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Replacing a hardware SATA RAID 1 with software RAID 1

Posted on 2014-02-22
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Last Modified: 2016-10-27
Hi,

I support an SBS 2008 Fujitsu TX100 S2 server with 2 x 500GB SATA hard drives which came already hardware mirrored.

The RAID system sometimes takes a few attempts to start up saying that it can't find any drives. A call to Fujitsu only revealed their surprise that the SATA drives they supplied in their server had survived for nearly fives years.

So rather than waiting for a problem to happen and call them out, I want to replace the two drives and set them up as mirrored under Windows Disk Management.

The way I would go about it is to:

1. Disconnect one of the existing RAID 1 drives.
2. Replace with new drive and allow to rebuild.
3. Break the "hardware" RAID 1 in the RAID BIOS.
4. Replace the second old drive and reboot the system.
5. Add Mirror with Disk Management.

I am used to replacing drives with SCSI cards and onboard RAID gives me visions of being left with unreadable drives when the RAID is broken.

Am I doing this correctly?
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Question by:bill2013
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7 Comments
 
LVL 51

Expert Comment

by:Netman66
ID: 39879381
That sounds right.

Moving the RAID overhead into the OS might not give you the desired performance you expect.  Of course, this depends on the system specs.  Hardware RAID will almost always be faster and less resource-intensive to the OS.

I suspect you know that already, but I had to put it out there.
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Expert Comment

by:dlethe
ID: 39879519
What you want to do indicates you have no backup. In YOUR case best policy is to do a full bootable backup, then build a new raid entirely.

The reason is that a backup does not backup 100% of all blocks, it backs up used blocks.  A rebuild is going to force reads on 100% of the blocks on the HDD, and I assure you not all of them have even been touched for 5 years.  You run high risk of data loss doing a rebuild on disks that are long past their EOL.
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Expert Comment

by:dlethe
ID: 39879522
P.S. Software RAID1 has NO overhead. In fact with windows you get almost double read performance because it has read load balancing.

Now if this was RAID5 or 6 then it would be a different story, barely, and then only if you had a single CPU running less than 1Ghz.
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Expert Comment

by:pgm554
ID: 39879525
>The RAID system sometimes takes a few attempts to start up saying that it can't find any drives.

Sounds like you have the beginnings of a hardware problem.

I would be more concerned about the health of the drives or disk controller,than moving it over to windows RAID.
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Expert Comment

by:dlethe
ID: 39879534
P.S. I is highly doubtful that your so-called hardware RAID does read load balancing.  

It is probably a $2.00 chip, meaning you are doing a cheap dumb software RAID anyway.  But the difference is the W2K8 software RAID lets your CPU, RAM, and kernel do load balancing and instruction reordering.  it will be nearly twice as fast on reads as you have now.
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Accepted Solution

by:
Olaf De Ceuster earned 500 total points
ID: 39879978
If you want to be sure:  Download Acronis BU, Do a complete BU to an external drive.
Replace your drives completely. Use 1 x or two SSD drives if you can (Much bettter performance gains than discussing hardware and software raid)
Do a universal restore on the new drive/s. If something goes wrong just replace the old drives.
SBS2008 is based on server 2008, NOT r2. Software raid is usually slower than hardware raid. (Of course it all depends if you have a good raid card or not)
Sound that you have failing drives or failing Raid card. Whats next?  Maybe time for a complete new server?  5 Years server can be compared to 100 year old person?
Olaf
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Author Closing Comment

by:bill2013
ID: 39880598
Thanks Olaf
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