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Hot Swap Hard Drives with Partition Size Change

Posted on 2011-03-01
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Last Modified: 2012-05-11
I have a Dell Poweredge 2800 server, running Windows SBS 2003,  with mirrored 73 gb hot swappable scsi harddrives.  Dell originally partitioned my drives 11 gb operating system and 62 gb data storage.  The operating systems partition is now nearly full and I have only the bare minimum programs installed.  We are beginning to have performance issues (backups not working, services not starting, etc)  because of the lack of free drive space.

I also have two, clean, 300 gb scsi hot swappable drives with same specs (other than size) as my original 73 gb drives.  I can use the new drives, all four drives, whatever is necessary.  My server has 8 hard drive storage bays.

Ultimately, the issue is that I need to expand the partition that holds my operating system.  I need to keep all my data from both my current partitions.  I know there are many different configurations that will work, but does anyone have a suggestion for a good configuration and the steps to accomplish it?
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Question by:csouthards
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by:woolnoir
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are you operating the OS on mirrored disks ? if so something ive done in the past with HP servers is to pull one of the disks and insert one of a larger size. This will mirror the primary disk onto it. Then as a second stage, do the same with the second disk and you will be running 2 bigger disks.

With the HP raid management software you can then expand the set and provide additional space to the system partition from within windows.
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by:andyalder
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Easy with HP but dodgy with Dell controllers, best wait until PowerEdgeTech posts.
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PowerEdgeTech earned 500 total points
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However, you cannot do this with the PERC controllers ... the array size will not automatically (nor can you manually) expand to the size of the new disks.  After rebuilding one at a time, you will end up with an array that is the same size, and the only option you would have at that point is to create a second RAID 1 across the disks.  This will show in Windows as a separate disk, hence you would not be able to grow your existing partitions to utilize it.

Three options:

1. Backup/image your existing RAID 1, replace drives with larger drives, create RAID 1, restore to it, then use the partitioning software of your choice to grow the partitions.

2. Add the 300GB drives to the system as additional storage ... if you can move your data partition off of the 73GB disks and onto the 300GB disks, then you can easily extend the size of C up to 73GB (~68GB).

3. Replace one drive at a time as described above, then create a second array across the disks, giving you a new "disk" of around 200GB in Windows.  This really is no different than simply adding 300GB drives to your system in a new RAID 1, except you put your controller/array through the added stress of rebuilding each drive.

There is another option, but you would be wasting most of your 300GB drives.  You can reconfigure your 2-disk RAID 1 to a 4-disk RAID 5, giving you an additional 68GB to work with (you would only be able to use 73GB (68GB) of each 300GB drive in this configuration.
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by:PowerEdgeTech
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I said "you cannot do this with the PERC controllers" ... andyalder, you said it's "dodgy".  You're right - there is a way to make it appear to take up the entire space, but it is only a side-effect of a different process and damages the array ... dodgy is right.
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by:Yotefn
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Since you already have a backup by default because you are mirroring, you can try pulling one of the disks, boot a ubuntu or ubcd4win live CD, and resize your partitions that way.  You can also plug in one of the new disks and image from the smaller disk to the newer disk.
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by:csouthards
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I did as PowerEdge Tech suggested in option 2 and added the 300 gb drives as additional storage (operating as raid 1).  I transferred all of the data from the old data partition on the 73 gb harddrive and deleted that partition.

So as I write, I have the following in place:
C: 12gb partition from the 73gb harddrive (56 gb unallocated space remaining)
G: 278gb partition from the 300 gb harddrive

I would like to extend the 12 gb partition to the remaining 56 gb unallocated space on the 73 gb harddrive.  I tried to use diskpart.exe from windows, but it would not allow me.  What is a good way to accomplish the extension?
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by:andyalder
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Windows 2008 will let you stretch the system partition with disk manager so long as you've deleted the old D: partition.

If not you can always use something like Bootit NG from booting with CD ROM - don't install it when it gives you that option. Paragon partition manager is easier to use but not free.
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by:PowerEdgeTech
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Many utilities can do this.  You can use Dell's ExtPart (works like DiskPart but will work on system partitions), GParted, or even a 2008 DVD can extend it.
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by:csouthards
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Any idea why Dell's ExtPart.exe won't work.  This seems like a very simple utility.  It only asks for the drive letter for expansion and a size.  Yet when I put in C: as the drive letter, it says "unable to connect to C: or it does not exist."
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by:PowerEdgeTech
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It will not work in a few instances - some known, others unknown.  It must be a Basic disk (cannot be Dynamic), and must be done by a local or domain admin - I've also seen it not work when there was too little disk space on C.  Like I said, there are a few instances where it doesn't work - somewhat inexplicably.  Did you try running the command prompt As Administrator?  Try closing all open windows first.
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by:csouthards
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Your assistance was great and the operation ended up going without much of a hitch.  

Disk space was the reason why Extpart.exe did not work as suspected.

I was able to use partition wizard and resize the partition.
Thanks for all the help.
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by:PowerEdgeTech
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Glad you go it sorted :)
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