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Windows IT Pro Storage UPDATE--Playing Storage Doctor--October 17, 2005

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The Impact of Disk Defragmentation

Build a Superior Windows File Serving Environment


1. Commentary
- Playing Storage Doctor

2. From the Community
- Using Backup Exec 10 for Disaster Recovery

3. New and Improved
- Revinetix Offers Exchange Server Backup Capability
- Adaptec Announces New Family of SATA II RAID Controllers
- Tell Us About a Hot Product and Get a T-Shirt!

4. Windows IT Pro Resources

==== Sponsor: Diskeeper ====

The Impact of Disk Defragmentation

Nearly every IT professional has a fragmentation horror story - in which fragmentation severely degraded performance so that systems were unusable. In this free white paper, learn what impact fragmentation has on users and system activities and discover how quickly fragmentation accumulates as a result of these activities. Plus get the recommendations you need to manage the frequency of defragmentation across your infrastructure.


==== 1. Commentary: Playing Storage Doctor ====
by David Chernicoff, [email protected]

Recently I've been doing quite a bit of image and video editing, so when I decided to purchase a new high-end desktop system, flexible storage options were an important consideration in my decision. Keeping storage costs down was also somewhat important to me, so I eventually chose a motherboard that supported Serial ATA (SATA) RAID and four 250GB fast SATA drives: 1TB of raw storage.

I configured one of the drives as a system drive and one as a data drive and configured the other pair as a RAID 0 stripe set for optimum disk performance--a major consideration when working with large video files. I backed up the drives to a .5TB NAS device and to two 200GB USB 2.0 external drives. I needed the large system and data drives so that I could boot multiple OSs and run OS virtualization software on the system.

After I got the system up and running, the configuration proved to be exactly what I needed. It worked as I expected, and I comfortably installed all my applications and transferred data from my old desktop system. With its fast storage subsystem and a bleeding-edge CPU that had plenty of RAM, the system was a dream to work on.

Then I started getting write failures on the stripe set. The write failures weren't that big a deal because I had no data on the drives that wasn't replicated elsewhere. I used the storage-repair tools supplied by the system-board vendor to repair the problem. Everything was fine for a few days; then the problem recurred. This time I updated the RAID drivers, let the tool repair the volume again, and went back to work. Once again everything was fine for a few days, and then, of course, the problem happened again.

Because the drivers had seemed to temporarily fix the problem, I considered the possibility that the RAID driver wasn't happy with the RAID 0 configuration, so I killed the stripe set and reformatted the member drives as individual drives. Removing the hardware RAID interface seemed to once again fix the problem. But this fix contradicted one of the reasons that I bought this particular motherboard (the SATA RAID), so I was determined to find a solution that allowed the RAID functionality to remain.

At this point, one of the SATA drives became completely unavailable, disappearing from the BIOS setup as well as the OS. This made me think that I'd found the culprit: I had a bad drive. I called the vendor, and I had a replacement drive in hand the next day. I reinstalled the drive, reset the stripe set, and everything ran fine.

For one day.

Then the write problems to the stripe set started happening again, this time with the other drive in the pair. Being a bit less credulous this time, I swapped the cables on the offending drives, and the stripe set started working properly again, but only for a few hours.

At this point, I was sure that the problem wasn't the drive hardware, but the controller hardware. Because I was using a motherboard with integrated SATA RAID, I'd have to swap the entire motherboard. The motherboard vendor drop-shipped me a replacement motherboard in 24 hours, but now I had to pull the system completely apart to replace the motherboard and move all the system components (CPU, memory, add-in cards, and so on). Disassembling the computer was a little tricky since I hadn't assembled it in the first place (it came from a well-known custom builder).

After a couple of hours of careful disassembly and assembly, I was up and running again. Sure enough, the storage problem had been caused by an intermittent failure of the onboard RAID controller.

