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SBS Server Disk Partitioning

jimbecher used Ask the Experts™
  For the last 20 years I have pretty much stayed away from SBS even though most of my customers fall in to the Small Business category (25 workstations or less). With the advent of SBS 2011 I am going to start migrating them to SBS 2011 and try and leave the Microsoft SBS 2011 file structure and AD structure the way SBS 2011 installs it.

   Most of my servers have two disk partitions. C (System) and D (Data). In looking at SBS 2011 it almost appears as though Microsoft is pushing a one partition (C) OS. Yes? No? Advantages? Disadvantages?
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Technical Architect - HA/Compute/Storage
We run a RAID 10 array. It has a system partition at 120GB + 5GB for each Exchange mailbox. We then have a swap file partition at RAM * 1.5.

The balance of the array is for data.

We keep the Exchange content in one spot to ease recovery if needed. BTDT too many times.

Lots of resources here:

Most Valuable Expert 2015
No you should still put the data on separate partitions, but SBS requires a rather large System Partition (120GB for the standard version, and 160GB for the Essential version). As with older SBS versions you have to make sure the data is on other partitions yourself.
Top Expert 2011
If you use a single raid it is not necesarry, but we move all user data and databases to a separate partition to keep all systems partitioned the same and for recovery. So you can recover the system partition really fast and recover data afterwards.


  Interesting. I have always likeed seperate partitions for system and data. Seens like everyone else does too. I am trying to leave the SBS defaults in place for no other reason then they are the defaults. So the Folder Redirection and User Shares that SBS puts on the "System" partition you guys move to the "Data" partition?

   I am just not too thrilled with SBS. Maybe I just need to use it more :)
Philip ElderTechnical Architect - HA/Compute/Storage

There is a set of wizards for moving user related data such as Exchange, Shared Folders, and SharePoint content databases to a different partition. There is also a wizard to move WSUS updates to another partition.

We move all content to the data partition with the exception of Exchange.

Our layout is:
 C: SBSName - 120GB + 5GB/User for Exchange
 S: SwapFile - RAM * 1.5
 L: WorkingData - Balance of available space.

Yes, back in the day we had any number of partitions for everything from Exchange's M: drive to others. But it made recovery a very difficult process. That has not changed as far as the higher the complexity the greater the difficulty in recovering the server and/or its contents.



  @MPECSInc I am also trying to force myself to use the SBS Console as much as possibe. In hoping that it will keep the console in-line can your point me to the wizards?
Philip ElderTechnical Architect - HA/Compute/Storage

SBS Console --> Backup & Storage --> Server Storage tab --> Wizards.

Please do use the Wizards.  SBS expects to be managed this way.  You can "do it yourself", but it is a lot more work.  Problems arise when the wizards are not used for a period then used again, as the wizards expect the system to be in a known state.

The installation routine lays it all down on the C drive to speed up the installation.  The dev team and best practices definatly expect you to move the user data to alternate drives/partitions to keep the system partition from filling up or being corrupted.  How many drives/partitions/spindles is a disussion all by itself, but the rules about exchange logs and sql logs still apply, it is just that hardware has gotten much more reliable.

Enterprise IT types seem to have a hard time with SBS because it seems too easy.  It is easy.  It saves you a LOT of work.
Top Expert 2011

If you are not comfortable with the wizards you should take a look at the sbs 2011 standard learning bites, these are short video's that explain the most of the wizards in just a few minutes:

I suggest creating a 200Gb System Partition and then installing everything there.
Once fully installed, create a structure such as
g:\Data (user redirected folders, Company Shared file, ClientApps, User Shares)

Then use the Wizards to move everything.
Console- Backup and Storage-Server Storage-Wizard

Hope that helps
Late I know , but an interesting topic we have grappled with for years..

There are 2 reasons mainly to push you to separate partitions and/or spindles.  I/O Disk contention pushes you to have more spindles (physical disks).  Backup (particularly differential image backup products like Acronis) make you put different sort of data that may need different backup treatment on different partitions.

Raid 5 , and Raid 10 type arrays of large disks often behave as a single spindle, since data is spread across multiple disks. Any IO request can cause all or most drives to seek. We prefer to use simple Raid1 mirrors. You get fault tolerance (up to 1/2 your drives can fail in fact if not the one mirror) , improved speed (smart drivers can do auto 'striping' of reads, and/or multiple independent seeks) , writes are no worse than single drive case. And each mirror is a truely independent IO unit not affected by whats on others. Also RAID1 is simple and MUCH less buggy in drivers over the years. Often a mirrored drive can be used on its own fully OK in non mirrored config. Has saved our bacon a few times doing that...

Our prefered option is 6 Disks (the fastest you can afford.. 600GB 15krpm SAS 6Gbps ideally at present). Mosty set as 3 Mirrors.. (so acts like 3 independent spindles).
In some cases we might trade the 3rd mirror for 2 sep drives (no raid) to give 4 spindles and increased space (but less fault tolerance).

Paritions we use are:
  C OS      120G (inc SWAP)
  D Data    480G   (Active Profiles, Docs/Desktops, Data, Active MailArchiva Journal, Xch Logs)
Spindle 2
  E  Exchange  300G  
  F  Data2     300G
Spindle 3
   X  Archive           300G    (Old data, Exstaff, Old PST's, MailArchiva Closed Journals,)
   T  Temp/Scratch  300G   (Xch RecoveryDBs, Full Text Indexes, WSUS, ShadowCopies of D and F)

Exchange or Data2 could be traded, (eg no data2 600G for Exchange..) but  we are talking SBS here and really if you had more than 100GB of Exchange mail you need to be VERY careful what your doing. Backup / recovery is very tricky ..  SBS 2003/8 were limited to 75GB for Xch DBs.

Random IO load (the usually killer of a server) is mainly C, E and T (shadowcopies), then D.

Nightly BU does C, D , E only ..
Weekly does X ..    T is not backed up.
T: as things like WSUS, ShadowCopies etc which are not of great need in a restore situation.
For the record we use 8 BU disks  Mon-Thu and Fri1-Fri4. X is added to Fri disks only. Typically each Fri can hold a years data (one full, and 11 incrementals.)  At the end of the year we keep 2 Fri's (one on site one off) as perment copies..
Philip ElderTechnical Architect - HA/Compute/Storage


We use the KISS principle. Having more than three or four partitions/LUNs for a server setup gets too complicated and introduces a level of complexity that will bite back in the event of the need to recover the server. BTDT.