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In a series of bad, hasty decisions, a HP ProLiant ML350 G6 server was bought for file server use at my place of work. The intention was to build a FreeNAS 8 server using cheap 3.5" SATA drives.

Only the HP ProLiant ML350 G6 unit we got is equipped for 2.5 SAS drives. Smooth.

2.5" SAS drives are very expensive and not roomy enough for a NAS. We can't return the (over-specced) machine either so it's currently serving as an expensive door stop.

Someone suggested that I buy a device like the "MicroStorage Multi raid box 5hdd SATA Hdd", an ESATA drive enclosure and an ESATA controller for the server. Only this device is out of stock everywhere in Northern Europe and apparently no longer manufactured.

The ProLiant ML350 G6 does have five bays for optical drives and I could probably find some parts to make 3.5" SATA hdds fit in there.

Any suggestions as to what I should do to get a functioning file FreeNAS server out of this?

EDIT: Our reseller bluntly claimed that the ML350 G6 SFF can't be converted to support LFF drives when I explicitly asked about something I thought was a drive cage replacement spare part mentioned in a manual. This answer suggests otherwise.

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a side note: You better be quick if you're going to order disks, supplies are running out everywhere.. –  pauska Nov 22 '11 at 18:14
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"Luckily" I already have a metric buttload of (well eight) 3.5" SATA drives bought for this machine. –  nybergh Nov 22 '11 at 18:17
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Yeah, massive shortage of disks and a price increase for existing stock. –  ewwhite Nov 22 '11 at 18:19
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4 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

We just did it. You need just 2 parts at a cost of around 100 EUR/USD: the backplane (511787-001) and the cage (511784-001). Additional cables were not needed.

Some sites say that the SFF cage can be converted to LFF by removing a metallic inset, but this is not true. The SFF cage included with the server cannot be altered. Maybe in the past the conversion was possible, but at present it isn't.

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Get "cheap" 2.5" SATA drives, they work in SAS enclosures. If you're using a Pxxx series controller (the norm in HP servers) it might not work with just any drives, and is guaranteed to not run at optimum (HP uses custom firmware on their drives to get the most out of them). I really could not recommend one particular drive over another, though I've had good luck with Seagate and Western Digital drives and Pxxx SA Controllers.

If you're willing to spend a bit more (usually worth it) you can even get HP 2.5" SATA drives and they'll run as intended with the Pxxx SA Controller; and be warrantied under the server's warranty.

HP 2.5" SATA Drives:

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I strongly suggest this alternative - staying under hardware warranty/support contract is imperative for production systems. –  pauska Nov 22 '11 at 18:20
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You need a one or two of HP Part Number 487936-B21, it's a 'HP ML350/ML/DL370G6 2 Large Form Factor Drive Kit' and your server can take two of them for up to 8 LFF disks. It'll be easy to replace the drive cages if you've got a screwdriver and some time.

Oh and you might want some HP P/N: 389015-001 LFF blanking plates if you want it to look pretty too.

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The 487936-B21 cage only holds 2 LFF Drives; and the server can only hold one of them (takes the place of the two CD-Rom drive bays). He has to replace the SFF Cage in the lower part of the server with 511784-001 (Cage) and 511787-001 (Backplane), possibly other parts too, to switch the server. Those parts are only available as replacement, so he'd have to get them gray-market and they wouldn't be warrantied or supported in his server. –  Chris S Nov 22 '11 at 19:31
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really? balls - sorry dude - might be easier to to buy a D2600/P411 –  Chopper3 Nov 22 '11 at 20:11
    
I think an MSA60 would be cheaper, but agree. Buying HP drives for the server would probably have been the best idea in the first place, but it sounds like that's off the table now. –  Chris S Nov 22 '11 at 20:34
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You have several options.

You could use 2.5" nearline SAS drives with capacities up to 1TB.

You could also convert your ML350 to accommodate the large form-factor disks.

Refer to the ML350 G6 quickspecs, but it should be possible to shift to LFF drives.

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The conversion option might be worth exploring. Only the reseller told me this wasn't possible ("confirmed with HP support"). Maybe I should confirm this myself. –  nybergh Nov 22 '11 at 18:20
    
The DL/ML 370 goes to LFF from SFF by removing the 2.5" cage and adding a backplane. This should be possible in your case, too. The 2.5" cage fits inside of the 3.5" cage. –  ewwhite Nov 22 '11 at 18:22
    
511784-001 = 6 LFF Drive Cage; 487936-B21 = 2 LFF Addon Drive Cage; to fit all 8 drives. 511787-001 is the backplane for the 6 Drive Cage. There may be other parts that need to be swapped as well... –  Chris S Nov 22 '11 at 18:56
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