Windows 2000 Server 3-36 GB HD, Raid 5 question

Discussion in 'Windows Server Systems' started by Gaston314, Apr 22, 2009.

  1. Gaston314

    Gaston314 OSNN One Post Wonder

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    I am a novice when it comes to Servers. As a result, I have a question about our medical office network Server. We have 8 desktops running off our Dell Poweredge Server using Windows 2000 Server. As I understand the hardware setup, the server has 3 36GB hard drives but only 2 actually show up when you double click My Computer. I have been told that the 3rd drive doesn't appear because it is the Raid and is hidden.

    My question is this: as we add more patient information to each patient's record I would think that the amount of "used" space on the 2 visible drives would grow. However, the "used" and "free" space on drives C and D stay approximately the same. Where is the data base being saved if the C and D drives don't show an increase in "used" GB's??

    I might add that after several years of data input, everything is in each patient record when we access their records. But where this information is being saved is a complete mystery to me unless the SQL data base is being saved on the third, hidden drive. And finally, if the data base is being saved to the hidden drive, how can I access the drive to see how much drive space I have left?

    Thank you in advance for any assistance, advice or help.
     
  2. jpom

    jpom OSNN Addict

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    Re: Windows 2000 Server 3-36 GB HD, Raid 5

    Well I'm no RAID Guru myself but from what I know I believe you need at least 4 drives to have anything above a RAID 1 or 0, I don't think you can RAID 5 3 drives. I am wondering if the server is setup in such a way that you have 1 drive being used as say a system drive and then the other 2 drives are setup in a RAID 1 config so that they are mirrored in the event of a HDD failure.

    I'm not sure where the info would be stored, is it possible that the info is just so small that you can't see any noticable drop without waiting for a longer period of time, I mean you said that there are several years of data on these drives but they are only 36GB drives so I can't see where your going to have a noticable drop in drive space over a week or even a month. Just out of curiosity have you looked for the sql database on the drive, is this machine running as the SQL server?

    If your RAID seup is Hardware based and you should have an option during boot to hit a key to manage the disk arrays, you could try that and see for yourself how the arrays are setup (assuming there is one), if the RAID is software based then there should be some sort of disk managment utility that will allow you to look at how they are setup (Possibly Windows Disk Manager).

    Not sure any of this will be much help.

    James
     
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  3. fitz

    fitz Just Floating Along Staff Member Political User Folding Team

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    Re: Windows 2000 Server 3-36 GB HD, Raid 5

    no - the 3rd drive is not "hidden" because it's RAID. Don't confuse the RAID groups with LUNS/partitions.

    To oversimplitiy - in your case, 3 36GB drives were grouped together in a RAID 5 set to form a single drive. You DO lose 36GB of capacity because that is the nature of RAID 5 (n-1) space to provide for the ability to continue to function if one drive fails.

    Windows only sees 1 physical disk drive because that is what the RAID controller presents to the OS. In your case, This server was setup with 2 logical partitions on the 1 drive.

    As for your drive space issues, you really don't provide enough info on the rest of your environment and the application itself.

    What kind of database is running on the backend? Is this a Microsoft SQL database? What Version?

    I'm going to assume that it is MS SQL - in which case, you should be able to go into the management tools and determine what is actually contained in the database. There can also be many reasons why the space isn't being depleted - in some cases, the initial database may have been created with a large initial size with a lot of whitespace (again, something you can find out if you know enough SQL).

    Not to be too harsh (although I'm about to be harsh) - if you don't know enough about RAID and or databases or the applications running on your servers, it may be time to talk to someone more senior than yourself to explain it or, if you are the only one there, to hire a good consultant to help you through the early times in your career.

    edit:
    RAID0 and RAID 1 require two drives minimum. RAID 0 provides for no data redudancy and in case of a single disk failure, you lose the data on all the drives in the array. RAID 1 is a straight data mirror, as data is written on one drive, it is mirrored to the other drive.

    RAID 5 requires at least 3 drives and stripes data across multiple drives and provides for parity that allows the array to continue to operate in the case of a single drive failure.

    RAID 1+0 and RAID 0+1 require a minimum of 4 drives.. I've written about the differences between 1+0 and 0+1 before if you want to go searching some of my old posts.. too lazy to link to them now.
     
  4. Gaston314

    Gaston314 OSNN One Post Wonder

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    Re: Windows 2000 Server 3-36 GB HD, Raid 5

    I thank you both for your assistance. I'm not an IT guy or even a computer expert at all. I am an ex-high school history teacher "volunteered" to be the office manager in wife's private medical practice. She left a large multi-specialty group a few years ago to start her own practice and purchased a really neat EMR/EHR Program complete with all the hardware to operate it.

    I think the reason I am not seeing any significant increase in the disk usage is because our EMR/EHR is primarily a mouse click in this box and a mouse click in that box with perhaps a few one sentence notes about her findings with each patient about 20 times a day. Probably the largest amount of information we put in the data base is the patient's demographics and insurance information. So, I guess since it takes 8 bits to acheive 1 byte and 8 million bytes to get 1 MB the increase in the disk useage is not so easy to see daily. I wish I had written down the disk space when we opened the office in 2003. I could compare that amount to today's space. Anyway, thanks again and if you think of anything a pure amatuer could do, I will thank you now in advance.
     
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  5. bmclaughlin807

    bmclaughlin807 Let's blow something up. Political User

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    Re: Windows 2000 Server 3-36 GB HD, Raid 5

    I would second Fitz' recommendation to find a good consultant to help you out. Do it NOW, -NOT- a few months down the road when you have a problem.

