How to configure RAID? Is RAID Necessary?

Microsoft Windows server 2003
October 7, 2009 at 13:59:25
Specs: Microsoft Windows XP Professional, 2.802 GHz / 3007 MB
I've been thinking about how to configure this the whole of last night. I have a server with 3x 200 GB Hard Drive. I also have 2 different 500 GB Hard Drive and 1 Fantom 500 GB External Hard Drive.

Now, I am trying to make this server a DC as well as a File Server, hosting Home Directories (containing very large video files and virtual machines) as well as Multimedia and software and a ton of CD Images. I would also like to run Exchange Server in a VMware as well.

Now, What is the best way of configuring this? The Three 200 GB Hard Drives has NEVER crashed since 2006.

I am thinking of making 3x 200 GB Hard Drive Raid 0 to 600 GB of space, so now I have 1 Large C Drive running the Operating System. But it won't make sense if I use the Hard Drive's Primary OS Drive to host files. Then in this case, maybe get another 200 for the operating system with no RAID configuration (could be risky) and use the 600 GB for File Storage. But now, my Server OS is not protected via RAID. I am having a hard time deciding what to do here. Like I explained, should I get a single hard drive for my operating system and then use the 3x 200 for RAID 0 for my Data or should I buy 2 more 200 GB Hard Drive and get that to use RAID 1 for my Server OS and then use the 600 GB for data?

Now the 2x 500 GB Hard Drive. I am planning to host my home directories on these drives and get RAID 1, which mirrors the drive, that way file transfer will be fast and I won't lose any Data if one hard drive dies. One hard drive is a Seagate 500 GB and the other is a Western Digital Hard Drive (both are desktop edition, not server enterprise).

^ I honestly don't get why Western Digital is being stingy with money and is requiring me to spend extra 100 for a RAID Paticular hard drive. Based on them, the only enterprise hard drives are the 200 GB I have which are 3x.

I think my explanations are a bit jumbled up. I basically don't know what to do, should I buy more hard drives or not, I don't know.

My biggest concern is speed, redudency and Hard Drive Size. Theres more than this confusion as well. Whats also mixing me up is the Exchange Server under the VMware. That also needs a hard drive, like 200 GB or higher. Maybe I can use the External 500 GB for this, but its not RAID (no protection or speed increase) and It makes much more sense making it a backup hard drive rather than a storage drive. Something tells me that I need to buy more hard drives and spend over 300 dollars more for these stuff.

So someone please tell me whats the best configuration for this? I am pretty sure what I have is more than enough, but when it comes to RAID, I have a terrible time deciding what Hard Drives I will need.

See More: How to configure RAID? Is RAID Necessary?

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October 7, 2009 at 17:07:04
We use raid arrays in thousands of systems. Almost all are on hardware arrays and raid5. Depending on who makes the array is kind of how good it will be. Most are true arrays and do require that matched drives be installed. There are what is called soft and software arrays. SOFT arrays are raid cards and chips that are not true arrays. In fact many linux distro's see the array drives as single drives. There is also software arrays. Really not worth the time and trouble.

Arrays tend to be good for data security and speed. They are never cheap and not really a substitute for a good backup plan. We always use a tape backup on the arrays.

If your data needs an array then you need to fork out the money. Get a good board if you don't have one and good drives.

I know there are those that just hate arrays and OK. There are those that say just get a good SSD. Well, maybe.

Playing to the angels
Les Paul (1915-2009)

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October 7, 2009 at 17:39:24
RAID 0 is NOT what you want to use for data protection. Any of the drives drop out for any reason and you will lose all data. RAID 0 write part of the data to each drive. There is no redundancy or recovery possible. Look at the link below for some help with RAID.

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