New to RAID

I'm considering setting up a RAID0 array with my two 80GB SSDs. I have read the RAID FAQ on this forum and several others, but I'm not really feeling too confident yet.

I currently have my OS installed on another drive, my SSDs actually aren't even here yet. So I think that this - taken from the RAID FAQ - is the procedure I'm looking for:

Quote:
If you want to use NTFS, or do some benchmarks with different stripe and clustersize combinations the recommended method requires a third temporary drive:

1) Attach the drives to the RAID controller. Each drive should be master on its own channel (separate cable) for maximum performance.
2) Attach the temporary drive to the normal IDE controller.
3) Enter the RAID controller bios. Setup the RAID0 array with your preferred stripesize.
4) Install the OS on the temporary drive.
5) Boot on the temporary drive. When the OS is up and running, install the RAID drivers.
6) Partition and format the RAID array with the preferred clustersize. In Windows XP, Disk Management provides the means to partition drives and formatting with a custom clustersize.
7) Optionally perform benchmarks on the array. Reformat the drive with a different clustersize or rebuild the array with a different stripesize. When the array is partitioned and formatted, the temporary drive can be removed.
8) Make sure you have a floppy with the RAID drivers. Boot from the OS installation CD, and when prompted press 'F6' to install third party RAID or SCSI drivers. Insert the floppy.
9) Install the OS on the boot partition of the RAID array. Make sure you do not format the array during installation, since this will reset the clustersize to the default value.


So I have a few questions...
1) My OS is already installed on what is now becoming the "temporary drive". Is it okay to just enter the RAID controller BIOS, setup the RAID0 array, and then boot to my normal OS (Windows 7, by the way) and install the RAID drivers?

2) Stripesize, clustersize, wat? What should I set these to?

3) Yeah, I don't have a floppy drive. Is it okay to boot the OS from the installation CD, and when prompted press F6 and swap CDs? Heh.

4) Possible to clone the existing OS instead of reinstalling? Probably not going to do this either way, just curious.

Sorry for all the questions. I get a bit nervous before trying something new. Thanks for any help!
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  1. I feel much better after reading my motherboard's RAID manual (what a surprise).

    Do steps 4 through 7 have to be performed? It seems redundant to install the RAID drivers twice, but that is to format it as NTFS, correct? Is that procedure still current?
  2. From your quest, If you going to set-up RAID on OS installed drive means, the OS should be lost. Now your OS in temporary drive, then is that drive not come in present RAID array?
  3. Right, the drive my OS is currently on will not be part of the RAID array, so it's basically a 'temporary' OS drive.

    I think the second sticky at the top answers my question about cloning the OS onto the array, though.

    Still stuck on question 2 from my original post, and the question from my second post.
  4. joebob8387 said:
    So I have a few questions...
    1) My OS is already installed on what is now becoming the "temporary drive". Is it okay to just enter the RAID controller BIOS, setup the RAID0 array, and then boot to my normal OS (Windows 7, by the way) and install the RAID drivers?
    I take it that you're using a motherboard with one of the Intel "ICH" chipsets which perform raid? At the BIOS level you can configure them as "AHCI" or "RAID", and I take it that you currently have the configured as "AHCI", is that right?

    If so, then you may have painted yourself into a corner. The problem is that different Windows drivers are required depending on whether it sees the drives as AHCI or RAID drives. If you change the drive type, the drivers currently configured in your OS won't work and the system will fail to boot.

    I'm not aware of any way around this problem other than to change the configuration and then reinstall Windows. When you boot from the install CD it will recognize the drive type and load the appropriate driver.

    Perhaps someone with more experience with these motherboard RAID drivers can come up with a better plan....?
  5. Yes, ICH10R. Yes, it's currently AHCI. From the 2nd sticky at the top, it seems that I COULD get around the driver issue, but I'm not sure I even care to try. Might be nice for a fresh install, anyways.
  6. joebob8387 said:
    From the 2nd sticky at the top, it seems that I COULD get around the driver issue, but I'm not sure I even care to try.

    Yeah, I took a quick look at that and came to the conclusion that a fresh install was the lesser of the two evils... :(
  7. I can help you here, from experience.
    I have two 80gb intel X25-m drives in raid-0. My objective was not so much the speed, but to give a single 160gb image which is easier to manage that two drives.

    I originally had AHCI specified in the bios. That caused the OS to be installed with the AHCI drivers. You will need to change this to RAID in the bios.
    Fortunately, this is just a superset of ahci, and does not require any changes to the OS. If you had not specified ahci, then I think a OS reinstall may be necessary.

    Step one, then is just to make that simple change from ahci to raid. Reboot, and everything should be OK. You can always change the bios back if you should encounter a problem.

    Step two is to install the two SSD drives. Get into the bios and set them up as a raid-0 array. You will be asked about a stripe size. I picked 64k. I had done some research on this, and got no definitive answers on the best size. Larger sizes might be good for sequential operations, but for OS work, smaller might be better. To my mind 64k is working fine, but I would change if I got a better definitive answer.

    Step three is to clone your OS to the new raid drive/s. I used acronis true image to do it. If you want, you can download the trial version to do the cloning.

    Step 4, I disconnected the old drive, and set the raid array as the boot drive in the bios.

    No problems. I use Vista home premium 64 bit.
  8. geofelt said:
    Fortunately, this is just a superset of ahci, and does not require any changes to the OS. If you had not specified ahci, then I think a OS reinstall may be necessary.
    Ah, that's very interesting... I'm just about to build a system, I'll have to try this out. Thanks for mentioning it!
  9. Getting 'RAID' mode working on Windows with 'AHCI' already installed is also possible. e.g. you want to keep OS drive untouched, but add a few drives for storage under Intel Matrix RAID.

    1. First you swap your OS drive onto a 3rd party SATA controller. Before you do that make sure you've installed driver for that 3rd party SATA controller.
    2. Put the 3rd party SATA controller into 'AHCI' mode and ICHx-R into 'RAID' mode
    3. Boot into Windows and install Intel Matrix RAID Management software/drive
    4. Swap your OS drive back onto the ICHx-R. Now you can boot into Windows as a single drive under 'RAID' mode without getting a BSOD.

    Back to the question of OP:
    Quote:
    1) My OS is already installed on what is now becoming the "temporary drive". Is it okay to just enter the RAID controller BIOS, setup the RAID0 array, and then boot to my normal OS (Windows 7, by the way) and install the RAID drivers?
    Assuming you want to boot Windows from your new array. The best option is to do a complete clean install of Windows.
    Disk imaging/cloning is just too much hassle.

    I do a clean install of Windows about once every 9-12months now and keep on my installables for quick reinstallation on another partition along with other data. Clean installing Windows is a walk in the park.

    2) 64KB is the ideal stripe size for ICHx-R with OS installed on it. The default 4KB cluster size of NTFS will do.

    3) F6? Why are still installing Windows XP?

    4) Read #1
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