RAID 5 on Proliant 380 G5 slow to format D: drive

chasmx1
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I'm doing a initial install of Windows 2008 on a HP Proliant Server that has a Smart 400 RAID controller.  We have 6 148 GB 10K drives in a single hardware array set for RAID 5.  The C: drive is 256 GB and was formatted fine during the installion of the OS.  After the OS was installed I went back to format the remaining unused dick as my D: drive.   Now after 7 hours the drive is only 25% done.  The array parity is still building I think, but this is still really slow.  Any ideas?  Thanks
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Distinguished Expert 2017

Commented:
The building/initialization of a RAID 5 of 730GB will take some time. and will take longer if data is being written while the array is being initialized/built.

You may have selected the full format versus the quick format which for a 470 GB might be awhile.
Not sure why you defined/setup the RAID in this way?
If I was setting this up, depending on what functions this server were performing the underlying requirements, I would have likely setup two 146GB drives in RAID 1 for the OS and the remaining four drives in raid 5 for the data.
146GB raid 1 C:
438GB RAID 5 D drive.

If it is a database a RAID 10 if available might be better if 292GB is enough for the storage i.e. the database is not yet large.
DavidPresident
Top Expert 2010

Commented:
make sure write cache is enabled in the controller.

Author

Commented:
HP only offers RAID 1 & 5.  I didn't want to suffer the overhead of RAID 1 but I guess it may be a good idea now that we have ample drive storage.  As far as I know there is no control of the write cache on Smart Array 400 controller other than let the battery run down.  This machine is going to be hosting Exchange Server 2007.
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Author

Commented:
If I disolve the current array and reconfigure it for 2-drives RAID 1 and 4-Drives RAID 5 is it safe to install the OS while the array is still building?  Also when I go to format the D: drive after the install is complete is it safe to do a QUICK FORMAT?  Also it offers two types of formatting depending on the size of the partition.  Which is best for the RAID 5?

Author

Commented:
Upon further research I've learned that the full format option writes zeros in every byte of the partition rather then just clearing the volume like quick format does.  I'm going to redo the array and specify quick format.  Thanks

Author

Commented:
Should software write caching be turned on in Windows if a machine has a hardware RAID conroller with on board RAM caching like the HP Smart Array 400?  Something seems wrong now that my D: formatting has been running for 14 hours and is only 60% completed even though I understand that the format writes zeros into every byte in the simple partition.
Top Expert 2014
Commented:
>HP only offers RAID 1 & 5.
Not really, they offer RAIDs 0, 1, 10, 5 and 6 (need a battery for RAID 6), RAID 1 and 10 are both the same as far as the ACU is concerned, just depends on the number of disks.

> I didn't want to suffer the overhead of RAID 1...
Depends what you mean by overhead, you lose capacity but gain IOPS by using RAID 10 instead of RAID 5, you can always start off with RAID 10 and use the online RAID level migration in the future if you need more space.

>As far as I know there is no control of the write cache on Smart Array 400 controller other than let the battery run down.
If you highlight the logical disk in the ACU you can change the cache parameters and alter the read/write cache percentage.

>is it safe to install the OS while the array is still building?
Yes

>is complete is it safe to do a QUICK FORMAT?
Yes, long format not only erases the disk but does a surface analysis looking for bad sectors, you'll never encounter a bad sector that way because the controller deals with bad disk sectors (after the disk has dealt with them).

>Should software write caching be turned on in Windows...
Setting write cache on in windows sends a SCSI command to the controller telling it to enable/disable cache but it ignores this command (or at least it's meant to), since it controls write cache through presence/absence of a charged battery.

It is taking far too long, even on a long format it goes through pretty quick because it immediately says "done that" from cache to the surface analysis read/write tests. You may have a driver or firmware issue, I'd flash it all including disks to the latest using the firmware CD and make sure the latest Proliant Support Pack is installed.

Any chance of a report from the Array Diagnostic Utility (as attachment, don't paste into thread).

Author

Commented:
Thanks for the quick reply.   This is my first experience with a P400 controller.  It appears by default the hardware cache is turned off by default from HP.  How can I tell if the machine has a battery backup for the controller?  I see no evidence of one on the mother board like there was on our 6I Smart Array controller.  We have dual power supplies on the server and it is on a UPS so is it safe to enable the write cache if there is no battery on the controller and if so where in the Smart Array utility is this done?
Charles
Top Expert 2014

Commented:
If the cache is disabled you haven't got a battery. You'd see it readily enough with the lid off since it sits in one of the two stretched-D shaped housings moulded into the air flow baffle. (I======D shaped - cant do it in ascii graphics).

I think the option to turn write cache on without a battery is in BIOS (advanced system options) rather than under the ACU, it is on the G6 anyway although I'd never turn it on since server failure would equal data corruption which you wouldn't necessarily even know about. Far better to cough up $100 for a battery - http://www.hardware.com/store/hp/383280-B21 

If you just want to turn on cache temporarily and can't find the option then under the ACU you can turn on disk write cache instead, again not something to do in a production environment but OK as a temporary measure to get the format over.

Author

Commented:

Thanks, I did find the option to turn cache write on/off in the ACU and I did find two horseshoe shaped sockets that hold the array batteries which I will order.  I did turn the caching on since we have redundancy on the server.
Charles
Top Expert 2014

Commented:
Only order one battery, it's got two places to put them since you might have two controllers.

Author

Commented:
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