Sunday, March 4, 2012

RAID on HP ProLiant Microserver

The HP ProLiant Microserver has been a popular platform for small businesses and home users who want to run Windows Home Server 2011. RAID is a technology that stores data across multiple drives for redundancy against hard drive failure or for extra speed. There are different kinds of RAID arrays. I will explain how to set up a RAID 1 array, which mirrors (copies) data on two drives to keep the data safe even if one of the drives fail.

The Microserver supports hardware RAID. You will need to have at least two hard drives to set up a RAID array, so make sure you have them installed. They should be the same size. Once the hardware is set up, you are ready to set up the RAID.

First, enable the RAID option in the BIOS. On boot, hit F10 to enter the BIOS menu. Go to "Advanced" then select the IDE Configuration menu. Change the SATA Controller Mode option to RAID. Then hit F10 to exit, remembering to save the changes. When the system reboots, you will see a prompt to hit enter RAID setup by hitting Control + F. Hit it, and you will enter the RAID setup menu. Select LD View/LD Define Menu. Hit the up and down arrows until you select RAID Mode. Hit the space bar until you set it as RAID 1. Then arrow down to the hard drives you want to include in the array, then hit space so it says "Y" under "Assignment" for that hard drive. ALL INFORMATION ON THE DRIVES WILL BE LOST. Once you selected the hard drives you want in the array, hit Control + Y and enter a name for the array. Hit Control + Y again. It will prompt you to hit Control + Y to set a size for the array, or hit any key to use the maximum space. HIT ANY KEY. The computer will then quick format the drives. Then hit Esc to exit and reboot.

Then install Windows Home Server 2011. WHS2011with out-of-the-box support for the AMD RAID controller used in the Microserver. Therefore, when you go to choose a hard drive to install WHS2011, it will only show one drive (the array), not the number of physical drives in the server. Select the RAID Array, then WHS 2011 will install smoothly.

The hardware RAID will handle the mirroring so as far as Windows is concerned, there's only one drive. All information on the array will be mirrored on two disks. If one of the disks should fail, then the information will survive on the other disk. You can replace the defective disk, and (hopefully) the RAID will slowly rebuild the array. That will prevent a hard disk failure from eating all your data.

If you have a third hard drive, you can set WHS2011 to back itself up on there twice a day. There is a difference between redundancy and backup. RAID provides redundancy, which improves reliability against hard drive failures. However, if you do something stupid that borks your installation, such as delete a system file, RAID will not help you there; only backups will. Therefore, using an internal hard drive to backup your RAID array is a good idea. You can then backup the contents of the internal backup hard drive onto the cloud or onto a removable disk for off-site backup, which is also recommended.

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