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I have this server which has it's physical disks in RAID 5 controlled by a 3com raid controller. size of the stripe unit is unknown for the moment (Can check tomorrow in the office).

I need to install windows server 2003 ENT and create 2 partitions (OS, Data). I'd like to create the partitions before the installation on windows server. They have to be aligned properly. I have the newest version of gparted on a disc but I have no clue if this is the right tool. Can someone point me in the right direction?

Thanks

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3 Answers 3

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I would advise you to do partition alignment with diskpart. Diskpart is also included in the Windows Preinstallation Environment (WinPE). You can do an automated install with WinPE 2.0How to install an x64-based version of Windows Server 2003 by using an x86-based Windows Preinstallation Environment

  1. If the disk you are aligning is already blank (raw), proceed to Step 3. If the disk contains data, backup the disk before proceeding.
  2. Delete all partitions on the disk.
  3. Open a command prompt, and execute Diskpart.exe.
  4. At the Diskpart command prompt, type List Disk and press Enter. If the disk you want to align does not appear in the list make sure that it exists and is accessible using the Disk Management snap-in.
  5. At the Diskpart command prompt, type Select Disk X, where X is the number of the disk as shown in the output of the List Disk command. Diskpart should return a message that indicates that Disk X is the selected disk.
  6. At the Diskpart command prompt, type Create Partition Primary Align=X, where X is either 32 or 64, depending on the recommendation from your storage vendor. If your storage vendor does not have any specific recommendations, it is recommended that you use 64.
  7. At the Diskpart command prompt, type Assign Letter=. For example, to assign letter Z to the disk, type Assign Letter=Z.
  8. Once the drive letter is assigned, type exit to exit out of the Diskpart utility.
  9. Use the Disk Management snap-in or the Windows Format command to format the partition as an NTFS-formatted partition.
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If you want to change stripe size - use raid controller configuration/management utility provided by firmware. It's require an array recreation/reformat and can not be done using gparted or any other similar tool.

Partitions on supported drive media (are you sure your controller is supported by W2K3? otherwise you'll need a floppy with driver ad floppy drive itself for sure) can be created during Windows Server installation on early steps. You can create both partitions for OS and Data here (or create partition only for OS, install OS, then create Data partition using Disk Management snap-in later).

But I'm sure partitions created using with gparted will be the same as created using any appropriate software (Acronis, Paragon, etc) except NTFS cluster size. If you care about THAT (not RAID stripe size as specified in ori. question) - use gparted as it allows to specify NTFS cluser size while formatting NTFS partition. W2K3 installer will create NTFS partitions with 4K NTFS cluster size for partitions up to 16TB (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/140365)

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WHat about partition alignment? That is my biggest concern. –  Datapimp23 Mar 6 '11 at 22:02
    
Existing partitions created with Windows 2003/2000 are misaligned and you should rebuild it. This can be done using diskpart.exe utility or disk partition tools from any Windows Vista/2008/7 live CD. I'm not sure about the very last gparted versions but some old versions allows select alignment to the nearest MiB only, you can't select the exact offset. –  Sergey Mar 7 '11 at 0:44

Newest gparted has nice option to allign partioon to MiB boundary which is more then adequate for pretty much everything - raid stripe alignment, new HDDs with 4K sectors, SSDs. So, my advice is to give it a try.

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