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eSATA vs SATA; RAID 5 setup

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  • Hard Drives
  • NAS / RAID
  • SATA
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Last response: in Storage
December 27, 2006 4:55:02 PM

RAID 5 Setup inquiry:
When constructing a RAID 5 array, does the third HDD need to be twice the size of the combined sizes of the other two HDDs, or can it be the same? Example: two 250GB HDDs (for the RAID 0 part); will a third 250GB HDD work (for the RAID 5 part), or do I need to get a 500GB HDD?


eSATA vs SATA inquiry:
When I bought the HDDs for my new system, I purchased 4 WD2500YS SATAII HDDs. Three of them I plan on using for a RAID 5 setup (see above question), while drive number 4 is going to be a removable storage drive.

Originally I had planned on purchasing an external enclosure that supports USB2.0, 1394a, and eSATA/SATA (for maximum connectivity capabilities). What I ended up doing was to buy a caddy that fits into a 5.25" bay and has a removable cartridge. However, I am thinking about returning the caddy/cartridge setup and exchange it for an external enclosure.

What I want is to get the fastest possible interface between my SATAII HDD and the PC (which means an eSATA/SATA connection). I have heard/read that SATA and eSATA are different from one another, but even after reading a lot of the posts in the forums, I am still not sure as to what those differences are.

My motherboard (an EVGA 680i), does not have any eSATA ports on it. My wife's MB (an ASUS A8N-SLI Premium), came with one of those adapters which installs in an available rear expansion slot. It has two SATA ports (which then internally connect to free SATA ports on the MB), and a 4-pin molex power connector.

Can I go ahead and install that adapter to my MB and connect everything up, put my HDD in an eSATA/SATA external enclosure, and be done with it? When I need to remove the HDD from the PC, can I simply unplug it like I can with my USB2.0 external hard drive?

This drive is going to be used as storage for my really important data plus other backups (as in, if there is an emergency in the house, I am only going to grab this one drive).

I am considering this adapter. :

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16815283005

Thanks for the help.

More about : esata sata raid setup

December 27, 2006 5:08:55 PM

i think you are a little confused about the raid you want to use.

you cannot remove a portion of raid 5 and have it be useful in any sort of way. raid 5 places parity bits in each of the drives in the array. there is no magic backup drive that saves all the information.

3 hard drives in raid 5 have no backups whatsoever. if one drive is removed the entire array is destroyed.

proper raid 5 is 4 disks or more. if you remove a drive then it can be replaced and the parity bits on the other 3 drives will rebuild the 4th. but the hard drive that is removed does not contain a complete image of the other drives and cannot be used in another system.

raid 1 will allow you to remove a hard drive and that drive contain a complete image of the other. you could set up a raid1 with one drive internal and the other external (eSATA). the eSATA would have a complete copy of everything on the internal drive.

you could also put 2x 250GB hard drives internal in raid0. on the outside you would need a 500GB in raid1. this is called raid 0+1 or raid10. you could remove the outside drive and it would remain functional.
December 27, 2006 5:22:22 PM

Thanks for the reply, but I think you may have misunderstood me on my setup.

I am setting up a RAID 5 array in my system. I know RAID 0 is considered the fastest, but it isn't all that safe (one drive goes, it all goes down). RAID 1 does a mirror copy, but it can also slow things down.

RAID 5 seems to be the best compromise. I have read that one needs at least three drives to do RAID 5; two of them work in a striping mode while the third does some sort of bit checking or whatever, so that if one of the other drives fails, you can replace the faulty drive and rebuild the array.

The question concerning the external drive have nothing to do with RAID at all. I am planning on using that drive to save things like pictures, videos, downloaded applications, backups, and other projects I have worked on in the past (in otherwords- things that are irreplaceable). In the event of, say a fire in the house and I had to get out quickly, I would only grab that one external drive. The OS and other installed programs can always be replaced, but not pictures of the family.
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December 27, 2006 5:27:56 PM

whoops i see it now. my apologies. :oops: 

*edit
example 1. 3x 100GB HD in raid5, you would need 200GB external.

example 2. 4x 100GB HD in raid5, you would need 300GB external.

example 3. 5x 100GB HD in raid5, you would need a 400GB external.

and etc.
December 27, 2006 5:48:41 PM

Sandmanwn, you are not giving him correct information on RAID 5. And I believe you have misunderstood what he wants to do.

