which is best raid for domain server?

March 3, 2011 at 04:58:40
Specs: windows server 2003
I want to configure a new domain server for my organization and there are 20-25 users.which is the best raid for this and we want to use the same server as file server.

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#1
March 3, 2011 at 05:08:06
I would use RAID-5 for this purpose. The uses that you mention are not particularly heavy on IO and RAID-5 is the best compromise between performance, reliability, and usage of disk space. Whatever you go for, make sure that your RAID hardware or software notifies you if a drive fails. Ideally you would go for a system with one extras disk to be used as a hot spare. That way there is almost 0 possibilty of data loss.

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#2
March 3, 2011 at 08:24:22
I would do two mirror sets, one for OS and one for data.

Problem with both on a raid5 is that its difficult/expensive to update the size of the disks when space becomes a issue.

For example with two mirrors if you want to increase the size of the data volume you just back it up, put in two new larger drives and then restore the data. A simple and safe operation.

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#3
March 3, 2011 at 09:30:51
When I managed RAID-5 servers hosting AD on Windows 2000 server I had no problems updating the size of the disks. (Mind, these were IBM servers with proper RAID controllers.)

Take disk 1 out. Put in new disk. Let array rebuild.
Repeat for disk 2.
Repeat for disk 3.
Repeat for disk 4.
Reconfigure array to add in extra space.
Create new partition to use extra space.

No down time whatsoever, until a convenient time to do a quick reboot (automatically scheduled in the middle of the night) so that Windows could recognise the changed disks. It would have been slightly more complicated if it was a question of expanding an existing partition rather than creating a new one, but not unduly so. That's actually slightly cheaper than upgrading mirrored disks as you are using more of the available capacity. (Not that it matters - the old disks were retained for use as spares in other servers.)


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#4
March 3, 2011 at 11:15:51
"Create new partition to use extra space."

That is the result most wish to avoid.

The next step most do is instead of creating another volume they use server partitioning software to expand into the available space assuming what they wish to expand is the second partition.

It is a lot more complicated to expand the OS partition in this situation.

Again its simple with a mirrored OS to expand. Image/backup, put in disks and either reinstall and restore or just reimage expanding the image to the entire space.

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#5
March 3, 2011 at 11:46:11
The OS partition is more difficult to expand. But that is an operation you should never need to do on a well-configured system. And you really don't need to expand the existing data partition; you just create a new partition and then change the volume to span both partitions.

As for the difference between RAID-5 and mirroring - it's just as easy using the technique that you describe with RAID-5. But I never had the luxury of a server that could be taken off-line long enough to backup the system, create an array with new disks, and reinstall. It's just not necessary to go through that process if you plan in advance and use good quality hardware. In an enterprise situation any appreciable amount of downtime is just not acceptable.


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#6
March 3, 2011 at 13:58:30
spanning a partition [volume set] introduces nonfault tolerance to a fault tolerant system. I have seen disk errors and chkdsk destroy a volume set.

I work at a hospital and understand server criticality. You plan accordingly. But never do you put yourself in a box of never being able to take a server down. That simply isn't reality.

Planning your storage correctly in advance always is better than after the fact.

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#7
March 3, 2011 at 14:20:01
I'd agree about spanning introducing nonfault tolerance on separate physical hard disks, but not on RAID volumes. And I still can't see how it's any easier to upgrade a mirrored server than a RAID-5 one.

As for server uptime, when that server is providing essential services for five or six hundred users it's sometimes just not practical to take it down for hours at a time. Obviously we had spare servers ready for such a circumstance, but when it came to changing disks I'd take the easy solution.

Anyway, enough of this. We'll just have to agree to disagree about the best RAID level to use.


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