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aglasser
1 Copper

PE2950 RAID?

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Hey all,

A friend gave me a few Dell PE2950s that he was not going to use. I have racked them and placed two 73GB HDDs in each server. I would like to stripe the install of Windows Server across these two HDDs, but cannot find a RAID utility in the BIOS of these machines. When I boot, I am prompted with "Dell SAS 5 Host Bus Adapter BIOS." I can press CTRL+C to access the SAS configuration utility, but not CTRL+R to access a RAID configuration utility.

I have researched across the Internet and have come to the (premature) conclusion that these machines do not support hardware RAID. Is this true? How can I tell if this is true for these machines?

Is there another way I can install Windows Server (striped) on two drives, making the C: drive appear as 146GB (2x 73GB)?

Thank you guys for your help, I am fairly new to the whole server business.

- Alex

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theflash1932
5 Iridium

Re: PE2950 RAID?

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"I can press CTRL+C to access the SAS configuration utility, but not CTRL+R to access a RAID configuration utility."

The SAS 5/6 controllers use CTRL-C to access the configuration utility.  The SAS 5/iR and 6/iR support RAID (R = RAID) and non-RAID, but the SAS 5/i does not support RAID at all.  If you do not have an option to Manage Arrays/Containers or create an integrated mirror or stripe (IM/IS), then you have the SAS 5/i.

The PERC 5/6 controllers use CTRL-R to access the configuration utility.  If you do not have a CTRL-R, then either your PERC is not working or you do not have a PERC controller.

You can purchase a PERC 5/6 and replace the SAS 5.

Without hardware RAID, you cannot create a single 146GB volume to present to the OS.  You can still "stripe" the data across the drives, but you will need to convert the "disks" to dynamic and do it with Windows Disk Management.  Do you want RAID 0 (striping) for the extra disk space or for the performance?  If the space, you can create a "spanned" volume; if the performance, you can create a "striped" volume.

Personally, I wouldn't do RAID 0, and I would probably upgrade to a PERC - they can be found for fairly cheap nowadays.

theflash1932
5 Iridium

Re: PE2950 RAID?

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I'm not sure you can do this pre-install, but if you can, you'll need to use diskpart from the Command Prompt (one of the "repair" options).

If not, then this is usually done post-install from Disk Management ... Windows manages the disk/striping after it is configured.

9 Replies
theflash1932
5 Iridium

Re: PE2950 RAID?

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"I can press CTRL+C to access the SAS configuration utility, but not CTRL+R to access a RAID configuration utility."

The SAS 5/6 controllers use CTRL-C to access the configuration utility.  The SAS 5/iR and 6/iR support RAID (R = RAID) and non-RAID, but the SAS 5/i does not support RAID at all.  If you do not have an option to Manage Arrays/Containers or create an integrated mirror or stripe (IM/IS), then you have the SAS 5/i.

The PERC 5/6 controllers use CTRL-R to access the configuration utility.  If you do not have a CTRL-R, then either your PERC is not working or you do not have a PERC controller.

You can purchase a PERC 5/6 and replace the SAS 5.

Without hardware RAID, you cannot create a single 146GB volume to present to the OS.  You can still "stripe" the data across the drives, but you will need to convert the "disks" to dynamic and do it with Windows Disk Management.  Do you want RAID 0 (striping) for the extra disk space or for the performance?  If the space, you can create a "spanned" volume; if the performance, you can create a "striped" volume.

Personally, I wouldn't do RAID 0, and I would probably upgrade to a PERC - they can be found for fairly cheap nowadays.

czeetah
1 Nickel

Re: PE2950 RAID?

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ebay perc 5

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aglasser
1 Copper

Re: PE2950 RAID?

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"If you do not have an option to Manage Arrays/Containers or create an integrated mirror or stripe (IM/IS), then you have the SAS 5/i."

I have looked through every option in the BIOS extensively and have found no reference to striping or even RAID. That is why I concluded that this machine does not support hardware RAID.

Purchasing a PERC 5 could be a viable option, but not as a first route.

"Without hardware RAID, you cannot create a single 146GB volume to present to the OS.  You can still 'stripe' the data across the drives, but you will need to convert the 'disks' to dynamic and do it with Windows Disk Management.  Do you want RAID 0 (striping) for the extra disk space or for the performance?  If the space, you can create a 'spanned' volume; if the performance, you can create a 'striped' volume."

I am doing this for performance. I assume this would be done before installing the OS, from the installer? I was unable to find an option for this from the Server 2012 installer. Both disks appeared as separate 68GB disks. How do I stripe the install without hardware RAID support?

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theflash1932
5 Iridium

Re: PE2950 RAID?

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"ebay perc 5"

You can purchase a PERC 5/i or a PERC 6/i - must be the "integrated" version, not the "adapter", and ebay is usually a good place to get one cheap - just go for sellers that guarantee it will work with a return policy if it doesn't.

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theflash1932
5 Iridium

Re: PE2950 RAID?

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I'm not sure you can do this pre-install, but if you can, you'll need to use diskpart from the Command Prompt (one of the "repair" options).

If not, then this is usually done post-install from Disk Management ... Windows manages the disk/striping after it is configured.

czeetah
1 Nickel

Re: PE2950 RAID?

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You will spend so much time fiddling around with getting windows fakeraid working, then so much time fiddling around getting it to boot/rebuild RAID if a drive ever dies, you will be wishing you spent the time researching the proper perc X/i + cable combo and spending the $100 or so now.

Keep in mind you need cables to go from perc to SAS backplane. If those same cables from your SAS controller will work or you need different cables I don't know, but a little googling (or maybe someone here) to be sure you know what cables(s) are needed before you go ordering will help save time & headaches.

If it matters (I believe) the 5/i 6/i support 2TB drives max

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theflash1932
5 Iridium

Re: PE2950 RAID?

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The SAS 5/6 and PERC 5/6 controllers use the same SFF-8484 connectors, so a new cable is not necessary.

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pcmeiners
4 Tellurium

Re: PE2950 RAID?

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Your better off with hardware raid as suggested. You really do not want to stripe two drives for raid 0, unless your into Russian Roulette, or your into losing everything  with a very high probability in a moment, 

"You will spend so much time fiddling around with getting windows fakeraid working, then so much time fiddling around getting it to boot/rebuild RAID if a drive ever dies, you will be wishing you spent the time researching the proper perc X/i + cable combo and spending the $100 or so now."

Tend to agree, Windows OS (wannabe raid) raid  issues can be daunting when they occur; they can be time consuming/costly, and even for the experienced. On the plus side, no added cost, raid 1 is pretty safe to use and generally does not result in total disaster, whereas in my opinion, Windows OS raid 5 is to dangerous to implement in the OS, even for the experienced. 

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theflash1932
5 Iridium

Re: PE2950 RAID?

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Ultimately, it is your choice, and I'll help you do what you want, but for what it is worth, I agree with pcmeiners ... avoid it if you can; be prepared if you must.

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