Configure RAID-5 Volumes in .NET

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Configure RAID-5 Volumes
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You need to have space on at least three dynamic disks to be able to create a RAID-5 volume. Right-click one disk s unallocated space and choose New Volume. The New Volume Wizard will step you through selecting a RAID-5 volume type, and then select ing the disks that will participate in the volume. The capacity of the volume is limited to the smallest section of unallocated space on any one of the volume s disks. If Disk 2 has 50 GB of unallocated space, but Disks 3 and 4 have 100 GB of unallocated space, the stripe can only use 50 GB of space on Disks 3 and 4 the space used on each disk in the volume is identical. The capacity,
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Managing Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Disk Storage
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or Volume Size reported by the New Volume Wizard will represent the amount of space available for data after accounting for parity. To continue our example, the RAID-5 volume size would be 100 GB the total capacity minus the equivalent of one disk s space for parity. RAID-5 volumes can be assigned a drive letter or folder paths. They can be formatted only with NTFS. Because RAID-5 volumes are created as native dynamic volumes from unallocated space, you cannot turn any other type of volume into a RAID-5 volume without back ing up that volume s data and restoring into the new RAID-5 volume.
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Recovering a Failed RAID-5 Volume
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If a single disk fails in a RAID-5 volume, data can continue to be accessed. During read operations, any missing data is regenerated on the fly through a calculation involving remaining data and parity information. Performance will be degraded and, of course, if a second drive fails it s time to pull out the backup tapes. RAID-5 and mirrored vol umes can only sustain a single drive failure. If the drive is returned to service, you may need to rescan, and then you will need to right-click the volume and choose Reactivate Volume. The system will then rebuild missing data and the volume will be fully functional again. If the drive does not offer a Reactivate option, or if you have had to replace the disk, you may need to rescan, initialize the disk, convert it to dynamic, then right-click the volume and choose Repair Volume. You will be asked to select the disk where the missing volume member should be recreated. Select the new disk and the system will regenerate the missing data.
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Mirrored Volumes versus RAID-5 Volumes
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Mirrored volumes (RAID-1) and RAID-5 volumes provide different levels of fault toler ance. Deciding which option to implement depends on the level of protection you require and the cost of hardware. The major differences between mirrored volumes and RAID-5 volumes are performance and cost. Table 11-2 describes some differences between software-level RAID-1 and RAID-5.
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Table 11-2
RAID Performance and Costs
Striped Volumes with Parity (RAID-5)
Mirrored Volumes (RAID-1)
Can protect system or boot parti- Cannot protect system or boot partition tion Requires two hard disks Requires a minimum of three hard disks and allows a max imum of 32 hard disks
Lesson 4
Implementing RAID
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Table 11-2
RAID Performance and Costs (Continued)
Striped Volumes with Parity (RAID-5) Has a lower cost per MB 33 percent maximum redundancy*
Has excellent read and moderate write performance
Requires more system memory
Mirrored Volumes (RAID-1) Has a higher cost per MB 50 percent redundancy
Has good read and write performance Uses less system memory
* drive space dedicated or lost to provide fault tolerance
Creating Fault Tolerance for the System Volume
Because RAID-5 is a native dynamic volume, it is not possible to install or start the Windows Server 2003 operating system on a RAID-5 volume created by the Windows Server 2003 fault-tolerant disk technologies.
Hardware RAID, however, is invisible to Windows Server 2003, so the operating system can (and should, where available) be installed on hardware RAID arrays.
The only option for creating fault tolerance for the system, without buying hardware RAID, is thus to mirror the system volume. You can mirror the system volume by fol lowing the procedures described for creating a mirrored volume: right-click the system volume and choose Add Mirror. Unlike Windows 2000, you do not need to restart, and the BOOT.INI file is updated automatically so that you can start to the secondary drive if the primary drive fails. If the drives are attached to IDE controllers, and the primary drive fails, you may have to remove that drive, change the secondary drive to the primary controller and set its jumpers or cable position so that it is the master. Otherwise, the system may not boot to the secondary drive.
Tip If you are going to mirror the system volume, do so on one or two SCSI controllers. If you use two controllers, make sure they are of the same type. This configuration will be the most easily supported and recovered.
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