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Adding a storage drive on the same EIDE channel as a RAID 1

Posted on 2013-01-29
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Last Modified: 2013-05-13
I built a SBS 2003 Intel Server on a SE7500CW2 Intel mother board,  back in 2004. Yes, this is an old server. This is a redundant system build on the RAID 1 through the on-board dual channel ATA 100 controller, utilizing Promise technology.

 Yes, drive space has become scarce. I want to add a 500 GB EIDE drive for extra data storage. There is no longer any type of support for this retired board. I haven't worked with this board, or the RAID configuration in a long time.

I don't remember ( I will have to check), if I seperated out the drives, one per channel (meaning 1 drive per EIDE cable) or if they reside on the same channel (same cable). Either way, is it possible to add a third drive w/o interferring with the mirror set. I don't want to add to the existing RAID. I just want a seperate drive outside the mirror for storage.
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Question by:GeeMoon
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dlethe earned 500 total points
ID: 38833156
Buy a $15 SATA controller, and while you are at it, replace BOTH drives.  You more than got your money's worth and can probably pick up 2x 500GB drives plus controller on sale for around $100-120.  Those IDE drives are designed for 3 years use anyway.

Then you can just copy from the one mirror to another.  I doubt that these ancient disks could survive a stressful rebuild.
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by:pgm554
ID: 38833935
You probably have one per channel as having both drives on the same channel causes issues with bus mastering(only one drive can be active at a time on a channel)..

Yes you can add the 3rd drive and it will probably not interfere with the RAID,but it will not be fast because of the issue I mentioned before.

If it were SCSI,no issue,ATA ,speed issue.

As D pointed out,cheaper to go PCI SATA (29 bucks) and SATA drives 1 TB is in 69 buck range these days.
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by:dlethe
ID: 38833954
P.S. Modern SATA drives will probably be twice as fast as what you have now, due to not only faster transport, but also cache and NCQ.
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by:GeeMoon
ID: 38835068
Yes....I am looking way too close at this, to miss an obvious answer like, just add a new controller (I was even considering NAS). LOL... But, I had to rebuild this server in the past, and it's made me really cautious. The least obtrusive action was my thought. This is my clients only live server and their business is jumping. The last rebuild was such a mess that I had to pull the motherboard (damaged) and rebuild the domain (10 user envirnoment) from scratch. Since then I have implemented BESR image software.

OK, now the playing field has just widened.

ONe, I can just add another controller for extended storage and call it a day.

Second option would be to create a new mirror with larger drives to house the existing envirnoment and to support future data growth.

PGM554 brings up a good point - Speed. For the most part it's been OK based on the existing business behavior. Lately their business has been picking up and I feel in the near future it would be time to move to a new updated server. But, it is always an issue of justifying the cost to a small business owner. Yes, PGM554, I do believe I seperated the drives just on the sheer fact of the possibility of a single point of failure. I need to visit the client to validate.

Dlethe, are you suggesting that I can rebuilt from my existing mirror set to a different controller card? Somehow I don't think this is that easy. Would I break the mirror set by pulling a drive and attempt to rebuild to the new card? If I were to make a grand move on moving the existing envirnoment to new updated drives I would like to do it two two controllers (duplex - increase the redundancy) - if possible.
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by:dlethe
ID: 38835109
it is VERY easy to do this.  Install the controller and 2 new drives and then boot the system to a LINUX CD.   Use any of the freebie partition cloning packages that come standard/free.  Since you have a hardware RAID controller as source and presumably a hardware RAID controller as destination, then LINUX will see the logical RAID.

Then just copy.  By keeping the source as a RAID1, you stress the system the least.

If you use two controllers then you won't be able to duplex 2 disks to get hardware RAID1, (well you could, if you bought controllers that cost thousands of dollars each).

NEVER break a mirror to attempt to increase disk size.  First,  most controllers won't let you use the additional space anyway; secondly, if you have unreadable blocks you end up with data loss and it may be difficult to impossible to get things back to where you were if you have bad blocks.

By cloning to another controller drive pair and booted to LINUX, you have zero risk of data loss and can go back to the original disk set if you have any problems.  I would just unplug the  original controller after the clone to keep the data on those disks safe and undisturbed while verifying that the cloned O/S pair is working 100%.
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by:GeeMoon
ID: 38835791
I haven't worked with Linux. I don't possess any unix software. I know there are many different versions to choose from. With my limited knowledge in unix, and the task at hand, what would you suggest? Is it costly?

What partition software would you recommend?

I do have Symantec Backup Exec System Recovery, which is an imaging software, running as an automated backup on the server. I don't believe it will restore to a changed hardware envirnoment with the new SATA controller. Also, while I am on the subject, how do you disconnect the existing RAID 1 w/out causing damage (and be able to restore it later if all else fails) to test that the restore was effective? Is it just a matter of pulling the cable on both the drives?

So, I believe I am getting clearer now on your original intention: to image (clone) the existing RAID 1 and restore it to a new SATA controller containing the new larger hard drives, not rebuild (especially with larger drives) the original mirror to an alternate controller - correct?

Thank you for all your input. This has been very helpful. I appreciate it.....
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by:dlethe
ID: 38835904
You don't need any linux experience.  Go to Ubuntu.com, and there is an app on the home page that will let you create a bootable USB stick. Use the desktop version of linux, 32-bit version is fine.  If your system does not boot to a stick, burn a cdrom.  You want the "LIVE" CD, one that boots the system to LINUX, but doesn't install the O/S.

Here is a how to, very simple and explained well
http://www.sudo-juice.com/how-to-clone-a-hard-drive-in-ubuntu-linux/

The reason I want you to do linux, is that it will NOT mount the source in read/write mode, so it will not change anything and it will get every bit on the disk.  In fact, you can practice with your own PC and a scratch HDD attached to a USB port beore going onsite.
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by:pgm554
ID: 38835990
Use the Symantec product from an image.
It works because your HAL will change and you can add the driver on the fly.
Used it many times to move to different hardware and it does do what it says it does.

It also gives you the opportunity to test your backups.
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by:GeeMoon
ID: 38836140
Excellant advice from both of you

pgm554

My concern with your suggestion is not being able to fall back to the original state if it fails. Again, the question is, how to shelf the existing RAID1 w/o disrupting it. Would I install the SATA controller with two larger drives, pull the cables on the existing RAID and restore from the backup image? If I attempt to boot to the new controller, and it fails, can I just plug the original drives back in. I keep wondering what the BIOS is going to do when it doesnt see the original drives for the original working RAID1 - and how it is going to react.

I understand going with the Linux option, by passes the above, until it comes time to actually boot to the restored drive.

I am going to try to test, what I can, in my office.
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by:dlethe
ID: 38836160
pgm554 brings up a good point, but since this is the same computer you do not need to worry about the HAL.    However, you need to worry about the new controller drivers.  So be sure to install the controller while booted to WIndows, build the RAID1 from controller point of view, and just test it by placing a filesystem on it, and rebooting.

Then after reboot, remove the drive letter so the working windows distribution won't get confused.  then clone with LINUX if you want to do it for free, or buy some decent commercial software that certainly has additional benefits like ease-of-use, and ability to do restore on different hardware.
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by:GeeMoon
ID: 38856219
Just an update.....Sorry for my delay

I went out and bought a SATA Controller and drive. Just want to run a test....

I will get back to you
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Author Closing Comment

by:GeeMoon
ID: 39163107
I am sorry for the delay. Exchange usually emails you with inactivity. I never received an email and got busy on to other things.

Thank you for all your help!!!!
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