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RAID Drivin' Me Crazy


Ian
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Hi. This is indirectly related to WHS since it's about my HyperV server that is hosting my WHS 2011 server (as a VM). My question is concerning RAID configurations. Currently, I have the following configuration:

  • Built-in Intel Matrix RAID controller
  • 2 - 1GB WD drives in RAID 1 for the OS
  • 4 - (3 x 1GB + 1 x 2GB) WD drives in RAID 5 for data

My problem is that it seems I'm constantly rebuilding volumes because a drive drops out of the array. All of the drives are the WD Green versions. My research so far points to the fact that these are non-Enterprise (RE) versions of WD drives and therefore this is expected. I don't want to pay $200+/drive for the RE versions of drives and I'd like to get a useful configuration out of the drives I have. Does anyone know of a RAID card that can better support these drives or some other way to setup RAID w/o requiring an enterprise level budget?

 

Thanks!

 

Ian

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Enterprise version of drives has little or nothing to do with this. Which array is causing the issue? I can see the RAID 5 array having issues since you have mixed sizes of drives. Performing properly, the array will be seen as 4 x 1 TB drives as the lowest drive size will be utiltized when building the array.

 

Update the BIOS for the MOBO and then try building a RAID 5 array using just the 3 x 1 TB drives to see if this helps. You can always break it and start over.

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Hi. This is indirectly related to WHS since it's about my HyperV server that is hosting my WHS 2011 server (as a VM). My question is concerning RAID configurations. Currently, I have the following configuration:

  • Built-in Intel Matrix RAID controller
  • 2 - 1GB WD drives in RAID 1 for the OS
  • 4 - (3 x 1GB + 1 x 2GB) WD drives in RAID 5 for data

My problem is that it seems I'm constantly rebuilding volumes because a drive drops out of the array. All of the drives are the WD Green versions. My research so far points to the fact that these are non-Enterprise (RE) versions of WD drives and therefore this is expected. I don't want to pay $200+/drive for the RE versions of drives and I'd like to get a useful configuration out of the drives I have. Does anyone know of a RAID card that can better support these drives or some other way to setup RAID w/o requiring an enterprise level budget?

 

 

Thanks!

 

Ian

 

You absolutely do not need RE drives for a RAID nor is this expected at all. One undesirable thing you have done is mixing drives and drive capacity which highly not recommended. The other problem is that motherboard controllers are unreliable especially if you have mismatched drives. They require everything to be perfect and with or without RE drives, will cause you problems going forward. If you want to this to work correctly and reliably, I would do the following. Pick up an inexpensive controller card such as the Highpoint 2680 or equivalent. Next, when you attach the drives, do not use unlike capacities. Use all 1T or 2T but do not mix and match capacities. Not only do you not get to use the capacity but the differences in speed and controllers can cause problems.

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Thanks guys. The RAID 5 is the volume that usually gives me the fits. I thought it was OK to mix sizes as long as I was willing to lose part of the capacity of the 2TB drive (I just noticed I used GB in my original description DOH!). My plan was to slowly replace the 1TB drives with 2TB drives as the smaller drives failed in this server or I needed them in other machines. So, is size the main factor or do I have to have them match all the way down to the model #? That can get hard over time. Also, I'd decided that the Green drives must be the problem. I needed to order a new drive this weekend and decided to start using the WD Black drives. Is it going to be a problem to mix Green & Black drives if they are the same size? I may just go ahead and order another 2TB drive & Highpoint controller to make a 3x2TB RAID5 on the Highpoint controller, move my data off the old RAID5 and then a separate RAID5 from the 1TB drives. Any flaws in this plan?

 

Oh, and here's the link to the WD article I was referring to. It seems that they only recommend using their consumer drives for RAID0 & 1.

http://wdc.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/1397

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What speed numbers are we referring to? RPMs, latency, transfer rate? RPMs and transfer rate is relatively easy but unless you're buying them all at the same time and never plan to add more over the years then that doesn't hardly seem realistic to be able to match them all. Also, as long as the speed is the same I don't understand why capacity would be an issue.

 

jmwills, I see you're using Samsung drives. pcdoc, what type of drives are you using? Are you aware of any problems using the Green drives in RAID? I see mixed answers in my searches elsewhere. With them having the ability to power down at will I can see how that could be an issue. However, in RAID5 I have a hard time believing they could ever find time to be "idle".

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Ian, if you're using green drives, have you used the TLER utility to lengthen the timeout? As I understand it, the default is only 7 sec. I can see, even in RAID5, how a drive could time out and shut down if it only has to be idle for 7 sec.

 

I have also read posts that say WD is making its newest drives so that you can't use the TLER utility. You would have to research whether yours can or can't.

 

That all said, I am going to use 4 WD RE-4 drives in my 2011 RAID subsystem. They cost more but I would rather have the reliability and stability; I'm no longer a fan of WD Green.

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@ikon I recall discussion around the green drive time outs. Did you have a link for the TLER utility you mention? Is it WD only? Thanks.

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@ikon I recall discussion around the green drive time outs. Did you have a link for the TLER utility you mention? Is it WD only? Thanks.

AFAIK, it is a WD utility. Other manufacturers have their own (if the provide one at all that is).

 

I don't have a specific link, but the utility is called WDTLER. I'm sure you can Google or Bing it and find a download site. I would doubt WD provides it anymore since, supposedly, their new drives won't work with it.

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Thanks guys. The RAID 5 is the volume that usually gives me the fits. I thought it was OK to mix sizes as long as I was willing to lose part of the capacity of the 2TB drive (I just noticed I used GB in my original description DOH!). My plan was to slowly replace the 1TB drives with 2TB drives as the smaller drives failed in this server or I needed them in other machines. So, is size the main factor or do I have to have them match all the way down to the model #? That can get hard over time. Also, I'd decided that the Green drives must be the problem. I needed to order a new drive this weekend and decided to start using the WD Black drives. Is it going to be a problem to mix Green & Black drives if they are the same size? I may just go ahead and order another 2TB drive & Highpoint controller to make a 3x2TB RAID5 on the Highpoint controller, move my data off the old RAID5 and then a separate RAID5 from the 1TB drives. Any flaws in this plan?

 

Oh, and here's the link to the WD article I was referring to. It seems that they only recommend using their consumer drives for RAID0 & 1.

http://wdc.custhelp....etail/a_id/1397

 

 

Your second part of the plan is good as long as the drives are the same. Again, I think you are plying with fire with adding the Caviar black to the existing mix. Do not match a 7200 RPM Caviar black with a 5400 RPM green unless you like timing problems. Per my previous post, the "only" thing that matters is getting a controller and similar drives (type, speed, capacity). Anything else will not yield you the results you are looking for. I have 4 RAID 5 arrays running for quite some time and a couple close to a year all with green drives of varying types with zero issues in drive drops, arrays breaking etc. I have one hard drive failure about a month ago and that is it. Worry less about which drive to get and more about making them all the same, add that to a controller and you will never look back.

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