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How to Add a Disk to RAID 5 Array with Dell OMSA on the Fly?

Question: I have a Dell PowerEdge 2950 Server with 3 x 250GB hard drives configured as RAID 5 array. There is only one virtual disk with two partitions - C: drive for Windows Server 2003 and D: drive for data. There are spare slots open to add drives. I would like to add one additional 250GB disk to the existing RAID 5 array. Is it possible for me to expand RAID 5 array without rebuilding the entire array and rebooting Server?

Have you ever encountered the similar problem? Do you want to add drives to RAID 5 array? Indeed it is very easy to reconfigure RAID 5 on a live Server without data loss. This article guides you through the process to add a disk to RAID 5 array with Dell OpenManage Server Administrator (OMSA).

Besides, after adding a disk, it may be a problem about how to allocate the new unallocated disk space to existing partition. DELL's OMSA is unable to add these disk space to original partitions, so it's better choice by using a server partition manager: AOMEI Partition Assistant Server Edition. Please read on.

Preparation work before RAID 5 reconfiguration

To begin, you need to install OMSA. It can be downloaded form Dell Support website. Once you have selected Server model (for example, PowerEdge 2950) and Operating System, scroll down and expand "Systems Management" category. Then, click on "Dell OpenManage Server Administrator Managed Node" to download it.

Besides, make sure all the system firmware is up to date, including BIOS, DRAC and RAID Controller firmware. All of the firmware also can be downloaded form Dell Support. The firmware updates will probably need a restart.

Last but not the least, in case the Server loses power or goes down for some reason, fresh backup is always recommended before adding disk to RAID 5 array.

Step by step tutorial to add a disk to existing RAID 5 array

1. Insert a new disk drive into a spare slot available on the Server. Make sure it shows up as "Ready" in OMSA.

2. Open Dell OpenManage Server Administrator. On the left side of browser window, you will see the "System" menu.

3. Expand "Storage" menu. Then, select the Controller that contains the RAID array you wish to reconfigure and expand it.

4. Select "Virtual Disks". All the virtual disks that exist on that Controller will be shown as below:

5. Click the down arrow next to the "Available Tasks" and you should be presented with a list of available tasks. Then, choose "Reconfigure" and click "Execute".

6. Click Continue to skip instructions for Step 1. Select the disk (or disks) that you want to be added to the RAID 5 array on the left. Then, it will appear in the list of selected disks on the right. Click "Continue".

7. On the Step 2 page, select the attributes for the reconfigured virtual disk. Naturally, select RAID 5. Click "Continue".

8. Now you will preview a summary of the new RAID 5 configuration. To save the changes, click "Finish" to complete the reconfiguration.

9. After clicking Finish, you will be directed to reconfiguration progress page. To check the status, you can click "Refresh".

After the RAID 5 reconfiguration is done, there will be a block of unallocated space at the end of virtual disk, e.g. [C drive][D drive][unallocated space]. How to add non-contiguous unallcoated space into RAID 5 system partition C drive at this point? AOMEI Partition Assistant Server will can merge the new unallocated disk space to existing partitions.

Add unallocated space to RAID 5 system partition

As a RAID Partition Manager, Partition Assistant Server Edition works well with all the hardware RAID levels, such as RAID 0, 1, 5, 10, and supports all types of RAID Controllers, including IDE RAID Controllers, SCSI, SAS, S-ATA RAID Controllers, serial ATA host Controllers and devices. Besides, it is designed to focus on operation accuracy and safety which enables you to resize your RAID partitions without losing data by dragging & dropping the mouse on the disk map.

As ALL-IN-ONE and complete RAID partition management solution, Partition Assistant Server Edition allows you to:

Download free version of the software and enjoy it.

Tips: For Enterprise users, Unlimited Edition allows unlimited usage within one company to save time and money, in other words, you can install it on unlimited servers and PCs in your company.

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