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Adding an additional drive to a RAID5 array on PERC 4e/Di

Posted on 2014-02-17
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Last Modified: 2016-11-23
Experts:
We have a Dell PowerEdge 2800, running Windows 2003, with a PERC 4e/Di controller.  There are 5 X 300GB drives in a RAID5 config.  I need to add an additional drive to the array.  I am pretty clear on the process, although this is the first time I have added more space on this server.  I hope that you experts can just verify what I need to do:

After physically inserting the new drive, I use OpenManage to add the drive to the array.  Under the controller object, I choose the virtual disk and then choose "Configure" from the drop-down menu and then Execute.  I should receive another screen where I can choose the available drive and add it to the array, keeping RAID5 as my RAID configuration.

Secondly, I have two volumes on this server.  An OS volume (C:) and a data volume (D:).  I have been struggling with a space shortage on C: from some time now and I would really like to add some of the new space to C:.  I assume I have to use the diskpart utility to add the new space to the Windows volume(s) after the array has rebuilt to include the new drive.  Can I add 30GB to the C: drive and then add the remaining space to the D: drive?

Thanks!
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Question by:12vltmn
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by:kevinhsieh
ID: 39866971
You have a couple of problems. You can't use diskpart on Windows 2003 to expand the C partition while the OS is running. You also can't expand any partition unless it is adjacent to the free space. If you have one virtual drive and then two partitions on that drive, you can only expand the second partition because that it the partition that will be next to the free space.
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by:kevinhsieh
ID: 39866978
You will need a third party utility to expand the C partition such as one from http://www.paragon-software.com/small-business/hdm-business/ .
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by:gurutc
ID: 39867113
Hi,

Are you hoping that the Perc controller will add the additional space to the RAID as RAID space?  That won't happen.  To make the array bigger you'll need to rebuild the entire array from scratch.

- gurutc
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by:12vltmn
ID: 39867608
kevinhsieh:  thanks...I worried what I was proposing sounded too easy.  It is rarely that easy.

gurutc:  What?  Is this a weakness of this particular controller?  Adding more disks to an array should be easy.  I have done that several times on my Dell MD1000 which is connected to a PERC 5/e controller.  I add drive(s) and expand the virtual disk.  I don't understand.
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by:gurutc
ID: 39867619
Then it's me.  I haven't seen expanding a RAID5 work without re-striping.

- gurutc
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by:12vltmn
ID: 39867874
gurutc:  I assume when I add the disk to the array it does re-striping as it redistributes the data across all of the drives.  This can take all weekend, but I've never had a problem doing this on the PERC 5/E controller.  I then use diskpart to expand the volume.  I have never had to rebuild the array from scratch.
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by:gurutc
ID: 39867881
There's stuff I don't know!!!

Just make sure you have a good backup.  That I do know!

Good Deal.
- gurutc
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by:12vltmn
ID: 39867904
I do, and just tested some file restores.  Thank you.
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by:rindi
ID: 39868031
It depends on whether the controller supports expanding an array. Many do, others don't. Often you need additional hardware (like a battery on the controller and RAM), which often isn't included by default. The firmware should also always be as up-to-date as possible, and of course before even thinking of trying it you should make double sure that the backups are 100% fine.

I don't know that Perc controller, so I can't tell if it supports expanding. If it is available you'll see that in the controller's utility once you have added the new disk(s). You should then have an "expand" function that becomes available.

It also isn't clear what you mean with 2 Volumes. Did you setup two separate RAID volumes, or did you creat 2 Partitions from the one Volume?

But generally as has been said already, you can't extend your system drive directly via Windows built-in tools, and also with 3rd party tools, you'd need the free space right behind C:\, so if you have the RAID array partitioned, you'd also first have to move D towards the end of the disk to free up space after C which you can then use for C. But the paragon partitioning tool mentioned can do that.

