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6 year old Dell PowerEdge T110 with 1 of 4 failing hard drive.... What would you do?

On a Dell PowerEdge T110, shipped in Nov, 2011, we have this 1 of 4 hard drive with predicted failure.  It's set up as RAID 6, I think I saw (no spares... but raid 6 you can lose 2 drives before failure? Not that I want to get to that : )

Thoughts?

Replace the drive? Right away?  You can wait? Any indication of failure predicted today vs. next month vs.....
If you are going to replace the drive, I thought I heard that you have to get it from Dell? They build / built? their systems to require dell branded hard drives to work?
Where do you get a drive like that from? I don't see it on the dell website?

Or is this the argument to replace the server?  1 of 4 drives failing.... the others are as old, the whole machine is 6 years old (SBS 2011 standard OS)
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BeGentleWithMe-INeedHelp
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BeGentleWithMe-INeedHelp
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Sam Simon NasserIT Support ProfessionalCommented:
Replace the drive? Right away?  You can wait? Any indication of failure predicted today vs. next month vs.....
to make sure that the disk is having bad sectors, download HD Tune Pro to check health, errors, etc http://www.hdtune.com/files/hdtunepro_570_trial.exe
If you are going to replace the drive, I thought I heard that you have to get it from Dell? They build / built? their systems to require dell branded hard drives to work?
never heard about this before, as far as i know you can use any hard disk, but with same size as the others.
Or is this the argument to replace the server?
that depends on you: did any one complained before that the server is slow in processing? is it used for file sharing or internet gateway or mail server or or or? if no one complained before, and you that this server is right enough for the organization in the current time, then there is no need to replace it. buying 200$ hard disk is not as buying a 4000$ server.
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Cliff GaliherCommented:
I assume it is out of warranty.  If so, replace the server.

It doesn't really change my answer, but a few thoughts:

Have you tested your backup?  An untested backup is as good as no backup.  You don't want to find out your restore strategy was flawed after the machine fails.  No good there. (same logic as not running a machine out of warranty....your DR strategy involves getting parts off ebay...)

Replacing the hard drive might buy you time.  Or it could put enough stress on the other drives during the "rebuild" that they also fail.  Drives in OEM servers tend to all be from the same manufacturing batch and that means they tend to fail close together.

SBS 2011 is nearing end of extended support. Use this opportunity to migrate.  Sooner is better.

Use this opportunity to discuss a budget for I.T. and get your servers on a regular replacement cycle that can be adhered to.  Buy extended warranties to match whatever replacement cycle you choose.

These are all small steps that even the *smallest* of small businesses can stomach. It just requires the hard conversations to explain the need.
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ITguy565Commented:
I would agree with Cliff Galiher's statement, If the Server is indeed 6 years old and still in production you seriously need to consider replacing the box. You are running on borrowed time with a production server that is "NOT" under warranty.

To your other questions:

If you are going to replace the drive, I thought I heard that you have to get it from Dell? They build / built? their systems to require dell branded hard drives to work?

The only time I have ever heard of this is when the system is under warranty and at that point if you are replacing a drive that is under warranty or service contract you MUST go though dell in order to replace that drive.  Dell does not Personally create Hard Drives though I have seen some that have their branding logo on them.
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BeGentleWithMe-INeedHelpAuthor Commented:
Cliff - yes out of warranty.  Good points, thanks.

Sam - I think the word I should have used is 'certified' for the ones that have to go into the server.

Looking at this from 2014,

https://www.dell.com/community/PowerEdge-HDD-SCSI-RAID/Do-I-need-certified-drives/td-p/4321318

it says dell doesn't require dell certified drives..

But this from 2010,

https://www.dell.com/community/PowerEdge-HDD-SCSI-RAID/Dell-certified-drives-only-with-PERC-H700/td-p/3449730

'Just got a new R510 Server with H700 Raid Card and yes unfortunately it is true you can only use Dell certified drives with the new Raid cards'

Maybe around 2010 Dell WAS requiring dell certified drives but by 2014 moved away from that?  This server is from 2011 : (
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BeGentleWithMe-INeedHelpAuthor Commented:
itguy: thanks also.  Totally agree on just replace, move to office 365, etc.  but not my money / they are penny wise / pound foolish : )  

My post and yours crossed.  Yeah, Dell doesn't make the drive, but some quick googling, it seems that the drive maker can customize the firmware for manufacturers... if nothing else to make it unique so the controller knows to look for something in the firmware to see that you bought our brand / version of hard drive?

