RAID 5 storage upgrade and diskpart

I have a  proliant dl380 Win2003 server with an embedded HP smart array 5i controller. It has a RAID 5 array for data which is almost out of space. We've purchased the drives for a new array with double the space. The plan is to back up this data drive, swap out the drives, create a new array from the BIOS, create the dynamic disk from the OS & restore from backup.

A complicating factor is that disk management is not working. I get the error 'unable to connect to logical disk manager service' and a popup that indicates 'unspecified error'. I've researched this and tried various fixes all to no avail. It looks as though I should be able to accomplish this with diskpart, but not having done it before, I have some questions.

Once the RAID 5 array is created, I assume diskpart will see the array as one logical disk. Will I then have to create a dynamic disk or will the creation of the array through the hardware eliminate the need for this and allow me to just create a volume, assign a drive letter and format? Looking at the different diskpart commands, it seems it converts from basic to dynamic, but there doesn't appear to be anything about creating a dynamic disk from the start.

Another question - if things go badly, is it possible to 'keep' the current array and simply pop the old drives back in with the original data accessible or does the controller force you to delete the old array to create the new one? I thought the array would be deleted, but I've seen some postings that seem to indicate you might be able to revert back to the old array. Perhaps this is only with certain controllers or maybe I misunderstood the posts?

Thanks for your comments.
Who is Participating?
I wear a lot of hats...

"The solutions and answers provided on Experts Exchange have been extremely helpful to me over the last few years. I wear a lot of hats - Developer, Database Administrator, Help Desk, etc., so I know a lot of things but not a lot about one thing. Experts Exchange gives me answers from people who do know a lot about one thing, in a easy to use platform." -Todd S.


Have you checked to make sure the "Logical Disk Manager" service is running?

Also, may want to consider swapping out one drive at a time and letting the array rebuild each time.

Afterwards, you can assign the free space to an existing array using HP array configuration utility?

Once done, you will have to expand the logical drive using diskpart for Windows to see it.

I can see why you are concerned should things go "wrong" before proceeding I would check which version of ACU and firmware you are using for the 5i to make sure there are no known bugs.

One other option, if you have more drive bays available in your server you can extend the array by adding more drives as well.
PARLECITAuthor Commented:
   Thanks for your input Serio. All the drive bays are currently occupied. As far as the logical disk manager error, the service and all the dependent services are running as they should be. I found a MS article that referred to problems after uninstalling some Veritas software (not done to my knowledge, but Backup Exec is on the server), and going through the suggested fix seemed harmless enough but did not work.

I have considered doing as you suggested as far as adding/rebuilding, but it seems there's some debate as to whether this is preferable to the backup/restore method, although it would avoid using diskpart to create the partition and/or volume as I would just be extending. I only have about 100GB of data, but I have no idea how long this would take. At least with backup/restore I have some indication of the time involved.

As far as firmware/software, I've upgraded to the latest for the BIOS, 5i firmware, windows storage driver and ACU. I will have to check on any known issues with the latest versions.
Powerful Yet Easy-to-Use Network Monitoring

Identify excessive bandwidth utilization or unexpected application traffic with SolarWinds Bandwidth Analyzer Pack.

>The plan is to back up this data drive, swap out the drives, create a new array from the BIOS, create the dynamic disk from the OS & restore from backup.

You don't need to do any of that, just  swap disks one by one, open the Array Configuration Utility under Windows, select the logical disk you want to expand and in the right hand pane there should be the option to extend it. Then run diskpart and stretch the volume. All can be done without a single reboot although diskpart shouldn't be run when the server is busy.

You should avoid dynamic disks since they're not needed, this works fine with basic disks.

The logical disk manager services has two dependencies which are the "Plug and Play" and "Remote Procedure Call (RPC)" services check to make sure thay are running and set to Automatic.

Once the RAID 5 array is created, I assume diskpart will see the array as one logical disk....
That is not correct! As clear as the name it has, diskpart is using to expand partition only. It has nothing to do with RAID and logical drive. You have to expand your logical drive with ACU as above post mentioned. However, diskpart only works with none OS partition. If you would like to expand OS partition, you have to use third party back up tools as your plan.

is it possible to 'keep' the current array and simply pop the old drives back in with the original data accessible or does the controller force you to delete .....
You should always be able to put back your drives as long as you mark the order of them and put them back in the same order as they were.

