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Will WHS work with Hardware RAID 5? RRS feed

  • Question

  • Hey Guys, I'm new to the forum and am contemplating installing WHS on a NAS box currently running FreeNAS.

     

    It is a PIII 1Ghz, 512MB Dell Dimension. I have an Adaptec 2610 RAID controller with 4 320GB SATA drives in a RAID 5 configuration. Currently using a 128MB CF/IDE as bootdrive, but will change to a 200GB PATA when installing WHS.

     

    I read in the KB that WHS is designed for JBOD and that RAID is not recommended "...due to complexity in drive recovery.." I believe that is how MS put it.

     

    Since I am really not a network or hardware expert, my question is will using the hardware RAID be viewed any differently by WHS than a single HD? It is my understanding that all the controller handles all the RAID striping or spanning or whatever, so that the RAID appears as one drive or volume to the OS.

     

    So my question is, "Does anyone know if this configuration will be compatible with WHS, and will this avoid the JBOD bug?"

     

    BTW the reason I want to try WHS over the FreeNAS is the auto backup, restore, and VPN features it offers.

     

    Thanks for any input, comments, and help.

     

     

    Friday, March 28, 2008 6:26 PM

Answers

  • While RAID is not a supported configuration, that's due to design decisions rather than anything that will instantly break if RAID is detected. So you can install and run WHS on a machine with a RAID array. What you should avoid doing is using the RAID array as one of several logical disks that are presented to the server; that's where you will run into KB946676 at present. If you're going to use RAID, use only RAID, i.e. make your array your system (and only) disk. Your controller will need to support booting off the array, and you will have to supply drivers twice: once at the beginning of the graphical portion of setup, then a bit later at the very start of text mode setup (the "Press F6" prompt). You will need a floppy drive to supply drivers in text mode.
    Friday, March 28, 2008 6:41 PM
    Moderator
    1. That's correct. Backups are not affected.
    2. "JBOD" usually refers to connecting dissimilar drives to your RAID HBA and configuring it to just pile them together as a single volume with no redundancy or performance  enhancements. Exposing the individual drives to WHS is the preferred method. If your RAID HBA makes the individual drives available, then yes, that would work. (WHS uses a differerent method to supply reliable storage which is conceptually similar to RAID 1, BTW.)
    3. I know nothing about FreeNAS; I've never used it. And I know nothing about your hardware. Your manuals and your hardware manufacturer's web site will be your best sources for this information.
    4. You can do it either way.
    5. I don't think you'll need to replace any hardware. At worst, you'll configure one JBOD "array" for each of your drives, and expose them to WHS that way.
    Wednesday, April 9, 2008 2:01 AM
    Moderator
  • WHS requires at least 80 GB to be the system drive, 20 GB for the OS and the rest for the landing zone. You want the system drive to be as large as possible for landing files. If there is no more space there, you would have to wait until the demigrator moves files off (which is not a very fast process). That is just the way it is designed.


    Wednesday, April 9, 2008 10:23 PM

All replies

  • While RAID is not a supported configuration, that's due to design decisions rather than anything that will instantly break if RAID is detected. So you can install and run WHS on a machine with a RAID array. What you should avoid doing is using the RAID array as one of several logical disks that are presented to the server; that's where you will run into KB946676 at present. If you're going to use RAID, use only RAID, i.e. make your array your system (and only) disk. Your controller will need to support booting off the array, and you will have to supply drivers twice: once at the beginning of the graphical portion of setup, then a bit later at the very start of text mode setup (the "Press F6" prompt). You will need a floppy drive to supply drivers in text mode.
    Friday, March 28, 2008 6:41 PM
    Moderator
  •  

    I have been running a RAID 5 for about 30 days now and it has worked well with my WHS. I like the fact that a drive failure gets rebuilt by the RAID controller and the corruption bug does not effect single drive systems.

