Dell SBS 2011 RAM and RAID and Backup configuration questions

I ordered a Dell T310 with SAS 6/iR RAID, 4 WD 232 disks and 8 megs of RAM, and a Dell RD1000 backup system. My idea was to  put our separately licensed (education license) SBS 2011 and adding in extra RAM to 12 Megs.

Since I found out that the SAS 6/IR only supports RAID 0 and 1, I installed the OS on one disk, and used the other 3 as a software RAID 5 within Windows. The RD1000 hard drive is a nightmare, being incompatible with the Windows backup programs if you want to do a restore of a single file or folder. It only backs up full volumes.

 I'd appreciate some peer review and suggestions how to get out of this mess.  

1. I think I'd prefer to have full hardware RAID 5, but believe this would involve purchasing a separate controller card, as I don't think the SAS 6/IR can be upgraded.  Any suggestions for a card?  Or, has anyone had success with the SAS 6/IR configured as RAID 1, with a hot spare?  (the best possible outcome with my current hardware)....  OR,  should I just stay with the Windows software RAID?  

2, The machine appears to be running  with 10-25% CPU effort in the "background". This while running Exchange, the Quickbooks background processes, and SQL Server.  Memory use is at 33%.  I'm thinking the extra RAM will help here. I've had two tries from Crucial to augment the stock 8 megs that came with the machine; both were incompatible. I've ordered additional RAM which, if incompatible with the stock RAM, will replace all of it.

3. Don't quite know what to do with the RD1000. Seems too bad to have to use 3rd party software with it.  I just want to do nightly backups at the folder/file level so if users loose something I can restore it.  

In hindsight, I should have ordered with the O/S installed, and the full complement of RAM. Even the extra thousand or so dollars would be been less than the amount of time I've invested in trying to do things from scratch.  

Would appreaciate any ideas here.   Thanks!
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louisreevesConnect With a Mentor Commented:

First thing. I know the Rd1000 issue has a history. i am pretty sure you have to do a registry edit or use wbadmin, but you should be able to get it to work. Please keep in mine this is a Microsoft issue:

As far as the other situation with the controller, IT is what it is. you may get whatever Controller suits your needs. I would not use windows raid. I personalay just have my 310 populated with spindles and have the load spread across those and I run 12~16 VMS on mine.

As A final note, I did get 32 GB of Ram and I am pleased as Punch. My 310 Rocks and I have no bottle necks whatsoever. Keep in mind that the new software does eat resources. you could try to change the max degree of paralelism to use less CPU. there is also a max memory setting to limit the usage there.

My system is 32 GB of Ram with a Quad Core Proc and 5 spindles with the default sata controler. I hace Exchange 2010 on one VM , a SQL cluster and a shared storage Vm, a systmes management VM, and windows 7, and a few other VMs, along with the fact that I use my parent partition as my remote access. Id say it carries the load ok. Just spread the load acress the resources you have and stay away from software raid for God sakes and you will be ok~

In closing, the RD back up is a work around - but it has been around for a while. get that set up and you should be good to go. I will leave you with this:

I am on a holiday and I dont have the link I usually send out but the above looks about right.

I hope this helps/


HostOneConnect With a Mentor Commented:
I have used the SAS 6/IR only once - because I found the performance to be extraordinarily bad. I would at the very least trial run it for a while, without activating Windows, and do some disk speed testing.

The problem with Software RAID 5 is that if it dies, you're in deep poo because you cannot read the individual disks. That said, I've used it many times and never had a problem. Just bear that in mind.

With regards to a hardware RAID card, just make sure it supports full read and write caching, because the performance difference is extreme.

With 8 (I assume you mean GB not MB) of RAM, an idling SBS11 server should not be using 25% CPU, so I would investigate what's causing that.

Windows Backup in Windows 2008 only backs up full volumes (or the system state) - it is not like NTBackup of old, so no matter what device you purchase, it will not let you just backup one folder or file. It takes full volume snap shots using shadow copy. At first it seems a little crazy but after you've used it a bit, you will come to like it. It allows you to restore versions of files and it's fast as anything. That said, it really only works properly to a local disks and it's not suitable for tape and barely suitable for NAS backups (you can use the command prompt to backup to a NAS as follows: WBADMIN START BACKUP -backupTarget:\\server\share1\backup -include:C:).

However persevere with Windows Backup. If you're willing to spend money on extra RAM, etc, go buy a cheap additional HDD and plug it in, then use Windows Backup. It basically does the same thing as Apple Time Machine, allowing you to restore multiple versions, incredibly quickly and if you pikc bare metal recovery option, it will backup your entire machine, so well that you can basically boot your machine off that backup disk. It's actually really good peace of mind, once you get used to it.
Hi I use the PERC 6/i Adapter on a Dell T300 (predecessor of the T310). That allows me to use RAID5. I also use the RD1000, but that is used under vSphere, not MS Windows. I use it as a backup/transport device for my VMs.
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