Hard drive firmware upgrade or just get new hard drives

I have a somewhat new server that I am using for Exchange with a Raid 5 setup. It has 3 Seagate ST3500320AS, with firmware SD15. These seem to have quite a reputation of dying on the job. Well what I have been seeing is that one of these hard drives will degrade the raid about a week or 2 after a reboot, and I can rebuild the raid and things are ok until the next reboot. I will get the error in the event viewer from iastore: The device \Device\Ide\iaStore0 did not respond within the timeout period. Then after a rebuild it will be ok as long as I don't do a reboot. This has happened 3 times now, and I think my luck may run out.
These drives are still under warranty, but it seems that they have to be dead before they get replaced. I haven't found any information if the firmware upgrade actually solves the problem of these drives, and I really haven't found a tool to test drives thoroughly while in a raid setup.
Also the Intel Matrix controller is at ver 7.5 which was supposed to have fixed the iastore problem too. I am looking for some advice on how to fix this problem. The last time the raid broke it brought the server down. I am afraid it won't come up again next time. Thanks!
LunaRavenscroftAsked:
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DavidPresidentCommented:
Get rid of those disk drives. They are not suitable to run behind a RAID controller.   Not just because those are cheap consumer drives, designed for a documented duty cycle of 2400 hours/year --  but because they take to long to recover from bad blocks.  That is why you are having the problem you are having.  The bad blocks kill you.

So what you need are true enterprise class drives, with the firmware & ECC and hardware design to actually work behind a RAID controller.  Use seagate, WD, whatever ... go for enterprise class not consumer class, and you will be OK.


I did a write-up more on this topic, you should check it out ...
http://www.experts-exchange.com/articles/Storage/Misc/Disk-drive-reliability-overview.html
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noxchoGlobal Support CoordinatorCommented:
Get the new drives. Update of firmware will not bring you any sort of relief.
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MARAGONLLCCommented:
If it is an on-board controller, then I would suggest upgrading to a separate Raid Controller AND getting new drives.  If the drives have been running for more than a month without degrading and just recently began to degrade, then save yourself the  gamble and just replace them.

If you get new drives.  I would also suggest scanning each individual drive for bad sectors prior to installing them into the array.  And if you do decide to get new drives and keep Raid 5, then I would set them up in a 4-Drive Raid 5 array as opposed to 3.  But for an exchange server I would recommend buying 4 new drives which are relatively cheap, and setting them up in Raid10.    

An easy way to make this transition would be to get a stand alone raid controller and drives, and keep your current array running.  Clone the current array image onto the new array, and then unplug once you're transitioned.
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LunaRavenscroftAuthor Commented:
I just bought new WD hard drives. This will give me a chance to do a complete system restore from a backup to see what that looks like too. Thank you all for the excellent advice!
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