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Raid 1 on a SBS 2003 server

Posted on 2007-11-20
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Last Modified: 2008-02-01
Hi experts,

I have a SBS server configured with a 160 GB SATA hard drive, installed as the only hard drive.
Can I install a SATA raid controller and another identical hard drive into the server and create a raid 1 mirror of the original hard disk?
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Question by:spooler32
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by:cipher42
ID: 20321834
It depends on the RAID card.  Most of the time the answer would be no, the RAID controller has to write RAID information to the drive without interfering with the data already on there...

But I've heard rumblings of some manufacturers having support for this...  It's probably best to do a bit of research into specific cards.
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Lee W, MVP earned 1000 total points
ID: 20322782
I disagree.  Most low end RAID cards can do this fine as you're asking for a MIRROR - not a RAID 5.  A mirror simply writes data to both drives simultaneously, ensuring that both drives have the same exact data at the same exact time.  It will not be a problem per se with the RAID controller.  What will likely be a problem is the drivers.  Windows specifies the controller and the disk to start up from.  You'll essentially be changing the controller, which will result in Windows being unable to boot (it's no longer booting off where it should be).  

You will probably have one of two options for RAID implementation -
1.  Use Software RAID 1 - this can be done essentially free of charge.  It's not as good as hardware RAID, but it is still RAID.  And Windows Server has this built in (you need to convert the existing disk to Dynamic - which is GENERALLY not a problem - I've done it often, though ONCE it did cause a major problem that was only resolved with a call to Microsoft).
2.  Install the RAID card first, including drivers.  Then (and there may be easier ways, but I've never had to do this in either case, so I can't be certain) install a second copy of Windows on the hard disk that is controlled by the hardware RAID controller.  That will essentially identify the controller/path to the disk (you don't even need to go very far - just complete up to the first reboot - setup will modify the .ini file and effectively tell you what you need.

AS ALWAYS, WHEN MAKING CHANGES TO A DISK CONFIG, MAKE A BACKUP AND MAKE SURE IT'S A GOOD BACKUP.

Ideally, you'll test the above procedure (unless someone else comes up with a better one) on a test server first.
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