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Recently, 1 out 4 disks in my RAID 5 array failed. I searched for a replacement part and learned that only a newer version of the hard disk is available. This "newer" version has the exact same specs as it's predecessor. When I called the customer service department to order the replacement part the tech vehemently claimed that the newer version of the HD woud most likely NOT work in the RAID array. I was surprised by this claim, I thought the newer version would most likely work.

So the question is, will the "newer" version of the HD (with the same specs as the other HDs) work in the RAID 5 array?

Server Details

  • Manufacturer and Model #: Dell PowerEdge 2900
  • SCSI and RAID Controllers: PERC 5/i Integrated RAID Controller
  • HD: Western Digital Caviar Blue 160GB Part #: WD1600JS (Newer
    Version Part #: WD1600AAJS
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Hardware or software RAID? Controller brand/model? Server brand/model? You need to give more details if you want a useful answer. – MDMarra Jun 5 '11 at 16:57
@MarkM: I've added the server details to my post. – Ari Jun 5 '11 at 18:01
You are highly unlikely to have trouble with the newer drives. However, if you really want the exact same model as the old drives, or if you are finding Dell's price for the replacement part to be excessive, a used/reconditioned parts vendor (e.g. Aventis) probably could sell you one for a fraction of the cost of the new part. Your decision may depend in part on how long you intend to keep this aging server in operation. – Skyhawk Jun 5 '11 at 18:58
up vote 4 down vote accepted

I was in the EXACT same situation as you. I had a drive die on my PE 2900 with a PERC 5/i last week actually. The server is probably 5-6 years old at this point, and original drives are not available. Dell sent me out a new drive which was not identical to the original, but advised me that it would work perfectly.

I pulled the old dead drive and installed the new, and the array immediately started a rebuild with no interaction from me. So, yes, you will be fine.

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As an aside, when you contacted Dell for the replacement drive, was the server still under warranty? Also, was the replacement drive another Western Digital HD? – Ari Jun 5 '11 at 21:14
The server was still under warranty, albeit, an extended one we purchased, it was a WD, just a slightly different model #. – DanBig Jun 5 '11 at 23:05
I can't add anything significant to qualify as a new answer, so DanBig here is correct: You'll be fine. The difference between the two drives could be as minor as firmware or a different internal component (like the drive motor or voice coil). – Kumba Jun 5 '11 at 23:05

I have been in this exact situation with Dell servers, and they have sent me newer versions, and of course, they worked. You should be more specific as to what kind of server, RAID controller, and drive models you are talking about, but my initial instinct is that it will work.

I would also consider calling back the customer service people, and get a second opinion from them. The second guy might give you a different answer.

share|improve this answer
@KCostreau: Thanks for sharing your experiences; I'll give customer service another call on Monday. I've also included the server details to my original post. – Ari Jun 5 '11 at 18:00
I use different drives all the time without issue. While there could be incompatibility issues with specific drives and specific controllers, usually its fine. – Steven Jun 5 '11 at 18:16
Although I have done it a number of times, the server I was specifically recalling was a Dell 2950 with SAS Seagate drives. Just in case, have a good backup. – KCotreau Jun 5 '11 at 18:30

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