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To have hard drive or not to have hard drive on a host server?

Posted on 2014-04-02
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In a server virtualization project, we plan using  three host servers running ESXi on SD card instead of on hard drive. The concern is, what if the flash media gets failed. After all, two mirrored hard drives can sustain this kind of failure.

So to have hard drive or not to have hard drive? Appreciate your comments.
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Question by:Castlewood
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by:rindi
rindi earned 400 total points
ID: 39973386
If the card fails, just replace it with another. You could make a copy of the first card so after the card is changed you are ready to go.

Besides, as those cards hardly get written to, and they are only needed to boot the system (everything is loaded to RAM), they hardly get used and so should last for long.
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2) earned 1600 total points
ID: 39973633
Here is the VMware KB on installing 5.x on USB/SD:
http://kb.vmware.com/kb/2004784

We've been installing ESXi onto USB flash drives and SD cards for over ten years now, and not a single installation has failed.

Purchase good quality SD Cards, USB flash drives, e.g. SanDisk, Kingston, HP.

The installation media, is only used to boot the server, so how many times, are you going to boot them, the OS, then goes memoery resident.

We've seen more issues with hard drive mirrored installations, over the years than failed usb or SD card fl;ash drives (the internet runs on Cisco routers, and the routers boot from flash!).

You should not compare USB or SD cards in the way they are used in cameras or PCs, where they are constantly inserted in and out of devices, and generally abused.

You media will sit in the server, and stay there.

If you want to take a backup, please see my EE Article

How to Backup an ESXi installation on an USB Flash Drive or SD card, for security or redundancy.

with the latest ESXi 5.5 you will want to use the following to make a backup...

http://www.alexpage.de/usb-image-tool/

One other tool, you can use is the vCLI scripts which can be used to backup and restore the configuration of ESXi 5.5, so it can be restored to a vanilla installation, in seconds..

see here

https://pubs.vmware.com/vsphere-51/index.jsp?topic=%2Fcom.vmware.vcli.ref.doc%2Fvicfg-cfgbackup.html
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