Upgrading hardware RAID5 disks to Dynamic disks

Posted on 2007-07-24
Last Modified: 2012-06-21
I've got a question about increasing my diskspace with a combination of a hardware Raid5 and Microsoft Dynamic Disk possibilities.

At this moment in my HP ML350 server I have a Raid 5 setup with 3 SCSI disks of 18.2 GB for c: which makes a total of 32GB. The Raid is setup at the boot menu with the HP Smart Array util. At this moment, my harddisks are running to it's near capacity so i'm thinking of expanding the disks with a new harddisk. I've bought one 147GB Harddisk also SCSI and made this one Dynamical under Windows 2003 Server. Works fine. But to expand the capacity on my C: drive I was thinking of of connecting them with the option to Add additional diskspace.

In order to archive this, I would have to upgrade the RAID5 disk, shown in the Computer Management as C: (just one drive) to also a Dynamic drive. Can i expect any complications when performing this action since the harddrives are connected with the Smart Array device which basically configures these drives?

When i click "convert to dynamical disk" it states that it will convert. However, i'm having a uncertain feeling about it so i'm scared to dead to press the continue button... Anyone got experience with this one?
Question by:directsolutions
    LVL 26

    Accepted Solution

    My personal feeling is install the new 147GB disk as a stand-alone drive, or get a second and hardware-mirror them. Expanding the existing C: drive via software is begging for trouble.

    THAT said, Dynamic disks have never hurt me personally.
    LVL 4

    Assisted Solution

    Dynamic disks aren't bad, just remember that once converted to Dynamic, they CANNOT be converted back without wiping the drive. Here is a great walkthrough of conversion to Dynamic and also includes implementing RAID 5. Enjoy.
    LVL 10

    Assisted Solution

    by:Walter Padrón
    Expanding your C: drive using Windows Dynamic Disk results in having some of your data protected by the RAID and the rest unprotected on the new disk. Best option will be to expand the RAID with more disks using Smart Array but disks must have similar size.

    I will keep my 32 Gb RAID5 just for the OS and installed programs and move the rest of the data to the new disk on a new partition with good backups.

    This is nothing wrong with convert to dynamic disks.

    LVL 55

    Assisted Solution

    You don't gain anything by converting the boot disk to dynamic since you can't expand it that way so I suggest you don't do it. There is a lot wrong with converting the boot disk to dynamic, namely having to cough up $300 for something that can revert it to basic with some guarantee against data loss.

    Adding a single large disk to an array of small disks isn't useful, you only gain the size of the smallest disk in the array, so you will get about 18GB more space in your case.
    LVL 4

    Expert Comment

    The conversion to dynamic is always prefaced by the fact that you cannot convert it back without data loss. So really, there is nothing wrong with conversion TO dynamic disks, just if you want to change BACK, which many people will never do.
    LVL 1

    Assisted Solution

    I will not recommend to expand the C drive that way. If your new disk crashes, you are in deep trouble since it's not a RAID 1 or 5 disk. The best way to do it is this:
    1. Buy 3 new (bigger) disks to replace the old 18.2 GB disks.
    2. Replace them one at a time while the server is up and running: Take out the disk in slot 0 and replace it with one of the new disks. Wait until it has been rebuild by the RAID controller. You can follow the progress in the "HP Array Configuration Utility". Repeat this procedure with the reamining 2 disks.
    3. Extend the volume in ""HP Array Configuration Utility".
    4. Convert the C drive to dynamic in Disk Management. And there is nothing wrong with that, I have done it many times without a single problem.
    5. Extend the volume in Disk Management to use the extra disk space.

    LVL 55

    Expert Comment

    Why not just buy another 147 and mirror them and move the data to there?

    You can't extend the boot disk whether dynamic or not without 3rd party software. " Only volumes originally created on dynamic disks can be extended. " They've even highlighted it in red for you!

    You can actually revert to basic without losing data if mount points or extensions haven't been done, you just use a disk editor to change the partitition type since the data is still in exactly the same structure as it was before.

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