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RAID 1+0 And Partitioning, How Does It Work?

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September 13, 2013 5:21:40 PM

I'm going to be using hardware RAID on a set of four WD Velociraptor 500gig drives, and I have a few questions about the setup before I actually plan out how I'll work it.

First off, how does a RAID array appear within windows' file explorer? I've yet to see a definitive answer, but I gather a RAID 10 with four 500 gig drives would appear as one, 1TB drive?

Next, within Windows' Disk Management window, would I be able to see the status of all four HDDs?

Would it be best to setup the RAID through the hardware n the Mobo? (Asus Rampage IV Extreme), or use Windows 7's utilities to setup a software RAID? I know this question has been answered a million times, but I'm only asking to hear opinions. :]

How does partitioning work in a RAID10 Array? Since these are HDD, I plan on partitioning out in 100 gig, 50 gig, and 20 gig chunks. For example, two or three 100gig chunks for Game data and files, 50 gigs each for Pictures, Music, Dropbox, and a Temp partition for installers/received files/junk, and finally 20 gigs for documents. (Obviously this is only half of the total space; but Junk expands to fill empty space. Wise words from an old teacher.) I suppose the overall question is...would this setup work well on a RAID setup, just as well as it would on a single 1TB hard drive?

From what I've read, RAID is essentially an invisible redundancy setup that doesn't affect anything an average user would see, except in the event of a failed drive. I just ask these qustions for a definitive answer. I've done my best to do my research before asking (I'm sure some of these questions, or similar oes, have been asked before, I just couldn't find them.)

Thanks in advance!

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a b G Storage
September 13, 2013 5:47:16 PM

If you create the RAID with Intel's RAID, the array will show up to Windows and Linux as one 1TB drive. You can use and partition it like you would any 1TB drive.

I would advise against using Windows' built-in software RAID as it may make reinstalling your OS difficult. I would also advise against using any of the 3rd part SATA controllers that may be on your board. The Intel RAID will be faster.

If you really want to do this right, buy a hardware RAID card from a company like LSI or Areca. In addition to potentially higher performance, using a hardware RAID card can reduce the load on your CPU and make switching motherboards easier. Also, most hardware RAID cards have a built-in buzzer to warn you when a drive has been dropped from your array. This is especially useful with RAID 10 because the performance does not change when a drive is dropped from the array.
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September 13, 2013 5:54:17 PM

I don't think I've done enough RAID research. I don't know what you mean by Intel's RAID? Would that be the BIOS-configured RAID that I would setup through the ASUS mobo? I don't think so, judging from your wording.

I've considered an dedicated hardware RAID controller, but while I do have a rather large budget, I'm trying to avoid tacking on extra costs. Plus, the more hardware, the more power draw, and I'm reaching the limit of what I'd like to dump onto my PSU.
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a b G Storage
September 13, 2013 5:56:49 PM

Yes, I mean the RAID provided by your Intel chipset. Typically, you set your SATA controller to RAID mode and then press a key combination when prompted during boot to access the configuration tool. There should be instructions in your motherboard's manual.

EDIT: The instructions are on page 4-24 in your motherboard's manual.
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September 13, 2013 6:19:20 PM

Ahah, I see now. Thanks for that clarification.

However, to be honest, I don't actually have the mobo yet. I'm saving up to purchase the majority of parts (most likely minus the watercooling), so it wlll be a short while until I actually have anything physically infront of me. I'm just doing months and months of research prior. Although, I think I'll go download a copy of the manuals for the parts I'm considering purchasing. Couldn't hurt to read over them :]

Do you have an answer to the second question?
Next, within Windows' Disk Management window, would I be able to see the status of all four HDDs?

Also, are there any particular brands you suggest for a hardware RAID controller? You mentioned LSI and Areca, any reason for that? :]
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a b G Storage
September 13, 2013 7:49:51 PM

RavenPanther said:
Next, within Windows' Disk Management window, would I be able to see the status of all four HDDs?

No. It will appear as one 1TB drive. You will need to use the management software provided by your RAID controller's manufacturer such as Intel RST for Intel Chipset RAID or MegaRAID Storage Manager for LSI cards to monitor the status of the individual drives.
RavenPanther said:

Also, are there any particular brands you suggest for a hardware RAID controller? You mentioned LSI and Areca, any reason for that? :]


Absolutely. LSI and Areca consistently rate as top performers and have good drivers, management software, and Linux support. Avoid HighPoint. Adaptec might be OK.
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September 13, 2013 7:57:04 PM

Awesome, thanks so much! Any other parting info you'd like to give? I'll be selecting your answer as the solution, naturally. Then I'll be doing some research on hardware raid controllers!
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a b G Storage
September 13, 2013 8:00:00 PM

RavenPanther said:
Awesome, thanks so much! Any other parting info you'd like to give? I'll be selecting your answer as the solution, naturally. Then I'll be doing some research on hardware raid controllers!


Yes, check ebay for RAID cards. You can typically find them for less than half of what you will pay retail. Companies often sell off surplus cards, sometimes brand new sealed in the box.
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September 13, 2013 8:02:41 PM

Wow that's great to know. Thank you so much :]
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a b G Storage
September 13, 2013 8:04:54 PM

One more thing. You will most likely want a battery backup for the card's cache if you get a dedicated RAID card. This allows you to cache writes in the card's on-board cache without risking data loss. Write caching can offer huge performance increases. I would also advise getting a maintenance free one if you can afford it. The maintenance free ones use a super cap and some flash instead of a Lithium Ion battery. I have had some trouble with the Lithium Ion Polymer battery backups not lasting very long.
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