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4.5TB RAID5 Array (Promise TX4310 and 4x 1.5TB Seagates)

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December 12, 2008 5:44:34 PM

I recently purchased 4x 1.5TB Seagate Drives (ST31500341AS) and updated their firmwares to the latest (SD1A).

I also purchased a Promise FastTrak TX4310 and updated its firmware (2.8.1.4).

After building the RAID5 array, the logical disk size is 4.5TB (expected). Upon reboot, but before Windows loads, the Promise controller shows the logical disk size to be 2TB. Windows Server 2003 performs a checkdsk for a few minutes and then Windows finishes loading. After a second reboot, the RAID array is now gone and needs to be completely rebuilt. The data is lost.

I contacted Promise technical support by phone and they were aware of problems with using 1TB drives in a RAID5 array, but not of problems of using 1.5TB drives in a RAID5 array. Promise also stated they were working on a firmware fix for the controller and they should have a working firmware in 6 to 12 months.

In the mean time, I am using the disks in JBOD mode, and creating a software RAID5 array in Windows Disk Management

For those interested in creating a 4.5TB RAID5 array with these disks, I noticed that another RAID controller should be able to work in this setup.

The HighPoint RocketRAID 1740 controller does have 64bit LBA support which supports arrays greater than 2TB.

I hope this helps someone, if I had known this information sooner I would have purchased the HighPoint Controller instead of the Promise.
December 13, 2008 1:21:01 AM

The Promise controller is a host-based controller; that means that it's not hardware RAID but driver RAID; all work is done by the drivers.

The real RAID-controllers from promise are called SuperTrak, the FastTrak series are just normal SATA controllers with bootstrap support and RAID drivers; some like to call it Fake RAID.

Also, it might overwrite the last sector of each disk, causing your configuration to be gone. This can be prevented by creating partitions that leave some space at the end of each drive.

But if you want RAID5 on Windows, why not buy a reasonable controller like Highpoint RocketRAID 2310 or 2320. These have a PCI-express interface which is much much better than PCI which is what you're using now. And yes you need 64-bit LBA but so does the operating system! And Windows requires partitions on all volumes, and normal partitions have a 2TiB limitation. So you need the new GPT partitions which can be bigger. Not all Windows versions support these, i can't tell you which does since i'm mostly working with Linux+BSD.

If you can afford the RR23xx series you should have a controller that can be with you for a long time. Anything with PCI or even PCI-X is obsolete by todays and tomorrows standards. For PCI-X the biggest problem is the inability to move it to a newer PCIe motherboard. PCIe is clearly superior and should be used whenever performance is important.
December 13, 2008 3:43:30 AM

I understand the difference between hardware and software RAID, and the need to use GPT partitions. I am running Server 2003 which does support 64bit LBA.

The reason I'm using PCI and not PCIe is because my motherboard (Tyan Tiger MPX) is 7 years old and obviously does not have PCIe slots. :) 

Also, I see no need to upgrade the machine since I only use it as a glorified NAS and use my laptop for most of my work (Lenovo T61p)
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December 13, 2008 6:38:19 AM

enlightenment basically said it all...

Server 2003 supports GPT disks as does Vista and Server 2008 (none will use it as a boot drive unless you have an EFI bios though not sure what that Tyan is)

That Tyan has PCI-X which will give you a few more options for better RAID cards. although enlightenment is on the spot again as it wont really be transferable (although ive heard that most of these will work in ordinary PCI slot but will lower bandwidth when compared with the PCI-X). Basically if it doesnt have an XOR processor onboard its software RAID.
December 27, 2008 7:13:43 AM

most software raid have the 2TB (32bit) limitation as well where as most hardware raids have the 64bit (alot of TB) limitation and only have the 2TB limitation when used on a system that don't support GPT.

have said it many times before, stay away from software raid, it is not as good as it pretends to be.
January 6, 2009 6:50:53 PM

Godiwa said:
most software raid have the 2TB (32bit) limitation as well where as most hardware raids have the 64bit (alot of TB) limitation and only have the 2TB limitation when used on a system that don't support GPT.

have said it many times before, stay away from software raid, it is not as good as it pretends to be.


Got a 3T array out of 1Tx4 drives on WinXP 32 bit.
February 19, 2010 5:26:15 AM

I have two of the TX4310 boards. Nothing but problems. Support wasn't much help the two times I posted issues. The last issue was that I need to purchase R-Studio to recover the data.