Here is my suggestion.
- Backup your server image
- Bring the server down and mark the drives in order as well as replace them with the newer ones.
- Bring the server up and smart array should automatically build RAID 5 for you.
- Restore your image back up to the logical drive. You can specify the partition size while doing this.
- Done.
Just in case you need some free imaging software:

PARLECITAuthor Commented:
Ok, very sorry I haven't updated. Again, thanks for comments. In the end, I pulled all the drives and restored from backup. Downtime wasn't an issue and I was just more comfortable with this approach. As luck would have it, one of the new drives was bad. I'm not sure how that would have played out had I used the 'pull and rebuild' method. In this case I just ordered a new one and swapped. Next time I'll probably try a Ghost boot CD. Not sure if this old server would have seen an external USB hdd to send the image to.

 Inkevin, maybe you misunderstood what I meant by logical drive, but diskpart did indeed see the new array and can be used for much more than just extending the partition. It seems it does just about everything disk manager does with the exception of creating a dynamic disk in one step. I used diskpart to create a basic partition, then converted to dynamic. You're right, I didn't need dynamic but I did it anyway just to keep things consistent...didn't really see a downside. Formatted & restored from backup. One other thing I tried was accessing disk manager from another computer by connecting to the server through that computer's management console, but ran into permission issues. Since diskpart was adequate, I'll give that a try later.

 It took several hours, but I was going slowly and kept popping the old drives back in to see if the old array was retained. Even after I deleted the array from the controller BIOS & got the warning about total data loss, I was still able to pop the old drives in and boot normally. With more experience, it would have taken me much less time, probably just a couple of hrs.

 One side note somewhat unrelated...I was prepared for shares to be lost with the restore. Just need to be aware of them and recreate them afterwards ,right? What I forgot to do was then set share permissions, and all the shares were set to the default of everyone read. Luckily I knew the following day because we have a DNC program that sends programs to our CNC machines. When you start it up all the channels find a network share and attempt to write a file to a designated directory on that share.

 I wasn't too familiar with the program, but I called for support and described what was happening and the guy explained it was trying to write. 5 minutes later I figured it out it was the share permissions. A couple mouse clicks on each share and problem solved...without that though, nobody would have been able to change files on the mapped drives and worse, the whole manufacturing floor would have been down come Tuesday because of the DNC issue. Needless to say, glad I did this on a Friday night!

Experts Exchange Solution brought to you by

Your issues matter to us.

Facing a tech roadblock? Get the help and guidance you need from experienced professionals who care. Ask your question anytime, anywhere, with no hassle.

Start your 7-day free trial

Ultimately, I feel you made the correct decision because of the "unable to connect to logical disk manager service" error. By doing this you knocked out two birds with one stone. Hopefully, next time you can take advantage of your other options and enjoy the long weekend.
Why did you convert to dynamic disk? They aren't as stable as basic disks, you're just using something that's not useful just because it's there!

As far as share permissions go there's a registry key you can export/import that contains all the permissions.

PARLECITAuthor Commented:
Andyalder...can you elaborate more on the instability of dynamic disks? I see some references to this on the net but nothing definitive. It looks like one downside to them is having problems with imaging programs?

As to why I did it...I confess, I had no really good reason. The consulting company that built the DC and Exchange servers set them up with all dynamic disks (RAID 1 & RAID 5 but at the hardware level) although they have hardware RAID and all the drive bays are occupied...doesn't seem to make sense. I was more concerned with the other issues and was under a time crunch to get this done. I figured I'd just keep things the way they were. In hindsight it seems that was a dumb move, and now it looks as though I can't go back to basic without deleting the volume and once again having to restore from backup. Lesson learned.

We have backup exec 10d and it looks like it will only restore file permissions unless I missed something. Maybe the newer versions allow restoring the share permissions as well. I wasn't aware of the registry key process - thanks for that.
It's more than this solution.Get answers and train to solve all your tech problems - anytime, anywhere.Try it for free Edge Out The Competitionfor your dream job with proven skills and certifications.Get started today Stand Outas the employee with proven skills.Start learning today for free Move Your Career Forwardwith certification training in the latest technologies.Start your trial today

From novice to tech pro — start learning today.