Exchange 2003 server hardware configuration issues

I am building an Exchange 2003 server for a migration and I'm trying to decide what hard drive configuration would be best, based on my hardware options.

I was going to run RAID 5, but then read that the system partition and/or page file should not be on RAID 5. Then...

I was going to put the system partition on one drive and use RAID 1 on the other two. The only problem with that is that I feel it's a waste to use a 160 GB drive for a system partition. The server would only be for about 50 light users. Could I run RAID 5? If not, what other options do I have that would let me use my drives efficiently? Here is what I have available:

P4 2.8 GHZ
3 160 GB SATA drives
SATA RAID controller

Any machine just servicing 50 light users won't have performance issues with the specifications you listed above. You can run RAID 5 and put transaction logs and databases on the same device. But, this is clearly not the best practice for people deploying Exchange in larger configurations.

Also, you should be aware that putting the transaction logs and the databases on the same array will restrict your overall disaster recovery plan with Exchange in the event of disk failure. You stand to lose both the database and the transaction logs in the same failure, which isn't a best practice in protecting data within your environment.

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This was first published in June 2005

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