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T310 - upgrade to RAID

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T310 - upgrade to RAID

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I own a T310 without RAID, no RAID card. I am running windows 2003 server. I would like to upgrade to a hardware RAID solution. Basic question: which RAID card should I purchase, and what drives are recommended? I need about 500GB of redundant storage at most (we have an accounting office and don't have tons of data). 

My preliminary research turned up the Perc H700 (a tad on the expensive side) or the Perc 6/i ( a bit less expensive). Are those models appropriate, or should I be looking at something else? Can I use regular SATA drives such as could be bought all over town, or something special?  I kind of like the idea of using standard sata drives, but I do need decent preformance.

Lastly, I have heard that some of the Dell RAID card (do I need a Dell card?) use non-standard cabling. I have done a lot of hardware upgrades on my own and feel comfortable working inside the computer, but I would not want to purchase parts and then find that they don't work with my system, or that I forgot to order some essential parts.

Any  ideas or suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

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  • The following controllers will work:

    PERC 6/i - 256MB of write cache, RAID 0/1/5/6/10/50/60, 3Gbps card, 2TB drive limit
    PERC H700 - 512MB or 1GB write cache, RAID 0/1/5/6/10/50/60, 6Gbps card, 3TB drive limit
    PERC H200 - no write cache, RAID 0/1/10, 6Gbps card, 2TB drive limit (soon to be 3TB via firmware update)
    SAS 6/iR - no write cache, RAID 0/1, 3Gbps card, 2TB drive limit

    I would look only at the first two adapters that have battery-backed write cache for performance.  If you are looking to get 6Gbps drives (SATAIII) or need/want to use drives larger than 2TB, then you'll need the H700.  If you are fine with 3Gbps drives (SATAII) or don't need drives larger than 2TB, the PERC 6/i will be fine.

    I would not buy just any old SATA drives that you can get at Best Buy, etc., as they are not appropriate for servers; they plug in fine and are usually seen by the controller, but you may experience any number of issues with them.  At a very minimum, I would get enterprise-class drives, and if you 1) want to ensure the most stable, reliable system, and 2) want Dell's help in troubleshooting any storage problems that may arise, then I would get "certified" drives.  These are drives co-branded by Dell, loaded with firmware to work seamlessly with the many commands on the PERC's.

    You don't necessarily "need" a Dell card, but third-party cards can be a little hit/miss.  Also, Dell will not help you troubleshoot any issues that arise if you are not  using a certified/qualified controller.  It will be much simpler and more reliable to use a controller designed for your server.

    They do not use non-standard cables, as there are many types of "standard" cables - they may just be different from connectors/cables that you have seen elsewhere.