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Need some additional Space Options

Hi-

We have a client that has an Exchange 2000 server that runs on a Compaq Proliant ML370. They are running low on space on the RAID 5 Array, and there is no room for any more drives in the chassis itself. The RAID 5 Array is made up of 5 18GB 10K RPM SCSI Drives and 1 36GB 10K RPM Drive, for a total usable space of 86803MB.

Now I need to add drive space since we are getting dangerously close to this amount. I am considering adding an external Drive Array OR possibly switching all the drives for bigger ones and expanding the array that way. I wanted to get some input on this, and see what ideas others may be able to come up with for me- maybe something I havent thought of.

RAID Controller is a Compaq SMART Array 431 RAID Controller. All the drives attached are 10K SCSI drives. There is also an integrated Dual Channel Wide ULTRA2 SCSI controller in the system.

Downtime is also a concern- this is a highly utilized server and needs to be available as much as possible. Obviously some downtime is inevitable, but a rebuild seems a little daunting with the whole company of over 600 users breathing down my neck...

Please let me know soon- we need to move on quoting and starting this project!

Thanks!
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conradie
Asked:
conradie
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2 Solutions
 
rindiCommented:
Either way you go should work fine. First make 1 or 2 tested backups.
Then make sure you have the newest firmware installed on the array controller.

If you are going to replace the disks, just replace the first one, then wait for the array to get rebuilt, then when that has been done, replace the next drive and so on. This will take some time but it really should not be a problem. During the rebuild process your server will seem slower than usuall, but that shouldn't matter too much. You can replace the disks while the server is running, as they are hotswappable.

Once you have replaced all the disks and the raid has been completely rebuilt, use the smartstart utility to expand the array to use the full diskspace, then use the windows commandline tool "diskpart" to extend your partition to the size you want. Use diskpart /? to get the commands or diskpart command to get the syntax for that command.

If you are adding an external drive cage, well, that would be pretty straightforward, just add the new disks, use smartstart to either create a new array or to expand your old one, and the rest is the same as above.
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conradieAuthor Commented:
Are you sure that SMART Start will allow me to expand the current RAID Array if I were to just switch out the disks for bigger ones as described? How do I do this? And then would I be able to create a new partition within Windows if I wanted, instead of using diskpart and extending the partition?
I thought I saw somewhere that the newer firmware for the SMART Array 431 Controller will prevent you from adding space to the Array? I am using firmware version 1.18. Maybe that just had to do with being able to increase the size of the partition itself... I thought you have to use Windows Disk Management?

Also- if I were to go with an external drive array, does anyone have any suggestions on good products I could use for this that will connect to the SMART Array 431 or the integrated Dual Channel Wide ULTRA2 SCSI controller?
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originalbiffmalibuCommented:
Do not relace one drive as stated above.  That controller will only utilize the larger drive as the same capacity as the others, 18GB.  Your best option, assuming your OS is compatible, is to use Ghost to image the array to another location, IDE120GB should do it, build a new array and ghost it back.  I have done this many times with success.  Brfore doing anything, get a full backup with system state in case you need to restore it due to incompatibilities.
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rindiCommented:
As I mentioned before, the smartstart utility will allow you to expand the array once you you have changed the disks. Compaq usually had problems with older firmware which caused the array to break, so it is allways best to upgrade the firmware. As for an external cage, get that directly from compaq as well, they have what fits their products best.
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conradieAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the input so far!

I think so far I am liking the solution of switching the drives one by one and letting the Array rebuild inbetween. I see that my firmware version for the card being 1.18 is behind the latest 1.24 version. I will defintely get this updated before doing any of this. I should likely also upgrade the drivers for the card, right?

When you refer to the SMARTStart utility, what are you referring to? Is that the options you get at boot to manage the Array? Or is this something I should download?

I am thinking of suggesting we buy 6 of these:

72.8GB Drives for this- 286714-B22 HP Part Store #
(Price = $419 per drive at pcmall.com- total = $2520 for all 6)
72.8GB 10,000RPM

And then replacing one drive a night for 6 nights and let the Array rebuild overnight and into the next morning/day if necessary. Once all are in there and the Array 100% rebuilt then do the expand of the Array using the SMARTStart utility. Do you guys know how long it takes to perform each of these- the rebuild of the Array after putting in each drive, and also the expanding of the Array...?
Once expanded I am assuming that all I have to do is create another partition in Windows, right? If I dont want to mess around with the diskpart utility and just got the safe and easy way...?

Thanks!
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conradieAuthor Commented:
Actually- looks like the "Compaq Array Configuration Utility" has the option to Expand the Array and Extend the Logical Drive. I am assuming that these are the options I am looking for. I would use the Expand of the Array and then just create a new partion in the space instead of Extending the Logical Drive, Right? Or wait, do I also expand the logical drive here and then create the new partition?
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rindiCommented:
Yes, I'd also upgrade the drivers.
Smartstart is the mainly what you got on the CD that came with the card. You can load it directly from CD, or install it to the service partition on the Disk (that's what you mentioned above when you boot the system), and there is also a windows utility you can install. You should be able to get new versions of all from the internet.

