Pagefile on a separate hard drive, what happens if that drive fails?

Posted on 2006-06-30
Last Modified: 2008-02-01

I have a PowerEdge 2500 with a PERC3/Di RAID controller with 3x 9.1GB HD and 3x18.4GB HD and will be installing Small Business Server 2003.

There are a lot of people that recommends using a RAID1 for the OS and a RAID5 for the data and also many people recommends having the pagefile on a separate hard drive to improve the performance, they also recommend to not use fault tolerant arrays for the pagefile as it will impact on the performance.

Based on those suggestions and my config I tought using 2x 9.1GB on a RAID1 for the OS, 3x 18.4GB on a RAID5 for data and the remaining 9.1GB as a simple HD for the pagefile.

Then, this is my question: What happens if the pagefile HD fails, will the OS crash? what is the point of having RAID1 on the OS if the server will go down with the pagefile... will it be a better solution to put the pagefile inside the OS array and leave the that HDD as a hot spare? in this case, is 9.1GB to little for a Small Business Server installation including the pagefile?

Thanks all in advance for any suggestion.

Question by:Lumute
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Expert Comment

ID: 17023394
I don't have any experience with servers, but if Windows can't use the paging file, then it'll most likely just give you an error message-box and resume using real RAM. I'm using Windows XP, and I always disable the paging file because it isn't necessary if the computer has enough RAM.

Try disabling the paging file and see how the server runs. Despite the fact that Microsoft insists that you use it, it isn't necessary unless the computer doesn't have enough RAM for the tasks it's doing.
LVL 88

Expert Comment

ID: 17023548
The server shouldn't go offline if the pagefile isn't accessible, but it will make accessing it difficult, and you might not be able to run things you can normally run. If this happens you would just temporarily set the pagefile to another partition until you can replace the bad drive.

Normally I set up servers with the OS, the Apps, the Data, and the log files, transaction logs, temp files etc on different partitions. This allows for a small partition for the OS. Such setups can be done with unattended installations where you can tell the OS where it should install what. With SBS servers this is difficult to do, because the setup program fails to install all the components correctly if you don't use the standard "C for everything M$ $h*t" solution. Because of that the 9GB space you'll get for the OS and Apps will be on the low side and if the pagefile is also there you will probably soon run into problems. So in your case you should really have the pagefile somewhere else.

Expert Comment

ID: 17024358
Correct it will just be slow VERY slow and might give some errors, some services may crash, but  you will be able to move it to a working drive and restart.

As for the 9.1 Gig, make sure you set Exchange and anything other than Windows itself to go onto the second partition and you should be fine... especially with the page file on a different drive.  I would install any other apps on the other drive also.

But you could get and IDE raid controller and 2 300Gig 16 MEg cache drive mirrored, and for dirt cheap have 250-300Gig and it will run 5 times faster than the setup you are talking about.  the Aureal Density and age of any 9 or 18 gig drives make them a LOT slower than the new high density drives that are out, even if they are higher RPM.  And your server will run a LOT cooler... which is always good.
LVL 10

Accepted Solution

GuruGary earned 50 total points
ID: 17024995
From my experience, the computer will reboot if the pagefile HD fails and the computer is already booted into Windows.  I have seen this several times.  Sometimes the comptuer will lock up for a minute or 2 before rebooting, but it ends up rebooting.  After the reboot, I think it usually uses physical RAM.

If there the pagefile drive fails and there happens to be nothing paged to disk, then it might continue working without a reboot, but I don't know if that would ever happen.

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