Best practice for hot swapping a server hard drive
In keeping with our storage theme for this month (see our NAS post from last week), this week we thought it would be useful to offer some tips on how to swap out the hard drive in your blade server, in the event that the drive has failed or you simply want to upgrade it. The following guide is based on an HP server, but the basic principles are generally the same on all models – but always read the manual to be sure!
Is the drive hot swappable?
First off, check your drive for purple tabs. Purple tabs indicate that the drive is hot-swappable so can be removed without powering down the server. If it doesn’t then we recommend you power down the server first before attempting to remove it. If it is hot-swappable and the drives are in a RAID setup (which they should be), then you can proceed with the following.
Locate the drive
If you are looking for a drive that you know has failed, check the server event logs for errors. This should tell you which drive has failed and in which slot. You should then confirm this within the server management software, which will mark the drive as failed on the casing with a flashing light or something similar depending on the brand of server you’re using. This is so you can locate the drive in the rack and don’t accidentally pull out the wrong one!
Check for a backup
Now check you have a valid backup for the drive and whether it’s used for high impact work. The last thing you want is to be blamed for any disruption.
Now make sure you wait 10-15 seconds for the hard drive spindles to stop spinning before you pull the drive out. If you move the drive when the disc is still spinning then you risk damaging the disk.
Push the purple tab to release the drive handle, then pull the handle to remove the hard drive. Easy really.
Check that the replacement drive is the same model as the one you’ve removed, or is at least a compatible model. Carefully plug the drive in. It should slide in along the guide pretty easily. If it doesn’t then it’s not lined up. Never force the drive in. Once in it should close and click into the purple tab.
The server should now take care of the rest, automatically rebuilding the drive. The lights on the front of the drive will give you some indication that something’s going on, or you can log into the server software for more information.
So there you have it. And if you want something a bit more visual, this video from Dell is worth a watch: