on Google Test: see README.md in windrbd-test directory.

You don't need drbdcon: it does not exist in WinDRBD.

We recommend to run Windows 7 in a virtual machine and make snapshots everytime before a new WinDRBD version is installed.

Please also note that once you have installed an officially verified version of WinDRBD (you can get one from Linbit), you cannot install self-signed versions of WinDRBD over them. In other words if you wish to compile WinDRBD by yourself, do not install official packages on your test machines. In addition if you use self signed (self compiled) packages, you have to put Windows into Test mode, else it will refuse to boot. To do so, execute

bcdedit /set TESTSIGNING ON

as Administrator and reboot the machine. It then should display Testmode in the lower right corner when it comes up again.

Configuring DRBD

The DRBD config files can be found in following folder:


Put your resources (extension .res) into the C:\windrbd\etc\drbd.d folder (from within a CygWin shell you can access this via


Then with

drbdadm up <name>

you can bring your DRBD resource up. Please refer to the DRBD Users guide (be sure to pick the 9.0 version) for more information of how to configure and administrate DRBD. Most drbdadm commands should work exactly like with the Linux version of DRBD.

Differences to WDRBD

Note: If you don't know ManTech's WDRBD, you can skip reading this section.

The main difference is that ManTech's WDRBD stacks the DRBD devices atop of all block devices reported by PnP manager and uses an Active flag to control whether I/O requests are routed through DRBD or not.

In contrast Linbit's WinDRBD creates a separate Windows Device on request (on drbdadm primary) and uses the backing device like a normal Windows block device.

This approach has several advantages:

  • Diskless operation is supported (network only).
  • Drbdmeta can access internal meta data without special casing offsets larger that the DRBD device.
  • Later, the WinDRBD driver doesn't need a reboot if it is changed or installed (we are working on this).
  • drbdcon is not needed, thereby lots of race conditions simply just don't exist on WinDRBD.

Another difference is that DRBD source code is derived directly from Linbit's sources (using spatch and patch to patch in WinDRBD specific changes). This makes it much more easy to maintain and keep up with DRBD 9 development (current WinDRBD releases are based on DRBD 9.0.14).

Differences to Linux DRBD

Currently the only difference to Linux DRBD is that block devices are specified as you would expect it under Microsoft Windows, that is drive letters or GUID's are used. Examples:

disk "F:";
# or:
disk "0b098289-8295-11e7-bddb-0800274272c4";

We recommend not to assign drive letters to backing devices, since that easily may confuse the user. You can use the mountvol utility to find the GUID of a device.

Starting with 0.4.8 windrbd refuses to attach to a device containing a file system known to Windows. We do so because Windows accesses the file system independently of DRBD causing data corruption.

Starting from 0.5.2 if drbdadm detects a file system (NTFS) on the backing device, it automatically hides it from Windows.

To do that manually, use

windrbd hide-filesystem <drive-letter>

to prepare the backing device for use with windrbd. You can undo that later with

windrbd show-filesystem <drive-letter>

however only when the device is not attached.

Starting from 0.5.3, the device entry has following format:

device <drive-letter> minor <unique-minor>;

for example:

device "K:" minor 1;

This makes the WinDRBD device appear as drive K: once the drbdadm primary command is executed (before 0.7.2 it also existed on drbdadm up, but this couldn't be accessed, so we changed that to drbdadm primary). Starting from 0.7.1, your shell (Windows Explorer in most cases) gets notified about the new drive, so you probably will get a panel that asks you if the drive should be formatted.

Current limitations

Our planned 1.0 release will have following restrictions:

  • Auto-promote is not supported.

  • System Volume (C:) cannot be used for windrbd.

  • No 32-Bit version is supported, only 64 bit.

  • Windows 7 is minimum (no Vista, no XP) (SP1 required (?))

  • Some network settings (send buffer size/send timeout) have no effect.

We might fix following current (0.7.4) restrictions for the 1.0 release:

  • Right now only NTFS is supported atop the windrbd device. (or you can use the device as a RAW device).

  • On installation (or upgrade) a system reboot is required.

  • Of the DRBD features, the following are currently unsupported: discard, biosets, debugfs, online verify, RB_CONGESTED_REMOTE, write same, disk stats, trimming.


