SBS 2011: Hard drive configuration best practices

Posted on 2011-02-22
Last Modified: 2012-08-14
Hi all,

I'm building up a server for our use : we are six , basically using the server for mail and file storage. I'm interesting in finding the best hard drive configuration so that I get excellent performance and of course excellent reliability.

I was thinking of doing the following :

Raid 0 of two Seagate Savvio 15K.2 2.5" 146GB / SAS 2.0 / 15000rpm / 16MB Cache / 2.9ms / 24x7 / 1.6Mh MTB for the OS

Raid 5 of three Western Digital RE4-GP 3.5" 1.5TB SATA-II / 5400rpm / 64MB Cache / 8.9ms / NCQ / 24x7 for Data, partitioned in 3 : datafile, exchange database, local OS backup

One Corsair Performance 3 SSD / SATA-III / 128GB / 410 MB/s read / 210MB/s write for swap, exchange logs and maybe other things you would recommend ?

The Raid 0 and Raid 5 would be configured on a HP Smart Array P410i and the SSD on a Highpoint Rocket620 2 Port SATA3 Controller.

The total price for my 6 hard drives is between 1400$ and 1500$, which I think is extremely interesting.

What do you think ? Would you suggest a better scenario ?
Question by:StephRu
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LVL 13

Expert Comment

ID: 34950233
RAID 0 for the O/S will give you great performance but you have no resilience with RAID 0 so one disk fail (or a weird RAID corruption) and you're re-installing the O/S

I'd do a RAID 1 - not much performance hit in the real world on an O/S drive and much more peace of mind

Author Comment

ID: 34950243
Hi Randy,

My mistake, of course I meant Raid 1 for the OS. Are the Seagate Savvio a good choice ? Is 15K rpm disks really necessary? What about the noise ?'

LVL 70

Expert Comment

ID: 34950264
My concern is what you want to use the dirrerent RAID arrays for.

RAID 0 while fast offers no redundancy indeed because you have multiple disks and the data is forfit should any of the disks fail it is arguably more likley to fail - so long as its only being used for temp files etc than thats not a major issue. In practice the theoretical increased performance of RAID 0 may go unnoticed.

You might want to consider RAID 1 as an alternative - true its not quite as fast at storing data, but can retrive it almost as quickly and you have redundancy built in.

Undoubtedly for true fault tollerance on important data you need RAID 5 (or better).

Don't forget though - these are ways of improving fault tolleance - you still need to do regular backups and test them properly.

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LVL 13

Assisted Solution

Randy_Bojangles earned 40 total points
ID: 34950276
I'm no expert on individual drives as we do brand name servers from HP,Dell etc so the disks are rebadged as their own with their own firmware etc so I couldnt really comment on the specific drive


15k rpm on a 2.5" drive is often overkill as the seek time is much better anyway

Author Comment

ID: 34950758
Thanks for your input guys.

Is the SSD a good idea ? Is it worth it ? What could I put more than exchange logs and swap ? What about partitionning my data raid in 3 ?
LVL 58

Expert Comment

by:Cliff Galiher
ID: 34956305
Honestly in SBS, even near the high end, it is tough to get I/O bound with modern spindle drives. Everyone will have a different opinion, but in most cases, a large RAID 5 or even RAID 6 is plenty sufficient. Splitting into RAID1, SSD, etc is overkill in my opinion.


Author Comment

ID: 34960834
Thanks for your input Cliff...

I just discovered Raid 5E, even 5EE existed... seems to be a good improvement over Raid 5.

I have found many many places where they say to put OS and Exchange / Data on separate drives.  

LVL 58

Accepted Solution

Cliff Galiher earned 85 total points
ID: 34985584
The reason for putting them on separate spindles is one of performance. And again, Exchange is an enterprise product so performance is measured in thousands of users. With SBS and its peak of 75 users, you simply don't hit the barriers that usually cause experts to say split up data, logs, os, etc. IT is a matter of balancing management, maintenance, disaster recovery with performance. For every new RAID configuraiton you add, you increase complexity, but you increase performance.

With SBS you should never *hit* that particular performance bottleneck (or even be getting close) so the added complexity comes with no benefit. There is simply ver little reason to do so.


Author Comment

ID: 35043300
Thanks cgaliher for your feedback. I understand that SBS was meant for small business and in my case, it's often between 10 and 50 users max.

Now I'm wondering after Randy_Bojangles post : are the harddrive branded "HP" for a HP Server really better that proper server harddrive you can find in the market ? Are the extra $$$ for those harddrive really a better choice ? I'm used to buying diskless server, and buying seperatly the harddrive.


LVL 58

Expert Comment

by:Cliff Galiher
ID: 35075352
A bit off-topic from your original question. You'll get a better response if you post a new question in the appropriate zone(s).


Author Comment

ID: 35235311
Thanks all for your input.

I finally decided to configure a :
- mirrored raid on 2 Seagate Savvio 15K.2 / SAS 2.0 / 15000rpm drives
- raid 5 for Shares, Exchange, ... on 4 Western Digital RE4-GP 3.5" 1.5TB SATA-II / 5400rpm / 64MB Cache (that I partitioned in 3 - exchange, shares, local backup)
- raid stripping of two Wester Digital 7200rpm for temp folder, Wsus update folder, exchange logs...

I thought that configuration was quite easy and I'm very happy of the performance... and the price is really reasonable.

Thank you all for your time and feedback
LVL 39

Expert Comment

by:Philip Elder
ID: 35489154
For six users we would do the following :

 - Hardware RAID + battery backup.
 - 4x 300GB 15K SAS RAID 10 array (add two more for higher I/O and space).

We would even go to a five or six spindle 15K SAS RAID 5 array as the battery would allow Write-Back mode on the RAID controller which virtually eliminates the parity write hit. Five spindles gives us a room for a hot spare.

We have been running SBS 2011 as our production OS since before public Beta bits. Thus we have been testing the OS both on physical and virtual platforms for quite a while now. The early access was due to my being an SBS MVP.

It is very important to note that SBS 2011 is a lot different than SBS 2008 in that the new version of Exchange wants RAM and not I/O. IMNSHO, this is an SBS hardware configuration game changer.



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