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Question Re: Raid 5 expansion (or going in a different direction)

Last response: in Storage
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January 24, 2013 2:25:12 PM

Hi everyone:

I've been searching the interwebs for weeks trying to find a solution to my issue, and I *think* I know what's going on, but want to get some feedback from some of you (who are clearly more knowledgeable than I!) (I've follwed several "How to's" for expanding Raids that I found on these forums and as general articles on Tom's Hardware, all to no avail!)

I'm running Windows Home Server 2011 with a Raid 5 (5 2tb drives) off of a Core i3 Intel board BOXDH57DD.

I built the RAID using the RAID controller on the Intel board (which, I think might be central to the problem I'm having.)

I'm using this primarily as a media server, where I've converted all of my BDs and DVDs to MKV files to play to my TVs via Plex Media Server.

I'm at the point now where I'm getting low on space (about 500 GB left) and I want to expand the array. My understanding of a Raid 5, backed up by multiple articles that I've read, is that because of the redundancy, I could replace 1 drive at a time, rebuild the array, and not lose any data. I was planning on replacing my 2TB drives with 3tb drives (one at a time), and then re-allocating the extra space (after replacing all 5) into the RAID.

However, I can find no option that even allows me to replace a single drive. I've pulled a drive out and put the new drive in, looked in the BIOS settings, the Intel Rapid Storage Technology software installed, etc -- but nothing, anywhere give me the option to rebuild using the new drive. (I've looked in Drive Manager in Windows as well, but that merely gives me a failed drive for the Raid Array.) The RAID is listed as failed in the BIOS, and in the Intel software in windows, it just lists the individual drive as failed without an option to rebuild using a new one. Each time I've tried, I've ended up putting the original drive back in to let it rebuild -- which it has, and I've never lost any data.

I think I read a thread that essentially says that Intel is, erm, not quite that great with their Raid Controllers, and that you really can't easily expand/swap drives via their software.

So first question -- is that accurate? am I screwed?

Second question ---

If the answer to 1 is no -- what the hell am I doing wrong?

If the answer to 1 is yes -- where do I go from here? I want the ability to expand the Raid array without *too* much of a headache, when necessary. At this point, if I can't get the drive replacement option to work, I'm ultimately going to have to back up all 7 TB externally and build a new RAID with larger drives. (or just not go with RAID at all, but I like the redundancy.)

Can someone recommend a really good (but not overly expensive - maybe 2-$300) RAID card that contains multiple internal eSata ports? (I dunno, 8?) Or can someone recommend a different direction I should look into? I'm not really keen on rebuilding a brand new system, etc, if I don't have to.

Thanks to any/all who take pity on me and help me out!

Best,

SM
a b G Storage
January 24, 2013 2:33:20 PM

Not all RAID cards can do live expansion!!

Drive Manager in Windows is limited you will need to download and install a Partition Wizard Server type software to expand RAID 5
January 24, 2013 2:36:21 PM

Hi Redeemer -- thanks for your response. Apparently mine cannot!

Since it seems like I may have to go through a lot of trouble here, is it worth buying a Raid Controller Card and get away from Intel? As far as a Partition Wizard Server software, is there something you can recommend? And would it be able to check out my current Raid 5 array and be able to work with it, or am I still stuck starting from scratch?
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a b G Storage
January 24, 2013 2:43:03 PM

Sarlic said:
Hi Redeemer -- thanks for your response. Apparently mine cannot!

Since it seems like I may have to go through a lot of trouble here, is it worth buying a Raid Controller Card and get away from Intel? As far as a Partition Wizard Server software, is there something you can recommend? And would it be able to check out my current Raid 5 array and be able to work with it, or am I still stuck starting from scratch?

I would backup all my data first..I don't think that you can take the drives from 1 RAID controller, then attach them to a different controller and be able to read the data already on them, much less write to them.
January 24, 2013 2:48:04 PM

Hi Clark -- yes certainly, I didn't think I would be able to. The "getting away from Intel" procedure would involve a full backup and a complete redo of the Raid.

If having to do a full back-up/redo is what I have to do, I want to take the time to make sure I'm using the best hardware/software I can with the Raid, and if I'm reading the forums correctly, sticking with the onboard Intel RAID controllers was a mistake. So if I have to redo it anyway...
!