Dell PowerEdge raid drive replacement

After determining that one of the drives in the raid is going out, I need to find the best procedure to replace the drives and keep the server operating as it was before. They are about 10 years old.

The Dell Poweredge is from about 2001, and was upgraded by a tech guy to a raid setup in 2006: Two Maxtor 6L300R0 drives, 128 gig each, in separate internal slots in the server. W2000 Server computer management currently says:

Disk 0:
32mb_up FAT

Disk 1:
e:  no info

f: cdrom

Sometimes the computer management says the above, and sometimes Disk 1 is grayed out, and sometimes the Disk Management folder is "locked and cannot be accessed".  The goal is to keep it operating, while replacing the drives, so:

1. A local tech guy said to go ahead and get 2 replacement Maxtor drives, and then we can replace one at a time, but he needs to know if they are scsi or other. How to determine?

2. Should I try to format Disk 1, or do a surface scan with a dos bootup?

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The drives are 10 years old.  A rebuild is profoundly stressful, and I absolutely guarantee that the rebuild will touch sectors that haven't seen any I/O since the last rebuild, which could very well be 10 years ago.

In THIS situation, the only practical and safe thing to to is a full recovery backup first.   Back it all up,  clear the config, put in the new disks, configure RAID, then restore.

The one-at-a-time thing won't work.  The replacement drives will have the same usable capacity as the ones you replaced, and you will again put extreme stress on the system.
Besides that, the server model would be important to know, what RAID controller it uses, as often a server model can come with different controllers. Once you know the controller's model you'll also know whether they are SCSI (which is likely with a server of that age). Also, Maxtor disks will probably no longer be available, except maybe 2nd hand, Maxtor was bought up by another disk manufacturer (Seagate I think) a long time ago.

Also, if the array was setup using the RAID controller, you wouldn't see the individual disks using Windows Disk-Management, but rather via the RAID controller's utility which should be installed and accessible via your OS. If it isn't you can still install it, or while booting the server use the short cut keys to get into the firmware RAID utility.
bryanfarrishAuthor Commented:
"a full recovery backup first"

I do have Ghost 2003 on there; I will try to clone to an Iomega network drive.

"The replacement drives will have the same usable capacity as the ones you replaced, and you will again put extreme stress on the system"

Do you mean that the swapping of drives, itself, is stressful, or do you mean that replacement drives of the same size are stressful? The drives are not very full, and the server does not do very much work, mostly just a sequel server.

"if the array was setup using the RAID controller, you wouldn't see the individual disks using Windows Disk-Management"

Hmm... well I do see the Disk 0 and Disk 1 in disk-management.

"via the RAID controller's utility which should be installed and accessible via your OS."

Have not seen it here, but not sure where to look. Where would it be?
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The rebuild of the array is stressful. The amount of data involved doesn't really matter.

If you see two disks in disk management either there have been 2 arrays setup, the 2nd disk is another disk connected somehow that has nothing to do with RAID, or you aren't using the controller's RAID function.

You'd have to look in your OS for a utility that was installed. Sometimes they are also a utility accessible via the web-browser. It is best to check your server's manual or RAID controller's manual, or look on their download sites for tools and manuals for the controller.
bryanfarrishAuthor Commented:
Ok in Device Manager I found:

Silicon Image Sii 0680 Ultra 133 Medley ATA Raid Controller

Have not yet found a utility.
That is just an IDE controller, I've never heard of any Dell Poweredge Servers that ran on IDE disks, so this probably is something someone added later. Besides, IDE controllers only were fake-RAID controllers, and those should never be used for RAID, also as IDE disks should never be used in servers, and particularly not in RAID arrays.

Servers of that vintage usually used SCSI RAID controllers and SCSI disks, or sometimes maybe already SATA or SAS disks and controllers.

I'd forget about that "RAID" setup, and rather check what the original controller is (some PERC or CERC controller). Check the server's ID Tag and go to the Dell website, from where you can download drivers and utilities, and where you should also be able to see what the original configuration of the server was. Then get disks to that controller directly from Dell, create your RAID arrays on those disks, and restore your system from your backups to the new arrays.
I had some dell servers model 715 powersomething-or-other 1U systems that used IDE drives.  the HDDs ran for almost 10 years. They were legitimate enterprise class drives that cost over $500 each.  

In any event, you did have top of the line drives back then. They don't make enterprise class IDE/ATA drives anymore.   As this is W2K you'll have problem even finding a controller that supports the SATA drives you'll have to buy.

My suggestion is to take the opportunity to turn this into a virtual machine, then get some modern hardware and run some virtualization software like VMware.
bryanfarrishAuthor Commented:
Sounds beyond my time constraints right now (just a few minutes a day to handle this).

While still reading Rindi's post, is there another option to just keep the sql server going?
P.S. My RAID controller used in the Dell that had enterprise IDE drives was a megaraid family controller, and it was factory configured and installed.  

Call Dell and see what HDDs they have in stock that are compatible with your system.  They have an obligation to spare up on replacement parts to support their government customers.  It might cost an arm and a leg for a 5 year old disk drive, but they'll come with a warranty.  

Buy three. You will want to replace all of them and have a hot spare as well.   You might want to also consider going with an EXTERNAL RAID controller that attaches via a SCSI controller and get it used off eBAY.  It will not only cost you less money (you'll need an Adaptec SCSI controller as well, but drivers are going to be native in Windows 2K so no issues with them.

 The external SCSI RAID controllers will be small enclosure with processor and single SCSI interface cable. the RAID is all done in the enclosure. You can use SCSI disks (which aren't being manufactured any more either , but there are plenty of enterprise class drives out there that are only a few years old).
bryanfarrishAuthor Commented:
How about just moving to a new (used) machine that is raid?
That is what I wrote above in #40454204  - migrate to a virtual machine environment.  Then you can use a modern RAID controller and never have to worry bout using unsupported hardware with no drivers for Win2K

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Besides that, you should start thinking of moving to a more modern OS that is still supported. Windows 2000 is very old and has long ago been unsupported and is dead.
That old Dell system I commented in this thread earlier was also running Win2K. It had an old accounting software on it. Some reports would take well over a minute to run due to historical information and data that I never wanted to clean up.  Once I turned it to a VM I ran it on a more modern machine, and basically saw over a 10x performance improvement as well.    I also was able to easily take a snapshot on the VM and run it on Win7 just to go through some testing of cleaning things out to make sure the process was sound.

Bottom line, you're going to have to migrate to a VM sooner or later ... do it now while the hardware is still alive, because spare parts haven't been made for years.
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