Thursday 25 June 2009

Dell Default Server Partitioning Scheme – SBS Installers Beware

This is the default partitioning scheme that we encountered via a support call with someone having problems with their SBS 2008 install:


If the factory OEM install was used, or if the Dell preparation utility disk was used and the utility was allowed to install the Dell Utility Partition, the above is what we would end up with.

In our case, we always flatten the RAID arrays and start fresh without the utility partitioning schemes and set up our default partitioning for SBS 2008 (SBS 2008 Setup Checklist post).

The catch with the setup above is that the SBS 2008 Backup will fail out of the box. That FAT32 partition will break it.

Using the Diskpart command we can convert that partition to NTFS and at least get the SBS 2008 Backup to run successfully.

In the end, the above leads to a messy partitioning scheme along with the possibility of causing problems in the event of a failed RAID array.

We prefer to keep things simple. :)

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

*All Mac on SBS posts will not be written on a Mac until we replace our now missing iMac! (previous blog post)

Windows Live Writer


Tim Sullivan, TRS Network Professionals said...

We ran into this exact problem a few weeks ago and we figured out the backup issue. My questions is: Can we get rid of that partition and add it somewhere else? It looks like it has been marked as the System partition, so I am not sure if I can delete it. Any ideas?

David Moisan said...

I've done several Dell's and seen the same problem. From what I can tell, the tiny partition without the drive letter is the Dell Utility partition.

The OS partition is something Dell put on, figuring you'd put Windows there. Now, Windows 2000 Server could go there, but it'd be tight. :)

Unfortunately, if you want the utility partition, and you probably do, you will get the unwanted OS partition, as you have to boot into the Dell Server CD to install it.

You can go without the utility partition and run Dell diagnostics off a CD, but if you deal with Dell support, you will want to have them on hand as they go by those and not by any third-party diags (if the third party diags say a disk is toast and Dell diags don't, guess who's authoritative?)

The fix for this: During Windows Setup, delete the 2 Gig partition when you get to the dialog that asks you where to put Windows.

Oh and BTW, Phil, thanks for the kind words.

Ryan O'Dwyer said...

An SBS08 HP ML350 G5 we received a couple of weeks ago was partitioned almost the same as the Dell.

60GB C drive, and the rest spare.

Its nice of them to do work beforehand, but we need to pave over the top in most cases anyway due to having our own way of partitioning and RAID.