Expanding the Disks on Exchange Databases

This article outlines few tips of extending the storage of exchange servers where it hosts the database and log files.

For physical Server:

Add new disks in the RAID hard-drive bay and use array management utility to install the new disks to  the existing Raid.

Then expand Raid size (using Raid utility) for these disk which needs to be expanded. After this in the Raid config utility we see the extra space.Most of the SAN systems has the option to dynamically extend the disk space allocated for the servers.

So we can check the below thing using the storage management utility that we have based on the type of RAID and storage we have (eg. netapp)

• Checking initial status of the existing drives to make sure they are healthy.
• Inserting new Hard Drives in the available slots in the hard drive bay.
• Check the Status of the new drives in the storage array management utility.
• Initialize the new disks and make it available.
Then use Disk-part and extend the disk in the windows on the Exchange hosts.

Example for extending the presented disk :
Open command prompt, type: Diskpart.exe
In DISKPART prompt, type: Select Volume 1 (Selects the volume.)
In DISKPART prompt, type: Extend Size=50000 (If you do not set a size, in example like 50GB set it will use  all of the presented size).
In DISKPART prompt, type: Exit.

Using Disk Part does not affect the system accessing the data and can be done anytime.

For VMWare:

Expand the volume size of Exchange database partition from the vSphere client.
After this the additional space will be reflected immediately on the Exchange servers on diskmgmt.msc.

Expansion of the Exchange database or log drives  in VMWare is seamless however to be safe its always recommended to have a good backup in place before making this change.

Extend the database partition on the VMWare.
Extend the Presented disk in disk management.
If the disks are assigned for VM make sure they are thick provisioned.

Most of the hosted LUNs (eg like from netapp and others) can be grown and shrunk without a single problem on the application side and other vendors are the same.

Using Disk Part does not affect the system accessing the data and can be done anytime.

For hyper v :

Switch-over all databases to one server.
Shutdown the server.
In Hyper-V, increase the disk size of all database disks.
Start the server.
After this we need to Expand the Disk in the disk manager before you move the databases back.
Move the databases back to the activate on preferred node.
Repeat for the remaining servers.

Additional tips:

1) If the primary Mailbox database is increasing its better to have a de-duplication archival solution in place which will manage the storage increase efficiently.
2)Make sure all the new presented exchange drives are MBR formatted.
3)If we are extending the disks for DAG then we need to extend the disks for all DAG members hosting the copies.
4)In larger deployments where we host multiple copies in DAG its always better to have the database disks aligned in the Mount Points only.
5)Dynamic expansion of the VHDx files are supported. Older method of Dynamically expanding VHD’s not supported.
6)Always use the file system as REFS for Exchange 2016 only for Exchange DB’s & logs. Use NTFS for Exchange binaries.
7)Microsoft recommends to use the partition structure as GPT since GPT Is a newer standard  supporting up to 128 partitions in windows and is gradually replacing MBR. MBR type partitions are still supported. MBR only works with disks up to 2 TB in size
8)Better to have a healthy backup before starting these procedures.
9)For VMWare partition expansion ensure that these VM’s are not in snapshots before extending the VMDK files.
10)Better to perform this operation on a low I\O operations period on the array.
For DAG members better to expand the disks one by one on their copies see the results and then proceed.

Thanks & Regards
Sathish Veerapandian
MVP – Office Servers & Services

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