NTG2,

Yes, you can use 3 drives for a RAID 5 and it will be fully redundant. 3x250GB drives will = a 500GB virtual disk. Any of the 3 drives can fail and the array will continue to function. Replace the failed drive with another 250GB, the array will rebuild itself, and will again be fully redundant.

The issue with most RAID 5 setups is performance. RAID 5 writes can be slower than a single drive if the controller is not high-powered. What RAID controller do you plan to use?

For the removable drive, I suggest the dock/caddy system on internal SATA. I have set up this system on many computers here at work and we change the caddys back and forth all the time. If you want to do an external, you can use eSATA, but the adapter bracket that came with your motherboard is kind of risky to use. I don't think that any of the brackets that convert an internal SATA port to an eSATA port are actually eSATA compliant.

Here's a nice eSATA controller from Promise. I use several of these. They fully support hot-swap, which is a must for external eSATA drives.

And this is a nice external eSATA enclosure that takes 5 1/4" devices. I've used these to add one of the dock/caddy systems to it, and then use it on a laptop. Allows the laptop to use the same dock/caddy that the desktops use, so I can move caddys from one to the other.

To use eSATA on a laptop, check this card out.
December 27, 2006 5:56:42 PM

bah :oops:  thats twice in a row. damn!
i mixed in raid3 there. i corrected the post
December 28, 2006 12:10:47 AM

Don't kick yourself too hard...after all, you were only trying to be helpful and I appreciate that! :) 
December 28, 2006 12:18:13 AM

Great information- that certainly answers my questions, and the links you sent will be helpful too!

I am using an EVGA 680i MB; according to its documentation, it does support various levels of RAID (including RAID 5). Since I do not have a dedicated RAID controller card, I will be relying on the MBs controller.

I have heard that certain onboard RAID controllers (mostly from Intel), don't do well. I don't remember the specific numbers, but it was something like ICH7xxx which kinda sucked, though I think I saw the ICH8xxx might be better(?).

I have yet to find out what the RAID controller is on my MB. Nothing about it in the manual or on their website.

I also have seen a review about some add-on RAID controllers here on Tom's, but after reading the forum discussing them, I had to get out before getting too dizzy!

If y'all can't already tell, this is the first time I have built a RAID anything.

Word.
January 3, 2007 5:08:07 AM

Quote:
Great information- that certainly answers my questions, and the links you sent will be helpful too!

I am using an EVGA 680i MB; according to its documentation, it does support various levels of RAID (including RAID 5). Since I do not have a dedicated RAID controller card, I will be relying on the MBs controller.

I have heard that certain onboard RAID controllers (mostly from Intel), don't do well. I don't remember the specific numbers, but it was something like ICH7xxx which kinda sucked, though I think I saw the ICH8xxx might be better(?).

I have yet to find out what the RAID controller is on my MB. Nothing about it in the manual or on their website.


^The RAID controller you have is the NVidia 680i controller built into the NVidia chipset along with other features like Dual Net and everything else. It isn't a full hardware controller with a built in dedicated processor and it doesn't have dedicated memory so it will not have the fastest write speeds. However saying that, in the case of these on board controllers they will use the CPU for there processing tasks so most Dual Core CPU's will make them faster to the end user without sacrificing CPU cycles and making your system run slower. On a single core CPU read speeds are usually fine and much faster than just using a single drive but slightly slower than RAID 0, however write speeds are slow and even with the Dual core CPU's will still be noticeable just not as bad and maybe worth it.

I have not set one up yet myself but plan to once I get a new motherboard. Please let us know what you think of its real world performance when you are done setting it up. :D 
January 3, 2007 6:17:21 PM

Wow, what an adventure my first time using RAID was!

After finally getting everything hooked up, including installing the hotfixes for the MB and running the RAID setup program, I started to install XP.

After the formatting process began, I left the house with the family for a long day out. About 8 hours later when we returned, the formatting was only 76% finished! UGH! Overall it took about 13 hours to completely format and the XP installation process continued.

Yeah right!

As soon as the setup program resumed after formatting, XP said there was an error and aborted! This was at 3:30am! So sleeeeepyyyy.

