Hard Drives: Questions Answered – TechMikeNY

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Hard Drives: Questions Answered

 

One of the regular features of our blog is to share with you, our valued customer, some of the support questions we receive.  Since these are questions we've researched and solved, why not share the knowledge? 

In this dispatch of TechTalk, we'll look at some of the queries that have come through our support desk regarding Hard Drives.  

Hi Mike.  I just realized that my server has 3.5" bays, but my drives are 2.5".  Is there anything that can be done?  Any help would be greatly appreciated!  

 Fortunately, you can install a 2.5" drive into a 3.5" bay server chassis using an adapter or 2.5" to 3.5" HDD converter.  While server caddies are manufacturer and model-specific, these converters are universal and will fit into any 3.5" caddy.  Your 2.5" drives will not go to waste.  

Note that this does NOT work the other way around – a 3.5" drive could not fit into a 2.5" bay chassis.  

 

Mike, I installed Hynix brand SSDs into my R710xd.  This triggered the blinking amber lights on the bays in which they were installed. I've put them in RAID0 and subjected them to some heavy testing loads, and the H710P controller seems perfectly happy with them.  It just gets upset during the initial boot-up handshake.  I can live with the blinking amber if I have to, but I didn't know if you happened to have the answer to this at your fingertips.  Thanks as always for your prompt responses!

Sorry that you are experiencing the issue with the drive lights and the SSDs. We have found that Dell servers are very picky with SSDs in particular.  At TechMikeNY, we use major brand SSDs from Intel, Samsung, and Western Digital and thoroughly test them before shipping out. 

I suspect that the Dell server does not like the Hynix SSDs that you added. They are most likely missing some of the coding or firmware that the Dell servers look for. 

You can check to see if there is a firmware upgrade for the SSDs from Hynix.  If there is no resolution, then the fix would be to replace the SSDs with one of the brands I mentioned above.

Hi Mike. I'm getting ready to make a purchase, and the problem is the hard drives.  I have several different types of drives that I want to use for a video surveillance server.   Will I run into any issues?   

You can often use different types of drives in the server as long as you don't plan on using different drives in the same virtual RAID disk.  Here are some additional caveats and general rules on hard drives and RAID virtual disks:

  • Do not mix SAS and SATA drives in the same RAID virtual disk.
  • Do not mix SSDs and HDDs in the same virtual disk.
  • 4KN Advanced Format drives will not work with Dell 12th Gen PERC controllers and HP 8th Gen Smart Array controllers.  

You can read more about RAID drive compatibility in our RAID Do's and Don'ts blog post here, and more on 4KN Advanced format drives here

You can also consider utilizing a JBOD configuration for your surveillance server.  JBODs offer more flexibility with mixing and matching drives, although there are considerations that you can learn about here

Lastly, you can certainly have a separate boot drive that is an SSD and the others as traditional spinning drives. 

Hey Mike.  I have an R720 that I'm using as a DB server.  It has the PERC H710P, and I'm getting horrible performance on my DB. I have two drives for the OS as RAID1 and four drives as RAID10 for SQL. I'm getting around 34 MiB/s reads and 14 MiB/s write (high latency on the reads).  Will moving to SSD fix this? 

This server configuration you describe is more geared towards plain vanilla file storage rather than as a database server.  Database servers require fast hard drives to keep up with the DB's constant input/output (IO) requests.  We would recommend SAS drives at 10K or 15K RPM or SSD for database use instead of the 3TB at 7.2K RPM drives. 

Hi Mike.  Is there any assistance with CacheCade that you could give me to confirm everything is working as it should? I used an SSD SATA in my R720xd.   It works and allows me to make the CacheCade, but I'm unsure it's being used. 

To confirm the CacheCade is functioning correctly, you should run a Disk Utility with the CacheCade disabled, so you have a benchmark.  Then enable the CacheCade, rerun the Disk Utility, and confirm you see the increased disk performance.

Dell provides a more in-depth discussion of their CacheCade tool here.  

TECH FOOTNOTE: CacheCade is a tool that Dell developed which allows you to use a dedicated SSD to dramatically increase the cache on a RAID controller for better disk efficiency.  Note that Dell discontinued this functionality in their 13th Gen servers, so it is only available in 12th Gen machines (based on our experience and customer feedback, it was an unreliable and error-prone tool—which is why we suspect Dell discontinued it). 

 

Do you have questions on hard drives that you didn't see answered here?  Any questions at all?  Leave them in the comments below or email us at info@techmikeny.com!

 

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