replacement drives in PE servers

Blake Hudson blake at
Sat Mar 6 00:53:22 CST 2010

Dell just uses commodity drives from whatever manufacturer had the most
available. They usually use a Dell specific identifier, but I don't
believe the Dell firmware/id significantly modifies the drive's behavior
or enhances the drive in any way. In fact, I'm using a pair of Dell
branded Samsung "raid version" SATA drives in my workstation in a RAID 1
and they are the most unreliable drives I've ever used in a RAID- one or
the other will drop out of the array about once every month or two under
heavy load.

Ideally, you'd use matched drives in an array, but something that uses
the same interface (don't mix SAS/SATA/SCSI), spindle speed, cache, and
equal or greater size will work fine. In a pinch you can forgo spindle
speed/cache considerations, but I wouldn't run that way long term.

We've been replacing our Dell drives with off the shelf drives for years
as we upgrade our servers. This advice is valid for PERC6 and below as
well as all non-RAID controllers. Dell's newest H series PERCs will only
work with Dell drives - if you get one of these, expect to pay a few
$1000 in markup if you need to upgrade or replace drives out of
warranty. Just factor that into the cost of the server and see if you
still want to buy a new dell.


-------- Original Message  --------
Subject: replacement drives in PE servers
From: Matt Garman <matthew.garman at>
To: linux-poweredge at
Date: Wednesday, March 03, 2010 4:05:44 PM
> This isn't a Linux-specific question, but I'm hoping the Dell Linux
> community has enough experience/insight to offer some suggestions.
> We have many PowerEdge servers, mostly 1950, R410 and R610 models.
> Most are running two disks in a RAID-1 (mirrored) setup using the PERC
> 5/i, 6/i or LSI SAS 1068E controllers.
> We decided that we'd like to have spare drives for all of our servers,
> on the chance that one dies.  My question is: to order spares of the
> exact same Dell part number is quite expensive.  In the event we have
> to use a spare, is it safe to use any drive that matches size and
> interface?
> One example: Dell part number JW551, with description "Hard Drive,
> 750G, ES3, 7.2K, 3.5 SGT2, Galaxy".  These aren't available on the
> website, but we got a quote for a (refurbished) model that was over
> $500.  But, ultimately, it's just a 750 GB SATA drive.  I can buy a
> brand new 750 GB SATA drive for $150 or less.
> I was just wondering what folks' thoughts are on this matter.  What
> are the risks involved in using non-exact---but properly
> spec'ed---replacement drives?
> Thanks!
> Matt
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