     

    When I first read about RAID, I thought it would be great because I would not have to worry about backup but this is not the case. I have been reading lots of information on RAID in the last 30 days and it is highly recommended to back up your data.  RAID is not considered a backup solution. If one of the drives fails it takes a long time to rebuild since WHS is keeping it busy during the rebuild.  If another drive fails during the rebuild the the whole array is going offline and the data is gone.  I have a 6 drive controller which I have an extra hot swap drive in the event one fails but this still does not prevent another drive from failing during the rebuild.

     

    One advantage of the WHS duplication over RAID would be that fact if two drives failed on the WHS, you would lose the data on those drives and your backups.  You would not lose the information on the remaining drives that WHS duplicated. I can understand the reasoning that Microsoft does not support the RAID array.  There is a false sense of data security since it continues to run with one drive failure. This is when this system is at its greatest risk of total failure.

     

    This is more information than you asked but maybe helpful to others looking at the RAID too.

     

    Hope this helps.

     

    Saturday, March 29, 2008 12:32 PM
  • Running hardware RAID (3ware 9500) here just fine. This gets around the data corruption bug but means that I can't extend the storage without a backup & restore. And the backup utility is in PP1 which hasn't been released. 

    Saturday, March 29, 2008 5:30 PM
  • Hello again Mr. Warren:

     

    Thanks for the previous reply. I am still weighing my options here? The RAID card I have is an Adaptec 2610 from Dell that I bought on Ebay. I guess maybe at this point I should have just bought a new motherboard and processor but that is irrelevant. The 2610 allows me to expand the number of drives from the 4 eide to that plus 6 SATA drives if I want. Since I am not a IT pro I get confused by the jargon. So let me restate my case and get your opinion, please.

     

    1) Am I correct in understanding that the corruption bug only arises when you use a third party program to write to the WHS? That corruption does not occur when the WHS backs-up the network and mirrors attached computers?

     

    2) That if 1) above is true then JBOD is preferred since there is no loss in drive space due to the parity drive in a RAID 5 array?

     

    3) In the process of removing the Freenas OS, breaking the old array, and initializing the drives, I was setting up a new RAID 5 Array and in the setup menu the options were A) Volume B) RAID 0 C) RAID 1 D) RAID 5 and E) RAID 10. If I want to use JBOD would I select A) Volume? ( ie. is Volume synonimous with JBOD?)

     

    4) If Volume is JBOD do I still have to boot from the RAID controller or can I use an EIDE as the OS drive and use the RAID controller drives for storage?

     

    5) Or did I *#%& up and just need to get over it and buy a new mobo, processor and memory to make WHS work properly?

     

    I know alot of people feel that Freenas is a great way to go for stablility, etc. but I just feel that the integrated features of WHS is where I want to be since I'm not a propeller head with networks.

     

    Thank you for taking the time to read this, and any reply is appreciated.

     

    Lewis

    Tuesday, April 8, 2008 4:11 PM
    1. That's correct. Backups are not affected.
    2. "JBOD" usually refers to connecting dissimilar drives to your RAID HBA and configuring it to just pile them together as a single volume with no redundancy or performance  enhancements. Exposing the individual drives to WHS is the preferred method. If your RAID HBA makes the individual drives available, then yes, that would work. (WHS uses a differerent method to supply reliable storage which is conceptually similar to RAID 1, BTW.)
    3. I know nothing about FreeNAS; I've never used it. And I know nothing about your hardware. Your manuals and your hardware manufacturer's web site will be your best sources for this information.
    4. You can do it either way.
    5. I don't think you'll need to replace any hardware. At worst, you'll configure one JBOD "array" for each of your drives, and expose them to WHS that way.
    Wednesday, April 9, 2008 2:01 AM
    Moderator
  • Mr. Warren:

     

    Thank you for your comments.

     

    It would appear then that I should defined each drive as its own volumn on the RAID controller, and let WHS handle all the drives. Does this seem logical to you?

     

    One other question though. The WHS minimum specs require a 80Gb hard drive. (I'm assuming this is the minimum for housing the OS and Storage) I have two PATA 100 drives a 200 Gb and a 20 Gb. Do you know if the 20 Gb is sufficient for the OS only so I can use the 200 Gb entirely for additional storage?

