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Windows Thread, Advise on seperate box to extend storage in Technical; There is this primary school that we do support for, that uses a Dell PowerEdge 860 as a win2003 active ...
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    Exclamation Advise on seperate box to extend storage

    There is this primary school that we do support for, that uses a Dell PowerEdge 860 as a win2003 active directory domain controller.

    The problem is the storage which is about to run out of. Basically it's using a pair of Seagate SAS 74GB hard drives in Raid 1. All school software, shared areas and user's personal folders are stored on the Raid.

    When comes to getting more storage there are two options. One is to upgrade the storage on the main Server and another one is to add another Server with more storage capacity.

    The problem with the Dell PowerEdge is that it is a 1U Server and there is no space inside to put additional hard drives. The only way is to replace the existing hard drives with big ones, which is quite risky in case something goes wrong(except if someone has a different opinion).

    When comes to the second option I got an old HP NetServer 800(dual 733Mhz P3's, 512MB ECC SDRAM, ServerWorks chipset), an adaptec PCI 64bit HostRaid controller and 2 Samsung Spinpoint 1TB hard Drives. That Server also has builtin tape recorder which will be helpful.

    I was thinking of getting windows 2000 server or a linux distro on it and connect it somehow on the main Server, then redirect the Shared Areas on that one. Also have it running as a NAS box with free NAS could also be an option.

    I am not exactly sure which way to go and would be interested to listen to your opinions on this matter

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    Michael's Avatar
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    When comes to the second option I got an old HP NetServer 800(dual 733Mhz P3's, 512MB ECC SDRAM, ServerWorks chipset), an adaptec PCI 64bit HostRaid controller and 2 Samsung Spinpoint 1TB hard Drives. That Server also has builtin tape recorder which will be helpful.
    I would install 2003 Server and add this as a member server to your existing domain. You can then use this as a file server for particular resources of your choice.

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    Storage

    Good Morning,

    simple option...but you may feel a bit risky is to full backup on the server blow the raid 1 array, slot in new disks and then restore....that will work.

    another option is just to put in a scsi card and attached additional storage, like a NAS box.

    in terms of Linux distos, im not too hot in that area, but im sure you could install FreeNas and then some form of Samba for integration with AD and host everything on the NAS.

    personally i would probably go the backup and restore option, but then i dont know how many bespoke apps you have on it, that were installed before you on that server which may cause issues if you backed up and restored.

    Alternatively still, you could get a external cage with scsi connections on it to slot the 2 x 1tb drives in and connect directly to the back of the main server.

    Good Luck

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    If you don't need massive amounts of storage, some form of DAS (Direct Attached Storage) array. This is also something that you can pick up very cheap used - ICT Direct often have these in.

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    Migrating to larger drives on RAID 1 is quite easy and not to dangerous. For safty backup the system first then power down the server and swap out one of the drives. The RAID controller should detect the failure and rebuild the mirror onto the larger disk.

    Once the first disk has mirrored shutdown again and then replace the remaining small disk which will then be rebuilt from mirror on the larger one that you just added.

    It is then just a case of adding another partition or expanding your current data one into the new space.

    I'm not 100% on how fast the older server would be with 2003 on it for file serving though as with many simultanious users the requests are likely to queue up and slow down. The upgrade on the existing drives or an external drive unit may be better options. Depending on how many expantion slots are avalible you mat even be able to get away with a couple of eSATA drives in software RAID1 - depending on the processor in the existing server.

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    Concern

    Quote Originally Posted by SYNACK View Post
    ....For safty backup the system first then power down the server and swap out one of the drives. The RAID controller should detect the failure and rebuild the mirror onto the larger disk.
    Hi SYNACK...

    my only concern here is that the RAID controller will see the existing partition information and raid setup with smaller disks and hence when you put the larger disk in, the raid will only utilise the same amount of space as the original smaller disk...therefore wasting the rest of the larger disk.

    I know that with Array configs , generally the array config will default to the smallest and slowest disk in the array ....hence my concern.

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    SYNACK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sammy View Post
    Hi SYNACK...

    my only concern here is that the RAID controller will see the existing partition information and raid setup with smaller disks and hence when you put the larger disk in, the raid will only utilise the same amount of space as the original smaller disk...therefore wasting the rest of the larger disk.

    I know that with Array configs , generally the array config will default to the smallest and slowest disk in the array ....hence my concern.
    You are correct the maximum will stay at the size of the smallest disk in the array, once you have replaced both all of the space should be avalible. This is the recommended procedure for drive upgrades as it involves the least pain and overhead. Depending on the controller the system can even be live through the rebuild. I have done this several times and not had an issue but I would still take a full backup and do it at a low usage time - end of the day to rebuild overnight - as it is better and quicker to do it with very little load on it.

    Just to make sure, this is a hardware RAID setup rather than software?

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    I always worry about replacing drives in a mirror - I'm sure it's possible to end up mirroring the blank drive onto the good drive (although I never have got it wrong :-))

    The backup/restore route is good although slow; at least if it goes wrong you can just put back the old discs and nothing at all will have changed so it will "just work"

    If you can plug in a new, big, external SCSI drive then you could also Ghost the drive onto this, choosing to expand to the new drive.

    If money allows then it would be good to get another server in; that way you could have a second DC which gives you some resilience if the main DC fails so you don't have to restore everything to get working again (or even lose all your accounts).

    If most of the data is accessed with a drive mapping to \\server\share then it's pretty easy to change that so it maps to \\server2\share. You can use robocopy to copy all the files across (keeping the permissions).

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    Quote Originally Posted by srochford View Post
    I always worry about replacing drives in a mirror - I'm sure it's possible to end up mirroring the blank drive onto the good drive (although I never have got it wrong :-))
    Your RAID controller would have to be complete dirt to allow this to happen as the RAID volume headers are written to each disk in the set. As there are no headers on a blank drive this is not a concen unless you have an insanely cheap efluent branded RAID card. Even in this instance it will usually ask which one you would like to make the source disk.

    If the drives are hot swappable it makes presedence even easier, if the mirror fails (not very probable) then you just boot up the system with the first drive that you removed in it, once it has booted you put back the other original drive and the controller will mirror back from the original drive. Besides, you should have a backup just in case anyway. It is just much easier to do it this way as you don't have to worry about backup/image software messing with the volume ids and killing AD.

    The RAID way avoids this nastyness and gives you far less downtime than the image/restore option.

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