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Best Hard Drive Configuration for a SBS 2003 Setup?

Posted on 2004-11-29
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Last Modified: 2010-04-19
I've got a Dell Poweredge 2500 server with a PERC RAID card and six hard drives. It's got the equivalent of a SBS 2003 setup, being the PDC, with Exchange Server, SQL Server, and Anti-virus management for about 50 users. (Another server takes care of the file and printer shares.)

My current setup is to have a 2-disk RAID 1 mirror partitioned with the system files and program files. And 3-disk RAID 5 stripe set with the data files. The sixth disk is a spare sitting on the shelf.

I plan to refresh and upgrade the hard drives and I'm wondering if this is the best setup? Or should I do some swapping as I upgrade, such as partitioning the RAID 5 for the program files and data files? What about swap files or shadow copy volume files?

The servers seems to be up to its tasks, but if I'm going to swap in new drives, I wonder if it would be better to change things around?

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Question by:TerrellITC
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by:Lee W, MVP
Lee W, MVP earned 100 total points
ID: 12703053
First question comes to mind - why don't you leave the 6th drive in the system as a Hot Spare?  (If I can get the time tomorrow night and the question is still open, I'll post more comments, but I suspect others will provide much info in the coming hours.
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rindi earned 500 total points
ID: 12703987
I'd use raid 5 with 1 hot spare for all disks you have. I don't see the point of mirroring the OS and having the rest on raid 5. This way get more space and speed. In my opinion raid 5 is just as fault tollerant as raid1, with a lot of raid controllers it is even easier to rebuild if a drive goes bang.

You can then still partition the raided Drive to suite your needs. When creating a partition I would make sure not to use larger partitions than the space you can backup to (if you can fit 120GB to a tape, don't have partitions larger than 120GB). This way it is easier to plan your backup and organize it. Make sure you create a an additional partition for your transactional log files (SQL Server, Exchange Server). This partition you can also use for your pagefile and the temp directories.
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by:TerrellITC
ID: 12889576
Sorry for the late awarding of points. Lee, I was waiting for more feedback. :-)

From what I understand, on a Dell Poweredge a hot spare saves only a few minutes time as the RAID can only be rebuilt from the RAID's BIOS program. So you have to shut the server down anyhow. So why put unnecessary wear on a drive?
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by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 12890146
Sorry - lost track of the question.  That's not the case - I've seen Dell PERC controllers rebuild RAIDs as soon as the drive fails.  In addition, if you use Dell Open Manage Array Manager, you can do all that from within Windows.
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Author Comment

by:TerrellITC
ID: 12894661
Well, I'll have to check on that 'cause the error light is flashing on one of my server's hard drives. :-)
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