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The Big Upgrade
Sunday 15th April, 2007 16:37 Comments: 0
Assuming the order goes okay, I'm hoping to have 8 new SATA hard disks and a couple of PCI-X SATA controller cards arrive on Thursday. I'm not entirely sure when I'll start the upgrade, it'll possibly happen over the weekend. The plan is to move the content of two hardware RAID 5 arrays that are on separate Highpoint controllers onto a brand new software RAID 5 array that should have roughly the same capacity. That'll let me ditch one of the existing arrays and turn the original hardware RAID 5 array into another software RAID 5 array to store new content. Why am I doing this? Although the performance of the RR1820A is pretty good,. it has a nasty habit of dropping or failing to detect disks. Setting the priority of Windows to services, instead of programs, has pretty much stopped it from randomly dropping disks, but reboots usually cause a disk to drop off the face of the planet. Also, the card likes to beep when an array breaks, and will only Wstop beeping once you shut down the PC, and I don't particularly want to have a go at the speaker with a soldering iron. What might speed the whole upgrade up is the fact I finally rebooted yesterday and the server never came back up, because it had dropped a few disks. I let it try rebuilding at that point, knowing it'd take forever compared to doing it under Windows, but after 1% it complained about an error of some kind. I played for a bit, and it looks like one of the channels doesn't want to pick anything up, whether it's the cable or the card, I'm not quite sure yet. I eventually gave up and pulled the power from all the drives, and booted into Windows so I could at least get to half my content straight away. I think I should be able to rebuild the array, as I only need 6 disks and I seem to be able to get 5/6 disks up (if I plug 2's cable into 3 and vice versa, I can see 3 but I then lose 2), and there's the usual Highpoint randomness where it seems to think there's a second array of the same name but with only one disk, so I'm guessing I might have lost 5 from the array, and I can't seem to get 1 to show at all, but I haven't tried another cable yet either. I'm fairly sure I can find some combination of 6 drives that'll let me rebuild, and hopefully after the first part of the upgrade (copying the first array on the new software array), I can plug the cables into the second array's disks and rebuild and then copy the content onto the software array (and eventually replace the Highpoint card with the second cheap controller card). If it fails*, then I'll have a half full software array, loads of disk space, and it'll probably only take a few hours to complete. I really hope it takes me a few days to complete this upgrade. I think I'm going to stick well clear of hardware RAID in future.

* All the really important stuff on that second array is backed up on a spare hard disk that is currently on the floor next to my main machine, just in case I need it, and half of that is backed up on another disk at my parents' house, as I'm not completely stupid
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