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Implementing RAID 5

RAID 5, disk striping with parity, provides you with faster access time than a single-disk volume and also enables you to rebuild the stripe set if one of the disks in the set goes down. RAID 5 is an excellent choice for file servers when you want to improve access time but also want to build some fault tolerance into the system.

RAID 5 requires at least 3 disks and can be deployed on up to 32 disks. Disks in the stripe set must have either an equal amount or a greater amount of disk space compared to the drive that you select when you initiate the creation of the stripe set. To create a RAID 5 stripe set follow these steps:

1. In the Disk Management Details pane, right-click any dynamic disk that contains unallocated disk space. The amount of unused disk space on this disk dictates the amount of space on the other drives that are in the stripe set. Select New RAID-5 Volume from the shortcut menu. The New RAID-5 Volume Wizard appears.

2. Click Next to bypass the wizard’s introductory screen.

3. On the next screen, specify the amount of space that you will use on the selected disk (the disk on which you right-clicked to begin the process) by clicking the Select the Amount of Space in MB spinner box as needed (see Figure 6.12).

Figure 6.12. Set the amount of space that will be used on the disk for the Raid-5 stripe set.

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4. Use the Available box to select and then add (by clicking Add) the other drives that will be part of the RAID-5 implementation (you need to have three drives in the set).

5. After adding the drives for the set, click Next.

6. On the next screen specify the drive letter for the RAID-5 set (or go with the default). Then click Next.

7. On the next screen, specify the Volume Label for the new drive (NTFS is the only option for the file system for a stripe set). You can also enable file and folder compression if you wish (see Figure 6.13). Then click Next.

Figure 6.13. Specify the volume name for the stripe set.

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8. The final wizard screen provides a summary of the volume type you created and other information related to the volume such as the disks used and the drive letter specified. Click Finish to complete the process.

The RAID set is then created and appears in the Disk Management snap-in. Figure 6.14 shows a RAID-5 stripe set (RAID-5 sets are color-coded light-blue) using disks 1, 2, and 3.

Figure 6.14. A RAID 5 stripe set.

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If one of the drives fails in the stripe set, you can regenerate the whole RAID 5 array. All you have to do is replace the bad drive and then use the Regenerate command in the Disk Management snap-in to get your stripe set up and running again (right-click any of the stripe set volumes to access the Regenerate command). If you decide not to use the stripe set, you can delete it as you would any volume.

Did you Know?

The Event Viewer can help to track problems with RAID sets. Sometimes RAID 5 arrays fail because of bad disk controllers. Look for events in the system log that might provide hints on whether a drive or a controller associated with the RAID set is having problems. The Event Viewer is discussed in Hour 24, “Monitoring Server Performance and Network Connections.”

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