Server 2008R2 Software Raid


I wonder if you can help.

I am currently looking at using Server 2008R2 to implement a software Raid 5 partition. My reason for this is I’m limited on PCI card space and have a few other cards I wish to put in my server + this option will save me a fair chunk of money. I understand software raid is not recommended over hardware raid but this is hardly mission critical and only being implemented in a home environment.

I plan to have 5 Disks in total
I plan to install the OS on a separate SSD drive (DISK1) from my raid partition.
I plan to create a raid 5 partition using the remaining 4 disks (DISK2/3/4/5)
The four disks that will be used for the raid partition are all 2TB drives.

Am I correct in thinking the usable windows space will be 5.5TB or there abouts?

My main question however is as I am installing windows on a separate SSD drive. If this OS disk fails and I have to buy a new disk and reinstall Windows on it. How would I go about 'attaching or recovering' the still intact RAID 5 partition complete with data?

Hopefully I’ve made that clear enough and if you want some more information please ask.

Thanking in advance,

9 answers Last reply
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  1. y'know, for the same price as server 2008 you could buy a decent hardware raid controller.

    anyways, after formatting you'll end up with abouts 5.4tb.
    although i haven't tried it myself, i believe a software raid built on any windows server can be tranferred to any other windows server simply by plugging the drives in. (don't quote me on it though)
  2. Ok don't do software raid ever it is just not the way to ever do raid it is very slow and is not accessable until windows is booted. So if you need to boot off of a startup CD DVD this drive will not be accessable. The least I would reccomend would be a motherboard raid. Almost all motherboards support raid these days although not stricktly a hardware raid it is alot better than a windows software raid.

  3. Thanks for the quick replies.

    @ Branden Firstly re cost. The company i work for have a spare 2008 R2 licence they are letting me have for 'self training' hence the use of this over buying a hardware controller. Secondly thanks for confirming my total space.

    @Thently I will not need to access the data until windows is booted. The motherboard my server comes with only supports Raid 1 and Raid 0 i'm after raid 5. Again this is not ideal but about cutting costs.
  4. I think Branden was assuming you were some kid who didn't need server 2008R2. He probably was thinking that you could use Windows 7.

    I think what you want to do will work and the usable space would, in fact, be about 5.5TB. You said that the work was hardly mission critical though. Given that fact and the fact you plan on using a software RAID, which is risky, my question is: Why do you need the parity of RAID5? Obviously, it may be somewhat critical in the sense you don't want to risk losing it if a drive failed, but you'd gain a lot of usable space without the parity.
  5. I usually recommend:

    Non-critical data:

    Software or hardware raid

    Critical Data:
    RAID-5 plus hotspare
    hardware raid
  6. @Cirdecus thanks for your comments. with regards to the raid. Although its no mission critical alot of the space is taken up with my extensive .ISO rips (DVD's) so although i could get them back but re ripping them it would be a right pain in the backside/time consumer that i'd rather spend the extra on another hard drive just to have some slight redundancy. The question i'm really after i guess is how easy is it going to be to get the data back should the OS drive die. Do i need to restore a system state backup? Could i just clean reinstall and attach that kind of thing?
  7. Has anyone got any more input on this?
  8. - install server 2k8 (but don't activate)
    - create software raid, copy random files to it
    - power down, unplug raid drives
    - reinstall server 2k8
    - plug raid drives back in, see if it picks up the existing array on them and its files can be accessed like before
    - tell us what happened (i'd be interested to know)
  9. I would do but the server im building with (HP Microserver N40L) by all account is going to take a few days to build the array the last thing i want to do with my new toy is wait for a second time.

    I have since my previous post found this which helps a little,

    In particular "On the new computer, open Disk Management. Click Action and then click Rescan Disks. Right-click any disk marked Foreign, click Import Foreign Disks, and then follow the instructions on your screen."


    "If you are moving spanned, striped, mirrored, or RAID-5 volumes, it is highly recommended that you move all disks containing the volume together. Otherwise, the volumes on the disks cannot be brought online and will not be accessible except to delete them."

    So assuming the above i'll just be doing infrequent RAID backups (due to the size of the storage) + bare metal backups using the build in Server 2008 Backup tool.
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