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File Server Optimum Disc Configuration

Posted on 2008-02-04
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2010-04-21
I have a HP DL380 G4 (Smart Array Controller 6i) / Dual Xeon 3.2GHz Processors / 4GB RAM which was formerly used to house Exchange (6 Discs - 72GB RAID1 for OS + 4 Discs 146GB RAID 5). I have moved exchange to new hardware and would like to use the old server as a file server (replace old DL100 NAS).

OS = Windows 2003 Server Standard R2 SP2

What would be the best configuration to give optimum performance/Vs fault tolerance? I have the option to replace the 2 * 72GB with a further 2 * 146GB giving 6 * 146GB in total (SCSI 10,000 rpm).

Type of Data:
Drawings (tifs) file average around 140KB
Excel Files (these can be anything from 10KB to 10MB)
PDF - (these can be anything from 10KB to 10MB)

I was thinking of:
Volume Shadow Copy (peformance hit, but worth it!!)
Raxco PerfectDisk 2008 Server

I could partiton 2 * 146GB drives :C: 50GB (OS) D: (80GB) Shadow Copy
The have 4 * 146GB drives RAID 5 (stripe size ???)

Read / Write Ratio ???????
I/O - Not sure

If you require further clarification do not hesitate to ask.
Question by:NSSUK
  • 5
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LVL 17

Accepted Solution

Hanno P.S. earned 375 total points
ID: 20815736
Usually, I'd use mirrored disks for OS (no matter if Unix (Solaris) or Windows.

As you will not need very much space for OS, you also have a lot of space
left for data.

Depending on the type of access on your file server's data, you may want to
setup mirrored stripe (or striped mirror) or RAID5.
If you need high data throughput during writes, don't use RAID5! Otherwise
RAID5 is fine.

If you have two disks for OS + data (use at least two different partitions)
plus four disks for (either RAID5 or stripe/mirror) file server data, you may
want to put the data which will have to be written a lot onto the two first
(OS + data) disks and all the other files onto RAID5

If you are free to choose, use Solaris 10 -- otherwise Windows Server

Author Comment

ID: 20818079
Hi, thanks for taking time to reply. It is difficult to ascertain the data throughput during writes (I have no metrics to quantify). I have real world experience with RAID 1 / RAID 5 / RAID 6. From your comments would you use the 6 * 146GB drives and configure as follows:

Array A: RAID1
2 *146GB
Logical Partition C: 50GB (OS )
Logical Partition D: 80GB (Used to store Volume shadow copy)

Array B: RAID5
4 * 146GB to give maximum storage capacity (Data - need maximum storage)


Expert Comment

ID: 20818787
Your OS partition should not need to be that large but the configuration you propose is probably the one most frequently seen.  If you will be using databases such as SQL, raid 1's become more popular due to improved write times (the parity calculations can create delays in arrays with less than 5 disks).  That would cost you more disk space, however.  Without having an idea of the hard drive usage, it will be hard to give you a true "best" option but I believe that JustUNIX has provided a good general solution.  Unless you expect a heavy disk traffic, a raid 1 for the os and page files, etc and a raid 5 for data should be sufficient for most needs.
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Author Comment

ID: 20818974
sifuedition thanks for the additional comments. I will award the points to JustUNIX as you seem to agree.
The proposed server spec is better than the current DL100 NAS although the load is spread across 2 servers.

Author Closing Comment

ID: 31427806
Thanks for your time and comments.
LVL 17

Expert Comment

by:Hanno P.S.
ID: 20821557
It looks like you want to use Windows as OS for your server (and not Solaris or Linux)
Therefore, I think you should keep the OS partition much smaller (6 GB or max. 10 GB)
should be fine.
Anything else (DB stuff, application data, etc.) should be put into different partitions.
LVL 17

Expert Comment

by:Hanno P.S.
ID: 20821564
Also, thinking about RAID5 interleave sizes, you may use rather large values (at least 256k) if you don't need high write throughput, to avoid having too much overhead.

Author Comment

ID: 20821703
Thanks. Had a re-think. Will now use newer DLG5 (8 drives) will move apps from G5 to G4 to allow for this. Taking into account your comments I will configure as follows:

ARRAY A: (RAID1) 2 * 146GB drives (SAS 10,000rpm)
C: partition size smaller than 10GB
D: remainder for the Volume Shadow Copy 'Shadow'

ARRAY B: (RAID6) 5 * 146GB Drives (SAS 10,000rpm)
E: Data  

Bay 8 Hot Spare? I may use 6 drives in the array to give more capacity as RIAD 6 can suffer 2 disc failures and remain operable...........so maybe NO hot spare....
LVL 17

Expert Comment

by:Hanno P.S.
ID: 20821749
If you have all eight drives the same type, a hot spare can also serve
as replacement for your OS drive's mirror ;-)
Otherwise, your are right (talking RAID6 -- which seems to be like the
RAID_DP in NetApp systems)

Author Comment

ID: 20821986
Good point on the OS Mirror.......worth considering.....although I am back to storage requirements.....if I were to move all the data from the NAS devices (do not want to do this) then I will be at capacity on the new server.......I want users to identify 'Live' data then copy this across. Leave the NAS as archive server(s) (read only).

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