Storage - Expanding a Dell RAID 5 array above 2TB when MBR in place – Possible?

Hi,

I had a Dell PowerEdge server running Windows Server 2008 R2 and I wanted to expand the storage of the RAID 5 array.
To give some background it’s a PowerEdge T610 with 8 physical hard drive bays.

Before the change the server had these physical drives:

2 * 300GB  - Forming a RAID 1 mirrored configuration where the C partition and OS lives
4 * 600GB – Forming a RAID 5 configuration giving about 1.6TB of storage. This forms the D drive on the server.

Speaking with Dell we decided to purchase another 2 * 600GB to make use of the two empty bays with the intention of adding 1.2TB of capacity to the existing RAID 5 array and expanding the D drive. This would make about 2.6TB available in the RAID 5 array.

Dell informed us this would be pretty much plug and play.

In some ways it is, we have added the drives and the server can see them via the OPENMANAGE configuration software and I can amend the array to add the two new disks, but when adding the drives to the array the software pops up a dialogue which says:

“Please verify that your operating system, including any updates or modifications, supports a virtual disk of this size, do you want to proceed?”

This led me to ask Dell support, but I have received contradictory information from different engineers and I’m not sure if there is risk in proceeding.

It seems that as the drives are MBR, we can only address 2TB of space so I have to convert to GPT.

The server is an a live environment with the data backed up to a cloud storage solution. I don't have a local quickly accessible backup at present.

Through my investigations I am left with the following questions.

1)      Generally I’m open to what the best approach to achieving this so open to any general suggestions.
2)      To convert to GPT, it seems I would lose the data on the D drive? IF anyone knows a way of not doing this, let me know, but if not, what is a method where I can easily backup and restore and ensure everything is retained as it was. Therefore for example
3)      Someone said, if I am not bothered about expanding D and wanted to create a new partition E, I could look to expand D to 2TB and have the remaining unallocated space to create an 800GB E drive. Is this true?
4)      If I were to proceed despite the warning, is there any risk to the data?
5)      I am right in thinking that in Windows Server 2008 R2, I can dynamically expand and shrink the size of drives without needing third party tools like partition magic?
6) Am I right in thinking that all of this work does not pose any risk to the C drive (which is in a mirrored RAID 1 array and contains the OS and boot partition)

Any general information on this would be great.
afflik1923Asked:
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rindiCommented:
You'll have to create a local backup of your data partition, then convert to GPT, and then restore your backup.

There may be 3rd party tools available, possibly from paragon, that could convert MBR disks to GPT and vice versa without data loss, but I'm not sure and never tried that, and even if that works things can always go wrong with any manipulation with disks etc. So a good fresh local backup is always essential.
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Kash2nd Line EngineerCommented:
I would make a backup of RAID5 and reconfigure the array accordingly. If you have a backup in place then its a weekend job of rebuilding the RAID. Good luck
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skullnobrainsCommented:
2)      To convert to GPT, it seems I would lose the data on the D drive? IF anyone knows a way of not doing this, let me know, but if not, what is a method where I can easily backup and restore and ensure everything is retained as it was. Therefore for example

easy. just don't use the builtin windows tool. plenty of tools around can do this without data loss (partition magic, gptgen, (g)parted, ...). most can even create hybrid partitionning. the real problem is when you have a bootable system on that disk which is apparently not the case.

then this is never a zero risk operation.

3)      Someone said, if I am not bothered about expanding D and wanted to create a new partition E, I could look to expand D to 2TB and have the remaining unallocated space to create an 800GB E drive. Is this true?

yes, and that is definitely less risky

4,5,6) yes
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andyalderCommented:
Couple more tools...

http://sourceforge.net/projects/gptfdisk/  (free)
http://www.terabyteunlimited.com/bootit-bare-metal.htm (paid for utility).

@theruck If you are going to quote verbatim from http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2581408 please include the reference, otherwise it is plagiarism. Windows 2003 (SP1 and above) does support GPT by the way, don't know how you got the impression it didn't.
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theruckCommented:
last time i posted a link a moderator was bitching me for posting links to third party pages instead of writing text argumenting that EE is to be the source of the data as the link does not need to be working in the future.
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andyalderCommented:
They don't mind links to manufacturer's websites such as Microsoft, Dell etc since they are authoritative, it's links to other 3rd party help sites that EE objects to mainly since it's helping the opposition so to speak.

You can always use knowledge gleaned from other sites and then type it in your own words.
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skullnobrainsCommented:
<off topic>
i'm unsure it's about the destination of the link. it's more relative to contents. posting a link just saying "you'll get information there" without telling which information, where to look, or possibly quoting the relevant part makes you look like a google monkey (even though you are not). experience proves most of the folks doing so usually post a bunch of mildly related information the author usually already read ages before he posted.
... which is why posting links is often highly disregarded
on the other hand, a link to a tool fit for a specific job is always welcome as long as it is clear what the tool will be used for.
i even recollect posting links to other similar forums without anyone complaining
</off>
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theruckCommented:
well then you can delete most of the scripts provided on EE as a solution. good luck searching, moderators!
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andyalderCommented:
You shouldn't have deleted the whole post Rindi, the first bit wasn't copy/paste.
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Kash2nd Line EngineerCommented:
i have to say I have been sent private PMs from some MODs asking me not to post links etc. Like I am just picking random google links and posting it here. It takes me time to search a post related to a solution on the internet before I post it so that is how I will be doing it. If this is against EE's procedures then there is a Hire Me button on my profile ;)
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rindiCommented:
You are allowed to post links, but those links shouldn't be the answer by itself, they should rather just be there to support what you have already posted, as an additional reference. Links can go stale, and then no one knows what they were all about.
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afflik1923Author Commented:
Thanks. In the end I created a different partition which was good enough.
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