VMware ESX 4.1 issues / errors... SATA RAID? (Dell PowerEdge 2950)

OK, I upgraded the space on my server.  From 73GB SAS drives to 1TB SATA drives.

After a bit to do, I upgraded what I believe to be all the firmware.  Dell's site is not helpful in the sense of telling you what you need to download.  so it was like trying to shot fish in the ocean with a BB gun.

I could not get Hard Drive Slot 0 to work properly with the RAID controller so I ended up building the raid with just 5 drives.

When I got VMware to install it went through fine.  I then went to boot and it didn't come up.  I found a setting in the BIOS (regular bios not RAID bios) that said "Set to SATA"  I did that, rebooted and VMware came up and installed.

Now I have 3 Virtual Disks that I created in the RAID, waited for the WHOLE background initialization go through because of above mentioned issue, I was afraid something was going to screw up.

I have my VMs from before I upgraded to the new Hard drives on my computer and I am trying to upload them.  I am getting and I/O error as soon as it hits one of the large files.  I cannot continue.

Could the above mentioned SATA setting screwed up the RAID so I have to re-do it?  I

s there a way I can plug my external HDD up to the VMware server and just copy them over that way?  

Just trying to figure out if I am missing something or have to do something over or a work around to get me back up and running!


Who is Participating?
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)Connect With a Mentor VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Unfortunately, if you are referring to ESX 4.1 (other than VMware Server, if you have VMware Server, yes you can attach your USB hard drive and copy them to it), you cannot attach a USB hard drive and copy them off.

Your options, are

1. Use Veeam Fast SCP (free download) to SCP the VMs off the datastore to your management workstation which you have your USB external hard drive connected to.

2. Use the Databrowser from within the vSphere Client to download the VM.

(all VMs need to be off).

3. Download trial copies of Veeam Backup and Replication or Vizioncore vRanger to backup the VMs.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Oh, sorry, you are copying them to ESX, okat 1 and 2 apply, but upload rather than download!
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Hang on have you got 3 x 1TB drives, in RAID 5?

ESX 4.1 maximum VMFS partition is 2TB - 512 bytes, you RAID array size is no-where near this is it?

otherwise it too large for ESX 4.1.
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
What mode was the server working in with the original 73GB drives?

You mention, setting to SATA not RAID, so what have you got, the only reason I mention, is because ESX often fails, because it doesn't like the storage controller.
Daeta42Author Commented:
The Original server was configured with a SAS RAID.  

The VMFS partitions and Virtual disks are all below 2TB.  (Not sure on the 512 bytes)

When I try and used the DataStore browser it get through the first few small files and then comes up with an I/O error...  Nothing in the logs that tells me what this means...
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
well the maux vmfs size is 2tb minus 512 bytes, so its close.

storage controller issues or raid array not correct.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
you could try a small virtual disk in array config, what is the controller?
Daeta42Author Commented:
PERC 5/i

I have one Virtual Disk that is 700MB and it gets the same errors....
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
is this operating in raid?
Daeta42Author Commented:
yes, I have 3 Virtual Disks created in the RAID controller...  700MB, 1.3TB & 1.8TB...
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Very odd indeed, the PERC 5/i is on the Hardware Compatibility List for ESX 4.1, but it seems there is definately a storage issue occuring.

Is ESX 4.1 installed on the same array?
PowerEdgeTechIT ConsultantCommented:
You mentioned firmware but that there was some confusion there.

What are your firmware versions (BIOS, ESM/BMC, PERC)?  These three devices on a 2950 are interdependent, so updating one without updating others can cause issues.

Are your drives Dell co-branded (certified for use on the PERC)?  If so, have you also updated their firmware too?

Did you mess with any of the default settings when configuring RAID (stripe size, cache, etc.)?

"I found a setting in the BIOS (regular bios not RAID bios) that said 'Set to SATA'"
What exactly was this setting?  (The RAID controller would not be affected by this - probably just the optical drive.)
Daeta42Author Commented:
Bios:  2.7.0  (Latest Version)

LSI Logic Corp Perc 5/i :
Perc 5/i BIOS Config Util :  1.04-019A
Product Name:  PERC 5/i
Package: 5.2.2-0072
FW Version: 1.03.50-0416
BIOS Version:  MT28-9
CtrR Version:  1.04-019A
Boot Block Ver:  R.2.3.12

I didn't change any of the default setting when I set up the RAID.  
RAID-5 Default Setting:
Stripe Element size: 64KB
Read Policy: No Read Ah
Write Policy: Write Back

The setting in the BIOS that I did change, that actually made it boot off the SATA RAID I built is under "Integrated Devices".  The RAID controller was already enabled and working.  I changed "Embedded SATA" to "ATA Mode" and then VMware booted.Before I changed that I would just sit there after the CD ejected from installing ESX.  I rebooted several times and waited till I found that setting there and changed it.

So, I am wondering if that could have screwed up my RAID in configuration some how and that's why I am having troubles?  Or as you said did I get all the Firmwares updated correctly.  I Downloaded them all from Dell's site so I would  hope that that is what I need.   Some of it was ambiguous in what it was exactly on their website.  Some were in plain English.  So I wonder still if I didn't miss one?   And, I need it to work or  else I'd have shot it already....

Danny McDanielClinical Systems AnalystCommented:
Not sure if this helps, but....  SATA Controller Support in ESX http://kb.vmware.com/kb/1008673
Daeta42Author Commented:
Got me 1/2 way there.  I ended up just using 5 drives in the RAID and will keep the other as a spare...  Oh well on that one...  But I got enough drive space...

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