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I recently converted my home media server from Windows Server 2008 to Ubuntu 11.10. Right now, there is a single WD20EARS 2 TB hard drive formatted as NTFS that's about to run out of space.

I'd like to purchase a few extra drives (the case can hold an additional two). I have a few questions before I actually purchase anything though:

  • The original reason I was running Windows Server was because of the way 4k sector drives are handled on Linux. I've since found this guide that might fix it, but I'm also seeing people say that it didn't work. Which 2 TB hard drives have the best compatibility, and where can I find a guide that will walk me through configuring the special partitioning for these drives (or can I avoid the complications all together?).

  • I'd like to use the existing 2 TB NTFS partition as part of the RAID 5. Is there any way that I can do this without needing an external to back up the data? It's my understanding that RAID 5 requires three disks, so it seems that if I wanted to purchase two extra drives, I'd need to back up the data on the existing NTFS drive before building the RAID.

  • Am I going about this the wrong way? Not too concerned about performance, just need lots of room for my media collection to grow.

I can navigate my way through tutorials, but I lack the Linux background to jump into this without some help. Setting up and maintaining this server has been quite a learning experience for me.

Running on server:

  • Crashplan
  • Sickbeard
  • Couchpotato
  • Sabnzbd+
  • Plex Media Server
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I also are trying to do something like that and I can share with you something I read along, but no hands on the job :) :

  • You can't just take the hard drive you have and use it in a RAID, you can destroy it;
  • With software RAID, you can use mdadm to build your RAID. First you can create a new RAID5 with 2 new hard drive, then copy the old hard drive to new RAID and in the end, join the old hard drive to the new RAID;
  • Green WD are cheap but you can have more problems.

To create the RAID with only two disks:

mdadm --create /dev/md0 --level=5 -n 2 /dev/disk1 /dev/disk2

and then to join the older disk

mdadm --add /dev/md0 /dev/disk0

It's not a very good manual for a beginner, but I hope give you the starting point.

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Thanks for the tip. One problem down (migrating data). Know anything about the hard drives? Any way I can avoid the 4k sector partitioning issues? – tlange Mar 12 '12 at 17:15
After read the guide you send, I recall of reading something about it and the solutions was to create the partitions with fdisk aligned with de sectors of the disk, but after read so many problems with green WD drives, I put them on side and forget them. – Pipe Mar 13 '12 at 11:11

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