Turns out that, because of the cramped quarters in the case, one or many of the HDD connectors came ever-so-slightly loose, causing the problems. I have seen this before in my wife's single SATA HDD setup as well.

Afterwards, XP installed without a hitch. Well, there was one: somehow, someway, XP decided to call my array G:, then after deleting and then rebuilding the array, it called it F:. WTF?!? I removed an external HDD and disconnected the media card reader and tried again. Finally, XP installed on the RAID as C:.

The actual installation went by pretty quick, as did all of my other software installations, but I didn't have a timer to verify that. I do know one thing: Visual Studio 2003 Professional still takes almost an hour to install!

After about a week now, I still haven't really gotten to do anything in the way of benchmarks or anything, as I am spending some time tweaking the wiring and BIOS settings.

Ahh...my Promise TX4302 SATA 300 card is here! I can now finish the physical build!
January 3, 2007 10:28:26 PM

Ah, the joys of being a computer enthusiast. Well it was a good learning experience for you then.
January 4, 2007 3:52:35 AM

OK, I got that card but the damned little bugger ain't working!

When I boot, it says detecting BIOS (or something), then a lot of periods show up as it does whatever it's doing, then a warning comes out saying that there isn't any BIOS loaded, that my system isn't correct, etc.

And then it hangs there for a few minutes and the boot process continues. When the XP splash screen appears, it stays on it for another three or four minutes, then goes into windows.

XP is seeing the adapter and as far as I can tell, all the drivers/BIOS/etc's, are up-to-date. But, it still doesn't see my external drive. The drive is a WD2500YS in a Vantec eSATA/USB2.0 enclosure. The drive works fine in USB mode.

Looking at the Promise website, it seems I am to create a BIOS floppy disk, but nothing on the CD has anything to really do anything like that. I tried making a bootable floopy and copying the files over but nada.

I looked for more recent updates, but there wasn't anything. My MB is an EVGA 680i. I am not sure whether I need to make some adjustments in the BIOS, but the ones I made earlier (like enabling eSATA on all channels), didn't work. UGH!!

This is your fault, buddy, and you have to get me out of this. :) 
January 4, 2007 4:34:25 AM

Yup, I learned new cuss words that I never knew existed! :) 
a c 464 G Storage
January 4, 2007 12:40:36 PM

So, you installed a Promise SATA controller card and it does not work right? By the way, that IS the best way to deal with eSATA - it adds a couple features like hot swapping that many SATA controllers do not implement. Anyway, to use the new SATA controller you probably have to install somewhere a driver for it. Now, IF you are simply using it to get access to the eSATA port AFTER the machine boots, then I would hope the controller's install CD (or whatever) did that for you. Maybe you could try to un-install and re-install it, if necessary.

BUT, if you are trying to have it able to boot from the eSATA drive, OR if you have set it to boot from a SATA drive connected to the new controller, then you will have to arrange for the driver to be loaded by the mobo's boot routines. With my system that means making a floppy disk with the driver to be used every boot, and then pushing the F6 key during boot to allow you to specify that it should load a driver from the floppy.
January 4, 2007 2:35:31 PM

Quote:
OK, I got that card but the damned little bugger ain't working!

When I boot, it says detecting BIOS (or something), then a lot of periods show up as it does whatever it's doing, then a warning comes out saying that there isn't any BIOS loaded, that my system isn't correct, etc.

And then it hangs there for a few minutes and the boot process continues. When the XP splash screen appears, it stays on it for another three or four minutes, then goes into windows.

XP is seeing the adapter and as far as I can tell, all the drivers/BIOS/etc's, are up-to-date. But, it still doesn't see my external drive. The drive is a WD2500YS in a Vantec eSATA/USB2.0 enclosure. The drive works fine in USB mode.

Looking at the Promise website, it seems I am to create a BIOS floppy disk, but nothing on the CD has anything to really do anything like that. I tried making a bootable floopy and copying the files over but nada.

I looked for more recent updates, but there wasn't anything. My MB is an EVGA 680i. I am not sure whether I need to make some adjustments in the BIOS, but the ones I made earlier (like enabling eSATA on all channels), didn't work. UGH!!

This is your fault, buddy, and you have to get me out of this. :) 


Heh. :)  I'll try my best, but it shouldn't be this difficult.

From your description of the problem, it doesn't sound like a driver issue. When the Promise card initializes, it should definitely detect the drive during the BIOS POST phase, before Windows starts to boot. The drive name and size should be displayed there.

If it's not doing that, then you have a hardware problem. Check for a bad eSATA cable, incorrect connection inside the enclosure, or something like that.

You may also try to reseat the Promise card in the PCI slot, and make sure the Promise card's firmware is up to date.
January 4, 2007 3:32:38 PM

The eStata on the 680i works you just need to enable it I see that you said you enabled it on all the channels the problem is that the Sata connectors are marked wrong on the motherboard instructions look at the EVGA forum and you will find the correct Sata Assignments you should not need a SATA card for eSata
January 4, 2007 4:33:30 PM

OK, here's a question: I assumed that this card handles all SATA duties for the drives connected to it. Are you saying that I need to connect one of the card's internal connectors to a free SATA port on the MB? If so, that ain't cool because the two free SATA connectors in my case are damned near impossible to get to. If that's the case, then I don't see why I need an additional card when the MB (apparently) supports eSATA.

I have reset the card. Still not working. EDIT: This external drive/enclosure works just fine in USB 2.0 mode. I have no jumpers set on the drive.

According to the website and manual, there is supposedly some excutable on the CD that is supposed to make a bootable floppy, which should then install some BIOS or driver or whatever, but I can't seem to find anything, and there isn't any more info on their site either. Grrrr!
January 4, 2007 5:08:10 PM

Quote:
OK, here's a question: I assumed that this card handles all SATA duties for the drives connected to it. Are you saying that I need to connect one of the card's internal connectors to a free SATA port on the MB? If so, that ain't cool because the two free SATA connectors in my case are damned near impossible to get to. If that's the case, then I don't see why I need an additional card when the MB (apparently) supports eSATA.

I have reset the card. Still not working. EDIT: This external drive/enclosure works just fine in USB 2.0 mode. I have no jumpers set on the drive.

According to the website and manual, there is supposedly some excutable on the CD that is supposed to make a bootable floppy, which should then install some BIOS or driver or whatever, but I can't seem to find anything, and there isn't any more info on their site either. Grrrr!


No, you should definitely not connect the SATA ports on the card to the SATA ports on the motherboard. The card is it's own SATA controller, completely separate from your motherboard's SATA controller.

Your motherboard does not have an eSATA connector on it (according to it's manual). Thus, yes, the card is necessary to do eSATA. I do not know what cmgp is talking about regarding eSATA, as there is no eSATA connection on this motherboard, only on your Promise card.

The link on the Promise web site for the drivers, utilities, etc. is here. The first file listed is the updated BIOS file. If you download it and unzip it, it will have an .exe file which you can run. Run it, it will create a floppy disk for you. Boot the computer from that floppy disk, and it will update the firmware/BIOS of the Promise card.

If the card still does not work after that, then I'd suspect the enclosure. To confirm, take your SATA drive out of the external enclosure, and temporarily install it internally in the computer, and connect it to the Promise card on the internal SATA connectors (on the Promise card, not your motherboard). If the drive is then accessible, then there's nothing wrong with the card, your drivers, the BIOS, or your drive.
January 4, 2007 6:08:19 PM

That link you sent was for the TX2; I have the 4302. The downloads for the 4302 are the same as what is on my CD.

BTW, does anyone here know how to reach Symantec Customer Service who is an American? I am in need of cursing them extensively and I want the receipient to fully understand!
January 4, 2007 7:01:52 PM

???
Page says SATA300 TX4302 Windows driver. Where are you getting TX2 from?
January 4, 2007 7:04:59 PM

Sorry, I corrected my link for the 4302. Looks like there isn't any updated firmware for the 4302, so skip that part.

Try moving the drive to an internal bay to try the card without the enclosure & eSATA cable. This will help break down where the faulty component is.
January 4, 2007 7:08:03 PM

Quote:
Try moving the drive to an internal bay to try the card without the enclosure & eSATA cable. This will help break down where the faulty component is.