Since WinDRBD is at a very early development stage, logging is very important. We use syslog UDP packets and a Linux host to debug WinDRBD.

To configure the log host set a Registry key (string value):


and assign it the IP address (you have to reload the WinDRBD driver after setting this, currently you have to reboot the machine).

You can also log on the Windows machine directly by starting

windrbd log-server [-o logfile]

However the last log messages before a blue screen will be lost, then.

If you are logging to the local Windows machine, use as IP address (this is the default). Do not specify a network interface IP, this might cause the system to hang on boot.

See also file INSTALL for more instructions.

Version history

  • 0.1 (Oct 25, 2017): Basic I/O works with separate DRBD device.
  • 0.2 (Nov 13, 2017): Creation and basic usage of NT filesystem on DRBD device works.
  • 0.2.1 (Nov 16, 2017): Patch bootsector to hide NTFS on backing device from NTFS driver.
  • 0.3.0 (Dec 20, 2017): Connection from windrbd to Linux DRBD works.
  • 0.3.1 (Dec 20, 2017): Fixed a blue screen introduced with 0.3.0
  • 0.3.2 (Dec 21, 2017): Implemented device open and close methods.
  • 0.3.3 (Dec 26, 2017): Connection from Linux DRBD to windrbd also works.
  • 0.3.4 (Jan 05, 2018): Fixed several blue screens.
  • 0.3.5 (Jan 09, 2018): Fixed additional blue screen when connected.
  • 0.3.6 (Jan 09, 2018): Updated version of DRBD this is based on.
  • 0.3.7 (Jan 11, 2018): Local I/O works again.
  • 0.4.0 (Jan 12, 2018): Removed lots of legacy code.
  • 0.4.1 (Jan 19, 2018): Sync is almost working.
  • 0.4.2 (Jan 22, 2018): Support for I/O to/from backing device with more than 32 pages (needed to split requests).
  • 0.4.3 (Jan 26, 2018): Fixed a blue screen.
  • 0.4.4 (Jan 27, 2018): Fixed a blue screen on system shutdown.
  • 0.4.5 (Jan 29, 2018): Fixed a data integrity error on sync
  • 0.4.6 (Feb 06, 2018): supend-io and resume-io should work (quorum not)
  • 0.4.7 (Feb 07, 2018): Fixed a Windows 10 blue screen when accessing the windrbd device.
  • 0.4.8 (Feb 15, 2018): Refuse to attach to a backing device containing a (known) file system.
  • 0.4.9 (Feb 16, 2018): Fixed a blue screen introduced in last commit.
  • 0.5.0 (Feb 27, 2018): Beta 1
  • 0.5.1 (Mar 14, 2018): Implemented flushing in windrbd device.
  • 0.5.2 (Mar 20, 2018): Auto-hide filesystem on attach (user space changes only).
  • 0.5.3 (Mar 28, 2018): Assign drive letter from drbd.conf
  • 0.5.4 (Mar 28, 2018): Fixed blue screen on drbdadm down and no mount point.
  • 0.6.0 (Mar 29, 2018): Beta 2: Usability improvements.
  • 0.6.1 (Apr 17, 2018): Use Mountmanager to create Symlinks.
  • 0.6.2 (Apr 17, 2018): Fixed reference count error on drbdadm down introduced with last release.
  • 0.6.3 (Apr 24, 2018): Fixed blue screen on writing while connected.
  • 0.6.4 (May 08, 2018): Fixed very slow sync performance problem (and upgraded to DRBD 9.0.13).
  • 0.6.5 (May 09, 2018): Fixed memleaks introduced with last release.
  • 0.6.6 (May 11, 2018): Upgraded to DRBD 9.0.14, solving broken split brain handling.
  • 0.6.7 (May 14, 2018): Fixed pachting bootsector. Patch is not propagated to peers.
  • 0.7.0 (May 15, 2018): Beta 3: Stability fixes
  • 0.7.1 (May 24, 2018): Notify Windows explorer about new disk drive(s) (user space only)
  • 0.7.2 (May 28, 2018): Windows device only exists while primary.
  • 0.7.3 (Jun 15, 2018): Networking fixes
  • 0.7.4 (Jun 19, 2018): Error handling on backing device (with fault injection)
  • 0.8.0 (Jul 06, 2018): Beta 4: First public beta