Need advice on Hardware RAID and External USB 3.0 Drives for SBS 2011 following catastrophic failure.
Posted on 2015-02-06
We have SBS 2011 installed on a Dell Poweredge T410
Processor: Xeon X5650, 2.66 GHz, 12M Cache, Turbo, HT, 1333MHz Max Mem
RAID5 for PERC S100 Controller
3 x 1 TB 7.2K RPM SATA 3Gbps HDs (WD1003FBYX-18Y7B0)
16GB Memory (2x8Gb), 1333MHz Dual Rank LV
added a Rocketfish USB 3.0 PCI Express Adapter for use with
a 2TB Seagate GoFlex Desk (PN: 9ZQAN7-571) USB 3.0 (which required re-formatting to 512 Sectors)
System worked well since installation in Jan of 2012, and has had very little Administrator oversight.
In summer of 2014, system began to crawl, but Exchange, IIS and other server products continued to seem responsive, so no investigation.
After a power failure and reboot cycle, noticed Virtual Disks degraded and suspected one of the RAID drives was failing or had failed. (Which was indeed the case)
During troubleshooting, MAJOR mistakes were made while in the BIOS RAID configuration screens.
Long story short, Virtual disks deleted, Physical Disks reformatted, thus Active Directory gone (with no backup DC), basically entire domain was destroyed. Administrator freaked out and made more mistakes, destroying any chance of a bare metal restore. Ultimate administrator's nightmare.
From old backups, it appears the original RAID5 configuration yielded one 2TB drive partitioned as:
C: OS 902.93 Gb
D: DATAPART2 61.96 Gb
G: SharepointData 48.83 Gb
H: UserData 799.31 Gb
F: ExchangeData 48.83 Gb
As a business critical machine, we could not wait days for a new HDD, to replicate the original configuration, so..
Identified bad HDD, and reconfigured 2 remaining working drives in a RAID 1 config, yielding only 1TB of usable space. Obviously a no go for full recovery from backups. Reconfigured again for RAID 0, but didn't know exact volume and partition sizes at the time. So, rather than do a bare metal restore, we simply did a clean install of SBS 2011 and rebuilt the domain from scratch. (Small business, so not too horrible.)
SBS 2011 has been fully re-installed, updates applied to all server applications, etc. Used ProfileWizard on client machines to enable the "new" domain profiles/SIDs, etc. Used SysTools to recover workstation's local .OST files to .PST to then recreate most of the lost Exchange mailbox content.
From our user's standpoint, everything has been recovered and is working normally once again. However, RAID0 with those 3+yr old original disks in our PDC is no bueno.
Also, Windows Server Backup has NOT yet been configured on the rebuilt PDC. Configuration wizard will reformat the GoFlex drive, thus wiping out the old backups. Although it is no longer desirable to do a bare metal restore, there may be recoverable files someone would want in the future. But I need to get backups configured onto "something" asap. (Do not want to repeat this nightmare.)
So given these details, I need some advice on how best to proceed.
1. I'd like a Hardware RAID solution (5 or 6) and preferably with faster SAS drives. (Is this as simple as installing a RAID controller card, cables and drives, or will I need to do something to de-activate the software S100 controller first, or will there be limitations to HW upgrade due to Motherboard model limitations, etc.?)
2. Obviously, I need a backup solution prior to altering the RAID configuration, but the 2TB Seagate GoFlex Desk (PN: 9ZQAN7-571) that I am familiar with (and know works) is no longer available, so I need suggestions on known workable external USB 3.0 drives. The External drive compatibility list that everyone directs you to, looks very dated, with many recent models missing from the list.
I'm sure I've left out some vital details, but just let me know what you need in order to offer an informed opinion. Thanks guys!
PS: The one silver lining in all this is a much cleaner Active Directory, as the previous installation had many artifacts leftover after a migration from SBS 2003.