     

    Thank you again for your input, it has helped me in assessing my options.

     

    Lewis

    Wednesday, April 9, 2008 1:20 PM
  • WHS requires at least 80 GB to be the system drive, 20 GB for the OS and the rest for the landing zone. You want the system drive to be as large as possible for landing files. If there is no more space there, you would have to wait until the demigrator moves files off (which is not a very fast process). That is just the way it is designed.


    Wednesday, April 9, 2008 10:23 PM
  • Thanks Evaders99:

     

    I will then use the 200 Gb for the boot drive.

     

    Since you appear to know some intimate details of this system, (and brought up the "demigrator" in mixed company), do you have an opinion on my storage approach? That is, should I use a RAID 5 setup on the controler and use as one drive in WHS or should I set the 4 drives on the RAID controller card up as separate volumes and let WHS handle?

     

    Thanks for your time and help.

     

    Lewis

    Thursday, April 10, 2008 2:20 PM
  •  

    I know WHS will recover if I have a drive failure and that's fine by me, Why would I need RAID 5?

     

    I've built company servers and workstations for a living, I know all about full-blown RAID 5 and the software implementations built within Server 2003/08.

     

    Be a waste of money for a home server doncha guys think?

    Thursday, April 10, 2008 7:51 PM
  • Not really, given that the replication in WHS can corrupt your data. The data is the most valuable part of the server. Until the replication bug is fixed, RAID 5 makes a lot of sense.

    Thursday, April 10, 2008 8:08 PM
  • Mr. Hoffman:

     

    Thank you for replying and letting me know how the RAID is working for you.

     

    I have really been torn as to which way to go. Most posts I have seen on other sights like Newegg are very happy and have not experienced the data corruption problem.

     

    Since most of my HD's on my other computers are relatively new, and since I currently do not have a server up and running yet, I've decided to take the plunge and go with setting up the RAID controller to recognize all the drives individually and let WHS handle it.

     

    I am now just trying to decide do I install WHS on my 200Gb EIDE and then physical add and install the RAID controller or do I do the WHS install with the RAID already hooked up and ready to go?

     

    Any thoughts?

     

    Thanks.

     

    Lewis

    Thursday, April 10, 2008 8:13 PM
  • Mr. Stephens:

     

    Thank you for your reply, and that is where my head was originally.

     

    But I read that the bug only occurs when you use third party software to write to the WHS with multiple disks. Since my primary reason at this point is just data backup and mirroring of the other computers and not using it as additional storage for those computers I'm thinking that the bug should not affect me if I don't share the WHS drive with the other computers.

     

    If the corruption bug does bite me, I'm thinking it should be early on in the implementation, then I can just covert to a RAID 5 then.

     

    Any thoughts?

     

    Thanks again for taking the time to originally reply.

     

    Lewis

    Thursday, April 10, 2008 8:46 PM
  • So we're talking about a temporary convenience as a work-around as opposed to a practical approach assuming WHS works the way it was intended/designed.

     

    RAID 5 also protects the system in case of system drive failure, Can WHS recover from system drive failure without a hardware RAID setup? I know it replicates data across drives but does it replicate itself across those drives?

     

    No, I don't have a WHS myself, I have built NT Server, Server 2003/08 boxes and their software RAID implementations did not protect system drives from failure and the system drive could not be included in the RAID array unless it was partitioned.

     

    Thursday, April 10, 2008 9:13 PM
  • I am running my RAID 5 with (4) 400gb drives now.  It is setup so three are part of the array and one is a hot spare.  I set it up this way since the RAID 5 seen as a single drive has no chance of being hit by the corruption bug. When they bug is fixed in the future, I may redo it and break the RAID.

     

    The only reason I may consider increasing the size is because I want to be able to put my Tivo shows on my WHS.  I will probably just add a drive outside of WHS and set the drive as a network shared drive.   

    Thursday, April 10, 2008 11:37 PM