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Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Raid 5 split

Posted on 2013-05-21
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I have a Dell Poweredge 6800 server running Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition.  I have 10 hard drives in the machine, with a Perc 4e/Di Raid Controller.  I have two virtual disks setup, one a C: drive with two hard drives in a Raid-0 configuration.  The other with 8 hard drives in a Raid 5 configuration.  Is it possible to split the second virtual disk into two separate disks?  For example take 2 of the 8 hard drives and move them to another virtual disk?  So, i would have the below:

C:  33GB
D:  240GB
E:  120GB
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Question by:jnikodym
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David earned 500 total points
ID: 39185450
Sure, but you would lose all the data.  So you would have to make sure there is nX2 GB free space (where n=#of GB on each HDD), and then do a backup that would let you resize.  Rebuild the arrays as desired & restore.
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by:David
ID: 39185480
BTW - surely those disks are ancient and well out of warranty.  If this was my system, I would strongly consider retiring all those disks.
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by:jnikodym
ID: 39185596
could i pull an image of the raid5 array, then reconfigure the array, with all new disks, and then image that data to my new array?
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by:David
ID: 39185623
Yes, as long as the revised configuration is >= size of the image backup you made.  This is the desired way to do it.

BTW since newer disks are so much faster than what you have, then unless you are profoundly read-only on the RAID5 then a pair of disks in RAID1 will probably outperform your 6-8 disk RAID5.  Certainly 4 disks in a RAID10 will, no matter how you use the data.  Keep that in mind.

(Don't go with disks that will exceed 2TB either for usable array, the controller can't handle that).
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by:jnikodym
ID: 39185643
so, if created two raid 1 arrays, using 4 300 gb drives, that would give me a D: drive at 300gb and a E: drive at 300gb.  Would that be faster than a raid 5 configuration?  Would the below drives be faster than what i currently have?

http://www.velocitytechsolutions.com/dell-341-1902-300gb-8mb-u320-10k-80p-scsi-hard-drive-in-poweredge-tray/
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by:David
ID: 39185684
One has to look at a lot of variables to give a definitive answer.  But consider that in RAID1 you have read load balancing.  So no matter what data you need, it is always in 2 places, so in perfect world you can have 2x performance of single disk.

But in R5 all data is split between multiple drives.  If your files are evenly distributed and no two I/Os are on the same disk then R5 will be faster.  Real-world, that doesn;'t happen much.
Also on RAID5 writes, you have to go through multiple reads & writes to know the data on all the drives in the stripe to get the parity working, so they are going to be much, much slower.
In R1, no extra reads are required and the controller insures both writes are in parallel.
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by:jnikodym
ID: 39185722
just to be clear if i image my D: drive using Norton Ghost, and then restore that image to a new drive, will all my programs i have installed on that D: drive work after i restore the image?
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by:David
ID: 39185750
That would be a question for Symantec.  I have no idea if your particular version of ghost will properly image.  But if it is done properly, then yes.

Remember, the O/S has absolutely no clue whether your D drive is a 2-disk RAID1, 8-drive RAID5 or anything else.   The RAID controller's job is to virtualize the array so it doesn't need to know or even care.
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