Dell PowerEdge Server PERC 6/i RAID Expansion

Hey EE,

I've recently run into a struggle with my raid array running dangerously low on space. I decided the best course of action would be to expand it--and everything has gone well so far.

The original configuration:
4x 146GB HDDs in Raid 5 -- 1 Virtual Disk (408.38 GB)

Current State:
5x 1TB HDDs in Raid 5 -- New drive acting as a Hot Spare -- 1 Virtual Disk (408.38GB)

I'm now trying to find the best way to expand this disk to use the newly attained space on the RAID. OMSA shows the drives (I actually used OMSA to replace the member disks) to each have some 800 GB of space usable for the drive. I can't, however, figure out how to expand the drives themselves. I haven't tried going into the RAID Controller BIOS because I keep seeing information strewn about the internet suggesting I can do it via OMSA.

Going into the "Reconfigure" menu, and selecting the current 4 drives only leaves me the option of "RAID-0" with a 544GB virtual drive.

It's also come to my attention that booting a drive larger than 2 TB seems to be out of the question without UEFI, if someone could just double confirm that for me I would appreciate it.

Is what I'm looking to do possible?
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PowerEdgeTechIT ConsultantCommented:
Online Capacity Expansion doesn't work that way.  It works by adding disks to a RAID 5 - for example, reconfiguring a 4-disk RAID 5 to a 5-disk RAID 5.  The H700 and newer controllers support OCE using any available space on the disk, but the PERC 6 does not.

Now that you have replaced each of the drives, there is only one thing you can do with the new space:  create a new virtual disk (array) across the disks.  This will be presented to the OS as a separate "disk".

If you need it all in a single unit of storage, you would need to backup and restore.

In order to have a "disk" larger than 2TB, it must be converted to GPT (data-destructive).
In order to BOOT to a GPT disk, the OS must be installed on a UEFI-enabled system.
UEFI is only supported on 10th generation Dell servers (R510, T610, etc.) and newer.

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Tony GiangrecoCommented:
You should not settle for raid 0, it does not provide protection. Always use raid 5 or higher. it allows the loss of one drive with no data loss.

It also sounds like you have an older dell server and your raid card ad BIOS don't support USFI. I agree it requires a conversion to GPT.

One way to do this is take a full server backup and test be before proceeding.
Convert to GPT and run a full restore.

Do not take this process lightly. It requires knowledge and experience using Backup and restore software. I always use Backup Exec for my clients. Whatever software you use, if you run this process, document what you have a test the backup before any conversion to GPT.

You may also want to run this process past Dell's support based on the hardware and O/S you have.

Hope this helps!
Mr TorturSystem EngineerCommented:
Hi troycsl,

I confirm GPT boot partition is needed for a >2TB partition.
your old and new hard disk config are so different that I am not sure to understand : did you replace the old hard disks? or did you add new ones keeping the old too?
Because - it is just a guess - it seems you are moving from faster disk (146GB model are often 10000 or 15000rpm) to slower ones (1TB disk are often 7200rpm).

And I agree with last comment, you should not go with RAID 0 as it has zero protection for your data.
RAID 1, 5 or 10 are oftenly used.
Tony GiangrecoCommented:
Hi Troycl,

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