The system has been humming along nicely for the last few weeks since the complete motherboardectomy, which solved my storage problems. Now all that concerns me is what to do about backup if I should manage to fill up the 2TB of online storage that's easily available to me. Maybe I'll need to upgrade all the drives to the new 500GB SATA 2.5 drives that Seagate released last week.

==== Sponsor: Polyserve ====

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==== 2. From the Community ====

Using Backup Exec 10 for Disaster Recovery

Forum participant "philvong" wants to know more about using Symantec (formerly VERITAS) Backup Exec 10 to back up Windows Server 2003 and Exchange Server 2003 production servers and restore data from a duplicate set of backup servers as well as backing up to and restoring from virtual machines (VMs). If you can help, join the discussion by going to , scrolling down to the Other Computing section, and clicking Storage/Backup/Recovery.

==== 3. New and Improved ====
by Anne Grubb, [email protected]

Revinetix Offers Exchange Server Backup Capability

Revinetix, a provider of disk-based backup solutions, announced that in December it will release a native Microsoft Exchange Server agent for its RevOS software, which ships preloaded on Revinetix's Sentio and Volo network backup appliances. This software upgrade will benefit users of Revinetix's disk-based backup appliances--small-to-midsized businesses (SMBs) that have limited IT staffs--by letting them easily back up and restore Exchange Server data by mailbox. The new Exchange agent feature for RevOS will let users view, select, and restore individual email messages and mailboxes from Exchange servers according to search criteria. Customers can buy the Exchange agent as an option at time of purchase for any Sentio or Volo device for $995. For more information, contact the vendor on the Web:

Adaptec Announces New Family of SATA II RAID Controllers

Storage vendor Adaptec announced the Adaptec Serial ATA II RAID 2420SA and Adaptec Serial ATA II 2820SA, a new series of RAID controllers for its Serial ATA (SATA) product line. The new controllers are the industry's first SATA II RAID on Chip solutions, which Adaptec claims improves the products' performance and cost-effectiveness compared with products that rely on a separate processor and I/O controller. The new controllers also feature an optional software upgrade that supports array snapshots to simplify enterprise backup of block data and advanced RAID capabilities such as Dual Drive Failure Protection (RAID 6 on Adaptec 2820SA only) to protect against the simultaneous failure of up to two drives. The new controllers also include standard SATA II features, such as Native Command Queuing, which optimizes command execution. Pricing begins at $375 MSRP for the 2420SA and $575 MSRP for the 2820SA. For more information, contact the vendor on the Web:

Tell Us About a Hot Product and Get a T-Shirt!

Have you used a product that changed your IT experience by saving you time or easing your daily burden? Tell us about the product, and we'll send you a T-shirt if we write about the product in a future Windows IT Pro What's Hot column. Send your product suggestions with information about how the product has helped you to [email protected].


==== 4. Windows IT Pro Resources ====

Check out these links to a wealth of Windows IT Pro resources: white papers, eBooks, Web seminars, conferences, and other events.

==== Resources and Events ====
(brought to you by Windows IT Pro)

Recovery vs Continuity - Do You Know The Difference?

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Do You Know What "High Availability" Really Means?

In this free Essential Guide, learn what high availability really means and the different strategies that you can use to improve your email systems' availability and resiliency.

Get the Maximum Return on Software Investments by Optimizing Every Dollar Spent on Software

Often software applications are over-licensed by one department and under-licensed by another, resulting in denial of some end users the access to software they need or overspending on additional licenses that go unused. In this free Web seminar, get the 5-step plan for quickly implementing a license management program today!

Compliance Vs Recovery: Can You Have Your Cake and Eat It Too?

In this free, On-demand Web seminar discover the issues involved with integrating your compliance system with backup and recovery, including backup schedules, the pros and cons of outsourcing your backup media storage and management, the DR implications of having to back up all that compliance data, and the possibility of using alternative backup methods to provide backup and compliance in a single system. You'll learn what to watch out for when combining the two functions and how to assess whether your backup/restore mechanisms are equal to the challenge.

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