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hardware raid or software raid?

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January 23, 2007 10:09:00 AM

on my server, i've got 6 x 9GB scsi drives,
and 1 ide drive with the OS

now, the motherboard has an integrated hardware raid for the scsi drives, (must be activated with a hardware key, 70$)

currently i don't have the hardware key, but maybe i would buy me one.

so configuration will be like this:
4 GB IDE drive on a promise PCI ATA100 controller
raid5 on 6 x 9GB scsi drives (+/- 45GB usable)

now:
if i use hardware raid, and the mobo dies, do i lose my data?
if i use software raid, what has to fail to lose my data?

i'm going to use raid5

or does anybody has a better idea?
January 23, 2007 10:43:41 AM

RAID drives are often tied to specific RAID controllers.
If you lose your controller you can no longer access the data on the raid drive.

For this reason an external controller is recommend since it is easier to move from system to system. Also geta controller from a well know company and prefereably a well known company such as Adaptec which maintains their raind controllers over long periods of time so there is less concern about finding a replacement if it dies.

In general, external controllers also provide much better performance.
January 23, 2007 10:50:16 AM

the server is a dell poweredge 2400
so, i can't replace the raid with a hotswap scsi raid card?
it's the hardware raid onboard, or software raid (like the raid from windows 2000 server)
now about software raid,
if the ide drive with the os fails, can i change this with another ide drive, reinstall windows 2000 server, and would it recognize the software raid?
the ide drive is NO part of the raid array
(the raid array are 6 hotswap scsi drives)
Related resources
January 23, 2007 1:00:34 PM

I cant say I know much about the 2400 off the top of my head, but so long as the server is under warranty I would use hardware raid since Dell would be able to provide a replacement system with a compatible controller.
January 23, 2007 1:12:08 PM

this is a server i'm going to use for backup system
it's an old one, so dell doesn't provide any warranty
i've bought it for 120 euro = 155.67 dollar from some guy

specs:
dual pentium 3 600Mhz
768 Ram
6x9GB scsi 10.000 RPM drives (hotswap)
scsi CD-
onboard raid (but must be activated using an hardware key)
...

so no support from dell, and i want to make sure; i don't lose data
January 23, 2007 2:12:37 PM

for hardware raid if your mobo dies... then you would probably need an exact replacement to get your raid array accessible again...
going software raid... if your mobo dies and you get another controller card to support your raid drives and plug it into another machine that had Win server OS. you will be able to read your raid drives just fine...

with software raid it is not dependent on the hardware for raid support...

I have ran both software and hardware raid... although i prefer hardware raid... software raid works good for data redundancy.

I hope that answers your question...'

my 2ยข
January 24, 2007 5:47:23 AM

Here are the specs on your PE 2400, Also it does have PCI slots 32 and 64bit, so if you wish to buy a Raid card you should have no problem installing it.

The PowerEdge 2400 features are:

Support for up to two (2) Pentium III processors.
Four (4) SDRAM DIMMs with support for up to 2 GB SDRAM.
Six PCI Slots (2x32/33 Mhz, 4x64/33 Mhz).
One (1) ISA Slots (shared with PCI slot 5).
Single Intel 10/100 Ethernet NIC controller.
One integrated Ultra2/LVD SCSI controller (AIC-7890).
One integrated Ultra/Narrow SCSI controller (AIC-7880).
Embedded PERC2/Si Ultra2/LVD RAID controller and single unbuffered DIMM slot.
Integrated PCI ATI RAGE IIC PCI video controller with 4 MB SDRAM.
Three (3) external 5.25" half-height peripheral bays.
Six (6) hot-plug drive bays.
Optional two (2) hot swap hard-drive backplane for additional 2 external 5.24" bays.
Two (2) 300 W hot-swapable redundant power supplies.
PS/2 compatible mouse port.
PS/2 compatible keyboard port.
Two (2) 9-pin serial ports.
Two (2) USB ports on the back.
One (1) Parallel Port.
One (1) RJ45 jack.
One (1) Video port.
One (1) SCSI port.

Here also a good price for the Raid key and Mem.
http://cgi.ebay.com/Poweredge-2400-2450-PERC-RAID-Key-8...
January 24, 2007 6:12:58 AM

I did the googling in advance,
so i know the specs,
also i know the ebay prices for the hardware key

my question is, for data safety, what's the safest solution in case some hardware dies!
soft or hardware raid

the hotswap drives have a backplate, that connects to the motherboard and is a part of the scsi controller, so you can't replace the scsi controller with a PCI one, without completly rewiring the harddrives, removing te backplate, and so killing your hotswap feature.
so, it's the onboard hardware raid, or keep it wit a software raid.
installed the PCI IDE controller and the ide harddrive, so al my scsi are for data, the IDE is for OS
January 24, 2007 12:18:53 PM

But the specs are still important.
The embedded Raid controlle is likely also available as an add-on if the MB ever went.

Software Raid would be terrible in regards to performance on this box due to the fact the CPUs are only PIIIs. Then contrast that with the true boost a genuine RAID controller adds and you are looking at a big switch.

If this was my machine, I would do a Hardware RAID-5 and backup my RAID 5 to my IDE drive during a nightly scheduled backup. The IDE drive would only need to be 60GB to handle the OS as well as all of your data since you would only be getting.

Additionally, you never stated if your RAID had on-board RAM which this E-bay item includes.
January 24, 2007 12:44:46 PM

it doesnt need to be fast.

i'm going to put my music on it, and stream it through my network to my livingroom computer, and when i download from itunes i put it on the server, so that's the only write action the disks need to do.
all downloads are managed by my livingroom computer,
so, buy, download, copy to server.

so no high speed necessary.

The ram for the raid controller is regular PC100/133 ram, i've got a little stick somewhere, so that isn't a problem

i'm going to put mandriva on the server, with the software raid.
don't want to have the risk that my motherboard burns and i have the whole world (ebay) for a spare, or pay premium at dell support shop.
January 24, 2007 3:29:43 PM

Here's my take on this.

It's going to store music & stream it. Not a mission critical application. Capacity is evidently not an issue. You've got 45GB (small by today's standards), you probably figure you might upgrade in the future. Speed is not an issue - writes only happen when new music is purchased.

The only pressing issue you seem concerned with is data integrity - hence the RAID and the concern over hardware failure.

In light of those considerations, do software RAID by all means. It's simple, doesn't require any further cash outlay (if you were going to fork out $70 for the hardware key, another $20 would get you a 320GB WD hard drive). The software is always available, so if worst comes to worst and the motherboard catches fire ... take your SCSI drives, put them on any SCSI card, install your OS with software RAID and they're readable again.

For software RAID, you could do Windows Server 2000 or 2003 if you have a copy, Windows XP if you do the RAID 5 software hack, or virtually any version of Linux (Dell should still have Linux drivers downloadable, but not for all distributions. The drivers they have available will likely dictate what distribution you should use. In the event that Dell doesn't have drivers, if you find out the hardware chips being used for video, SCSI, etc. you probably can find some open-source drivers for those chips that might be usable with any distribution.)

Have fun. Just be prepared for molasses-like writes to the array. Reads aren't gonna be too quick either, 9GB SCSI drives are very old.
!