locked
WHS and Promise array controller RRS feed

  • Question

  • I built my WHS test system on the bones of a PC whose motherboard had recently died. That system includes a Promise FastTrak SX 4000 RAID card with a 4 disk RAID 5 array (yes, I know, "WHS does not support RAID" ).

    Getting the system running was pretty easy. I have a primary IDE drive not connected to the RAID controller, so I just installed WHS on that drive and ignored the RAID array until the server was up and running. At that point, I installed the driver and rebooted. WHS saw the RAID array as a new drive when I went into the console, and allowed me to add it to the storage pool. Voila!

    --
    Ken
    Friday, February 23, 2007 4:17 AM
    Moderator

Answers

  •  cweb wrote:
    I guess my question to you is, is there any benefit to use DE instead of RAID 5? It seems to me that if you are duplicating everything, then you are wasting lots of space, and if you don't duplicate everything, then you run a risk of losing information if the HDD fails. I understand that they are trying to make it easy to add space by being able to add HDD's of any type, but for those that want it to be effective and safe, should we stick with a RAID?

    I think the answer is that DE has advantages. It's faster than low-end RAID, per Microsoft, and it "intelligently" spreads your data out over multiple drives if you tell it to. My suspicion is that the primary consumer of storage space on a WHS is going to be backups of home PCs. It certainly is on mine, even after I loaded on 75 GB of ripped music and 25,000 digital photos. (Where did all those pictures come from?!) Given which, duplication isn't going to have the impact you fear. And you probably won't want to duplicate everything. For example, assuming your music is ripped from CDs you own, why would you mirror music? It's annoying to have it go away, because you have to rip it again, but it's not a disaster.

    RAID also has advantages, of course. If you're talking about a midrange to high-end solution, with a bunch of spindles (not the usual enthusiast with 2 mirrored, or 3 or 4 in RAID 5, but more like 6-10) you'll probably see significantly better performance from your RAID array. You'll have hardware level RAID, with (hopefully) a migration path that won't result in data loss should your RAID adapter fail.

    Personally, the only reason I left the RAID array intact, instead of dropping down to JBOD, is because I wanted to see if WHS could handle it. Now that I know it can, I may tear down and rebuild the array as JBOD to regain the storage from the parity stripes.
    Monday, February 26, 2007 12:20 AM
    Moderator

All replies

  • Did you also try JBOD (Just a Bunch Of Disks) for grins, to see how Drive Extender played with it?  That would seem to me to be a rather good way of adding disk space, if what I read of the properties of Drive Extender is correct.  In our IT department we use Promise SATA RAID controllers in light and medium-duty servers (running Server 2003 Standard) and they work very well, so I can see the Promise cards playing well with WHS, especially in JBOD mode.  (Granted, we too usually set them up RAID 5 but we used JBOD to have individual drives in the case of a backup server, we used a removable cage for each day's backup, 3 days in the server at a time.)  But I was curious as to whether or not anyone had tried JBOD with Drive Extender, since DE is supposed to have some redundancy built into it.  That would be a good lab project methinks...

    I haven't gotten an invite so I haven't had my paws on the software, but I am interested in how this comes along...it sounds like a really great system!

    Todd in Cheesecurdistan
    Friday, February 23, 2007 8:56 PM
  •  B3Nut wrote:
    Did you also try JBOD (Just a Bunch Of Disks) for grins, to see how Drive Extender played with it?


    No, I'm afraid I didn't. I don't see why there would be any issues, though. The Promise card has Windows Server 2003 drivers available, and they installed without any hiccups. (The Promise Array Management remote monitoring, on the other hand, has always been a pain in the tuchus. That hasn't changed...)

    According to the WHS team members that have been posting here, Drive Extender should be faster than low-end RAID solutions. My Promise card falls in that category, I'm sure. :-) I didn't take apart the RAID array because it was already built, and I didn't see the point.

    --
    Ken
    Saturday, February 24, 2007 3:33 AM
    Moderator
  • Which is great, except when you are writing a bunch of files to WHS, how do you "know" they are infact being written to that particular drive (which is the RAID array)..? :-)
    Sunday, February 25, 2007 11:13 PM
  • I guess my question to you is, is there any benefit to use DE instead of RAID 5?  It seems to me that if you are duplicating everything, then you are wasting lots of space, and if you don't duplicate everything, then you run a risk of losing information if the HDD fails.  I understand that they are trying to make it easy to add space by being able to add HDD's of any type, but for those that want it to be effective and safe, should we stick with a RAID?
    Sunday, February 25, 2007 11:55 PM
  •  kapone wrote:
    Which is great, except when you are writing a bunch of files to WHS, how do you "know" they are infact being written to that particular drive (which is the RAID array)..? :-)

    Well, that would be one reason why "RAID is not a supported configuration".
    Monday, February 26, 2007 12:09 AM
    Moderator
  •  cweb wrote:
    I guess my question to you is, is there any benefit to use DE instead of RAID 5? It seems to me that if you are duplicating everything, then you are wasting lots of space, and if you don't duplicate everything, then you run a risk of losing information if the HDD fails. I understand that they are trying to make it easy to add space by being able to add HDD's of any type, but for those that want it to be effective and safe, should we stick with a RAID?

