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Setup new Raid 5 server with 4 disks of 300gb each

Posted on 2011-02-25
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Hello - In the process of setting up a brand new server. What is the best raid 5 configuration for four 300gb hard disks? I have to have TWO partitions - one OS (around 90GBs) and the other as DATA - should i combine all the four disks in one raid 5 array? or should i do it separate? n how would I separate it? The controller i think is a Dell PERC S300 and can probably only handle 4 disks max - the server is a Dell T110 - already installed win 2008 server std. R2 but willing to redo. thanks
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Question by:johny911
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by:it_saige
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You could combine all 4 disks into one RAID5 configuration and seperate into two separate partitions.  As a point of failure though, you end up with everything controlled by your one controller.  This is not normally an issue, but still something to be aware of.

-saige-
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darrylka earned 125 total points
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I would personally just make it one big RAID 5 array and then partition it in whatever OS you end up loading on it.

The only possible exception for me would be if you were virtualizing the server and wanted to keep two separate RAID container for each VM.

When you partition the drive in the OS, and you're using a Microsoft Windows OS, don't create an extended partition,
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by:it_saige
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Actually I should point out.  You would only be able to configure a RAID5 using either all 4 disks or 3 disks.  RAID5 requires at least 3 disks.  As your question is how to segregate your 4 disks and get two partitions, you would be best to use all 4 in a RAID5 configuration and partition.

-saige-
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by:johny911
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Darrylka - since i am not too familiar with Raid 5 - what happens if the OS fails and i have to reload? would i have to redo the entire system? Also if any one hard drive is degraded or fails - can i replace it with another as in hot swap it?I just want to be sure that i set up right before we go into production.
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by:BITCooler
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I have 8 x 300gbs 10K rpm SAS drives in a RAID 50, which provides good balance of performance and redundancy.  This RAID 50 uses all the disk space and I have two partitions, one for OS , one for DATA.
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by:darrylka
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That's part of the point of a RAID 5 configuration.  You can lose a drive and still be up and running because all the information from that lost drive is spread across the other drives.  Then when you hot-swap the bad drive, the controller rebuilds that new drive from the information on the other healthy drives.  You lose about 25% of the total drive space to accommodate this safety net.  

That said, is it possible to lost too many drives at once?  Yes, it is, but unlikely.  You should also be doing backups and possibly image backups.
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by:johny911
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Ok that sounds good but what about if just the OS has issues and needs to be reinstalled or redone - then would i have to rebuild the raid? yes i have the onsite and offsite backup setup
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by:darrylka
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No, once the RAID array is built, it will stay that way until you make changes to it.  It will basically behave like one big hard drive and is controlled at the hardware level.
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by:johny911
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Yes - I understand that but what i am asking is that lets say the OS (windows 2008) gets corrupted for some reason and i need to reinstall it or redo it then what would i have to do as far as the raid is concerened - would i not have to touch raid and just wipe out the OS partition and reinstall it? or would i need to redo the DATA partition also?
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by:darrylka
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You shouldn't have to touch the RAID at all once you've set it up.  It will behave just like a single drive unless you go into the RAID utility and change it.  Once the RAID 5 is setup, you're done, regardless of what you do with the data on the drives.
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by:BITCooler
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Johny911

Since your server controller can only handle 4 disk, you only have two options, use all disk in a RAID 5 (for OS and DATA) or setup TWO RAID 1 Mirrors (One for OS, One for Data).  The RAID 1 downside to you is that you use 600 GB to get 300 GB usable space of which your OS is 90GB.

I have my server OS on a separate RAID 1 and Data on a RAID 5 (for you to do this, you need a minimum of 5 disk). For OS disaster recovery, I use Symantec Backup Exec 2010 System Recovery to take nightly restore points of my OS.  If I ever have an issue with the OS (which occassionally I've had a Microsoft patch install go bad,) I restore the OS using my latest Symantec recovery point.  I have used this method for years and it has worked well.
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