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what is the best RAID config (I can do) for a domain controller/file server?

Posted on 2011-09-28
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Last Modified: 2012-06-27
I have an older server with a built-in RAID card.
It is Adaptec AIC-7902W.
I have 4x 73GB Seagate Cheetah's that I can use.
From what I can see, the raid controller can only do 0 (stripe) and 1 (mirror)...  it can also assign a "spare" (whatever that is).
I wish to build a new Domain Controller with file sharing, but the amount of data we have is about 67GB, so a 73GB mirror isn't really optimal.
Is there any way I can do a RAID5 type config?  
What is the best RAID configuration I could do for this server build?
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Question by:Reece Dodds
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by:David
ID: 36803276
Create a 4-disk RAID10.  This gives you a mirrored stripe, i.e,  a mirrored RAID0, for 146GB usable, but protected.
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by:Reece Dodds
ID: 36812710
there is no option for RAID 10 in the controller's configuration utility...
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David earned 350 total points
ID: 36812718
Just re-read. So since controller can only do RAID0 & RAID1, then build 2 x RAID1s, and distribute your data between them.   I.,e swap space, applications, data stores and everything else that lets you enter what disk to put things on can go on the 2nd RAID1.

This will still give you a nice performance boost, in fact, better than RAID10 for small-block transactional data.
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Expert Comment

by:Gerald Connolly
ID: 36818201
it can also assign a "spare" (whatever that is).
RAID-1 (aka mirroring) gives you the ability to survive a disk failing, but once a disk fails your data is a significant risk of another disk failing and the subsequent loss of all your data! Assigning a "Spare" means that there is a Disk ready and waiting to AUTOMATICALLY take over and become part of the mirror (Your data is at risk until this disk become synchronised which may take some time depending on the size of the disk)
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by:Reece Dodds
ID: 36906734
OK, I've currently got a single RAID0 setup and have the OS installed.  Once I install the Software for the RAID config, I can see a "RAID10" option in the Advanced Settings.  If I choose this, I can't create a RAID10 even though I have two free drives (the drives aren't assigned as spares or formatted)...
Does anyone know how I can create this RAID10?
Do I need to do a (single) RAID1 in the controller's BIOS then install the OS, then software and then configure the RAID10???
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by:David
ID: 36907925
Nope.  You need to do a full backup with software that lets you restore and make changes to the partitioning, then build the RAID10 from scratch and restore.  Make 100% sure that the software you use actually supports the adaptec (look at acronis & ghost)  My suggestion do a dry run by building a RAID0 with the 2 free drives and restore to that as a test and see if it boots.

If it doesn't then read, but be thankful that you took the time to test it first :)
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Author Comment

by:Reece Dodds
ID: 36907941
I think you missed some of my other posts on this topic...
RAID10 is not available in the adaptec raid controller configuration utility (Ctrl+A on POST).  Only RAID0 and RAID1 are...
The RAID10 option only becomes available once I have the management software installed on the OS.
?????????
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by:David
ID: 36908030
Sorry forgot.  Then why not just build 2 x RAID1s, like I suggested earlier.  Then all you have to do is move swap space there and more target directories for data files and such.  Do NOT do a RAID10.  So much easier and potentially faster with 2 x RAID1s.
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Assisted Solution

by:sifuedition
sifuedition earned 150 total points
ID: 36945047
To clarify and add to dlethe:

If RAID 10 is not available at the controller level, I would HIGHLY recommend not using it. The odds are that this is a very low level raid controller. It would likely be building 2 hardware raid 1's and then a software raid 0 bridge over the top of that. There is not enough money out there to make me trust important data to that kind of setup.

I would support dlethe's recommendation. Make two different raid 1's on the controller. Install your OS to the first one. When Windows (or your OS) is installed, it will likely see just two harddrives. This is because hardware raid hides the actual physical disks from the OS. That is a key to hardware raid redundancy. What the OS "sees" as a single harddrive are actually the hardware raid arrays. So each "harddrive" seen in the OS is actually a raid 1 pair. From there, you can distribute data and whatever you need just as if you had two non-raided harddrives. Just you and the raid controller need to know those "harddrives" are really raid 1 pairs.
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Author Closing Comment

by:Reece Dodds
ID: 36945992
OS on RAID1, data (in excess of 80GB - the hdd's are 73GB) on RAID0.
Nightly Mirror of RAID0 to an external hard drive.

Thanks
I've got a few more questions about this domain controller, so keep an eye out.  Thanks
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