PowerEdge 1950: Upgrade Hard Drives (RAID-1, Win 2003 R2, PERC 5/i)

Hi,

We have a PE 1950 (2 drive slots) with two 160G (3.5", 7.2k) SATA2 drives that we want to
upgrade to larger capacity drives (400G+) .  I would like to know what would be the easiest
way to do this, with the least downtime.  

The ideal solution (which we don't know is possible) would be to break the mirror,
repalce drive #2 with one of the new drives and rebuild. Then do the same with
drive #1. Finally expand the size of the volume. But we're not sure this is possible
with the PERC 5/i.

A similar question (http://www.experts-exchange.com/Storage/Backup_Restore/Q_26228168.html)
was posted here, but they have a SAS setup, and we rather avoid the third party cloning software
solution as suggested there if at all possible.

Thanks!
bcpiAsked:
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ProtechCTConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Since you are running raid-1 you can break the mirror and replace drive 2 then re-establish....but you would still need some sort of 3rd party software to extend the partitions.

Q 26228168 on the exchange is the easiest way to accomplish this task.

MAKE A BACKUP!!! can't stress this enough!! Before preforming the upgrade.

Best way break mirror.

Replace drive 2 to with new drive

Ghost can clone one of the old drives to the new one all while extending the partition at the same time. then you can install the new drive to drive 1 and the other new drive to drive2 to and create the mirror.

All done at this point

Perc 5/i is pretty workable when doing these tasks.
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Darius GhassemCommented:
For you to extend a volume the volume must not be on a system volume. So, cloning or imaging software is required
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PowerEdgeTechConnect With a Mentor IT ConsultantCommented:
You can use a 2008 DVD to extend a system partition, but ...

Rebuilding the drives one at a time will not work as you are expecting.  After both have rebuilt, you will have an array/Virtual Disk that is the same size as before.  At that point, the only thing you will be able to do is create a new partition/drive letter in Disk Management using the new Unallocated Space.  It will not be possible to "merge" or "extend" this new space with any previous space using any software, as they will be logically separated by the RAID controller.

If an additional partition will work for you, they do that ... if not, your only option is to clone/backup, delete RAID 1, recreate larger RAID 1, restore.

Don't be tempted by another fix you might find on the Internet called a retag - deleting/recreating array without initializing.  That is just asking for trouble.
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DavidPresidentCommented:
Breaking & replacing puts data at risk.  All you need is one uncorrectable read error and you lose data.   Best practice is to take this opportunity to test a bare-metal backup & restore.

Back up system, yank the old drives, put in the new ones, build AND INITIALIZE the RAID (so all blocks are zeroed, this is a good burn-in .. don't do the background init).

Then restore.

This gives you zero risk, your original data is untouched, and you have tested a disaster recovery restore at the same time.  If something goes bad, then pop in the 2 disks and the controller will re-learn the config and you can try again.
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PowerEdgeTechIT ConsultantCommented:
To re-emphasize after ProTech's comment ... the PERC 5 cannot resize the Virtual Disk to accomodate larger disks.
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bcpiAuthor Commented:
Thanks for all the answers....

The raid-1 currently has two partitions (C: - windows, and D: for data).  For us, it would be ok to leave those partitions at their current sizes (12gb, and  136gb), so long we can add a single new partition (E:) to utilize the rest of the space (~350gb out of the 500GB drives) under a raid-1 setup as well.  

Will this be possible under the "rebuild one drive at a time" method?  

ps: we understand the risks, and will have full verified backups before proceeding.
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DavidConnect With a Mentor PresidentCommented:
It won't work on the PERC 5 (unless they added it to the firmware recently).  The reason is that during the rebuild the metadata is cloned to the replacement drive.  The total capacity of the array will stay at 160GB, because that is how the metadata was set up.   There is no "Free" area, because the total addressable capacity stays constant.

If you want to cut corners, then how about just cracking open a power supply, running cables and getting all 4 disks hooked up at once.  Then build the new RAID1 the way you want it.   Then use a unix box with just dd, or clonezilla, or any partitioning software to set up the replacement disk partitions the way you want them.

After then cloning, delete the old array, unplug the old disks, and move the new disks from the external enclosure.  Make sure you set up boot order and such.
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DavidPresidentCommented:
To clarify ... it is as if you end up with a total capacity of 160 in the volume.   There is no "free" area because in order to give you that free area, the physical volume of 160GB would then have to change.  

RIght now you have a 160GB volume, that is partitioned into C/D, with C on partition 0, D on partition 1.

But for this scheme to work, the controller would then have to provide you with a 500GB volume, partition it, and put the 160GB volume in partition #0, and the remaining in partition #1.    So you would not end up with a C,D,E, you would end up with partition 0 being split into C/D, and partition 1 as free space.    This is why controllers rarely offer such a feature, it involves mucking with partition tables.  The controller is not aware of what operating system you are using, so there is no way to even tell it what you have.
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PowerEdgeTechIT ConsultantCommented:
To answer the question I believe you were asking in your last post ... yes, you can create a second RAID 1 across the set of disks if all you need is an additional storage partition.  Once you rebuild each larger drive, in OMSA, you will see 500GB total capacity for each disk with 160GB used RAID disk space and 340GB of available RAID disk space.  You can then create a new RAID 1 using that 340GB available RAID disk space in OMSA ... Storage, PERC, Information/Configuration (link at top of the page), then Create Virtual Disk from drop down menu of available tasks for the controller.
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