Help with Adaptec RAID Web Server/Windows 2000/2003 Configuration/Setup

Posted on 2005-05-05
Last Modified: 2010-04-03
Hello, I hope you nice folks can help us set up a new RAID Webserver


I'm currently running a smallish online company (perhaps 500 hits/day) using windows 2003 server/IIS with very little in the way of backups/mirrors or redundancy. We also have some security problems (strange files appearing in online folders) and some other occasional odd behaviour like spontaneous rebooting a few times a week. Please forgive my lack of hardware knowledge, I am a software developer by trade but have had this thrust upon me.


We spontaneously purchased some very nice looking equipment at an auction last week. Unfortunately, I don't know a lot about it. I'm given to understand (by the auctioneer mind you!) that this is some pretty high-end gear and was used until recently as a web server for a large company.

It is a in a 6 foot high rack and contains P 4 3.06 Mhz PC with 4 70 GB hard drives and 512MB RAM in a fancy looking Box with no name on it. It comes with a Windows 2000 server key on the side and a CD ROM from Adaptec titled "Bootable RAID Installation CD - management software, drivers and documentation".

We paid $1600 (Australian $) for this. It would be great if you folks can let us know exactly what we have bought, what it's good for and even what it is really worth.

When it boots, it asks you to press the Control+A for the "Array configuration utility" and it looks like "RAID 5" has been set up. (I know absolutely nothing about RAID!)

It currently has no O/S installed at all.


- The major issue that we have is that whenever our Webserver/database or IIS falls over, it can take several days to get it back up to speed and our clients scream at us loudly! It would be great to have a solution that takes us a few minutes to get back online (I hope this new hardware will help).

- It would be nice if our website ran faster.

- it would be nice if we could reverse any mistakes (rewind/rollback... can't think of termninology, I'm sure you know what I mean) but we haven't found any software that will support this on 2003 server.

- it will be running 20 or so websites on IIS, SQL Server 2000 and also a mail server

- it would be great if a power surge didn't zap our webserver!

- We will look at Windows 2003 server or 2000 server (or any other OS that you might reccommend) depending on your suggestions.

We have no idea where to start, which RAID configuration we should install, which OS is most appropriate or how hard this is to set up. Thanks in advance!

Question by:Clever_Bob
    LVL 95

    Expert Comment

    by:Lee W, MVP
    RAID 5 is fine if that's what is setup.  RAID 5 takes 3 or more disks and combines them into one logical disk the operating system sees.  BUT, it uses the disk space of 1 disk for parity information (note, the parity info is spread out over all disks, but the equivalent of ONE disk worht of space is used for this).  By doing this, any SINGLE one of the 4 disks can fail and the system will keep running, albeit slower.

    512 MB of RAM is ok for a web server, in my opinion.  BUT if you're going to run SQL on it, you probably want to upgrade that to at least 1 GB, maybe even 2 (or somewhere in the middle).  MS SQL can take up LOTS of RAM and that can help SQL performance.  If you are going to run Exchange on the system too, then you REALLY want 2GB or more of RAM. But really, your SQL server, Web Server, and Mail server should ideally be on different boxes.

    If you use Windows Server 2003, it has a feature called "Volume Shadow Copy" which can keep a history of changes to files.  Thus if you accidentally save changes that end up screwing up a file, you can recover the original file.

    If you want to save the syste from a power surge, buy a UPS.  a 700 VA should do, more if you want to have it run longer during outages.
    LVL 7

    Author Comment

    Thanks for that Leew, we'll leave SQL on current machine and find some more RAM.

    I'll also have a look for that Shadow Copy

    I guess what we really need first is some idea of what to do first. Do we just chuck in the Windows 2003 disks or is there something else that need to be configured first?

    LVL 95

    Accepted Solution

    If the RAID is setup, then yes, just put in the 2003 server and install.  once the install is complete, you need to activate Shadow Copies.

    Try to understand, When you install windows, if the RAID 5 is setup correctly, Windows will only see 1 physical disk of roughly 210 GB  (you can partition this if you like), but understand when you see this, there's nothing wrong, this is how a RAID 5 should look to the OS.
    LVL 7

    Author Comment

    Do I understand correctly that the Shadow copy will only make a backup of shared folders? That is helpful but won't help much in the event of some kind if system corruption or disasterous setting change?

    Do I also understand that you can only access the backups from other machines on your network?

    Also, I can't work out how to specifiy where the shadow backup files go?
    LVL 7

    Author Comment

    Ok - I've tried to install Windows 2003 on the machine but it told me that is couldn't find a hard drive.

    Instead I've booted with the Adaptec "Bootable RAID installation CD" that was provided with the machine.

    The main menu shows 1 item under the heading "AAC0 Adaptec 2120S, 64.0 MB

    There are 4 physical devices under a heading "Chanel 0: 320 MB/s" and on the other side of the screen, associated with this is one logical device totalling 205GB and set up as RAID-5.

    Any ideas what to do next???
    LVL 7

    Author Comment

    OK I've nailed the problem, you have to push f6 and then chuck in the driver diskette at the appropriate moment or it won't recognise the Hard drive.

    Thanks for help.

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