Ditto
January 4, 2007 7:28:54 PM

The external drive connects in the enclosure with SATA power and data cables. When the enclosure is hooked-up via USB, the thing works fine, so I don't think it's the drive or the enclosure.

I guess I will:

1. hook the drive directly to an internal port on the card
2. hook the drive/enclosure to an internal port on the card
3. repeat 1 and 2, but this time, hook them to the ports on the MB

Throw the whole thing against the wall! :) 
January 4, 2007 7:38:40 PM

Quote:
Quote:


Your motherboard does not have an eSATA connector on it (according to it's manual). Thus, yes, the card is necessary to do eSATA. I do not know what cmgp is talking about regarding eSATA, as there is no eSATA connection on this motherboard, only on your Promise card.


The 680i does not have an esata connector port where the I/O ports are what you need to do is configure one of the 6 sata ports as an esata port and use a bracket to connect it you do not need to buy an additional card for esata to work jus follow the link below to enable esata as I said before in previous post you need to be careful about the labeling of the ports in the manual the link will show you how to figure it out. I myself am using esata on the motherboard so there should be no reason for you not to be able too. I guess I do know what I'm talking about :lol: 
http://www.evga.com/community/messageboard/topic.asp?TO...
January 4, 2007 11:47:07 PM

Quote:
I guess I do know what I'm talking about :lol: 


Please read my post. I didn't say you didn't know what you were talking about. I said I didn't know what you were talking about.

If this motherboard has undocumented BIOS features that cause the ports to be eSATA compliant, then obviously I'm not aware of that, since the features are undocumented.

Regardless, the Promise card's eSATA port should work just as well as any other eSATA port. Plus I know for a fact that the Promise card supports hot-swap/Safely Remove Hardware, which is necessary for the external enclosure.

Since he already has the card and is attempting to use it, I recommend the troubleshooting procedure above. Plus, I still suspect the enclosure. Yes, I'm well aware that the enclosure is working on USB, that doesn't mean that the enclosure isn't the problem. You're attempting to get the enclosure to work on eSATA now, and that's going to be hooked up differently and go through different circuitry inside the enclosure.
January 5, 2007 2:17:58 AM

Alright guys, no need to snipe at each other (at least not too much :)  ).

Anyhow, here's what has happened so far:

It's been raining here a lot. I had a headache. I played with my son.

Oh, the computer stuff...

I've been having a hell of a time trying to hook up the enclosure to a SATA port on the MB because the top 4 ports are all being used, and the bottom 2 are nearly inaccessible. I tried testing things by removing the top connector, which I thought was going to the DVD drive, but that screwed things up (pc wouldn't boot; very strange). The bottom port resulted in degraded RAID5.

CMPG: I am definitely going to check out the link you posted- much thanks there.

Right now, the drive is out of the enclosure and in the case hooked up to the DVD SATA/power connections, and all is well.

If you know how cramped the Antec 900 is, you know what I am going through trying to reach these ports! Ultimate Gamers Case my arse!

Now that my stomach is full, the headache is gone, and the kiddies are in bed, I will try again with the enclosure!


** EDIT:

After feeling better, I went ahead and tested all of the connection possibilities and discovered that, yes indeed, it was the enclosure that is messing things up. That's a little odd to me since internally, the enclosure uses SATA power and data cables to connect to the drive, and that it works fine in USB 2.0 mode. The eSATA cables that came with it also work fine.

I connected the HDD internally using my SATA DVD power and data connections, and the drive, again, worked as it should.

I then reinstalled the Promise card and connected the HDD to the internal connector on the card (not in the enclosure). It worked.

I then rigged it so that the HDD was connected to a eSATA adapter, and then connected it the eSATA port on the card. Yup, it worked.

As soon as I tried to use the enclosure for ANY SATA connection, well, you know: it didn't work.

Now what sucks is that my maid removed the enclosure box a few days ago. I hope it hasn't been destroyed yet or I might have a difficult time getting Newegg to exchange it!
January 5, 2007 1:09:07 PM

Quote:
After feeling better, I went ahead and tested all of the connection possibilities and discovered that, yes indeed, it was the enclosure that is messing things up.

...

I hope it hasn't been destroyed yet or I might have a difficult time getting Newegg to exchange it!


Bummer. :( 

Give Newegg a call, they might exchange it for you given that it's apparently defective.