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Replacing HDD with SSD in RAID 1 setup

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April 12, 2014 10:51:50 AM

I have a Dell Vostro 400 running Windows Vista with 2 HDDs setup in RAID 1. Intel Matrix Storage Console is used for management, but there is also a BIOS config utility that allows some minimal setup. I haven't really used either of these as the RAID was setup by OEM.

One of the HDDs just failed. Instead of just trying to find an equivalent drive to replace the failed one, I want to upgrade my system to SSD. I'm thinking to do the following, but I'm looking for some expert advice as to the validity of this approach. Any additional thought/comments/suggestions are welcome.

My plan:
1) Get 2 identical SSDs with capacity higher than my current HDDs
2) Get a complete backup of the data (just in case something goes wrong)
3) Install one SSD into an available SATA port
4) Boot into Windows and using IMSC reconfigure the RAID by dropping the failed drive and adding the new SSD to the RAID. (This step is the one I'm the most concerned with)
4) Wait for the SSD to get synched to the HDD.
5) Once the SSD is synched, power down and replace the failed drive with the second SSD
6) Boot and reconfigure RAID again by dropping the remaining HDD and replacing it with the new SSD
7) Once the SSDs are in synch, the HDD can be removed from the system. Done!

As I mentioned, my main concern is the step #4. Can I have a RAID1 setup with 1 HDD and 1 SSD?
Since SSD will have higher capacity, will the extra capacity be lost after these steps or will it be recovered after the last step is complete?

Thank you in advance for your responses

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a b G Storage
April 12, 2014 11:38:16 AM

A) yes you can add it
B) NO it is permanent lost unless you 'break the RAID'
C) Honestly there is no reason to use RAID for consumers unless your implementing RAID 3 or higher to have hot swappable capability / redundancy. It will actually get in the way of the SSD performance as well.

The simplest solution would be to change in Windows first from RAID to AHCI, then in BIOS. Here are the easy ways to do it without a need of reloading Windows: http://www.overclock.net/t/1227636/how-to-change-sata-m...

:::::EDIT::::::
D) IMPORTANT: I wouldn't waste this effort on this PC for several reasons I would like you to consider for a moment.
1) Vista is NOT supported by Microsoft and makers for years now
2) Vista has numerous issues that make it cause problems that Windows 7/8 or even back with XP were NOT issues
3) NO Windows below Windows 7 SP1 can 'see' a modern HDD/SDD using the 4k storage method (the standard) and there is no patch or fix to get around it
4) The Vostro 400 is NO longer supported and beyond the End of Life for the hardware (read the Terms of Service and Guarantees, they calculate the hardware life will 'perform as advertised' based on a 40 hour work week of constant use for no more then 3 years; Vostro 400 is MUCH MUCH older then that and isn't supported by Dell)
5) The motherboard is only capable of SATA II, which is half the bandwidth of the current SATA III and potentially also may not be able to 'read' modern drives especially 4K standard drives that requires a BIOS update normally, but many makers didn't because they are legacy / unsupported systems
6) The RAM is very low end, and will be a choke / bottleneck that the SSD will not make any difference, and the CPU used is also VERY low end and again you will be wasting alot of money for really 0 performance gain.


My HIGHLY recommended suggestion is, use Windows Easy Transfer to remove your data and settings to a External HDD. Buy a off the shelf i3 desktop (or better yet go laptop! same price now your portable!) for ONLY $249. You will get a MUCH faster CPU, 8GB of DDR3 RAM, 600GB-1TB HDD, DVD, alot of times a FREE LCD included, W8. Install any applications and then restore with Windows Easy Transfer in the new PC and your moved with little fuss or muss, GREATLY improved performance AND cost very little.

EDIT: IF your insistive to waste so much money on 2 SSDs to add to this system here are my notes on it
Now as for the rest of the steps, Samsung (assuming that is the type of drive you have) comes with a Migration tool to move from a HDD to a SSD. I personally have NOT used it, but some state it does work. In my experience (and the hundreds of thousands of posts / websites) When changing to SSD you need to reinstall Windows from beginning, but there is a easy way to keep your settings and data automatically built into Windows, Windows Easy Transfer.

