I have a Dell Poweredge 2900 that I'm upgrading from 4x SATA 250GB Drives in a RAID 5 situation to 2x SATA 1TB Drives in a RAID 1 situation. The box is running Windows Server 2003, with a PERC5/i controller card. As far as I can tell without too much prodding, the server is running RAID 5 with three drives. The guy before me added a fourth HD, and swapped a drive out after one failed, but the array itself is still only using three drives and the OS is still partitioned for 500GB total. (50GB C:, 450GB D:) We're looking to replace the current OS with Server 2008 R2, doing a clean install on the new 1TB drives.

I have some experience with creating new arrays from scratch, but this will be my first migration to a new array after one was already in place. I already have backups in place with for normal production reasons (can't have too many!), and plan on making at least two backup images as well.

My question is, when I create the new array (Drop in the new drives, go into the controller and create a new RAID 1 array), what would happen if I dropped the old set of four drives back into the machine? My thought is, if something went wrong during the migration over the weekend, I could drop the original four drives back into the server and have them up and running like nothing happened. Would I have to rebuild the array from scratch, or would the card recognize the array existing, or would it all just catch fire in my face to spite me?

It's an odd question, but I have this paranoia sometimes.

  • I'd say array should be recognised (second scenario), but don't quote me on this. Can never rule out no.3 Jun 14, 2013 at 15:01
  • 1
    Having had three machines in my IT career catch fire, it's a definite possibility.
    – Justin C
    Jun 14, 2013 at 15:09

1 Answer 1


With dell raid controllers the raid config is saved to the disks. If you put the original disks back in it will report a foreign raid config, you just need to import this in the BIOS and the old array will be available.

  • Thanks. Importing a foreign raid config would involve "going to the VD MGMT screen, highlight the controller and hit F2, select Foreign Config, then Import.", correct? This was lifted from instructions here link
    – Justin C
    Jun 14, 2013 at 15:43
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    yes. since the disks are a complete set it can also ask you on boot, which makes it even simpler
    – JamesRyan
    Jun 14, 2013 at 16:13
  • This worked- I had to replace the raid card, and then import the configuration.
    – Justin C
    Oct 17, 2014 at 19:41

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