Dell Poweredge 2600 drive upgrade/RAID questions

Posted on 2005-05-11
Last Modified: 2010-08-05
I have a Dell Poweredge 2600 server on a 20 user Windows 2003 network. It has two 36GB Ultra 320 SCSI hard drives on a 1x6 SCSI backplane in a RAID 1 configuration. I have ordered 4 72GB Ultra 320 drives - I want to configure 3 for a RAID 5 and one as a hotspare. Can I do this? What about downtime? Can I just plug these bad boys in and intialize them and configure the RAID 5, or will I have to take down the server? What happens if I just take and plug these new drives into the server? I am scared!
Question by:kevotron

    Author Comment

    ummm oops, i meant to say also that the RAID 1 will still be there with the OS, and the RAID 5 array will be for additional space. So

    2 36GB RAID 1 (OS and programs)

    3 72GB RAID 5 (data)
    LVL 87

    Expert Comment

    If the drives are hotswappable, you can add the to the server while it is running (although I would shut it down for that, down time shouldn't take long, and windows servers normally have to be rebooted regularly anyway to run reliably). Depending on the Dell Raid software utility you should be able to configure raid 5 with1 hotspare while windows is running.
    But everything should be straightforward and no problem at all.
    LVL 30

    Expert Comment

    by:Duncan Meyers
    You can just plug the new drives in on the fly with absolute safety. Your next steps vary a little depending on which RAID controller you have etc etc etc.

    I'd suggest you schedule a little downtime and download Dell OpenManage Array Manager (
    and install that. Depending on which RAID controller you have it may inisist that you upgrade drivers abd firmware, If you are using the onboard RAID controller on the 2600 then you most likely have a PERC 3/Di (check under Start -> Administrative Tools -> Computer Management):
    You **must** upgrade the driver before upgrading the firmware.

    Once you've done that, you can use Array Manager to create the new RAID 5 array and the global hotspare.

    Array Manager documentation:

    Feel free to post if you need more help...

    Author Comment

    It is  Perc 4/DI controller. I do have the Dell Openmanage software already in place and was used to configure the RAID 1 setup. Anyway, here is my ultimate goal, please excuse any redudant info, I guess I should have just posted this whole thing to be a bit clearer. I am inlcuding it as kind a "big picture" type thing. Dell Poweredge 2600 server on a 20 user Windows 2003 network. It has two 36GB Ultra 320 SCSI hard drives in a RAID 1 configuration. When this server was built, it was given a 4 GB system partition leaving about 30GB of storage space on a second partition for programs and data. The 4 GB system partition and 30GB of storage space are both just too small.  What I want to do is expand the system partition and increase storage space. This is my plan

    A. Two arrays--the first being the 36GB RAID 1 array--I am going to leave it alone

    B. The second array will be three 72GB Ultra 320 SCSI drives w/ a RAID 5 configuration and one extra 72GB drive on stand-by as a hot spare.

    I want to migrate all the data from the 30GB partition on the original RAID 1 array to the new RAID 5 setup. I then want to use the RAID 1 array for the system partition and programs. I will use the RAID 5 setup for data. Here is what I am unsure of--Can I move the data from the 30 GB partition, and then format or delete  that partition, and then use diskpart, or some third party software (i have Partition Commander) to expand the 4 GB system partition using the now unallocated space from the 30 gig partition? Also, would this process be helped or hindered if I was to convert to dynamic disks? Does my plan seem like a viable solution:
                     2 36GB drives RAID 1 - System and programs
                     3 72GB drives RAID 5 - Data
                     1 72GB drive Hotspare

    Is this a sound plan? Is there anything I missed or should take into consideration?
    LVL 30

    Accepted Solution

    The problem you face is that you need to make the 4GB RAID partition larger (not just the OS partition) - to fill out the entire 36GB. Unfortunately, there is no way of doing this with the RAID controller that you have.

    I suspect that your best approach is:
    1: Fit the new 73GB HDDs and create the new RAID 5 array and hotspare, create a partition and format. Array Mangler is the tool for the job.
    2: Copy the data to new partition
    3: Make a backup then blow away the OS partition and recreate it. You'll need to recreate shares, printers and permissions, but on a 20 user network that shouldn't be too onerous. Easy for me to say that of course. :-)

    You will need to reinstall any apps that were running on the server.

    LVL 87

    Assisted Solution

    You'd have to try using diskpart to extend you 4 GB Partition. If ii doesn't work, it will say so when you try. Also, I'm not sure about partition Commander, that product I don't know. Usually you need specialized server Version of these partitioning tools (symantec's partition magic doesn't work on servers, they had another product, volumemanager, but I believe also that won't work with the Windows 2003 server versions). A product which would help is acronis disk director suite (

    If you don't have any running links etc going to your data partition, it should be no problem moving that data to your new raid5 system. If there are some running links, there may be at least some temporary problems because the drive letter will not be the same on the destination until you have removed the old partition and changed the drive letters. Use robocopy to copy the data, it works best.

    Author Comment

    Ok I hope I dont sound like a tool for asking, but can I break the mirror then make my changes (extending the 4 GB system partition via diskpart, or Dell's partition software) and then recreate the mirror. I am really frightened to zap Windows 2003 and start over. I am afraid of the implications of having to reshare everything. im not sure how to go about it.

    when you say running links, do you mean shares?  are you saying just take the old partition offline and then change the share to the same drive letter as the old partition?
    LVL 87

    Expert Comment

    I meant more like apps running on the server having to access something on the data drive. The shares may also have to be renewed, I'm not completely sure if they will stay.

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