Troubleshooter: Replacing Disks in an Array

My company's Exchange server is full. I want to replace the 9GB drives in the RAID 5 array with 36GB drives. What's the best way to accomplish the rebuild?

When you use Windows to break or rebuild a stripe set or spanned volume, you need to back up and restore the data. If you were just swapping in a drive to replace a failed unit, you could let Windows (or the array controller) do all the dirty work. In this case, the difficulty of your task depends on what's on the RAID array:

  • If the array contains only your Exchange transaction logs and databases, you can perform an online backup, shut down the Exchange services, rebuild the array however you want, restart the services, and restore your backup.
  • If the array contains the OS, you must basically reload the entire server. The fastest way to reload the server is by taking, then restoring, a good offline backup. However, to be safe, you should take an online backup first.

You need to segregate the OS from your Exchange data for two reasons: Performance is better when the Exchange data has a separate set of disk spindles, and disaster recovery is easier when you can individually restore either the OS or the Exchange databases.

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