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How do I avoid a hard-disk failure?

When you're depending on a JBOD array to keep the business running, there are several ways to further the longevity of its drives.

Windows Server 2012 R2 provides the tools to optimize and manage storage, but there is no concrete way to eliminate device and system failures. However, there are some general practices that can help reduce the chance of a hard-disk failure and improve the performance of disk arrays -- especially storage systems using a just a bunch of disks (JBOD) configuration.

Pay close attention to disk placement and selection guidelines. For example, a storage array may have separate areas for traditional hard drives and solid-state disk (SSD) devices. This is sometimes done to assist different cooling requirements or power densities. Mixing disk types improperly may result in air flow disruptions that can raise heat levels and shorten disk lifetimes. Array performance is also limited by the slowest disks, so try to avoid mixing disks within a JBOD. Use a single type of hard disk drive or SSD wherever you can, or try to match disk characteristics -- such as rotation speed -- as closely as possible. Examine the array's specifications for any prohibited disk types or disk combinations.

Next, don't overlook the importance of firmware version consistency across the disks within a JBOD group. Differences in firmware can cause performance variations that result in intermittent errors that are almost impossible to locate manually. Be sure to install the latest accepted firmware for your disks, not necessarily the latest available firmware; make sure the same disks -- devices with the same model number -- use the same firmware version.

Finally, use storage arrays that have been certified to work with platforms such as Storage Spaces under Windows Server 2012 R2. For example, JBOD arrays that use serial-attached SCSI interface connections are able to report the disk status to Windows on a per-disk/slot basis, allowing administrators to check each disk's condition in the JBOD array. This speeds troubleshooting and allows technicians to quickly isolate and replace troubled disk devices. The Windows Server Catalog can provide additional details about suitable storage array systems.

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