The normal process would then be:
1) use ext drive and run Windows Easy Transfer to backup your data and settings.
2) Create a DBAN CD and reboot to BIOS to change to AHCI
3) Wipe the drive, then install Windows 7
4) Run Windows Update repeatedly till every update and option (except Bing) is done
5) Download and run Slim Drivers to install all drivers

Now I like to throw a caveat in, most SSDs are small.. i.e. 256GB or lower, most HDDs are 1TB or more start at just $50 (1/4 the price of a SSD) for a 7200RPM drive. I would HIGHLY suggest you get one of these HDD instead of a second SSD, because cost effectively it doesn't make sense to buy a 512SSD or larger unless you are running a RAID 5 or higher Server where the benefits are outweighed by the purpose of the server.

6) Run Samsung Magician or manually follow the Add SSD Tips and Tricks to change all the specifics that will optimally use the SSD (like turning off Virtual RAM for example).
7) Download from www.filehippo.com Malwarebytes AND either AVG OR AVAST! and install
8) Install all the apps you had later MANUALLY (no click through) to the D drive (HDD), this is especially important for STEAM or similiar apps as it installs games VERY quickly eats up the SSD space, and Games do not benefit from SSD that they increase FPS or such either, only help with stopping the 'lag' or wait for Windows to do things the Game/Application needs (Game: how do I dodge left with a Mouse? Windows: I will command the mouse...)
9) Run BACKUP and make a backup image to the HDD of the system 'CLEAN'
10) Run Windows Easy Transfer to restore your 'desktop' and system back in place.
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April 13, 2014 10:40:18 AM

Tom,

Thank you for your quick and thorough response. The reason I like RAID is that it allows me to continue without any downtime after the drive failure. I realize that my system is old and unsupported by Dell, but it still serves me well and performs well. Vista is still under extended support until 2017, so that works for me too.

Right now I need the solution that requires the least amount of effort/time to get back to a protected state. I simply don't have the time to do a complete system upgrade, re-install all the software, etc. I was thinking of upgrading to SSD just for the sake of improving startup/boot times and application startup times. You're saying that I might not realize any advantage of SSD due to my outdated BIOS/RAM and that may very well be the case. That's why I'm looking for your expert opinion. Your response also suggests that I can't simply plug an SSD in place of an existing HDD and do the sync. I have to upgrade to Win7 to make SSD work and that's not an option for me right now.

So, given my constraints and my understanding of your post I really have these 2 options:
1) get a new machine and transfer all my data
2) just replace the failed drive with a similar one and carry on.

Is this about right?
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a b G Storage
April 13, 2014 3:13:38 PM

kk73 said:
Tom,

Thank you for your quick and thorough response. The reason I like RAID is that it allows me to continue without any downtime after the drive failure. I realize that my system is old and unsupported by Dell, but it still serves me well and performs well. Vista is still under extended support until 2017, so that works for me too.

Right now I need the solution that requires the least amount of effort/time to get back to a protected state. I simply don't have the time to do a complete system upgrade, re-install all the software, etc. I was thinking of upgrading to SSD just for the sake of improving startup/boot times and application startup times. You're saying that I might not realize any advantage of SSD due to my outdated BIOS/RAM and that may very well be the case. That's why I'm looking for your expert opinion. Your response also suggests that I can't simply plug an SSD in place of an existing HDD and do the sync. I have to upgrade to Win7 to make SSD work and that's not an option for me right now.

So, given my constraints and my understanding of your post I really have these 2 options:
1) get a new machine and transfer all my data
2) just replace the failed drive with a similar one and carry on.

Is this about right?


Yes, but most importantly if the system you have is using SATA and not IDEs. Otherwise option 2 as well is NOT a option either (IDEs haven't been made in a long time).

Juts a FYI, the "extended" support you relying (like the many whom were relying on it for XP) is for Business. The terms for 'getting' that support is based on a project cost analysis with a initial cost assessment charge of $10K for Microsoft to 'look into' the issue under a Business to Business (B2B) contract, and provide a solution at full cost to submitting customer. There is NO consumer support (that expired years ago), so if you, Joe Consumer, have a issue (i.e. can't read current 4K File Standard Hard Drives) Microsoft would inform you you need to upgrade to the current and supported OSes (Win8.1) or purchase a up to date system. Just so you know where you really stand.
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