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Windows server on pc level montherboard with hot swap.

I built a new server with pc level Intel motherboard and Windows server 2003.
I need to put more disks on it, but needs more disk bay. Before I buy a new case, I'm wondering if I can do hot swap with this setup. If then, I buy a case with disk hot swap bays.

Motherboard is Intel DG33TL with 6 SATA disks in RAID 10 and RAID 1.

I'm not sure hot swap of disk is a feature of hardware level of server motherboard or how I configure windows setting.

In disk properties, I see disk caching in Windows server. Is this the only one I have to disable to make disk hot swap possible? Or is disk hot swap a feature available from hardware level which is only offered in server level motherboard?


Also, the disk is SATA III. So if the hot swap is possible, can you recommend any server case with hot swap which supports SATA III?
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crcsupport
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crcsupport
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3 Solutions
 
DavidCommented:
SATA disks are always hot-swap. it is part of the ANSI spec.  In fact, neither the disk nor controller has any programmatic mechanism to discern whether or not the disk is in a hot swap bay/enclosure or not.

So don't sweat it.  The key to a stable, fast system is big ugly bulky heavy enclosures.   Vibration is what kills you.  Plastic kills you.  Look at the product that has the largest shipping weight and you pretty much can't go wrong.
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David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
hot swap is a hardware item. you can buy hot swap bays at a reasonable price but hot-swap-able drives are not cheap.
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DavidCommented:
Respectfully, ve3ofa, there is no such thing as a non-hot swappable SATA drive.  Proof? Go to seagate.com and try to find SATA disks that are marketed as either hot swappable or not hot swappable.

If seagate doesn't offer such a thing, you can bet your life it doesn't exist.  There are special bridge boards used for protocol conversion in some enclosures, and for embedded RAID and things, but the drives behind them aren't anything special.

Now there are SCA connectors for parallel SCSI and fibre channel drives that insure they are hot-swappable, but you are talking SATA.
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David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
I bow to your expertise.
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crcsupportAuthor Commented:
So SATA is always hot swap-able. Then, the only thing remains is to buy a case with hot swap bay with METAL HEAVY case. By the way, I can think reasonably, vibration can kill disk in long run, but why plastic case is not good?
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Frosty555Commented:
The only thing with "hot swap" is that it needs to be supported by your motherboard. If your motherboard supports AHCI for the SATA ports, AND it is enabled, then you're fine. By enabled I mean that the motherboard's SATA configuration has the SATA ports set to AHCI mode, and not "Legacy/IDE". Some motherboards actually do set the ports to Legacy/IDE mode by default to provide compatibility with older operating system that may  not recognize AHCI drives - such as Windows Server 2003. These older OS sometimes require that you preload the SATA drivers onto the installation OS or onto a floppy when you first install Windows.

Just remember what "hot swap" actually MEANS - it means you can remove the disk, and the system will recognize that it has been removed without damage to the motherboard or other system components. It does NOT imply that there won't be file-system corruption upon removal. The disk still has to be properly dismounted at the operating system level.

It also doesn't imply that the RAID chip on your consumer motherboard - which is probably a cheap software RAID - actually supports hot-swapping of failed drives, nor does it imply that it supports online rebuilding of the RAID array without any downtime. These are features of enterprise raid cards but are not necessarily provided on cheap consumer motherboards. You will have to check your mobo documentation and experiment a bit to determine how well that works.

ve3ofa - on that note, I think you probably were thinking of enterprise-grade SATA, or 10k/15k SAS disks, which indeed ARE a lot more expensive and designed for servers. But... hot-swap capability is not the defining feature for these disks.
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DavidCommented:
Plastic is not good because it isn't rigid enough. It also is horrible at thermal transfer.
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Frosty555Commented:
>>By the way, I can think reasonably, vibration can kill disk in long run, but why plastic case is not good?

Cheap thin aluminium or plastic cases vs heavier steel cases, to my knowledge, have zero effect on hard disk longevity.

Cheaper cases sometimes resonate with the vibration of the hard disks, DVD drive, fans etc, which can cause annoying vibration sounds, but this is purely an aesthetic issue.

Of course MAJOR vibration can damage a hard drive, but we're talking about harsh conditions like automobiles, airplanes, spacecraft, earthquake, construction sites etc... not the conditions your server will be experiencing in your house.
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DavidCommented:
Vibration is a much larger problem than people realize.  You can literally yell at a disk drive and it will create dozens of recovered reads per second, which translate into a measurable performance hit.

I measure it professionally all the time. It is real and can easily cost people 10% - 20% even some high-end enclosures.
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Frosty555Commented:
I'd be pretty surprised if it did... considering the kind of abuse laptop hard drives face on a daily basis and seem to have no trouble with it.

I've never actually tested it before, though. I'll have to try that some time: 1) run benchmarking software, 2) yell at hard drive, 3) see if it gets scared and performance drops.  ;)
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crcsupportAuthor Commented:
Thank you all.
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