The disk replacements can take some time, but I think a day (or night) per disk as you have planned above should be quite OK.Yes, after 100% rebuilt use expand array, and then use diskmanager to create a new partition.
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conradieAuthor Commented:
Ok- so in thinking about it a little more I think that this makes me a little nervous. The exposure to loss is high during each rebuild of the array. If another drive fails while each of these nightly rebuilds takes place then the whole Array is lost. All the data is gone, and I have to rebuild the server.

What about a solution where I could somehow mirror all of the current Array to an IDE, USB2, or SATA drive and then completly rebuild the array on the new drives and mirror all the old data back? Is that possible? Can I do it that way? Any ideas on how to accomplish this? I would like to not have to reinstall the OS and resetup Exchange etc...
Wouldnt that be safer? If there are issues I could then just go back to the previous drives and boot the server as it was, right? Assuming that I label the drives and know which slots to put each one back into....?

Thanks!

Ken
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rindiCommented:
There is no absolutly safe way to do things on your disks. It is allways essential to have a good backup, whether you do it one way or the other. That's why we gave that tip at the beginning (At least i think i did mention that, ahh yes, I did, I just reread my post). In normal cases it should be no problem, though. You can of course also use a program like acronis trueimage server to make an image of the array to another disk, but for that you need the program and a disk that is large enough. That itself would again be a kind of backup. Whether you then want to rebuild from scratch or enlarge the array, is up to you. I personally would probably use acronis to make the image, because it is easier and faster to restore than a backup from tape, but I would not beginn from scratch. That way I'd have much less server down time (if it works), and I'd be using the advantages of an advanced raid controller, and I'd get more experiance with the raid adapter!

http://acronis.com

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conradieAuthor Commented:
So I could likely just image the Array using Acronis, or ghost, to a large IDE disk? Are there any issues using the IDE with the RAID? Would I then just boot from the CD and run the image utility? Then I could image the Array to the IDE drive, pull all the drives in the Array (making sure I know exactly which bay each came from in case I need to roll back) and then put in the new drives.
So then I likely need to setup the array again with the new drives, right? How far do i need to go here before I can image the drive back from the IDE? Do I need to create the partitions? likely not, right?
As many details as you can supply here would be great- this all makes me a little nervous! But I am sure with all the preparation it will go well...

Also- as a failback option- I should be able to put all the original drives back into the server and boot the server as it was if i put them in the right bays, right? do I need to do anything with the controller to allow this to happen? Just want some extra insurance!

thanks again, Rindi!
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rindiCommented:
It depends if the array controller gets properly recognized by the booting CD of your imageing software. If it is recognized there should be no problem in making the image like you described above. You can test the result by installing the GUI software and then both products have a possibilty, either by "mounting" the image you created as a CD-Like device (acronis), or using the viewer (ghost) to browse your image file. You can then even extract or copy a couple of individual files to the system and check the integrity of those files.
If that worked, you are set to go on. Remove the drives like you suggested, insert the new ones and create the array. You should now just be able restore the image, using the imageing software to that array. Partitioning should not be necessary, both programs allow you to decide on the size of the destination partitions.
If things don't workout, you can put your old drives back in, and it should work without any tampering on the controller.
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originalbiffmalibuCommented:
Ghost 9.0 boots to recovery mode and gives you the option of uloading your image to a remote share as well as the option to add USB or raid controller drivers upon bootup.  I use this option daily and it has never failed me.  There are settings for verify, etc. that you will want to do but all of this works well.  If you decide to go with imaging fromyour drive using this process, I will walk you through step by step from imaging to restoring.  I use Compaq, HP, Dell, IBM and Supermicro servers and have done this on nearly all of them.
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conradieAuthor Commented:
Thanks guys. As it turns out the Ghosting part didnt work out too well. Not sure why, but the transfer was SUPER slow. I was trying to ghost to a SATA drive attached to a PCI SATA controller. Found out the hard way that the Compaq Proliant ML370's onboard IDE is for CDROM's only. Pretty wild.

Actually a lot of things went wrong over the course of the whole ordeal, which went from Friday AM through Saturday night. Everything that could go wrong did. IDE not supported, SATA Ghost performance horrible, even with the raw copy mode set, various other switches tried, also disk to disk, disk to image, etc etc. The performance would go from 1GB a minute to start and then slowly drop down to less than 100MB/min with 30+ hours to go. Eventually had to bail on Ghost and tried another utility, had problems there, tried to find other ways around.
Then we went with adding an Exchange Server to the org and moving mailboxes to it, which we of course ran into issues with. At this point we got M$ involved and got some help. After much troubleshooting of this original server and the new member etc we decided to blow it all out and rebuild. Made copies of the stores with regular copying via explorer and then reinstalled and did /disasterrecovery setup of exchange.

it was a wild ride, let me tell you.

Anyway- so who do I give the points to? : )
You guys both gave some good info so I think i am going to split the points between you.... hope thats cool.
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rindiCommented:
No problem here...
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conradieAuthor Commented:
Done. Thanks again guys.
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originalbiffmalibuCommented:
Thank you.
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rindiCommented:
Thanks.
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