How to resize RAID-5 on Server 2003/2008

Believe I am not alone who has run into this problem. I have recently inherited a client with a server DELL PowerEdge 2950 running on MS Server 2003 SP2 x64 with RAID-5 and as the application is running MS SQL 2005 SP3. Well the problem started very quickly, I have checked out and the server was installed wrong way … C:> drive has ONLY 12GB !! I mean this is a huge trouble as the OS takes almost 9GB of the 12GB. I have started Windows Update to check if the server is up to date and the surprise just hit me L suddenly I had ONLY 500, 300 and 20MB of FREE space on C :> drive. I was out of the space !

Well, first thing first … noted that MS SQL has all databases on C:> drive so I have moved the databases into D:> drive in one centralized folder D:SQLDB> it helped to give me a little space but not that much L. I have made immediately all backups of SQL (twice). During the backup I begun to research some good tool and my options how to resize the RAID-5 and get more space on C:>. The D:> has enough space so I knew I can get the FREE/UNUSED space from D:> and apply towards C:>. Here is now the MILLION DOLLAR question … which tool I should use?

I have tried ONLY 2 tools:

  1. EASUS Partition Master Server ($159 US)
  2. Acronis Disk Director Advanced Server 11 ($609 US)
  3. There are other tools in $150-$300 range but I prefer tools from providers that I have used before…

CAUTION: before you start playing around with your live, production server, make sure you have a backup and you are able to restore — this is MUST step before you start touching volumes on the RAID or you risk that you will lose the data and spend more time and money on recovery.

EASUS – cheaper tool, very good GUI and requires less space to install on your server … I was able to clear up some space up to 400MB on my C:> drive on server and installed this tool … but the tool has limitations .. I could not make changes as it could not see and recognize the volumes so I have ended up with uninstallation.

ACRONIS Disk Director Advanced Server 11 – this was my 2nd choice just because of the price tag. I like Acronis products and I know they are getting better and better over time. I am using them on my computers, servers as well as on LINUX servers for backups and imaging. Acronis provides great set of tools even the price tag is little a bit higher than other products. So I have purchased the Acronis Disk Director Advanced Server 11, downloaded but I could not install it on this server as the installation itself requires minimum 2 GB of FREE space on the drive L. Well no problem as I have installed the software on my VIRTUAL SERVER in VMWARE workstation and created the bootable CD disk with the tools.

  • Backups were done
  • I have rebooted the server and booted up from the Acronis Boot CD
  • Got inside of the tools and GUI and highlighted first my D:> drive as the drive has plenty of space
  • Click on the Disk Management, selected RESIZE and made the adjustments for D:> drive
  • Click on C:> drive
  • Click on the Disk Management in toolbar, select RESIZE and make selection to apply all the unused space towards my C:> drive
  • I have resize the C:> drive to 90GB
  • Once I was happy with my selection and drive sizes a I have clicked on Commit the changes
  • Now is time go for few cups of coffee — it first resized D:>, then C:> drive and the process took me almost 3 hours
  • Once the process completed I got message that all changes successfully completed
  • Click on CLOSE and EXIT to reboot the server
  • Rebooted server… now comes the moment of truth J
  • I was able to log on to my server and indeed now my C:> drive has been resized to 90GB from previous 12GB :=)
  • Mission accomplished

Once  my server came back from reboot, I have additionally defragged my drives, applied all patches and re- test access to all applications such as MS SQL. I was able to resize my drives on RAID-5 in MS Server 2003 SP2 x64 without data loss and the server was ready for production without downtimeJ. Acronis Disk Director Advanced Server 11 is a great tool and Acronis did not disappoint me again J

Here are some features of this great tool:

Supported operating systems

– Windows Server 2003 and 2003 R2 (all editions, including SBS)
– Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 (all editions, including SBS)

Supported File Systems

– FAT16, FAT32, NTFS
– Ext2, Ext3, ReiserFS3, Linux SWAP
– Special sector-by-sector support for copying and moving partitions of any other type

  • New! Support for Windows 2008 R2
  • New! Clone MBR disks to a replacement hard drive without reinstalling operating systems and applications
  • New! Dynamic Disk and GPT disk support
  • Resize, copy, and move partitions without losing data
  • Reorganize the hard disk drive structure, optimize disk space usage
  • Edit the hard disk at the sector level manually
  • New! Span volume across multiple physical disks
  • New! Add or break mirrored volumes*
  • New! Repair RAID-5 column
  • New! Manage remote server disks from a central console
  • Recover lost or deleted partitions on basic MBR disks

I can truly recommend this great and powerful tool as the best for this job J … it was worth every penny …

Product web is here:
Acronis Disk Director Advanced Server 11