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Raid 'drives' vs. Windows Partitions

Posted on 2004-10-20
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Last Modified: 2010-04-19
Hi, I'm setting up my first sbs 2003 for a small office with a small budget (i.e. limited in the number of physcial drives I can get).  I have 3 drives with a raid card configured as raid 5.

Should I use the RAID utility to create the partitions (thinking 30 for OS+, 2 for Exch logs, remainder of about 275GB as big data and apps partition).  I'd then install SBS on the 30 GB 'Drive'.

Or
should I create one large raid partition of 320GB, and then during SBS create a 30GB partition on the single 320 GB 'drive'.  

Are there advantages of one over the other?

Thanks so much,
Charles
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Question by:CHRube
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7 Comments
 
LVL 16

Expert Comment

by:JammyPak
ID: 12360442
I've started partitioning everything as one big drive, simply because then you can always make maximum use of your space - you'll never have a situation where c: is filling up, and you need to use a partitioning tool to resize things.

that said, there are some risks of course....like if your logs go nuts and fill the entire partition. if you do make a separate OS partition, at least make it nice and big (30 GB sounds plenty)
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Author Comment

by:CHRube
ID: 12360529
I just worked on a server like that, and it sure is convenient, one raid partition one big windows hard drive and never having to worry about one part filling up.  It just goes against what I was always taught and heard that the more separation the better.  If there are other proponents of the one big partition/ drive please post.  Thanks.
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by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 12360857
Personally, I think your plan is good.  It's probably what I would do.  Specifically,
Should I use the RAID utility to create the partitions (thinking 30 for OS+, 2 for Exch logs, remainder of about 275GB as big data and apps partition).  I'd then install SBS on the 30 GB 'Drive'.
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Expert Comment

by:exx1976
ID: 12361014
Jammy and CHRube - you are both correct about the way you are setting things up..

Jammy -- Every server I have is set up in that fashion (except my clusters).

CHRube - you are right about the separation, HOWEVER -- it is only of any real tangible benefit when the separate partitions are on separate logical or physical disks.  By partitioning up a single large RAID 5 into smaller partitions, all you are doing is creating more work for the controller.  The OS will see the drives as different and individual, while the RAID card knows better.  So, the OS will try to simultaneously access data on all three drives at once, meanwhile your array is working overtime because the data isn't actually on three different drives or RAIDs, it's all on one.  Now, however, if you had a RAID 1 for the OS, a DIFFERENT RAID 1 for the logs, and a RAID 5 for the data, that would be optimal.


HTH,
exx
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Accepted Solution

by:
farpost earned 125 total points
ID: 12366324
create one 30 Gb partition during sbs installation, and install sbs on this partition.
Then you can partition other unallocated space as it is recommended for sbs:

15 - 20 Gb  - for Exchange databases
3 - 5  Gb  - for Exchange log files
1,5 - 2 Gb  - for system and IIS logs
50-60 Gb  - for backing up system and  exchange data (if you do not use backup tapes or backups over network).
 > 200 Gb - data
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by:exx1976
ID: 12369736
"50-60GB - for back up system and exchange data"

Now what the hell kind of sense does that make?  Why would you back it up to the same set of spindles that the original data is on?  If you lose the array, you're going to lose your original AND you backup, so why waste the time??  If you actually build production servers like this, I'd HATE to work at the same company you do...


-exx
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Expert Comment

by:tags266
ID: 12371382
Keep in mind, if you install the operating system on a serparate Raid as opposed to creating one big raid then use Windows setup to make partitions, you might not be able to use such nt backup tools as Automated System Recovery (ASR).  ASR is a full backup utility that creates boot disks for you and returns your system state back in case of HD failure or corruption.  It backs up and restores the operating system boot volumes and system volumes and partitions but does not back up other volumes such as program or data volumes.

If you reformat your server at all, and you set up the hardware raid configuration paritions differently, you might have a problem restoring from this kind of Backup.

I have setup a SBS 2003 Server a few weeks ago with a RAID 1...I built the Raid 1 in the raid configuration utility for the full amount of space available.  And then for windows Setup i created the necessary partitions.  You always have to plan to fail and plan to reinstall with the least amount of work if needed.
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