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Your Question:

How Do I Maintain Sequence of RAID-5 Array Members?

Our Answer:

Maintaining the sequence or order of connection for RAID-5 array member drives is as simple as properly tagging the physical disk drive units, so that if/when any given drive member is disconnected from the system backplane or controller, there is never a worry as to getting it reconnected correctly.  We recommend tagging the basic drive unit itself, and not simply the tray or sled the drive is mounted in, because during trouble-shooting it's not uncommon for drives to be removed or swapped from their mounting hardware, thereby creating a loss of element connection sequence information.

Tagging should be accomplished while everything is fully functional, and certainly, if trouble does arise and it hasn't been accomplished yet, BEFORE any trouble-shooting begins.  It is strongly advised to document all the physical hardware information as soon as a known-working configuration can be established.  Always know about and observe precautions for handling and tagging these delicate high-technology electromechanical devices relative to antistatic concerns.

How to Get Labeling Done Right

The following may sound simplistic and silly to mention, but please pay heed.  Our many years of experience has proven to us, beyond any shadow of a doubt:  when tensions are high, the frequency of mistakes escalates.

Best done as soon as a new RAID-5 is set up and confirmed to function properly, shut down the subsystem.  Now, one by one, starting at the top and working down, or starting at the left and working to the right, remove just one drive member from it's slot.  With a marker, write your sequence number on the hard drive, not on the carrier/mounting sled, on the disk unit itself.  Now (and this is important) replace the disk unit back into the same slot from which it was just removed.

Repeat the process for each member of the array.  If the drives are internally mounted inside a chassis or system box that must be opened to gain access they may be connected by cables; in this case mark also each cable AND the place where the cables connect to the system board or backplane device.  If you never have more than one drive disconnected from the subsystem, you cannot get them mixed up!

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