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Through our we hosting panel I reinstalled CentOs 5.5, plesk 10, apache, php, MySQL etc.

Chose the default partition option, however that seems to have only partitioned the drive to 10Gb. It is in fact 500GB (raid array), so obviously this isn't good as the sites I have to migrate exceed 10GB by a long way.

It's a remote web server I only have SSH access. How can I (in language suitable for a Linux novice like myself, ie chown commands worry me!) get the other 490GB mounted or extend the partition with www/ on to the full 490GB I have available?

I have googled it and the only tutorial found that describes how I can make the partition larger says I can't do it on a drive in use, which it will use to boot! Besides the comments on the same tutorial says it doesn't work!

I am able to provide further info in the morning if required.

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Show me your 'df -h' output please. – Publiccert Feb 19 '12 at 19:33
Do you have LVM? If the command lvs (or lvdisplay) doesn't output anything, you don't have it enabled, in which case you'll need to create a new partition out of the remaining space and then mount that under, say, /var or /home and put all your stuff there. – Xiol Feb 19 '12 at 19:36

You can't.

If chown makes you nervous, playing with partition commands on a remote system is going to be even worse. Your best bet is to talk to your hosting provider. From what it sounds like, they gave you a 10GB / partition, and left it up to you to deal with the rest of the drive. It's possible they can take care of setting the rest up for you (it's also possible their setup script screwed up and didn't partition the drive).

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