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Add RAID 5 to existing Vista 64 system

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  • NAS / RAID
  • Windows Vista
  • Storage
Last response: in Storage
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May 20, 2009 8:49:26 PM

I'm an IT guy but a RAID newb, so help me out please.

Here's my existing system The salient details:
Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550 Yorkfield 2.83GHz

ASUS P5K-E LGA 775 Intel P35

(2) SAMSUNG Spinpoint F1 HD103UJ 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB -$180x2SAMSUNG Spinpoint F1 HD103UJ 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB

Vista x64 Ultimate

I just bought 2 WD Caviar Green 1TB and 1 WD Caviar Green 1.5 TB drives. I think I'd like to throw everything into a RAID 5--I'm open to suggestions of why that would be a bad idea, if it is. I've got the OS, my general files, dvr-ms files, and 100GB of mp3s on one drive, DVD images filling up the second. In the BIOS, the drives are set to IDE (or whatever the not AHCI or RAID option would be, I'm not in front of my home PC right now to confirm). Couple interrelated questions:

1. Is it possible to RAID the 3 empty drives, transfer 1TB of data over to empty an existing drive, then add that drive to the array?

2. It it possible to add any sort of array to an existing Vista install? I was able to switch the BIOS to RAID, get into my software RAID manager and RAID 5 the three empty drives. But Vista won't boot if I leave it in AHCI or RAID. (Note: I've downloaded a bunch of mobo firmware/updates but I haven't installed them just yet, perhaps they will change things). I can boot into Vista normally under IDE mode, but it still sees the individual HDs, not the array. Am I gonna have to reinstall Vista? Am I gonna have to reinstall Vista? Not the end of the world if I do, I'd probably do that sooner or later anyway, as I've got some unrelated screwiness that I'm getting tired of dealing with.

3. Say the answers to the above are no and no, as I sort of expect at this point. What would you recommend that I do then? My OS and general files only take up 100-200 gigs, tops. I can use some sort of standard backup for them if it doesn't make sense to throw them in the big array. But backup, whether local or online, doesn't makes fiscal sense for multiple terabytes of media files. How can I maximize my safe storage space for media, given that I don't have a spare TB of storage to hold my existing media while I blank that drive and add it to a new array?

Am I explaining my situation well? Is this forum the best place to ask? Thanks in advance for any replies.
-MikeI'm an IT guy but a RAID newb, so help me out please.

Here's my existing system The salient details:
Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550 Yorkfield 2.83GHz

ASUS P5K-E LGA 775 Intel P35

(2) SAMSUNG Spinpoint F1 HD103UJ 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB -$180x2SAMSUNG Spinpoint F1 HD103UJ 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB

Vista x64 Ultimate

I just bought 2 WD Caviar Green 1TB and 1 WD Caviar Green 1.5 TB drives. I think I'd like to throw everything into a RAID 5--I'm open to suggestions of why that would be a bad idea, if it is. I've got the OS, my general files, dvr-ms files, and 100GB of mp3s on one drive. DVD images fill up the second. In the BIOS, the drives are set to IDE (or whatever the not AHCI or RAID option would be, I'm not in front of my home PC right now to confirm). Couple interrelated questions:

1. Is it possible to RAID the 3 empty drives, transfer 1TB of data over to empty an existing drive, then add that drive to the array?

2. It it possible to add any sort of array to an existing Vista install? I was able to switch the BIOS to RAID, get into my software RAID manager and RAID 5 the three empty drives. But Vista won't boot if I leave it in AHCI or RAID. (Note: I've downloaded a bunch of mobo firmware/updates but I haven't installed them just yet, perhaps they will change things). I can boot into Vista normally under IDE mode, but it still sees the individual HDs, not the array. Am I gonna have to reinstall Vista? Am I gonna have to reinstall Vista? Not the end of the world if I do, I'd probably do that sooner or later anyway, as I've got some unrelated screwiness that I'm getting tired of dealing with.

3. Say the answers to the above are no and no, as I sort of expect at this point. What would you recommend that I do then? My OS and general files only take up 100-200 gigs, tops. I can use some sort of standard backup for them if it doesn't make sense to throw them in the big array. But backup, whether local or online, doesn't makes fiscal sense for multiple terabytes of media files. How can I maximize my safe storage space for media, given that I don't have a spare TB of storage to hold my existing media while I blank that drive and add it to a new array?

Am I explaining my situation well? Is this forum the best place to ask? Thanks in advance for any replies.
-Mike

More about : add raid existing vista system

a c 127 G Storage
May 23, 2009 11:05:59 AM

1. When you create a RAID-array, all information on the RAID members should be considered destroyed. So you need to backup your data before creating a RAID-array.

