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How to add RAID 5 to existing Dell GX620

Posted on 2008-06-24
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Hi, I have a Dell Optiplex GX620 with 4 internal SATA drives installed as independent drives totaling approximately 750GB of storage.  I would like to know if it is possible to add a RAID 5 controller and drives to this system while maintaining the boot drive (C:) on the onboard controller.  I would be removing the 3 other drives.  I am relatively new to the Raid world so any information concerning controllers and drives would also be most appreciated.
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Question by:mbadeaux
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scrathcyboy earned 2000 total points
ID: 21862284
YES, you can add a RAID 5 controller with other drives attached to it, and run this RAID independent of the on-board RAID on the optiplex.  The main RAID can be C, and the new separate RAID can be D.  

But why do you want to remove the other drives?  Are you trying to MIGRATE the original RAID to the new one?  Are you trying to replace the old with a new RAID?  Realize, if you remove drives from the original RAID array on the Dell -- that RAID is trashed.  So be certain what you are doing before doing it.

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by:mbadeaux
ID: 21865641
scrathcyboy,

Thanks for the response.  The drives that are currently in the optiplex are technically not RAID.  Our main data is on these drives so I want to have them in reserve in case things don't work the way I am hoping...I can simply put the original drives back in and get back to where I was.  The OS and a few production programs are running on the C: drive which is why I want to keep that one in the box.

Cost is somewhat of a factor...do you know of any reasonably priced PCI controller cards that support RAID 5?  What about drives?
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by:scrathcyboy
ID: 21879870
YES YES -- always buy a PROMISE RAID card, they are the most flexible, and actually one of the cheapest.  Essentially ALL modern Promise cards do RAID 5 as the default, but they are flexible and adaptable.  If you want to configure the RAID to a higher drive letter, that is no problem, just assign it to F or something.

 If you want to replace you C drive with the RAID array, that is a lot harder.  Basically you have to make the RAID array as a single RAID 5 array, and assign it to the highest level drive above the others currently on the system.  Then you have to copy all data that you want to it, including the current windows setup.  But it will not be bootable at that point.  

Next step is to clone the real C drive and GHOST the OS to a different drive.  Then remove the original C drive, and reset the system BIOS to boot from the RAID drive, not the IDE - SATA drives in the system.

Then you use ghost or similar to RESTORE the OS from the image that you made of the boot drive back to the RAID drive.  Now you can reboot and the C boot drive should be on the RAID, if all went well.  It is a difficult procedure, it works if you do everything A-OK, but if not, you will have to reinstall the OS and APPS on the new C drive, which is the RAID>
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by:fdenman
ID: 36347725
Cautionary note: The Promise TX2300 won't work on GX620 because the TX2300 bios cannot be accessed/configured with a USB keyboard.  The GX620 does not have a PS2 keyboard.
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