Upgrading to faster server hard drives

Posted on 2010-09-13
Last Modified: 2012-05-10
I am planning on updating the hard drives in our file and print server. This server is an IBM x3650. It currently has 3 500GB, 7200 SATA hard drives in a RAID5 configuration.

I want to replace these drives with 15000 RPM SAS drives. I am also considering installing 4 drives for the RAID array, and 1 drive to place the swap file on. I would then use the old drives elsewhere.

Any advice on the best way to go about this upgrade? I have an idea of what I want to do, but would like some opinions. Thanks.

Question by:wcutech

Expert Comment

ID: 33664855
I have just completed the same thing (on a Dell server running Windows 2003).  Perform a full backup first.  
I used Ghost to get a clone of the volume on the raid array to an image on a portable hard drive.  You must do some testing to make sure you have all the DOS drivers for the RAID controller and the portable hard drive (if needed).

Once the image is created, label and remove the old drives (in case it does not work), insert the new drives, configure your array with the neccessary virtual drives and ghost the images back to the array from the portable drive.

Expert Comment

ID: 33664905
d_willia has the process for doing the upgrade down pat if you choose to use Symantec Ghost. I personally use a product called Shadow Protect which works wonders.

There is only one issue that I am seeing with the request which is that you can't replace SATA drives with SAS drives. They use a different interface to connect the drives to the backplane (and subsequently to the RAID controller).

Can you give us the exact model of the server (info is on the front black sticker) and then we can really look at the upgrade process (and possibly provide part numbers that you can specifically look at to replace the drives)?

I don't want to give you incorrect information because you may also be looking at SFF SAS drives for your server.

Author Comment

ID: 33666201
Thanks for the replies guys.

The server is an IBM System x3650 Type 7979:

Documentation states that he controller does support SAS drives, but the drives actually in the server right now say SATA on them (IBM FRU 39M4533).
LVL 18

Accepted Solution

BigSchmuh earned 500 total points
ID: 33680511
...and please, please, please avoid using RAID 5/6/50/60 if you expect any good performance at "write time"

Your ServeRAID card supports RAID 1E and RAID 10 whose are easier to get good performance from...even with your current SATA drives.

Your io usage comes from many concurrent access of your two services :
-print server usage : r/w avg 5MB files
-file server usage : r/w avg 1MB files

You should:
-Use an OS that are capable of large io size (Win2008 allows for 1-8MB io where Win2003 send 64KB io only)
-Define the largest stripe size (1MB for ServeRAID?) for your raid 1E or 10 array
-Control that the file queue length for this array stay lower or close to 1

Now regarding the drives, their IOPS capability depends on:
-the number of drives
-the drives rotation speed (Intel X25 SSD = 12x 15krpm SAS = 24x 10 krpm SAS = 50x 7200rpm SATA)

For a new server without the (useless) multipath capability , I recommend going to the 2,5" form factor with SATA HDD (for storage space used almost sequentially) and SSD (for IOPS random io usages)

Expert Comment

ID: 33684089
BigSchmuh answered this to the fullest. I would recommend everything he stated here and he also left quite a bit of good information there for you to digest.

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