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Hardware Thread, Another question about drives for servers in Technical; One of my school has a server that really needs replacing, but that they'd like to keep in play for ...
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    LeMarchand's Avatar
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    Another question about drives for servers

    One of my school has a server that really needs replacing, but that they'd like to keep in play for another year or so. However, space is tight and no-one wants to take time to delete old data or personal files. It's a Dell PowerEdge with 4x146GB drives and 4 empty slots. Am I correct in my assumption that if we were to get a new matching drive and slot it in it would all just work and give us a bit more space? (Obviously not 146GB!) Or is it more complicated than that?

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    That woudl depend entirely on how the server is setup, assuming it is RAIDED then you will need increase the RAID size

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    LeMarchand (13th March 2012)

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    sonofsanta's Avatar
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    Are those existing drives in a RAID array? Safest way to do it would probably be to put 2 or 3 other drives into the other slots and set them up as a second RAID array to give you some breathing room. Shouldn't be difficult.* You can always use some standard SATA drives if all you need is space rather than speed.


    *don't quote me on this.

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    LeMarchand (13th March 2012)

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    LeMarchand's Avatar
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    It is a RAID array - not sure which type at the moment. Guess I'd better read up on RAID, then. I was hoping that it wouldn't be too complicated!

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    I would but 2/ 3 drives as sonofsanta mentioned.

    You can then setup a 2nd RAID Array (assuming your server RAID controller supports this, most should), then mount this volume in your server and end up with another drive such as E:.

    Then move some of your files (copy them), remembering to keep permissions the same (use xcopy or robocopy), unshare the old version and share the copied version usign the same name. Then as long as it all works and permissions are correct then you can delete the older copy of it, freeing up psace on the old drive, if that makes sense. I personally woudl move a folder such as a shared area where permissions aren't so complicated should something go wrong.

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    LeMarchand (13th March 2012)

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    jamesfed's Avatar
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    What is the current total capacity of the drives that is showing up in Windows? (it would give us an idea as to the RAID type)

    On a HP server (can't say about Dells) and assuming the drives are in RAID5 you would slip in an aditional drive load the HP array configuation utility add that drive to the RAIDs logical drive (disk pool) - the data would replicate over ect over the period of a few hours.
    After its done you would then go into Windows storage management and expand the size of the disk into the new space.

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    LeMarchand (13th March 2012)

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    Quote Originally Posted by jamesfed View Post
    What is the current total capacity of the drives that is showing up in Windows? (it would give us an idea as to the RAID type)

    On a HP server (can't say about Dells) and assuming the drives are in RAID5 you would slip in an aditional drive load the HP array configuation utility add that drive to the RAIDs logical drive (disk pool) - the data would replicate over ect over the period of a few hours.
    After its done you would then go into Windows storage management and expand the size of the disk into the new space.
    There's 29.7GB for C: and 378GB for the "Data" drive. Had a look at the Dell OpenManage software installed, and it appears to be RAID5. Alas, I couldn't see "ADD NEW DRIVE" in huge, idiot proof letters anywhere in the software .It's a PowerEdge 2900 with Server 2003 if it makes any difference to anyone's advice.
    Last edited by LeMarchand; 13th March 2012 at 12:36 PM. Reason: Incorrect (non)smiley

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    sonofsanta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeMarchand View Post
    Alas, I couldn't see "ADD NEW DRIVE" in huge, idiot proof letters anywhere in the software (
    Said button is only likely to appear once drives are available for a new array to be added.

    You can expand the RAID 5 with identical 146Gb drives, then, which tbh always makes me a bit nervous, or just stick in a pair of 500Gb drives as RAID 1 to keep you ticking over with an extra 500GB (or 3 in RAID5 for 1TB space). You can always reuse the HDDs elsewhere once the server is decommissioned. Be aware that you might need to buy the drives through Dell in order to get the HDD trays necessary for the server, although if you already have them lying around you should be able to plug anything in.

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    LeMarchand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sonofsanta View Post
    Said button is only likely to appear once drives are available for a new array to be added.
    Cheers!

    I'll see if I'm brave enough to give it a go. Deleting 50GB of personal files would make a lot more sense - if only someone would back me up if I did so!

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    146gb drives on a Poweredge 2900 suggests SAS = expensive. They will need hot-swap trays too unless you have empties.

    If you are sure there is old dormant data, why not buy an external USB drive & 'archive' some of the personal files? If paranoid about losing data, buy two external drives & mirror them with Robocopy or similar?

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    LeMarchand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by broc View Post
    146gb drives on a Poweredge 2900 suggests SAS = expensive. They will need hot-swap trays too unless you have empties.

    If you are sure there is old dormant data, why not buy an external USB drive & 'archive' some of the personal files? If paranoid about losing data, buy two external drives & mirror them with Robocopy or similar?
    They are SAS. Unfortunately I suspect that the personal files will just get synced back from the offline caches, so no point in pulling them off. I have done a fairly good sweep recently and managed to get the free space from a few hundred MB to 20GB, but I suspect it won't last long - especially as there is at least one staff marriage (= GB of photos) coming up. I've even sent around an email explaining that, if nothing else, less stuff being synced = less time waiting for it to complete and offering to create a "non synced" folder they could store their personal stuff in, but only those who are pretty good about keeping the rubbish off the server and/or on their own USB drives took advantage of that.

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    On thing you could try is to run MS XP Powertool "Image Resizer" on all your users documents and shared drives in order to compress and resize all the photos people got on there. I had 4MB per image down to 150KB per image. Saved 20Gig.

    Andrew

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    Perc 5 & 6 controllers support live expansion of the raid volume itself however expanding the raid volume will not automatically extend the active windows partitions.
    As @jamesfed says, once the array has been expanded and the data resyncronised across the new disks your still going to need to tell the OS how to use the newly add free space.
    Hardware raid simply takes care of the disks not the logical volumes.
    Extending the data volume is straight forward enough but resizing the OS partition is not for the feint hearted.

    Backing it all up and having a recovery plan before you start goes without saying.

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    Quote Originally Posted by m25man View Post
    Backing it all up and having a recovery plan before you start goes without saying.
    +1 about backup recovery plan from @m25man - this is not a time to pray to the edugods!

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeMarchand View Post
    OIt's a Dell PowerEdge with 4x146GB drives and 4 empty slots.
    And two free 5.25" slots at the front? You can fit a three-disk array in there, connected to the RAID card as a separate RAID 5 array, or even just mount a 3.5" disk in each 5.25" slot with a simple bracket and use that as a RAID 1 array. SATA drives might be a bit slower than the disks you have in there, but it should do nicly for an archive / images storage area. Why does the server need replacing? Instead of buying a whole new server in a year's time could you not just shove some more harddrives in it, upgrade the RAM and install a virtualisation system?

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