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What is the best way to change hard drives to larger hard drives on a server RAID

Posted on 2013-11-08
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Last Modified: 2013-11-09
Hi experts,

I have an SBS 2008 server. It has two RAIDs. A RAID 1 for the OS and a  RAID 5 for all of the data. The RAID 1 has two 80GB drives and the RAID 5 has a ton of space and is not the issue.

I have two WD Enterprise Storage 250 GB drives. My question is what is the best way to swap them. I should say, I am quickly running out of space.

1. Remove one of the drives and insert one of the new drives and let it rebuild, then remove the other small drive and insert the other large drives and let it rebuild.

2. Make a backup of the RAID 1. Remove both of the 80GB drives. Put in both of the 250GB drives, then restore. I believe I would have to resize the information on the drive.

Dumb question: I know that with a RAID 1, you can afford to have one drive crash as long as the other is fine. If it crashes, then you would lose all your data. My confusion is, if I remove both drives, but they are still good drives, is the data still intact on both drives. Therefore, if everything didn't work when I tried the 250GB drives, could I just put them back in. Or would they be a drive issue?

Thanks for your help.

Bert
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Question by:Bert2005
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dlethe earned 300 total points
ID: 39635133
The Best and only way to do this (if you want to prevent risk of data loss) ... is to do a full bootable backup.  Then replace all disks, build a new RAID, then restore.
Period.

A swap-based recovery guarantees data loss on both RAID1 or RAID5 if you have so much as a single bad block.   Your failure scenarios above incorrectly assume you won't have a non recoverable read error on surviving drives.
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by:Bert2005
ID: 39635144
Thanks dlethe,

So, one, could I use the install disk as a bootable disk or do I make one? Will I need a new RAID card driver? Lastly, when you say replace all disks, I assume you are referring to the two disks in the mirror.
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Expert Comment

by:dlethe
ID: 39635244
The controller will not need additional drivers to add more logical drives, or to reconfigure them in any way.  

There are a lot of vendors who have decent backup software that let you create a bootable backup drive and restore on a different sized LUN.  Acronics is one a lot of people are happy with.  If you are good with LINUX then you can boot to a USB stick with LINUX installed and use the dd program.  

(If that statement doesn't sound simple and easy, for you, then best you buy some software designed for such things.  Remember, RAID isn't a substitute for backing up.  This exercise also gives you a process by which you can create a full backup in event you type something in stupid, get infected with a bad virus, or MSFT releases some crappy updates).
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by:andyalder
andyalder earned 200 total points
ID: 39635682
Depends on the controller as to whether breaking the mirror and replacing one at a time will work or not. I've done it many times on HP controllers successfully. Although a backup should be performed you always have the comfort with RAID 1 that you have a working disk with the data on in your hand and another one in the server and so long as you don't run the OS during the rebuild these will still be in sync with each other.

As far as removing both at once with it powered off and restoring to new disks if that fails you can certainly put the other ones back in although it may need the disk configs to be imported depending on controller. If that wasn't possible you could never replace a motherboard/disk controller without losing your data.
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by:Bert2005
ID: 39636289
Wow, I hit the jackpot on getting good experts. Thanks to both of you. One thing I come away with after reading both of your excellent comments. I probably should hire a professional.

As far as backups, as you know SBS 2008 has an image backup. I can't recall if the install disk works as bootable for it or you have to do you own.

I use Backup Assist, which after researaching tons of reasonable backup solutions seemed the way to go. I have used it ten years, and I find it to be the best in the mid-size market. New versions frequently, works by using Microsofts intrinsic backup system, and I have a bootable backup every night. Plus, the absolute best support. I actually have two full backups every night, which I know is crazy.

As to Acronis, there was a time I would agree with the others. It blew away Ghost (after Ghost went downhill which is inevitable if you are owned by Norton) and made a rock solid image backup every time. It just worked. Then they decided to get fancy, and they made it more and more complicated. I finally uninstalled it.  But, they never told me that Acronis has its own VSS writers. So, when you uninstall them, Microsoft's don't  work. Had to pay them a full ticket to get the writers back.

Sorry, for rambling. But due to the ransom viruses of which Cryptolocker is the newest, I decided to back up my clients. So, I paid for Acronis again. And, it would only install on three out of nine machines. Eight support techs over one week, each remoting in, couldn't fix it. It just wouldn't install. But, Backup Assist has a solution, so I went that way.

Anyway, thanks very, very much for your help. Sorry it took so long to get back to you.
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