The card in this server:  PERC 6/i SAS internal RAID adapter, PCI-Express

Several pages of people saying they have had problems with drives they didn't get from dell / not dell certified...it might work... but not supported..  more support for the idea to just replace the server?! : )

https://www.dell.com/community/PowerEdge-HDD-SCSI-RAID/Non-certified-drives-throwing-Faults/td-p/4139185

https://www.dell.com/community/PowerEdge-HDD-SCSI-RAID/Does-the-PERC-6-i-SAS-5-work-with-non-certified-Dell-HDDs/m-p/5114438
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ITguy565Commented:
Personally, I would take care of the immediate issue and replace the drive. Then I would in my annual budget plan to replace the box because it is a HUGE liability.
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Sam Simon NasserIT Support ProfessionalCommented:
yes, certified server hard drive is something, and only dell hard disk for dell server is something else.
check this article on The 5 Most Reliable Hard Drives According to Server Companies   https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/most-reliable-hard-drives/
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ITguy565Commented:
As for replacing the drive, I would pull one of my existing drives and see what the Make and model is and replace with the same make and model drive. The drive technically should not need to be Dell Certified, but going with the same make and model and size drive you can't go wrong.
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Cliff GaliherCommented:
I personally will reiterate my one concern here.  Replacing the drive *will* stress the other drives and actually (SIGNIFICANTLY) increases their chance of failure.  On a server under warranty with good backups, not a big deal.  On an out of warranty server, now you are buying a new serer anyways...finding a way to restore a backup onto dissimilar hardware....and very likely will have a "no returns" policy on the drive you bought.

While I certainly don't have warm fuzzy feelings about running a RAID setup with a failed drive, I think replacing the drive could compound the problem, not resolve it.  

The underlying problem is, of course, that the server is out of warranty.  But crying over spilt milk and all that. in an effort not to dwell on the problem, but to look for the solution, I still have to recommend just biting the bullet, ensuring you have a GOOD backup, and buying a new server and migrating ASAP.  Heck, moving to Office 365 doesn't even require a new server, so you could start *that* now.   I, for one, do not advocate replacing the drive.
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BeGentleWithMe-INeedHelpAuthor Commented:
it guy:  

You say pull one of my existing drives and see what the Make and model is and replace with the same make and model drive

Good advice, except what would you do when they don't make that drive anymore : ) that is a 6 year old model.
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ITguy565Commented:
I have to disagree with you there, while rebuilding a degraded raid will tax the system for a short time, I do not believe that it will cause additional drives to fail without warning. While that is possible, it is not probable.
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Cliff GaliherCommented:
Drives failing in batches is very well documented.  Anecdotal experience is a small subset to draw conclusions, but you draw from a large enough pool and what I said is demonstratively true.  The older the drives, the higher the probability (since drives actually publish MTBF figures) and real world experiences in the field (not mine, but the various IT communities at large) have born that out.  Proceed at your own risk.
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andyalderCommented:
You can use generic drives but they won't be any cheaper than second hand Dell ones, You don't even have to match the manufacturer, as far as Dell are concerned all their 300GB 10K SAS drives are the same even if one is WD and one Seagate. There is no need to pull a drive to get the Dell part no, you can look up the server serial number to see what it was built with at http://www.dell.com/support/home/us/en/04 (although you may have changed the disks since then, OMSA will also tell you the generic name of the disk. There was only one version of PERC firmware that insisted on Dell branded drives.

Bear in mind disks should be replaced hot, do not shut the server down to change it, OMSA has an option to take a predictive failure drive off line for replacing. (Admittedly I don't know if you have hot-plug bays as T110 comes with hot-plug or wired options).

You can't use HDtune or any other generic diagnostic tool by the way, it can't see past the RAID controller to get the drive status.
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BeGentleWithMe-INeedHelpAuthor Commented:
There was only one version of PERC firmware that insisted on Dell branded drives.

Thanks!  At least I know I wasn't going completely crazy!!

not using hdtune - i meant to ask that.  thanks!
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