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Problem installing WinXP Pro SP2 on IDE RAID 0

Last response: in Storage
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February 26, 2006 9:18:07 PM

Hello all,

Recently I've tried turning my two standard Seagate 7200.7 120GB 8MB IDE hard disks into a RAID 0 array from which I can boot Windows. This is the first time I've tried to create such an array.

As far as i know I've followed all of the instructions in my motherboard manual, which is a Gigabyte 7VAXP-A Ultra board with a Promise 20276 RAID Chipset.

Now I've managed to configure the Promise RAID to use the two Seagates as a RAID 0 array, which it assures me is functional. Addtionally I have used FDISK to clear both disks and create a primary DOS partition of approx. 240GB.

However when I boot from the WinXP Pro SP2 CD it gives me the message "Setup is examining your hardware configuration". Alas, my computer does nothing further and does not load the Windows setup screen, nor give me the chance to press F6 and install the Promise driver, which I have on floppy.

This is driving me wild as all troubleshooting and forum articles I've seen cover the initial setup of the RAID array, or installing the RAID driver once the Windows setup screen has loaded. I'm stuck right in the middle. Stumped.

Also when I revert back to a single drive, non-RAID configuration the Windows setup screen loads normally... Is there a chance that I may have a bad copy of Windows or is this an incompatibility issue?

Any help on this would be much appreciated.

Cheers and take care.
a b G Storage
February 27, 2006 5:32:56 PM

I wouldnt put windows on a raid 0. Lose one hard drive and you lose it all.
Now if you dont keep anything important on it then go right ahead.
First thing is use fdisk and delete the partitions on the raid array.
You can make partitions when you get into the windows setup.
try that and see what happens.
February 27, 2006 9:15:41 PM

IMHO if you are going to have a drive on RAID 0 then the windows drive should be it, as this is the one that will gain most from the increased access speed.....

I personally have a 240gb RAID 0 array as my C: drive, then a RAID 5 array for storage and data integrity.

I use my rig mainly for gaming, and see no point in adding additional drives to keep windows (easily reinstallable) and installed copies of games secure (also easily reinstallable), Documents, savegames, etc all sit on the RAID 5 array.

In any case, you dont want to use FDISK to partition and format it as you'll then end up with FAT32, XP setup can patition and format it itself.

When you say it works as a single drive, is this when connected to the RAID controller or the standard onboard IDE? I would probably attempt to hang a single drive off the RAID controller and see if it gets further then.... Some RAID controllers will not allow this, in wich case I'd try setting up a RAID 1 (mirrored) array and then disconnecting one drive, leaving a Single drive as a critical RAID 1 array, and seeing if it gets any further...

Assuming it works from the onboard IDE but a single drive will not work from the RAID controller, I'd suggest checking for a BIOS update, and possibly restoring the BIOS to factory settings and seeing if that helps, as it could be a conflict with some other PCI device... along that line, I'd also try pulling out any PCI cards you have in there just in case they are conflicting.

Is it a standard Windows XP disk you are using? (as opposed to an OEM supplied one thats been branded and slipstreams with the OEMs default settings and random other added software, which may not like the array)
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February 27, 2006 9:43:52 PM

I have to disagree there. You gain read time, but you lose write time due to the stripe set. RAID 0 is best when used as a high performance data drive for mostly reads that is either regularly backed up, or contains unimportant data.

The best setup for an OS is a Raptor drive, or RAID 1 depending on your controller, since many controllers will give you a read advantage without the write penalty.

To the OP, I would recommend against RAID 0 on IDE, as IDE drives and the interface is a bit too unreliable, and you will get a failure at some point.
February 27, 2006 10:31:24 PM

While they debate the merits of using raid 0 for your main drive I will try to help you.

Make sure you have the Latest BIOS and correct Raid drivers. I think there are 2 different controllers used for raid controllers. You must use the drivers that come with the MB. My neighbor tried using the driver from the HD mfg. It Didn't work.

You will need to wipe your drives clean and try again. Use the CD that came with your drives (SeaTools) or any program that can wipe the mater boot table. Verify you have setup the bios corectly AND the drives are configured to be part of the set.

Boot from your XP CD, when prompted for driver, enter F6 and install.

Then continue with Win XP installation.
February 28, 2006 12:29:11 AM

While you are being so high and mighty and helping him while criticizing our advice, you should have read that he can't get to the portion of Windows setup in which he has to press F6 to load the drivers (BTW, HD drivers have nothing to do with RAID controllers), that's the whole problem.

OP, I would look at these two things: Are your two drives the masters of the two seperate channels? if not they should be. And, I would skip the whole DOS partition (especially if you are trying to make a 240Gb FAT32 partition). Its just going to cause trouble.
I suggest clearing the drives, remaking the array, and using the Windows XP format utility in setup to create a 20 or so Gig OS partition, then use the rest as a data partition. This should make things a bit easier to troubleshoot at least. I would also try flaching your BIOS to the latest version if you haven't already.
February 28, 2006 11:17:45 AM

Firstly thanks for getting back to me - for a while there I was worried no one would!

OK.

In response to some of your questions if I connect a single master drive to the RAID it doesn't pick it up. The RAID channels (IDE 3 & IDE 4) are set to RAID mode in BIOS, as opposed to IDE mode.
I'm guessing if I set the BIOS to allowed the RAID channels to function as extra IDE channels then Windows would be able to begin setup. But that doesn't help me much.

I'm using a standard Windows XP Professional SP2 CD, no extra OEM drivers and what not. Just XP.

I have the latest version of my Gigabyte 7VAXP-A Ultra motherboard's BIOS (Revision F4) which I flashed sometime back after procuring the BIOS image from the Gigabyte website.

Both drives are set to master on seperate RAID channels (IDE 3 & IDE 4)

My intention as regards installing a FAT32 partition on the RAID 0 array was in the hope that if Windows setup detected a viable partition that it may start the setup process. This hasn't worked though.
What programs other than FDISK can I use to clear the Master Boot Tables from the drives and leave a nice big, clean NTFS 240gb partition (via a boot disk only btw).

I do know and understand the risks of a RAID 0 array, I'm in this for sheer performance.I have a seperate SATA drive for backup of critical data (this has been disconnected and disabled in BIOS to avoid conflicts during RAID install).
Call me anal, but please keep replies on topic - all I'm after is a solution on how to get the Windows XP setup to initialise on a RAID 0 array.

I'm on the verge of giving up as I really need to get my PC up and running so I might have to abandon the whole RAID idea and go back to a conventional IDE setup.

Cheers guys, help me before I take a 50lb sledge to my goddamned RAID array!
February 28, 2006 1:51:53 PM

FDISK won't actually clear your disk completely anyway. I recommend going to your disk manufacturer's site and downloading their disk utility to clear the drives.

Try the setup without the pre-sized DOS partition and let us know if that helps.
!