Moving to RAID

Posted on 2006-03-27
Last Modified: 2010-04-18
Hi All,
I have a Windows 2003 Server that is acting as a domain controller, Exchange Server, and File server.

Here is the current Configuration:

Physical Disk      Partition              Capacity      Available
Disk 0                        C            17.3      13.5
Disk 0                        D            16.5      12.8
Disk 1                        E                      34.1      5.97

Both Disks are 36 CB Disks.  I want to add two more 36 GB disks and create a 4 disk raid array.  That will give me about 108 Gb which is enough for our needs.

My question is after adding the (2) 36 Gb drives, what is the best way to create the RAID-5 Array.  Obviously, all of the current data will not fit onto one drive and then create the array from the single drive.  

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Question by:smpross
    LVL 95

    Expert Comment

    by:Lee W, MVP
    this depends entirely on the RAID controller used (and that's assuming hardware RAID).  If you want to use software RAID, software RAID 5 can't be used on a Windows boot or system logical drive, only RAID 1 (mirroring).

    If hardware, IF the controller supports it, I would backup your data (the whole server with particular attention to file shares, exchange databases, and related things) to get it to the point where it all DOES fit on one disk.  Then, again, IF THE CONTROLLER SUPPORTS IT, you can dynamically convert Disk 0 JBOD (Just a bunch of disks, which is really what no RAID is typically called on a RAID controller) to a RAID 5 over 4 drives.

    To be TRULY safe, you might want to get yourself a copy of Virtual PC - even a 45 day trial (or VMWARE) and make yourself a second DC to backup your domain controller information as well in a potentially easier, more secure way of restoring it should something go wrong.  (NOTE: You would be a fool to go about this without a known good backup - even the best tools for modifying drives/partitions are not 100% guarenteed - and even if they were, they MIGHT refund your money, they WON'T make up for lost productivity because you didn't have a backup and weren't able to restore).
    LVL 4

    Expert Comment

    Are you doing software RAID with the OS or hardware RAID with a RAID Controller?  I recommend the RAID Controller.  Software RAID blows.

    It's going to be complicated especially to minimize down time.

    Assuming you're going hardware RAID,
    I'd add one new 36 GB HD and put everything on that.  It should all fit.
    Make that Disk 0.  How you do that depends on if which RAID controller you use, so can't give details yet.
    Then add the next three drives.  Create a RAID 5 array on those 3 using the RAID controller config utility.
    Move the data to the RAID array using a thrid party tool to copy the data over.
    Make the server boot to the RAID Array using the RAID controller config utility
    Now expand the RAID array to include that 1st drive using the RAID controller utility.


    Author Comment

    Sorry, I am using Hardware RAID.  Probably a MegaRaid card.  But all of the data will NOT fit on one drive.  The size of the E drive alone is 29 GB.

    LVL 12

    Expert Comment

    160GB ide drive = $120 or less (money well spent)  run yoru backup software and dump the backup to file.....
    LVL 95

    Accepted Solution

    Not familiar with the MegaRAID line of cards, but I know they are LSI cards and I believe they will allow dynamic conversions.  If that's the case, then get two disk and convert the DISK 0 into a THREE disk RAID 5 using the two new drives.  Then you can create a logical partition, copy over the other disk, and then expand the RAID by adding the current DISK 1 as 4th drive in the RAID 5.


    LVL 9

    Expert Comment

    RAID 5 with 4x36 GB = RIAD 5 capacity 108 GB  ( without hot spare disk)

    Next with 4 disk with RAID 5  you can  create only one  array.

    as you above word " all of the current data will not fit onto one drive and then create the array from the single drive" what you mean by this

    with hardware RAID  after creating  as  above , 108 Gb  single hard disk  will show to operating system level. you can partition it as you wish,  if you want 3 partition    C= 20 GB ( because C is for OS) , D= 30 Gb , E= 60 Gb ( i think you can reduce "C "capacity an increase " D" and "E" as your wish or more Partition )

    Partition can do when installing OS and  
    i assume  all data backup before RAID configuration,

    if you talking about RAID 1 (mirroring) then could be a data capacity problem as above .



    Author Comment

    That is what I was thinking too.  Thanks.


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