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Adding old drive with old data into RAID array

Posted on 2007-10-18
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Last Modified: 2013-11-14
On our old Dell Poweredge 4400 Server we have 5 total drives.  1 of which was pulled many many moons ago (at LEAST 4 years) and set on top of the server as a backup in case something went wrong with the software upgrade they were performing. (What's the tape for than?!?)

We're out of space, I have no idea what RAID they're using (I'm guessing RAID5), I would like to throw this drive back in, but I am afraid it's going to write whatever is on this drive to the other and not vice versa.  I've only rebuilt degraged drives that needed to be replaced, never had to throw a 4 year old disk back into an array.

Thanks!
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Question by:iviatticus
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by:thenone
ID: 20101417
in theory Raid 5 only writes part of the partition to the disk and not overwrite the rest of the data on the disk.
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by:Handy Holder
ID: 20102030
You're generally safe adding disks with old data on them so long as it is done live. Obvious to back up first though.
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by:iviatticus
ID: 20102094
What do you mean done live?  Shut the server down then add it?  Thanks
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thenone earned 150 total points
ID: 20102257
Question,

Has a new raid been done on the existing four drives? If not and these are hot swappable you really do not need to shut down. Just put it in and let it rebuild itself.
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by:Handy Holder
ID: 20102268
No, they're hot-plug disks in the 4400 aren't they? When you plug disks in hot it is very unlikley that the controller will reconfigure the current disks since they are already running.  
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by:iviatticus
ID: 20102901
Yeah they're hot swappable.

That's my thought of it, I would hope the computer is smart enough to realize that's it's old data.  
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by:thenone
thenone earned 150 total points
ID: 20102950
you should be good. Raid 5 only writes part of the data to the disk not the entire data. Hopefully it reconises the old fomrat and doesn't ask you to fomrat. If it does at least you know not to do.
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