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Setting up Raid on Poweredge T20 w/ Server 2012 R2


olegd
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Hey guys,

 

Hoping to get some advice from the experts here. I bought a Dell Poweredge T20 (cheap configuration ~$160) - I was looking into NAS's but they were too expensive for what I wanted, so I figured why not set this up and have a full desktop and ability to run a few VM's when necessary.

 

Anyway, the comp is setup with 4 x 3TB WD RED drives (all going to the motherboard controller), 1 x 500GB OS drive going to PCIE controller. - Just installed Server 2012 Standard R2

 

I want to run RAID 1 using 2 of the drives to archive personal videos/photos/etc. I know the motherboard has a Raid controller that I can setup however I read that others suggested I use the software raid built into windows? Any suggestions here? 

 

Thanks in advance!

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Basically there are three general categories of RAID:

1. RAID controller card- Expensive, highest performance, most choices of RAID type, generally RAID sets can be moved to other controllers from the same vendor/family 

2. Firmware based RAID using the SATA controller on the motherboard- Some of the RAID function is built into the firmware and some is in the drivers. These tend to come from the chipset vendors, Intel, AMD, Marvell, but HP B20i is this category as well. As these use the server CPU, the use resources that your OS could use. Limited choices for RAID. RAID1 or RAID0 work OK, Intel gives a choice for RAID5, but I would never use it. Rebuilding a RAID5 in a firmware based RAID system would monopolize your CPU. Because HP has written all of the software/firmware for the B120i it is compatible with other HP controllers.

3. Operating System or software- Over the last five years these RAID implementations have really matured. RAID choices are good, but I would still stay away from RAID5 in OS/S RAID. With proper resources ZFX in Linux works great. There is also Drive Pool as a choice as well.

 

From what you have stated above, I would look at RAID1 in Windows server 2012R2 or Drive Pool as being your best choices.

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Basically there are three general categories of RAID:

1. RAID controller card- Expensive, highest performance, most choices of RAID type, generally RAID sets can be moved to other controllers from the same vendor/family 

2. Firmware based RAID using the SATA controller on the motherboard- Some of the RAID function is built into the firmware and some is in the drivers. These tend to come from the chipset vendors, Intel, AMD, Marvell, but HP B20i is this category as well. As these use the server CPU, the use resources that your OS could use. Limited choices for RAID. RAID1 or RAID0 work OK, Intel gives a choice for RAID5, but I would never use it. Rebuilding a RAID5 in a firmware based RAID system would monopolize your CPU. Because HP has written all of the software/firmware for the B120i it is compatible with other HP controllers.

3. Operating System or software- Over the last five years these RAID implementations have really matured. RAID choices are good, but I would still stay away from RAID5 in OS/S RAID. With proper resources ZFX in Linux works great. There is also Drive Pool as a choice as well.

 

From what you have stated above, I would look at RAID1 in Windows server 2012R2 or Drive Pool as being your best choices.

Thanks for the reply. I am aware of the differences between them. The PC in question is actually the Dell Poweredge T20 (not HP) but I assume it doesn't make a difference. I will be using it as a NAS and maybe a VM or two running. I would like to have Raid 1 on a pair of drives, for archiving. I know that running software raid in windows, the drives are compatible anywhere - should one fail I can just insert it into any system and pull my files as necessary. From what I've read many say to go with the Intel firmware raid as it is more reliable than Windows. So I am not sure which option to go with? 

 

I am avoiding Linux here because I am not very familiar with it and in the event of a failure do not want the headache of file systems across different OS's

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Sorry for the primer on RAID, I am currently listening to a Human Resource conference call and it is dull,,,,, 

I wish I had more faith in Intel and AMD firmware RAID, but I have had very odd things happen in the past. I know they have gotten better and some have had very good luck. 

They do handle failed drives better than they had. The T20 and the Lenovo TS140 use the same Intel chipset, but if you set up a RAID set on one I doubt you could move it to the other. From what you have detailed I would go for OS based RAID, but that is just one guys opinion.

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-snip-

 

Anyway, the comp is setup with 4 x 3TB WD RED drives (all going to the motherboard controller), 1 x 500GB OS drive going to PCIE controller. - Just installed Server 2012 Standard R2

 

I want to run RAID 1 using 2 of the drives to archive personal videos/photos/etc. I know the motherboard has a Raid controller that I can setup however I read that others suggested I use the software raid built into windows? Any suggestions here? 

 

Thanks in advance!

 

 

-snip-

I will be using it as a NAS and maybe a VM or two running. I would like to have Raid 1 on a pair of drives, for archiving. I know that running software raid in windows, the drives are compatible anywhere - should one fail I can just insert it into any system and pull my files as necessary. From what I've read many say to go with the Intel firmware raid as it is more reliable than Windows. So I am not sure which option to go with? 

 

I am avoiding Linux here because I am not very familiar with it and in the event of a failure do not want the headache of file systems across different OS's

 

Personally, for family & friends I would recommend Windows SW RAID1 for DATA simply because if one drive fails or if the whole computer fails I can see/use/recover my data from one of the Data drives on any Windows computer.  The technology is pretty mature and straightforward and isn't dependent on any particular HW platform.  

 

Here's a great article on RAID1 or Mirroring in Windows 7 that I think is still relevant today http://www.buildegg.com/bewp/?p=44 

 

Good luck and let us know what you end up doing (pictures are always welcomed too :) )

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Thanks guys, I think I will do Windows Raid for simplicity. Only question I have - how do I know if 1 drive fails? .. I set it up before on Win 7 with WD Green drives and I guess one had bad sectors and it never informed me. It just disconnected one drive and I only found out when I went into disk management.

 

Regarding pictures... here is my ghetto setup to get a 5th 3.5 drive in there for the OS. I call it the "HD Suspension Mount"  - Also had to solder new power connectors in. I didn't expect it to only have 4!!

IMG_1140.JPG

Edited by olegd
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I am not sure if it changed in Server 2012, but this worked in Server 2008:

http://www.eventsentry.com/blog/2012/02/how-to-make-the-windows-softwa.html

 

You also may want to explore the free version of this:

https://shop.paessler.com/shop/free_license/?showkey=1&download=1&_ga=1.188660778.329486942.1450381764

Awesome! Will definitely look into this! Thank you!

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I know some people here have been pretty down on Storage Spaces, but Server Essentials does monitor the status of any pools and drives that are part of Storage Spaces.  I haven't seen what it does on disk failure, but I have noticed that once a drive reaches 70% usage, I start getting a warning that a pool is running low on capacity.  I use a mirrored space for my main data array (documents, photos, other stuff that I work with a lot) and use a parity space with my less critical data (crashplan local backup, computer backup, some archival data).  From what I remember from other people's benchmarks, the mirrored spaces have pretty good performance while the parity spaces don't maintain transfer speeds as well.  I have noticed this with some of my own activities, when copying large amounts of data to the parity array it can start to slow down after the first minute or so.

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