2. You can't just switch the mode to RAID in the BIOS and run your Vista on RAID. If you want to boot from a RAID array in Windows, you need to install RAID-drivers during installation. And it will also destroy everything already on the drives. First you should backup your files, then create the RAID-array, then install a new operating system to it.

3. The best setup would be an SSD for your system running operating system and applications/games. Use the WD Green drives as data disks, and you can avoid RAID by just copying your data to two drives, or the 1.5GB being a backup drive, etc. A backup will protect you more than RAID, and using RAID5 on Windows without hardware controller introduces alot of problems. Just avoid doing that whenever possible.

Also note that if you create a RAID array of disks with variable capacity (1.0TB, 1.0TB, 1.5TB) the smallest disk will be used, so the 1.5TB disk will loose 500GB capacity that you cannot use. Some onboard RAID like Intel ICHxR can use RAID on partitions however. But that introduces other problems, and you most likely do not want a fragile setup. Think well before you use RAID.
May 23, 2009 11:52:00 AM

Alright, thanks for the answers, though that wasn't what I was hoping to hear :(  I really wanted to avoid the need for a 1:1 disk size ratio for backup, as I'm working with limited funds. I'd love an SSD, but my understanding is that the reliable SLC ones are still quite expensive (just checked: $400 for a 32GB at newegg, I'm going to have to wait for prices to come way down.)

My problem is that I don't have the average user's couple of gigs of photos and documents to back up--it's a couple of TB of media that I want to backup. I realize that's going to cost me, just trying to figure out the cheapest way to accomplish it.
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a c 127 G Storage
May 23, 2009 3:04:55 PM

You do not need SLC disks for high performance, an MLC disk can do the job just fine, provided it has a good controller that can hide some of the weaknesses of MLC flash memory storage.

Intel X25-M 80GB and OCZ Vertex are good performing disks that are entering the price range power users are willing to pay for. While its capacity is limited, it could enable you to store all operating system and applications on the SSD, making your system far more responsive than any mechanical array ever can. Its a good investment because the performance difference can be huge, and this translates to an actual feeling of more responsiveness to the user. It may be beyond your budget, ofcourse.

As for storage, you would have several options:
- not using any RAID, just making backups to seperate 1TB+ drives. This would also solve your capacity size problem, since you have one 1.5TB disk and two 1.0TB disks.
- install the operating system on the 1.5TB disk and put the two 1.0TB disks in RAID1, note however a backup offers a better protection than a RAID1.
- install the operating system on an SSD, use the 1.5TB disk as backup disk, and the two 1TB disks in RAID0, or something fancy. Would offer the best performance, if 1.5TB is enough for your backups, as the second array would be 2.0TB in size.
May 23, 2009 4:47:57 PM

The OCZ is in my price range, maybe I'll go with that.

1.5 is not enough for my backups. I've actually got 4x1TB and 1x1.5TB drives, sorry if that wasn't clear from the above. Currently only 2x1TB drives are active, and they're nearly full, plus I'm planning to fill up another TB or two in the next year or so. If I added an 30 or 60GB OCZ Vertex, what config would you recommend?

As far as backup offering better protection than RAID1, in what sense do you mean? I realize that backup protects you from things like file corruption and accidental deletion where RAID does not. I'm not worried about idiot proofing this thing though, I just want to protect against losing 1TB of ripped media due to a drive failure. Given that, which is better, backup or RAID?
May 31, 2009 9:21:49 PM

I feel like I'm close to figuring this out, so please forgive the BUMP.
June 1, 2009 12:45:49 AM

hmmm since you bumped it.....

here is how I went from a single drive to a 4 drive raid 5 on my mobo...

1. I have a external docking station that is esata pluggable.
2. found procedures to install the ahci drivers for vista and switched on raid in the bios and re-booted
3. cloned hard drive to esata dock and made the computer boot off that
4. added 4 drives to computer and formatted for raid 5 2.62TB with 100 GB bootable
5. cloned the esata dock back to the newly created 100GB and rebooted

Used the trial version of acronis to do this.

System seems stable now for the last couple of weeks.
June 1, 2009 11:09:53 AM

Thanks, that's helpful. Unfortunately, I have more than 100GB of data to transfer over, I have 1TB+. I don't even care if I have to reinstall Vista at this point, but I'm coming to the conclusion that there is no good solution here. I guess I'll keep living dangerously until I can afford to build a separate 1x1 backup system.
June 13, 2009 1:49:28 PM

I was about to give up on RAID for this go round, but I noticed something today. I've got just enough space on my new 1.5TB drive and a 150GB external drive to move all my current data over and free up 4x1TB drives, which I could then throw into a RAID-5. Using the 1.5 for just my OS is a waste, but might be the best all around solution.

Money's gotten tight now, so an SSD (or any additional hardware, for that matter) is out of the question in the near future.
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