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Intel Matrix Storage System Raid 0 and 5 question.

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May 15, 2009 12:48:31 PM

Hi, and a big hello to all. New to this forum and as my mother always said manners cost nothing :-)

I am hoping that I might be able to get some advice/help from you all.

I am running a Asus P5E with 4 500GB harddisks in the following raid config (well let me say was running!) with the Intel Matrix Storage System Rom v7,5,0,1017 ICH9R wRAID5

The following raids are split accross all 4 harddrives

Raid 0 200GB (which I used for the OS, Windows Vista .1 partition
Raid 5 1247.2GB (Which was for storage/extra backup) 3 partitions

The problem is one of my harddrives died and now which natually means my raid 0 is gone to raid hell :-) Failed, along with me Vista installation. My raid 5 is showing Degraded.

Natually I have no OS now, I do have another harddrive on order but wont be here until next week, I would like to get a jump start before it arrives and get my pc backup and running over the weekend.

Can I delete the failed raid 0 and recreate it, and if so will it affect my raid 5 degraded? Because when I select delete, I get a warning that deleting the volume will reset the DISKS to non raid, and all data will be lost.

If I can do the above how would I proceed with installion on Vista so as not to damage my degraded raid 5 until my new disk arrives.

Once my new disk arrives and the above is ok to do, will it be straight forward to fix the degraded raid 5 ?

Or does anyone else have an idea on what I can do to get the ball rolling so I can get my pc up and running before my new disk arrives?

Thanks for taking the time for reading this.

May 17, 2009 5:58:06 AM

It *might* work (even with those warnings), but I've never tried (only done it through the Intel Matrix Manager), and I wouldn't try it unless without a backup of whatever is on the RAID 5 volume.

Maybe someone else who's done it can weigh in; sans that that, and given those caveats, FWIW...

Unfortunately, the BIOS RAID support is pretty stupid, and AFAIK is intended to provide just enough intelligence to get a volume defined and a system installed and bootable.

Managing multiple RAID volumes ("Matrix RAID") requires the Intel Matrix Storage Manager, which requires an OS. As you don't have an OS, that's a non-starter, unless maybe you install the OS on the current degraded RAID 5 volume, which I would strongly advise against unless you have a backup. (You're living on borrowed time until that disk arrives and the array is rebuilt. Don't push your luck.)

I don't know how you're going to thread that needle unless you order yet another drive to install the OS and Intel Matrix Storage Manager and redefine the array, then reinstall (again), once you've got the RAID 5 volume rebuilt (first priority) and the OS (RAID 1) volume redefined.

Or maybe you can use a Linux LiveCD with the Intel stuff on it? IIRC Vista has the Intel stuff included, but that still assumes a RAID volume is defined. That may allow install on the RAID 5 volume, or maybe using the Vista repair console would allow you to redefine the defunct RAID 0 volume without nuking the RAID 5 volume?

However, before you try to remake the system as it was... I know this is a pain, and I don't mean to be crass, but you picked about the worst possible RAID/disk implementation and configuration imaginable. I strongly suggest one of the following:

1. At minimum, keep the OS on a separate disk from the RAID 5 array (do not RAID the OS disk, but do install the Intel Matrix Storage Manager). That won't keep you running if a single-disk failure occurs (specifically the OS disk), but it will avoid putting everything at risk from a single-disk failure, and avoid the current catch-22.

2. If you're going to mix-and-match RAID volumes/types across 4 disks, make the critical path (in this case the OS) at least as immune to a single disk failure as the other RAID volumes on those disks. That is, make the OS RAID volume at least RAID 1 or RAID 10.
May 17, 2009 7:22:27 AM

Thanks, jrst for your reply.

I do have a spare old IDE harddisk which I can install the OS on.

So I am thinking based upon your reply, I wait for my spare harddisk to come.
Once I have it I put it into my system to replace the damage harddisk. I then install vista onto the spare harddisk alone with Intel Matrix Manager and then have that rebuild my raid 5.

I am guessing thatis the safest bet.

Then as you suggested get another new harddisk and keep my OS of off the 4 harddisk with the raid 5 on.
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May 17, 2009 8:10:00 AM

Yes, by all means if you have a spare IDE drive, install the OS and Intel software on that (however, see cautions below).

That will get you ahead of the curve, and having Matrix Storage Manager available from a running OS will help. Although the BIOS RAID manager should be able to manage by itself to rebuild the RAID 5 array (caveat: I've never tried it with a degraded array), it's dumb and slow. You're much better off if you have Matrix Storage Manager with a functioning OS.

IIRC PATA for your mobo is on a separate Jmicron controller unrelated to the Intel SATA controller, so you should be able to hook up an IDE drive without touching the Intel/BIOS/RAID config, and this may not be an issue. However...

WARNING: Ensure that you can use the IDE drive without changing the BIOS setting of the existing drives/array which you currently have defined as RAID (i.e., the IDE controller is separate from the Intel ICH/RAID/SATA controller). If you change the BIOS setting of drives on the current RAID array to IDE, there is a potential for losing the RAID array. While that *should* work if you subsequently set the BIOS back to RAID and reattach/redefine the array with exactly the same settings, anecdotal evidence suggests it doesn't always work. YMMV. In any case, I would never, ever, try that with a degraded array.


p.s. Having the OS on an IDE drive might not be optimal, but it's a definite improvement from where you are now. In any case, assuming the IDE drive is reasonably current (e.g., UDMA capable) and all other things being equal, I doubt you'll notice much difference in performance. Synthetic benchmarks and fanboys aside, RAID 0 generally provides very marginal performance improvements--and in some cases worse performance--than a simple non-RAID configuration for the vast majority of users (But that's another subject. :) 
May 17, 2009 11:30:48 PM

I suggest backing up everything and then delete the Raid 5 array and use Raid 10 instead. Software Raid 5 is really crap and causes many problems. If you are relying on the Raid 5 for ALL of your important data, you are asking to lose ALL of it because software Raid 5 is very unstable.

Right now, you should be able to take a Sata drive and install the OS on it and then back up your Raid 5 array to another drive.

Good Luck.
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