Setting up Server 2012R2 Essentials on a dell server- can I ask some best practices / sequence of events?

I'm setting up a Dell T110-11 for Server 2012R2 essentials (bought through volume licensing).  Would like your thoughts / advice on some questions:

The machine came with 3 1TB drives, PERC S300 RAID card.  I envision RAID 1 with a hot spare, but for Dell's web ordering, I chose RAID 5 (it complained about 3 drives when I chose raid 1).

So now the machine came with 2 arrays (is that the right word?) - 1 1.8TB? and an other a few MB.  
>>> that few MB drive has the system diags?

It also came with a openmanage sys management toos and docs DVD that says 'this is not a bootable DVD'.

>>>> what general sequence of events would you do?  Manually set the RAID 1 / hot spare (losing the diagnostic partition), then install OS? Then I can use that open manage disk?  Or is there some other order?  Or do you set the raid in openmanage? is there another openmanage disk I need / should get that IS bootable?

>>>>  would you make it a single drive letter?  OS and data on the C drive?

anything else?
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Chuck SzymaszekDir of TechnologyCommented:
I would always put a mirrored set (raid 1) for the Windows OS and then keep the data partition on another set of drives.. I normally use dells perc bios bootup to get the arrays built and tested.. you can also use openmanage.. but it takes longer..

without knowing exactly what the server will do.. if anything over than file and printer services .. usually the build is

Raid 1 - OS
Raid 1 or Raid 5 for Data.

with hot spare if mission critical
BeGentleWithMe-INeedHelpAuthor Commented:
Chuck, thank you.  So you are talking  5 drives (2 for raid 1, 2 for raid 1 and 1 for hot spare)?  so the OS and Data are on seperate sets of 2 physical drives? or we could do  2 raid 1 arrays on 1 set of 2 drives and a hot spare (total of 3 physical drives) ? this is for a small business (5 users).

and what size drive do you make for the OS?  I;m always thinking it'll be too small, whatever you choose <g>
Chuck SzymaszekDir of TechnologyCommented:
Hi, no problem.

Yes, the drive arrangement is correct.. again.. being a small business can you afford to shut down for a while to swap out the bad drive if it fails? some of dells servers only have a four cage system.  

ALWAYS oversize your OS partition.. Micro$oft always will take .. plus for swap files etc.. for WS2012E

They claim 60GB so I would spec. at least 90GB or so.... just make sure only the OS goes on them.. the 120GB drives are cheap!!

Also.. make sure to have a good USB 3.0 backup device and test it .. just because drives are mirrored does not mean a virus or hardware failure cannot cause mass issues!!!



PS: drive speed IE: 7.2K, 10K and 15K mechanical drives will change pricing too.. and make sure if you ever have to change out a drive to match up the model AND firmware of the drive you replace.. I have seen many times that a different manufacturer etc. can cause issues with the rebuilding process on perc controllers.
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Don't ever use RAID 5. That is outdated and unreliable. Just setup RAID 1 and use the 3rd disk as a hot-spare. That ensures that as soon as the first disk fails, the hotspare takes over and get's synced to. That reduces your risk as the time you don't have RAID is shorter, and you don't have to wait to get a new disk to replace until the array rebuilds. Of course that doesn't mean you shouldn't regularly monitor your array for failures.
BeGentleWithMe-INeedHelpAuthor Commented:
Chuck - sorry,  So you are saying the OS partition could be something like 90GB.  OK.  But you talking that's on it's own pair of  120GB drives?  and then the data is on another pair?  (you can't really get 90GB hard drives anymore and if you are putting it on its own physical drives, why not just make the partition the size of the drive?).  This could devolve into another question of SAS vs. SATA vs. ... I'm only thinking sata drives and they are bigger than 120GB these days from Dell.

Rindi - yeah, with the cost of hard drives, RAID 5 isn't needed. I'll defer to you on tech reasons not to use raid 5.

Your thoughts on a single C drive (for data and OS) on the raid 1 vs. a C and D?

thanks.   You guys touched on 1 of the questions I have, but I broke out the other questions about sequence / steps of actually configuring the RAID 1 and installing the OS into a separate page.  Please check:
I never mix the data and the OS on the same "Disk". Having them separate eases backups and restores, and management is also easier.

But I wouldn't use partitions to separate the two. In a RAID setup you can usually (with most good controllers) setup 2 RAID volumes for the same disks. You could make one small volume for the OS and a large one for the data. That way the 2 Volumes will appear like 2 separate disks rather than as 1 disk with 2 partitions within diskmanagement.

Another thing I'd generally do is to use Virtualization. You could use VMware's ESXi or m$'s Hyper-V, and then install your OS as a VM within that. When using virtual machines it is easier to replace faulty or old hardware, as the VM itself doesn't care what hardware you actually have.

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