    I think the answer is that DE has advantages. It's faster than low-end RAID, per Microsoft, and it "intelligently" spreads your data out over multiple drives if you tell it to. My suspicion is that the primary consumer of storage space on a WHS is going to be backups of home PCs. It certainly is on mine, even after I loaded on 75 GB of ripped music and 25,000 digital photos. (Where did all those pictures come from?!) Given which, duplication isn't going to have the impact you fear. And you probably won't want to duplicate everything. For example, assuming your music is ripped from CDs you own, why would you mirror music? It's annoying to have it go away, because you have to rip it again, but it's not a disaster.

    RAID also has advantages, of course. If you're talking about a midrange to high-end solution, with a bunch of spindles (not the usual enthusiast with 2 mirrored, or 3 or 4 in RAID 5, but more like 6-10) you'll probably see significantly better performance from your RAID array. You'll have hardware level RAID, with (hopefully) a migration path that won't result in data loss should your RAID adapter fail.

    Personally, the only reason I left the RAID array intact, instead of dropping down to JBOD, is because I wanted to see if WHS could handle it. Now that I know it can, I may tear down and rebuild the array as JBOD to regain the storage from the parity stripes.
    Monday, February 26, 2007 12:20 AM
    Moderator
  • Interesting - I didn't know that.  I wish I knew that before I bought a RAID card specifically for this purpose.  Anyway.  I have a Promise FastTrak Tx4310 with 4x 320gb SATA drives in it.  I defined an array, formatted it, installed it, added it to the storage pool in WHS and it ran fine for a few days.  A few days later, Windows came up saying it detected that the "drive" (the array) was failing.  The controller itself reported no problems.  It suggested trying to repair, so I did.  The box hung.  Upon reboot, WHS would no longer boot with the array configured on the card.  We thought about reinstalling and ran the routine, and was about to start installing onto the raid set itself, before deciding not to.  Rebooted with the array undefined, defined the array in Windows from within the management tool, and formatted the drive.  It worked, we could put data on it etc.  Adding it to the storage pool worked, but required a reboot.  When it rebooted, it would not boot into Windows again, but this time it wouldn't even boot into the install routine off the DVD.  Updated the motherboard BIOS, and it booted into Windows.  It was in there and working, but for how long?  Rebooted to test, no go.

    Confusing.  I don't really know what's going on.  It would seem to be some wacky driver issue, but why work after a BIOS update?  Why work in the installer then not later on?
    Friday, August 24, 2007 4:49 AM
  •  neverhadachoice wrote:
    Confusing.  I don't really know what's going on.  It would seem to be some wacky driver issue, but why work after a BIOS update?  Why work in the installer then not later on?

     

    It sounds almost as if the computer is trying to boot from the array instead of the disc with WHS installed on it.  You may want to check the boot order in the BIOS, or have WHS redo the boot sector (I don't actually know if that's possible, That's just what I'd try with XP.)

     

    I've got a old computer I put a TX4310 in with 3x500G drives in.  I've got it running as a RAID5 on XPro just for file storage. I was thinking about trying WHS on the thing, but what I'm getting from the forums here is that any drive I add to the system (even the array) will be wiped when it's added to the pool.  Is that correct?

     

    If I wanted to setup WHS would I need to xfer that data to another drive, install WHS (on a seperate 80g IDE drive the system has), add the drives on the promise card (as the array), then copy the files back over to the server to avoid losing the data?

    Saturday, October 27, 2007 6:21 PM
  • It sounds almost as if the computer is trying to boot from the array instead of the disc with WHS installed on it.  You may want to check the boot order in the BIOS, or have WHS redo the boot sector (I don't actually know if that's possible, That's just what I'd try with XP.)


    Interesting name you have there, oh god of stupid Stick out tongue Yeah, it does sound like it.  I've already triplechecked the boot orders and everything, but eventually found a pattern to the seemingly random distribution of when it worked and failed.  The only time it worked was when I was sitting in front of it.  The raid controller's BIOS had a little prompt that said "Hit space to skip or any other key to continue".  Hitting space was when the computer would boot.  I have a habit of idly tapping the spacebar when I'm waiting for a PC to boot.

    ifhjsaidfhaofduhsodfhsd;af AT LAST.

    Only problem is, no remote reboots if you want it to come back.
    Sunday, October 28, 2007 12:25 AM
  • I don't think that message came out of your RAID HBA's BIOS. I can't find any reference to it anywhere in the manual (available for download from the Promise Technology web site). Is it possible that the message is actually coming out of the BIOS on your motherboard? And what other messages are appearing just before and after the one mentioned above?
    Sunday, October 28, 2007 1:36 PM
    Moderator
  • Well, I assumed it was since I have never seen it anywhere before putting the card in.  If you do nothing, then it comes up with the "Hit Ctrl+Whatever to enter card configuration" or what have you, and if not, it doesn't show it and goes straight into booting windows.
    Sunday, October 28, 2007 2:38 PM