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The HP server I bought (ProLiant ML110 G5, to be specific) comes with an integrated hardware RAID controller, but only one hard drive (a 250GB 7200RPM NHP SATA drive) My company is on a limited budget, so if possible I would like to avoid buying HP-branded drives, as they are more expensive than if I were to just buy some decent drives off Newegg.

Now, I know software RAID supports mixed drives, but I'm not clear on hardware RAID. The ultimate solution I came to while searching was "it depends on the RAID controller". So, my question is: If I buy similar drives (250GB 7200RPM SATA etc etc) from a third party vendor and try to use them with my HP RAID controller, will there be any issues?

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Well, it really depends on the controller ;), but I have never found one where different disk types where an issue.

You should just get a RAID type drive for this scencario, as they are more reliable than consumer grade disks (their mechanics is better suited to 24x7 use) and know that this is likely unsupported by HP so if you have any issues with your controller, you are on your own.

One more thing: Some people even suggest using different drive types for RAID arrays, or at the least drives from different production charges, as there is a somewhat increased possibility that identical drives will fail at about the same time for the same reason.

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I've successfully used aftermarket drives, even of slightly different models, in an HP DL320s on its integrated RAID 5 controller. We even purchased off-brand drive sleds for the drives. It's not something I would recommend, but it did work in this case. I don't believe HP implements any kind of vendor lock in their drive firmware, at least not in that controller.

Some other vendors do force you to use their drives by only allowing the controller to work with drives that have their firmware on them. I tried this same trick with some EMC device, but the controller refused to recognize the drives.

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Even if it does work, you need to contact HP and make sure they will support that configuration. If something else breaks and you log a support call and they won't help until you bring the server back into a supported config then you're screwed.

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