Q's on RAID and fault tolerance
I have an in-law who works for a small company. They currently have an old NT4 server and are looking at upgrading to a new machine. I'm looking into options for them and have a question or two.
They have around 10-12 PC's that connect to the server, all Windows flavors from Windows 98 and up. The server is used for printing, file sharing and a tiny bit of application sharing (Peachtree Accounting and maybe one or two other things). There are only, as noted, 10-12 user's so only that many user accounts on the current server as well. The old server is a Pentium 2 or 3, 450 MHz, 512MB RAM, 10 gig hard drive, etc. It is obviously old and ready for replacement. Altogether what they have is a very simple setup and should be easy to replace with something much more robust yet inexpensive.
They currently have no form of RAID in use. Most of the servers I'm looking at offer that for fault tolerance. I don't know much about RAID, so which version is best? RAID 1 or RAID 5, especially considering what they have now and how small a shop they are. Also, I'm assuming (I think it's logical) that if RAID is used the server will need a RAID controller. Again, forgive me for my lack of knowledge on the subject.
My thinking is that RAID 1 would be more than sufficient for these people. They have lived without it for so long that any form of fault tolerance will be a boon to them. Any server they get and setup will be an improvement over what they have, even without fault tolerance. What do you all think? Any help would be great. Thanks.
Mod w/ an attitude
RAID0 is striping used for faster data access.
RAID1 is mirroring used for only basic data protection. This is VERY, VERY prone to failure and requires a full reinstall of the data.
I use RAID5 at home for full data protection using an add on Adaptec SCSI controller. 36GB of user storage on 2 of the 3 drives with the 3rd drive as parity which will easily rebuild the RAID array if any one of the drives fail. Not bad for under $300 extra cost.
If your going to do it, do raid 5. If a drive dies, it will end up paying for itself by not losing the data.
Stark Raving MOD
Moved to Data Storage.
It depends if the hardware you get will support RAID5 or not. Many of the IDE RAID cards will do RAID1, but not RAID5. for your situation, RAID1 should be sufficient. If you can swing a SCSI setup, then definitely go for RAID5.
In RAID1, you have 2 copies of the same drive. if one dies, then you only have to replace the other drive and recreate the mirror. if anything, you should have a separate boot disk with a modified boot.ini to redirect you to the second drive upon boot. you'll know what I mean once you start doing your research into RAID1.
In either case, you should still have another method of backup, such as a tape drive. Then take a backup set OFFSITE. RAID will do you no good if the building burns down.
Midknyte, thx for the reply and for moving this thread. I wasn't sure where it was supposed to go. I never would have thought data storage. Thx.
It seems like RAID 1 would be sufficient, as you and others have said. I know you mention a boot disk with a modified boot.ini file to point to the 2nd drive should the first one fail. I understand that, not that I know how to do that necessarily. I suppose that is something I could test?
Also, if you have dual 40 gig drives, or 80 gig drives, whatever, is there any idea how long it would take to recreate the mirror once one drive dies, or how long it would take for the replacement drive to be exactly mirrrored to the one that didn't die? I know it depends on how much space is being used, and other factors I'm sure, but I'm just curious if it's in the realm of minutes or hours.
Also, does RAID 1 basically make and keep an exact duplicate copy of one drive on another drive? Partitions and all?
I think Jakk needs to dig up that article again on raid for you. I think it would help a lot.
Stark Raving MOD
I've done mirror repair on 8-10G SCSI drives before and it took under 30mins. I didn't really time myself or anything. I did have to down the server to replace the drive. RAID5 can be hotswap, hardware permitting of course.
you can always test your boot disk to get the right path. basically, you take the same boot.ini and add a path to the second drive. something like this:
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINNT="Microsoft Win2K Server HDD1" /fastdetect
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(1)partition(1)\WINNT="Microsoft Win2K Server HDD2" /fastdetect
do you see the change? pretty simple.
RAID1 is an exact copy down to partitions, etc. They will be 2 identical drives. Read the links above for more info.
Thanks for the replies and info, guys. I've decided to offer them Windows Server 2003 instead of SBS 2003 (they have no need for Exchange or SQL) and also a RAID 1 configuration. Although RAID 5 would be better (and RAID 10 even better) it's just not in their budget. You guys have been great. Thanks again.
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