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Raid configuration and driver partitioning

Posted on 2010-09-02
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Hello and thank you for your attention to this matter. Your input and insight is appreciated.

I'm in the process of configuring a serve for a client and i'm not sure what sort of raid to use. This server will act as a domain controller, exchange and file server. There are 12 wks. and about 20 users. I'm certain that for the OS partition (ms sbs 2008) i will set up raid1 for redundancy(2x160gb).
For the Data storage i'm not certain on what to use. I was thinking to set up another Raid1 ????

I'm also not certain on which controller to use. Any recommendations? These are the spces i get to choose from.

Also any recommendations on partitions sizes? I was going to use the whole 160gb or maybe even 80gb since we most likely will image the driver using Acronis.

Please keep in mind that cost is a factor. Thank you for your time and expertise. I appreciate your help.. Thank you again.

 dell config1 dell config2
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Question by:loshdog
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Author Comment

by:loshdog
ID: 33592963
Just found this out:

"usmcguy:   In reply to "bpl5000" comment on Acronis on the above hardware..."Acronis bootable media does not support PERC S100 and S300 RAID"http://kb.acronis.com/content/8149They  recommend building a BartPE disk with the Acronis plug-in, and adding  the Drivers to BartPE.  I just started working on this issue yesterday  and haven't had much luck.  If you go this route, be prepared to do a  little leg work if you want to use the Acronis bootable media on a PERC  S100/S300 RAID."
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PowerEdgeTech earned 250 total points
ID: 33593099
If $100 is not a deal-breaker, then get the PERC 6/i.  It is widely supported and offers great performance and features.  If you can meet your storage needs with a RAID 1, then that should be fine for cost and performance.
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by:Greg Hejl
ID: 33593107
choose at least a 4 drive raid 10 for data drive  i think the perc 6ir only does raid1.  the 6ir will do raid 10

if you can afford it, do choose sas scsi over sata.

for sbs 2008  - 8 gigs of ram or more - sql server chews up alot
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by:PowerEdgeTech
PowerEdgeTech earned 250 total points
ID: 33593119
SAS 6/iR, PERC S300 only do RAID 0,1.  PERC 6/i and 799/800 will do 0,1,5,6,10,50,60.  700/800 are newer, thus is not as widely supported.
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by:PowerEdgeTech
ID: 33593167
Correction ... S300 will do a RAID 10 in addition to 0,1, but SAS 6/iR will not.  All will take SAS and SATA, SATA giving you more GB for your buck, and SAS more performance/reliability, so decide on whether you need faster drives or more drive space.
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by:Greg Hejl
Greg Hejl earned 125 total points
ID: 33593228
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by:bpl5000
bpl5000 earned 125 total points
ID: 33605236
We have many Dell servers with the PERC 6/i , but it seems that's not available on this model.  What model Dell is this?  I wouldn't pay $400+ more for a raid card when a PERC 6/i would do what you need.  I have a Dell engineer that I deal with, he would know very well what model would be best suited for you.  I think you would be better suited with a model that has a PERC 6/i and this model doesn't seem to have that available.  I'd be interested to know the model number.

As for what raid to use, I would just do 2 mirrored OS drives and a raid 5 for your data.  For 20 users, raid 10 would be a waste of money.  We have an Exchange server that's serving up 800 mailboxes, doing journaling, and archiving (and by the way, archiving is awesome with Exchange 2010 SP1) and all this is done on raid 5 (OS is mirrored).  We did mull over the decision on what raid to use (raid 5 or raid 10), but I'm glad we saved money and went with raid 5 because the performance is still outstanding.  It is on SAS drives, but for your situation, I would use SATA.  When you're talking about 20 users, the server won't be getting pounded.
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by:Greg Hejl
ID: 33605512
@ those who call for raid 1 for os:
this is old think - when a raid set was counted on for failure- you needed the os to recover from a raid failure - it just doesn't happen anymore.

with hyper v the old raid data drives are folders that you back up and restore - so the only raid set you really need is the one that takes care of the os. this can be covered with a partition.
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by:PowerEdgeTech
ID: 33605551
bpl - what makes you think a PERC 6/i is not available on this model?  It clearly is.
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by:bpl5000
ID: 33606482
@PowerEdgeTech - Of course you are right... I was looking at the choices for primary controller, but I see now that he doesn't have the option because he has SAS 6/iR chosen for the HHD configuration.  I would definitely choose the 6/i.

We use the 6i with Acronis, although we do have our own boot CD.  The only reason I like Acronis is because we can put it on our own boot CD and not have to install it on systems.  This is very useful on workstations.  With Backup Exec, you cannot boot from a CD and do a backup.  You can boot from a CD and do a restore, but not a backup.  Obviously in this case you would want to have the backup software installed on the server so I would go with Symantec Backup Exec System Recovery Server because, in my opinion, it's a better product with better support.  Just make sure you don't confuse this product with Symantec Backup Exec for Windows Server, they are too very different products.

@Greg Hejl.  I'm surprised to hear that raid failures do not happen anymore.  I'm assuming when you say raid failures, you mean hard drives failing because that's the reason raid sets are used.  Hard drive failures still do happen... I had it happen just a month ago and if the drives were not raided, I would have had a fun Sunday afternoon restoring the server.  Instead, I came in on Monday and plugged in a new drive.

As for Hyper-V, you still should have your hypervisor installed on raided drives (most likely raid 1).  Otherwise, on some Sunday afternoon when you're on vacation in the mountains, a drive will go bad and you will be on your way back to fix it because if the hypervisor is down, you won't be able to run VMs.
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by:PowerEdgeTech
ID: 33606624
I'd be interested to hear Greg's reasoning for his comment too - I'm just assuming it just didn't come out like he intended.
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Author Closing Comment

by:loshdog
ID: 33627773
Thank you all for your input..
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by:Greg Hejl
ID: 33629498
to clarify on raid failures - i was not referring to drive failures in a raid set.  I was referring to array failure.
i have not had an array failure since 2007. when i retired the last of the raid sets from equipment 2005 and earlier.  on a hyper v host i never use raid 5,  raid 10 provides much better disk i/o
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by:bpl5000
ID: 33657063
That's true, you will get better performance with raid 10, but only if you can utilize it, otherwise it's just wasted.  For example, I can buy a Ferrari to drive to work, but if the speed limit is only 30 mph, then that's a lot of wasted performance.  Also, having a separate raid set for your OS will give you better performance because your data raid set is freed up from handling i/o's for the OS.

It might be old school, but I still believe that mirroring the OS is the best practice.  In this case, I agree with PowerEdgeTech saying that raid 1 would suffice for data because we are only talking about 12 users.
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