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One of the advantages of Dell PowerVault storage, with the MDxxx series, is that they use disks with identical bays of the server version (obviously depending on the generation, there will bays like the G9 servers or  bays with the same G10, G11, G12 servers form factor). In addition, disks are theoretically interchangeable because are the same models (almost from Seagate vendor, ad least for spinning disks). However, in practice, this was true with MD30xx models and derivatives, but with the recent series (MD32xx or MD36xx), there are some limitation based on the firmware version of the disks (as happen also with other storage or other vendors).

The typical issue that you have when you recycle disks that have been used in another Dell PowerVault storage (or in some cases also on a server with the PERC controller), is that the storage does not recognize them as “new” disks and marks them as “foreign disk” without giving a chance to use, for example, to build a new disk group.

In these cases, the only solution is to switch to the command line, in order to re-initialize the disks.

If you lookt at the graphical tool warning, you will also have some detail of the command that you must use. Same command is documented in the user guide of the Dell PowerVault storage.

Initialize the Physical Disks

1 Refer to the Details area to find which physical disk slot is reporting the problem. In addition, refer to the Summary area to see if there are other physical disks that are reporting this same problem.
2 Open a Command Prompt, and type the following command:SMcli -n <storageArray_name>;where storageArray_name is the name of the storage array listed in the Details area.Note: If you receive an error from this command, change your working directory to the directory that contains the SMcli executable.
3 Execute the following command in order to initialize the physical disk:start physicalDisk [enclosure_ID,slot_ID] initialize;where enclosure_id is the enclosure ID for the enclosure where the physical disk resides and slot_ID is the slot position within the enclosure. This is the physical disk that is shown in the Details area.Note: The commands above are case-sensitive, and must be entered exactly as shown.When the initialization completes, the physical disk will be an Optimal, Unassigned physical disk.
4 Repeat steps 1 through 3 for each additional physical disk that is reporting this problem in the Summary area. When you have initialized all of the physical disks, go to step 5.
5 Click Recheck to rerun the Recovery Guru. The failure should no longer appear in the Summary area. If the failure appears again, contact your technical support representative.

For example, in order to initialize the physical disk number 13, in the main enclousure of a PowerVault storage called “MD3000i”:

C:\Program Files (x86)\Dell\MD Storage Software\MD Storage Manager\client>smcli -n "MD3000i" -c "start physicalDisk [0,13] initialize";

The command must be run from a system (in this case 64-bit Windows) with the graphical management tool of a PowerVault storage (which will also install the command line part) and with the storage already connected using a in-band mode (if the machine has also disk access to the storage), or more commonly in out-of-band mode (using the network management interfaces).


Virtualization, Cloud and Storage Architect. Tech Field delegate. VMUG IT Co-Founder and board member. VMware VMTN Moderator and vExpert 2010-24. Dell TechCenter Rockstar 2014-15. Microsoft MVP 2014-16. Veeam Vanguard 2015-23. Nutanix NTC 2014-20. Several certifications including: VCDX-DCV, VCP-DCV/DT/Cloud, VCAP-DCA/DCD/CIA/CID/DTA/DTD, MCSA, MCSE, MCITP, CCA, NPP.