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Using Windows software raid to protect system disk? RRS feed

  • Question

  •  Since Windows 2003 supports software raid 1. I am wondering whether we can use that functionality to protect the system HDD. Here is what I think.

     

    - I am using 500GB HDD as system disk.

    - I stop WHS and add another 500GB HDD.

    - Start WHS and define software raid 1 from the original system HDD to the new HDD.

    - Windows 2003 will keep the new HDD mirrored as the original system HDD.

    - If the original HDD fails, I move the new HDD to the physical port of the original HDD or redirect BIOD to boot from the new HDD and disable the Raid 1.

    - I will use another 500GB hdd for software raid again.

     

    Any comments on this potentials? I would rather to spend a little more in order to save time in reinstalling WHS when system disk fails. 

    Monday, January 26, 2009 7:46 PM

Answers

  • You can probably configure software RAID as you describe. It is, however, unsupported and you may regret doing so in the long run; it will perform poorly and recovery scenarios are not as simple as they sound (as I said previously). It's even possible to use RAID for "drives" in the storage pool, though again it's unsupported.

    The only supported option in case of a failure of your system drive is to perform a server reinstallation. Assuming you use your server basically as designed (rather than as Windows Server 2003 Lite) the longest part of reinstallation is the pause while setup reindexes your shares and recreates tombstones.

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Monday, January 26, 2009 10:05 PM
    Moderator

All replies

  • Software RAID is much slower than true hardware RAID, and is not as easy to recover in the event of a disk failure as one would often like. In addition, RAID is not a supported technology for Windows Home Server. See the team blog (Why RAID is not a consumer technology, but the entire blog is interesting reading for a home server enthusiast) for more information.
    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Monday, January 26, 2009 7:55 PM
    Moderator
  • I am not saying using raid for drive pool. I am trying to understand whether I can use software raid to have a raid 1 configuration for system drive. 

    That raid should not be seen from WHS at all, but the device driver layer will do automatic mirroring.

     

    So what other options do I have for recovering failed HDD?

    - Using 3rd party backup software?

    - No backup at all and just do reinstallation?

    Monday, January 26, 2009 9:29 PM
  • You can probably configure software RAID as you describe. It is, however, unsupported and you may regret doing so in the long run; it will perform poorly and recovery scenarios are not as simple as they sound (as I said previously). It's even possible to use RAID for "drives" in the storage pool, though again it's unsupported.

    The only supported option in case of a failure of your system drive is to perform a server reinstallation. Assuming you use your server basically as designed (rather than as Windows Server 2003 Lite) the longest part of reinstallation is the pause while setup reindexes your shares and recreates tombstones.

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Monday, January 26, 2009 10:05 PM
    Moderator
  • If the System HDD fails then you replace that and do the re-install of the OS only. Also I'm fairly certain that the remaining space on the system HDD is part of the pool. I'm not sure how you would get around that part. 

    The additional RAID is a nice idea and has the appeal of being quicker to restore from should you have a failure but we aren't really dealing with a business system here as you know. That is why it isn't supported. Doesn't mean it can't work, but you will be alone if a problem occurs.

    Food for thought, having two HDD's going does not lessen the chance of failure but actually doubles it. Keep a spare drive handy and safe so you aren't trying to drive around town looking for another drive late in the evening on a Sunday.


    Help Desk Dude
    Tuesday, January 27, 2009 3:11 AM
  • This is just a thought. I noticed that some one actually did use raid 1 supported from BIOS and the setup as well as switch is really easy. I also read that some one did use Windows 2003 for software raid and it really works.

    The thought came up when I read many support request in the forum talking about confusing of the procedure when system disk fails.

    Actually when sys disk fails and after you put a new disk in you can't do re-install of the OS only because all WHS see is a new disk and only choice given will be new-installation. You will need to install WHS as new-installation with all HDDs off and then boot the system into the DVD with all data HDDs are on to get the choice of server re-installation. So it takes awhile to get the server recovered. 

    Tuesday, January 27, 2009 3:33 AM
  • Hmmm, point taken...and I can't argue your logic for wanting to do so either.


    PACS Technical Support Engineer
    Tuesday, January 27, 2009 3:42 AM
  • I have done a server reinstallation including replacement of the system disk on a multi-disk server. No problem, no data loss. Just make sure you supply all required storage drivers at the hardware detection screen.

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Tuesday, January 27, 2009 4:00 AM
    Moderator