Add free space to datastore after RAID array expansion

I have an ESXi server, recently upgraded from 4.x to 5.5.  I've expanded the existing RAID array using the HP Array config utility from 4 disks (3 in the array plus a spare) to 5 disks (4 in the array plus a spare).  In the array config utility, it shows that the array is good.  However, when I go into the VSphere client to manage the datastore, there doesn't seem to be a way to expand the existing datastore into the new free space.  The properties of the disk, though, does show the correct size:

Properties of datastore in VSphere client
I've done some research on this and through a post in the VMWare Communities section found this article:

 http://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/documentLinkInt.do?micrositeID=&popup=true&languageId=&externalID=2002461
 
I've read this over carefully, and it seems as though it should work in my situation.  I have one concern, though, and that is that I'm pretty sure the disk is formatted as MBR not GPT.  There's a reference in the article (Step 9) to moving the GPT partition.  Although nothing else in the article states that it has to be a GPT disk, I'm just a little unsure of whether this is a relatively safe procedure and should work in my situation.

Any expert advice - maybe from someone who has done this before would be ideal.
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Hypercat (Deb)Asked:
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
This is often the case, when the ESXi OS shares the same "disk" as the VMFS datastore.

If you click increase, do you get any options to increase the datastore....

Options include....

1. Manually manipulating the partition table on the existing installation.

2. Backup the virtual machines, and reformat the array, and complete a new installation, and restore the VMs.

3. Too late now, but you could have just created a new virtual disk or logical disk, and added it as a new datastore.

You did Expand the Array, and Expand the Logical Disk, these are two operations in the Array Configuration Utilities?
Hypercat (Deb)Author Commented:
When I clicked the "Increase" button, I got a message that I had to upgrade the datastore to VMFS5 before I could create a partition greater than 2TB.  I'm not going anywhere near 2TB, so I'm not sure why I'm getting that message.  Would upgrading to VMFS5 allow me to add the extra space as an extent?

1.  I believe this option is what I'm contemplating with the steps in the article I posted above.

2.  I'm trying to avoid the backup/reformat/install/restore because this is a small, single-server installation and that would require a lot of maneuvering, including attaching some kind of external storage to hold the VMs while I manipulate the array.

3.  I contemplated this, but since I added only a single hard drive, that would leave that drive unprotected except for backup (i.e., no RAID or mirror).  I really didn't want to do that, since again this is a small shop that tends to work their hardware to death before replacing.

Yes, I did all the steps in the ACU to expand the array and extend the logical disk.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
You are getting the message because you cannot have a mixed extent with VMFS 3.x and VMFS 5.x.

ESXi 5.x, can only create VMFS 5.x, so to be on a level playing field, you will at least need to upgrade the datastore to VMFS 5.x.

1. If after updating to VMFS 5.x, you cannot increase the VMFS datastore, if that is the requirement here, do not be surprised if clicking Increase does not work, or "detect" the additional space you have created, it's a limitation of the method the GUI increases the space, on the disk, by creating a new VMFS partition, and adding to the exiting VMFS partition, it does this behind the scenes, but due to a four primary partition limit in a OS, this cannot be done.....

so, you can manipulate the partition manually, but we would never recommend this, as users often get it wrong, and trash the installation.

2. Yes, I understand, but we would 1) not recommend an upgrade from 4.1 to 5.5 inplace 2) mixing the OS and datastore on the same disk (because of 1 above) 3) cannot recommend manual partutil modifications.

3. two disks would have been better RAID 1, new datastore.

(you always have EE to Ask questions before you do any operation!!!)
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Hypercat (Deb)Author Commented:
Ok, so I've looked at a number of different options here, and everything seems to present some problems.  This being a standalone ESXi FREE version, it seems to be very challenging to find backup software that will allow me to backup my VMs to an external USB drive, wipe and recreate the datastore at full capacity, reinstall ESXi and then restore my VMs.  I've looked at both Veeam Free version (doesn't work with ESXi free), and Unitrends which SAYS it works with ESXi free but when I try to install it, it gives me a licensing error.  I've even researched the idea of just copying the VM files to the external USB drive and then copying them back, but that seems to be an iffy proposition and risks corrupting the files.

SO....now I'm wondering if the following scenario will work:

1.  Install a separate 1TB hard drive in the server and create a second datastore.
2. Move the VMs to that datastore with the standalone converter.
3.  Shut down the VMs.
4.  Wipe the original datastore, reinstall ESXi, and recreate a new datastore to include the added storage.
5.  Reattach datastore 2 with the VMs on it.
6.  Use the standalone converter to move the VMs back to the original datastore.

Will this work?  Any other suggestions?
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Hypercat (Deb)Author Commented:
Is there any particular advantage/disadvantage to using the cloning process v. creating an OVF?
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
CLONING is quicker, because there is just one copy operation, and it's host side, and between datastores. (if done at the console!).

OVF, you've got to Export, and then Import, so two operations.

If it was us, and we wanted backups of VMs, belts and braces, we would make three copies, and a clone!

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Hypercat (Deb)Author Commented:
Thanks for your thoughts and suggestions.  I will probably go with cloning and perhaps make an OVF of each server as well just in case!
Hypercat (Deb)Author Commented:
Followup question - I think I know the answer but want to erase the last iota of doubt:

On this standalone server, I did a default install of VMWare to the internal disk. So, ESXi is installed on the same physical disk as the datastore.  If I delete the datastore only without competely wiping the array, will I still need to reinstall ESXi?
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
if you wipe the datastore, you can continue to use the installed version of ESXi.
Hypercat (Deb)Author Commented:
That's what I thought -  thanks!
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