But it is probably simpler to use an image type backup utility (again paragon is the best choice for this), and then just restore the images after you have added the new disk(s). It will allow you to change the sizes of your restored partitions during the restore operation. But these tools aren't free.
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by:12vltmn
ID: 39868063
rindi:  I have added the drive to the carriage and upon opening OpenManage Server Administrator I see the additional drive in the physical disks section.  I went to the virtual disk section, chose "Reconfigure..." from the available tasks and walked through the steps without actually finalizing.  The options are available to add the new physical disk space to the virtual disk at RAID 5 level.

My firmware is not the most current.  So you see that as a dangerous issue if I move forward without updating the controller firmware first?  Wouldn't the original firmware be OK to use if it was capable of configuring the virtual disk?

thanks
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by:rindi
ID: 39868121
I would always keep the firmware up-to-date. Older versions can have bugs which are corrected with the updates.
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by:PowerEdgeTech
ID: 39868125
"Are you hoping that the Perc controller will add the additional space to the RAID as RAID space?  That won't happen.  To make the array bigger you'll need to rebuild the entire array from scratch."

This is NOT true.  The PERCs (including the PERC 4) is designed to ADD space by adding a disk.  In OMSA it is the Reconfigure option for the virtual disk, on the controller the feature is called Online Capacity Expansion.

After adding a disk, you WILL have the problems the others have talked about with adjusting the partition sizes for the newly added space.

gurutc ... it's okay if you don't know, but if you don't know, don't say it so definitively.
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by:gurutc
ID: 39868135
Again, I've already admitted!  But taking my lumps!

- gurutc
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by:12vltmn
ID: 39868184
PowerEdgeTech:  Good to see you!  I have seen your posts before.  As my post stated above, I have gone through a dry run with OMSA and confirmed what I expected:  it is certainly possible to do this and I am ready to move forward.  In fact, it is quite easy.

I understand the concern regarding expanding the partitions and I know now that I can't expand the OS partition.  I will, however, add the entire extra space to the data partition (D:).  

I assume you also recommend that I update the firmware before proceeding?  This is my current info:
Firmware Version: 521X (min reqd: 522D)
Driver Version: 6.44.2.32 (min reqd: 6.46.2.32
Storport Driver Version: 5.2.3790.3959 (min reqd: 5.2.3790.4173)

I am confused about the "driver" and the "storport driver".  And I am not sure where to get those.  I did download "RAID_FRMW_WIN_R186622.exe" from my support page.  It appears to be the most current, even though it is dated 2009.

Any suggestions or thoughts?

thanks
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PowerEdgeTech earned 350 total points
ID: 39868307
"I assume you also recommend that I update the firmware before proceeding?"

Yes.  Firmware updates on servers, particularly on storage, usually correct bugs in the code, that, when updated, can help you avoid issues before they happen ... they typically make the system more stable and reliable.

The driver can be obtained from support.dell.com ... the same as the firmware update:
http://ftp.dell.com/scsi-raid/RAID_DRVR_WIN_R99970.EXE

The storport driver is a Microsoft interface driver and can be obtained from Microsoft as a "hotfix":
http/ftp.dell.com/scsi-raid/Storport_readme.txt

You have the correct firmware version.  Remember that you always want to update the BIOS and ESM first, then the PERC, and you want to update the driver before the firmware.

BIOS:
http://ftp.dell.com/bios/PE2800_BIOS_WIN_A07.EXE

ESM:
http://ftp.dell.com/esm/BMC_FRMW_WIN_R223079.EXE

These are all Update Packages for Microsoft Windows, so you need only run them in Windows, then reboot when prompted.
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Author Comment

by:12vltmn
ID: 39868341
Thank you.  I will begin downloading.  :)

Should I leave the storport driver for last?  Or maybe last just before the firmware?
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Expert Comment

by:PowerEdgeTech
ID: 39868610
I've never seen a recommendation either way, and I've tried it a few different ways with no problems ... I usually update it after the PERC driver and firmware are done (last).
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