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Can i use any type of SATA (Brand model) on a Dell Poweredge 2950 to upgrade Storage

Posted on 2013-02-07
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Last Modified: 2016-11-23
I am looking to upgrading my existing hard drives from my poweredge 2950.
I currently have a 6i RAID controller with 2 80 GB DRives with RAID 1 for Os and 4 750 GB (RAID5) for data storage.
I was wondering can I just simply buy any 2 TB drive, no mater what brand or model, and replace my 750 drives, or would I need to buy them directly from dell?
I was hoping to get some inexpensive 2 TB drives and simply swap them and use same hot swap case.

Thanks in adavance.
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Question by:Carlos M
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by:rindi
rindi earned 67 total points
ID: 38864737
No, they must always be enterprise class disks.
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by:dlethe
dlethe earned 66 total points
ID: 38864781
Technically you can, in the same sense that you can use a sufficient number of 1.5 volt batteries duct taped together to provide you sufficient voltage and current to replace your car battery.  It will "work", but it won't work well.

To be specific, the enterprise class and desktop class disks have different firmware settings. The one that matters the most (ignoring ECC bits and 24x7x365 suitability) is a thing typically called TLER. This controls how long a drive tries to get an unreadable block before giving up. Enterprise class disks give up in 1-3 seconds.  Desktop up to 60 seconds.   The Dell controllers will mark a disk BAD in approx 7 seconds.

Think about the consequences.

BUT .... disable the dell RAID, go SOFTWARE RAID in Win7 or Win2k3 or higher, and it will work "better".  The timeout will be much higher, but it still won't be acceptable for anything but light duty in RAID1 as far as I am concerned.    Go ALL RAID1 and it will work provided you don't overtax the disks.
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PowerEdgeTech earned 67 total points
ID: 38864924
Also, you do not need to purchase the disks directly from Dell ... many suppliers sell the same Dell-certified/enterprise-class drives, but for often much less than from Dell directly.

Also, if you "upgrade" the 750GB disks by replacing one at a time and allowing to rebuild, you will NOT end up with a bigger array.  You will still have an 2.25TB array, and the only thing you can do with the additional space is create a second RAID array across the disks using the ~3.75TB of available space.  This will appear in the OS as a separate "disk".  If you need it to be all one unit of storage, then you will need to backup/delete/create/restore.
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by:Carlos M
ID: 38864937
Thanks for all the responses.

I plan to break the second array of 750 drives since only data is there. Then recreate a new array with new drives (hopefully 2 Tb) to have approx 6 TB.
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by:dlethe
ID: 38865021
Actually, poweredgetech is right and wrong on above.  They are the SAME disks, but I know for a fact that the firmware settings are different, so operational characteristics are different.  (Because my company does things like matching/tuning such firmware in certain situations).

So I revert you to my previous answer.  They will work, but won't work well.  [Now  off-the-shelf SAS drives can be programmed to give the exact same operational characteristics of Dell disks with their special firmware in most cases, but SATA drives can not]
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by:PowerEdgeTech
ID: 38865170
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by:dlethe
ID: 38865701
Fair enough, PowerEdgeTech .. .I interpreted the "same Drives" comment as literally the same drives, and NOT the same drives with the same firmware.   As we both know, firmware matters, and we wouldn't want the author or anybody else to think otherwise.
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