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Extend system volume size on a hardware raid 5 array?

Realpoet01 asked
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2012-06-27
I would like to extend the boot volume size on a Raid 5 hardware array.

Here's a quick run down on the current specs:
Compaq Proliant DL380 G4
Smart Array 6i Controller
4 SCSI hotswap 136.73GB drives in a raid 5
Two open SCSI hotswap slots on the cage that I put in extra drives
Windows 2003 Server w/SP1

C: = 10GB (system volume) and 384GB of free space
I would like to extend the size of C: to use more of the 384Gb that are currently not allocated.
Windows will not allow me to extend a boot partition nor will diskpart

Any Ideas?

Thanks for your help! Let me know if you have any questions
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This is easily done using a third-party partition manager, as long as the partitions are basic partitions (ie the disk hasn't been converted to a "Dynamic Disk"). Some good commercial partition managers are:

Acronis Disk Director - http://www.acronis.com/
Paragon Partition Manager - http://www.paragon-gmbh.com/

An excellent shareware tool for partition management is BootIT NG - http://www.bootitng.com/

All of these tools will allow you to resize a partition very easily, although the commercial ones have a nicer interface. The only trick with using BootIT NG is that when you boot from the BootIT NG CD (you create it from an ISO), you need to press Cancel at the first dialog box, which takes you into maintenance mode where you can manipulate partitions (resize, move, copy, etc).

It's always a good idea to take an image of a disk / partition before doing any partition management operations, just in case something goes wrong. All of the above tools allow you to do this.

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I converted to dynamic well my initial troubleshooting steps :(

My understanding is you can't go back?
Paragon Partition Manager can convert dynamic to basic. Acronis Disk Director probably can too. I'm pretty sure that BootIT NG can't.

Dynamic partitions can be extended by adding another partition to the existing partition. The end result is the same (as far as available disk space goes), but it's not as neat as having a single partition.
As you mention in your question, you cannot use Disk Manager to extend a volume that contains a file system or is the system boot volume.
You would need to use Partition Magic (best I have found so far) to extend this outside of Windows 2003.

Alternatively, backup (system state and full) to offline device. Recreate a new volume on your controller, reinstall windows 2003 and backup software, then restore the full and system state from offline.

This is the long but tried and tested method.

Hope this helps
IPKON Networks Ltd
The reason that Paragon and other disk tools can revert to basic is that a copy of the original info is created when converting to dynamic. They work along the principle of www.windowsitpro.com/Article/ArticleID/25375/25375.html. I don't think they will work if the advanced functions of dynamic disks have been used like extending the volume into a volume set with disk manager but since those functions aren't available on the system disk all the info is available to recover.

By the way, it is not normal to have an enormous C: drive like you have it, people normally have a C: of a few gig (10GB is fine) and put the data on a seperate volume D: With 6 drives you would normally go one step further and have 2 disks RAID 1 for OS and programs and the other 4 in RAID 5 for data. Makes future upgrades easier since you can easily use diskpart on the data volume and you can reformat and reinstall the OS and programs without having to restore the data in the event of OS/program failure.
Seeing as how we're digressing...  :)

6 disks make a nice RAID 10 set (mirrored stripes), with fast I/O for reads and writes, even when a disk fails. This is what I've been doing with most of the DL380's & DL385's that I've set up recently.

BTW, if you don't have a battery backup module for the 6i, it's well worth getting one - it adds 128MB of cache and enables write caching as well as read caching.

Yes, I digressed but you would agree that "Dynamic partitions can be extended by adding another partition to the existing partition." has to be qualified with "unless it is the system partition" wouldn't you?

I tend to be conservative in having the seperate OS disks so the page file is on seperate spindles but putting all 6 into one RAID 10 array does have its merits. Come upgrade time however if you do Direct to SAN DtS you don't really want to move the OS disks into a MSA 1500 along with the data. Of course the write cache enabler does smooth out any problems of the page file but it also smooths out RAID 5 problems, MS still use 2 + 4 in their DL380 file servers rather than all 6 in 1 array, but I guess they're conservative as well.

To further the digression, I would not recommend using writeback cache if the volume is for Exchange IS. Even though it 'should' be OK and in a power failure, commit all the transactions smoothly, I have seen many IS failure which was fully down to the caching.

Speed vs reliability in a failure. Exchange is pretty touchy about such things. Not seen the problem with Exchange 2003 but as it is the same IS, I don't see it being any different

IPKON Networks Ltd
David_Fong - yes, you're quite right about not being able to extend a dynamic partition if its a system partition. I should've included that important piece of info when I made the statement about being able to extend dynamic partitions by adding other partitions, so thanks for making that point.

I used to be conservative and put the OS on a RAID 1 set, and apps / data on RAID 5 or 10 set(s). In ancient times I used to put the pagefile and/or swapfile (back in the days of VAX/VMS) on a separate disk. Nowadays though, RAM is cheap, so its far better to put lots of RAM in a server so that it hardly uses the pagefile, and it's often worthwhile to maximise the performance of the disk subsystem for everything (OS, apps, data) by making it a RAID 10 set. There's no "one rule fits all" though - each server needs to be individually configured for the anticipated workload and the customers budget.

IPKON_Networks - Write-cache without battery backup is definitely a bad thing, and likely to lead to corruption. That's why you can't enable write cache on any of the HP SmartArray RAID controllers unless they have battery backup. Write cache can make a big difference to the performance of an Exchange Server, and is definitely worthwhile. I have no hesitation in using it with HP servers running Exchange. I don't spec a server though without battery backed cache, redundant power supplies and a good UPS.

Enough digression (from me anyway)!  :)


Paragon Partition Manager works great however if you don't want to pay $299 I would say IPKON Networks idea of pulling a full and system state backup then reinstalling the OS and restoring the backups might work as well.

Thanks again everyone for the contribution! Hopefully I will be able to return the favor later on!

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