Now using Adaptec 51245 RAID controller with 10 2TB drives.

Also, if you ever have a RAID5 failure on a TX4310, it can take up to 7 days to rebuild with a spare drive attached. Look at the throughput for the controller - 266MB/sec max. Use for RAID 0, 1 or 10 only, if you don't want to deal with long rebuld times.

You will also find that the HDD compatibility list says it supports at least one 1TB drive, but when you look at the specs it says you can get 4TB using 500GB drives and 2 controllers. What I found was that with the 1TB drive, it seems to ignore about 400GB of the drive.

Just as a side note, I hate Seagate (aka Maxtor); I have not had any problems with Western Digital drives - especially RE2, RE3, RE4 and Black.
February 28, 2010 4:25:13 AM

I have one of these controllers and it only takes it about 30 minutes to do a rebuild, but it's running on an AMD x2 5000+, 2 gb ram and windows xp 32.

As for hard drives, all I can say is this, I have about 70 hard drives laying around, more if you count dead ones. It seems that all the manufactures all have bad lines from time to time. One of them going back into the past a bit, bringing up 2 WD drives, the dreaded 4.3 gb Caviar and the 20gb Protege, not to mention the countless Seagate cheetah's that failed me. I worked at a computer shop and we got a run of bad 40 gb Seagate Barricuda's. The only drives that have seemed to hold up where the ones that were maxtor made when they were maxtor. I have 10 80 gb maxtors, 4 of which ran 24 / 7 in my old server for about 5 years, and only now, 8 years after all that are they starting to go bad. I have not encountered alot of dead maxtors, but I have seen and experienced it. Also noting, some of the drives that maxtor sold that failed were made by Quantum. The worst drives though I have seen where the old Conner drives. But really coming from experience, I quit the fan-boy thing becuase I have been let down at one time or another with each company, and I find it fruitless to do ones of those "OMG don't buy brand X, it was horrible, I'll just go with brand Z in the future" Just do your homework and almost any hardware will last you a while, and if you take care of it, that makes a huge bit of difference too. Alot of people forgot giving their hard drives enough cooling and thus shorten their life as well, look at how DELL and HP build machines sometimes, the internal temps are within the limits of the hardware, but running near the limit doesn't always prove good. Just like what would happen if you drove your car constantly just under the red line, it would most defenitely have problems faster.

Wow I went off topic, but anyways, my controller is running 4 x 200 gb drives now, I am thinking about getting some 500's cause they are cheap, or maybe 750's. I could let you know what happens once I make the decision. To me that controller still has life in it unless you want raid 5 in a ultra new box. Alot of normal folks have nas / file server's about because it was an old pc. You have to see what the old pc runs to make something useful. Otherwise if you really want a file server invest $$$$$ in SCSI / SAS and an awesome controller, might as well buy a real server too. lol You should see the point I am making no ? I came across this article looking to see what people have accomplished with this controller.

Anyways, that's my 2 cents worth.
October 5, 2010 12:19:24 PM

mutant_69 said:
I have two of the TX4310 boards. Nothing but problems. Support wasn't much help the two times I posted issues. The last issue was that I need to purchase R-Studio to recover the data.

Now using Adaptec 51245 RAID controller with 10 2TB drives.

Also, if you ever have a RAID5 failure on a TX4310, it can take up to 7 days to rebuild with a spare drive attached. Look at the throughput for the controller - 266MB/sec max. Use for RAID 0, 1 or 10 only, if you don't want to deal with long rebuld times.

You will also find that the HDD compatibility list says it supports at least one 1TB drive, but when you look at the specs it says you can get 4TB using 500GB drives and 2 controllers. What I found was that with the 1TB drive, it seems to ignore about 400GB of the drive.

Just as a side note, I hate Seagate (aka Maxtor); I have not had any problems with Western Digital drives - especially RE2, RE3, RE4 and Black.


Just the same *** here with the TX4650: I lost the partition table three times now and I had to recover the data with R-Studio (RAID5 volume with three 2TB drives). First I suspected Windows Server 2008 R2 has problems with GPT partitioned volumes but now after reading others having troubles with FastTrax I know I have to replace it with a real controller.
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