    These are some of the things you need to address:

    Security - Do you have a wireless network? Is it secure? With patient data you should have WPA at a very minimum if you're going to have a wireless network. WEP is like no encryption at all (It takes 10 minutes MAX to break a WEP key)

    Security updates - are they being applied?

    Data backups - Do you have a backup plan in place? DOES IT WORK? (ie: can you actually retrieve data from the backup? Let me tell you about this doctor's office that KNEW for a fact that they had backups and wouldn't let me verify them... and the blank disk they handed me to restore their data from when their server broke....)

    Software - How can you restore the software/databases? Do you have the original disks? Is the software available to download? What will you do if your server melts down?

    Hardware - Do you have a spare hard drive that matches that RAID array? Can you get one quickly in the event that you need one? What about other hardware for the server? RAID arrays are fault tolerant. If one drive goes down, the other two still contain the full data and you can keep working... BUT... if a second drive goes down while you're waiting for someone to ship you a new drive to replace the bad one you're going to be in a VERY, VERY bad place.
     
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  6. Gaston314

    Gaston314 OSNN One Post Wonder

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    Re: Windows 2000 Server 3-36 GB HD, Raid 5

    Thanks for your advice.

    First, we have no wireless in the office. We can access the Interent for insurance eligibility but we have a firewall and everything is secured with passwords. Even the data base is password protected to different levels depending on the employee.

    Second, all security updates are current. All desktops and the server is protected with anti-virus software as well.

    Third and covering the rest of your points, I back up the entire database every night with Acronis True Image Server with Universal Restore. In the morning, I rotate the backup external disk with one I keep with me all the time. I even take the backup disk to lunch with me. I also keep an identical Dell Poweredge Server offsite at our home. I have run the Acronis backup into the backup server several times and put it into the network to make sure it works correctly. The backup server works perfectly. So, server wise I think I am covered well with a backup server at home.
     
  7. bmclaughlin807

    bmclaughlin807 Let's blow something up. Political User

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    Re: Windows 2000 Server 3-36 GB HD, Raid 5

    Sounds good! You're WELL ahead of most small offices.

    I'm impressed. :)
     
  8. Gaston314

    Gaston314 OSNN One Post Wonder

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    Re: Windows 2000 Server 3-36 GB HD, Raid 5


    I appreciate your comments and advice. May I add one comment to get your response for my question about the drive space question?

    In a medical office using EMR/EHR, the office saves documents in 2 different areas of the software. We scan documents like the insurance eligibility, a copy of the insurance card, and patient info into the Demographic Stored Documents. Then the medical staff saves medically pertinent info into the Medical Record which is permanent and cannot be deleted even by the office administrator or physicians.

    About 2 years ago, I noticed that the Demographic Stored Documents for some patients was getting ridiculous in numbers and very repetitive. Eligibilities, ins cards, and update name address/phone number/emergency contact sheets were no longer needed after each visit. As a result, I started to delete all "old" documents, saving only the last 2 years worth. Since each "Stored Demographic Document is between 50 and 400 kb's, perhaps this is why I don't see a weekly increase in the database anymore?

    As I understand it, 1 kb = 1000 bytes = 8000 bits where 1 bit = 1 keystroke

    Is it possible that by deleting old documents I am keeping the database nearly neutral or neutral enough that I can no longer see an increase in database size?
     
  9. bmclaughlin807

    bmclaughlin807 Let's blow something up. Political User

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    Re: Windows 2000 Server 3-36 GB HD, Raid 5

    Actually, 1 byte = 1 keystroke (generally... each keystroke could be two bytes, depending on language and/or font)

    Text data is VERY small... you're really not going to see much of an increase if all data being entered is text, check boxes, etc. And yes, if you're removing old files, you may well be SHRINKING the size of the database instead of growing it.

    Depending on the type of database, whether you see any actual size shrinkage on disk when you delete something can go either way... a lot don't release the disk space unless you run some type of utility against the database that physically shrinks it. Or it can fill up the empty space with new data... and the size on disk won't change.
     
  10. Gaston314

    Gaston314 OSNN One Post Wonder

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    Re: Windows 2000 Server 3-36 GB HD, Raid 5

    Thanks for your info. I suspect that I have a pretty good "catastrophic failure" plan in case of emergency. I am religious about my back up rotation. Our office is a few miles from home so I even come up every Saturday to switch out Friday's back up. I carry the rotated backup in a black zippered day planner type thing and my wife make jokes that it is like the "black bag" of nuclear secrets always with the President. Anyway, it seems that every time I hear a horror story about a physician's office loosing the database, the failure is either not backing up daily or not back up at all. Well, that isn't me for sure! Thanks to everyone who helped me with my questions.
     
  11. Giglesmi

    Giglesmi OSNN One Post Wonder

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    Re: Windows 2000 Server 3-36 GB HD, Raid 5

    can you see the hidden drive under disk management?
     
  12. fitz

    fitz Just Floating Along Staff Member Political User Folding Team

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    Re: Windows 2000 Server 3-36 GB HD, Raid 5

    Hi Giglesmi, not sure if you noticed, but this thread is a little over a year old already.. and was explained earlier, there is no hidden drive. Please read my post on the differences between a RAID group created with the 3 drives being presented to the Operating System as 1 drive which is then broken up by the OS into 2 separate partitions.

    There is no "hidden" drive..


    ... there is no spoon either ... the matrix has you :) :p