server upgrades

Another month, another set up changes to the network. These ones were a little more trying versus the gaming rig upgrade, however. Bit of downtime, some minor data loss, and some CPU upgrade issues. More experience, has I.

At the beginning of this year, I realized my 2U server was beginning to run low on disk space. It was running six 1TB RE drives from Western Digital in a RAID 5 configuration. This net around 4.3TB usable storage within ESXi. Between several file servers, email server, web, etc, this was becoming close to full. So I formed a plan for this.

I already had several drives kicking around since I never throw anything out and the 2U can handle up to 8 drives in RAID. In the spirit of trying to not have to upgrade for a while, I went for broke: eight 4TB drives total in a RAID 6 configuration. I had made the assumption the write hits in speed for RAID 6 (versus RAID 5) wouldn’t be too bad. ~22TB formatted and was ready to roll with a fresh copy of ESXI 6.7.

Boy, I was wrong about those speeds. After a grueling week of trying to copy data and VMs to the server, I realized I also forgot to do a quick init for the RAID; because of this, it was only at 47% initialization after two weeks burn in time and adding data. It was terrible so I tried wiping it all again and downgrading to ESXI 6.0 as I had several issues with NICs dropping with 6.7 (The NICs would either drop to 10/100 or drop completely and require a reboot). Well, this created more issues. In my years of working on systems, it never occurred to me that ESXI 6.7 would use different formatting for the OVAs versus 6.0. The data was lost from email and website for about 2 weeks of data. Nothing too bad, but still a lesson learned.

At the same time of this, I attempted a CPU upgrade (dual 6 core Xeons versus the former quad core without hyper threading) and found a bad memory controller on one of the replacement chips. Once I had a replacement, I also had to manually set the RAM speeds to get everything working.

Now, for the end result. I ended up scrapping the idea of RAID 6 completely. It was just too slow for writes and with several terrabytes of data on hand, that wasn’t acceptable. RAID5, quick initialized and about 25TB of raw storage on ESXI 6.0 now and the server is running like a champ, especially with the new CPUs on hand. I may eventually bump the RAM higher but the 64GB is overkill still right now.

Always something to learn and gain more experience. If you made it this far into my novel, I appreciate your time on this and hope that you come back again. Cheers!

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