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In a hardware RAID 5 array should Windows Server 2003 be installed on a partition?

I have been asked to build a server with RAID 5 and Windows Server 2003 which I have never done before.

I have done some research and I understand that hardware RAID is much better than software, and I understand the stages of configuration using the RAID controller card's bios.

The next stage is to boot from the Windows 2003 server cd, and press F6 at the relevant point to install the RAID controller drivers.

During my research, on a thread that I cannot find, I read that the Windows Server 2003 OS cannot be stored on the RAID 5 array. I read this during an early point of my research and cannot remember if this was the case in software RAID, hardware RAID or both.

Do I need to have RAID 1 for the os and the rest of the disks in RAID 5 in *hardware* RAID?

Is that even possible?

Or do I configure hardware RAID 5 using all of the disks and then create a partition to install the os on during Windows Server 2003 set up? If so, how big should the partition be - 20gb?

I am still not 100% sure that you can partition hardware RAID 5?

I do not have a great amount of practical experience, as is probably evident.

If these questions could be answered I would be very grateful.
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NoobTechnician
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NoobTechnician
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DTAHARLEVCommented:
Think of it this way: Windows doesn't know how the drives are configured. RAID-1 of two 63GB drives will look just like one 63GB drive; RAID-5 of five 73GB drives will look to Windows just like a regular 300GB drive (4 x 73). You can create partitions just like you would have on any other drive.
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NoobTechnicianAuthor Commented:
Thank you for the information about RAID - that makes more sense to me now.

Knowing that I can partition the RAID 5 array, is it advisable to create a partition to install the Windows Server 2003 OS onto? Or just install onto unpartitioned space?

Is it advisable to keep the OS on one partition and data on the other partitions?
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DTAHARLEVCommented:
It is; depending on how your drives are configured, how many you have and how many you need. Here's what we do with Dell PowerEdge 2850s, which have 6 drives:

We create a RAID-1 mirror array using drives 1 & 2, making the entire drive the C: partition (approx 73GB)
We create a RAID-5 array using disks 3,4,5,6 (300GB each) getting about 850GB. We create either one partition there for data and programs, or we split it up -- one partition for programs (some 150-200GB) and another for data (the rest.)
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NoobTechnicianAuthor Commented:
It is a Dell PowerEdge 2850 that I will be working with.

Thanks for your valuable help.

I will create a RAID 1 mirror using drives 1 and 2 and create a RAID 5 array using drives 3, 4, 5 and 6 which I won't partition as I'm not entirely sure what the servers purpose will be yet.
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DTAHARLEVCommented:
That's perfect; on some Dell machines they may show up as drives 0 - 5 instead of 1 - 6. The advantage you're getting here as well is that the RAID controller some times has two channels, so channel 1 controls drives 1 - 2 and channel 2 controls drives 3 - 6. This gives you even better performance, as they can both work at the same time.

TIP: install Dell Server Administrator, it's a great tool that ships with the server and sends you alerts if one of the drives fail, etc. -- don't just count on noticing it turn orange.
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