Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question

Questions on setting up a RAID1 array on an existing system

Last response: in Storage
Share
October 8, 2009 1:39:41 PM

So, I want to set up a RAID 1 on my laptop (Gateway P-6860FX) Currently I have the original 320 Gig drive in it. What I was going to do was:
1. Obtain 2 WD5000BEV drives (Western Digital Scorpio 500 Gig Laptop drives)
2. Use Partition Magic (or similar) to mirror the 320 to one of the 500s
3. Put in that 500 and boot up to be sure it works.
4. Then I would install the other (blank) 500, enter the BIOS, tell it to set up a RAID 1 array (i guess it would then mirror the main drive to the blank one).

Is that all I would need to do?

Also, in terms of the drives, would it be better to get them from 2 different places? If I get two drives together, they would likely be from the same batch, so more likely to fail together, right? Or is two from the same batch better?
a c 342 G Storage
October 8, 2009 2:29:48 PM

Your process would be right if you were converting a data-storage-only unit into a RAID1 array. But you've missed an important item for your situation, I think - I presume you are booting from the current single drive, and want to boot from the RAID1 array. The Windows you have installed already does not know how to communicate with a RAID array. Even if you install a RAID driver in it now, that only gives it the ability to load that driver from the hard drive AFTER it has already booted. That does NOT allow it to BOOT from the RAID1 array.

As I understand, there are two basic ways around this. The straightforward way is to get all your data and app software backed up to a drive (or, in your case, remove the existing drive and mount it in an external enclosure you can use later as a backup unit), then install only the pair of new drives in your machine. Then you create the RAID1 array. Then you do a complete fresh install of Windows to this array, including installing very early (through the F6 option) the RAID drivers that become a permanent part of this particular Windows install so it always can use the RAID array. After that's done, basically you need to re-install all your application software, configure them, then copy all your data files from the backup unit (the old drive mounted in the external enclosure) to the new drive (RAID1 array).

I don't know if there is any way to do this job more simply, without re-installing all your app software.

The other option I know of amounts to establishing on ONE of the new drives a small Partition to which you clone only the Windows OS portion of your old drive. This becomes your non-RAID C: drive to boot from. Then you create your new RAID1 array from the remainder of that drive (and it will use a chunk of the second drive of matching size), and this will be a data storage only drive. Then you could copy all your old stuff from old drive to new RIAD1 array. But that still leaves you a lot of work to get the transplanted Windows on the new C: drive to recognize and use all its old applications that have suddenly been moved (with their config and data files) to a different drive.

In general when buying a pair of drives for RAID use, get them as identical as possible so all their performance parameters match. Buying two drives from the same manufacturing batch does NOT usually mean the probability of failure is higher. Most failure causes are NOT a repeatable systematic fault in the production line, but rather are from random fluctuations that affect only a very few units in the day's or week's batch. In fact, your odds of getting two exceptionally good units are at least as good as the odds of a pair of bad ones.
October 8, 2009 3:57:56 PM

Paperdoc said:
You've missed an important item for your situation, I think - I presume you are booting from the current single drive, and want to boot from the RAID1 array. The Windows you have installed already does not know how to communicate with a RAID array. Even if you install a RAID driver in it now, that only gives it the ability to load that driver from the hard drive AFTER it has already booted. That does NOT allow it to BOOT from the RAID1 array.

As I understand, there are two basic ways around this. The straightforward way is to get all your data and app software backed up to a drive (or, in your case, remove the existing drive and mount it in an external enclosure you can use later as a backup unit), then install only the pair of new drives in your machine. Then you create the RAID1 array. Then you do a complete fresh install of Windows to this array, including installing very early (through the F6 option) the RAID drivers that become a permanent part of this particular Windows install so it always can use the RAID array. After that's done, basically you need to re-install all your application software, configure them, then copy all your data files from the backup unit (the old drive mounted in the external enclosure) to the new drive (RAID1 array).



Damn. I kinda figured this would be the case. Unfortunately, my laptop came with no Vista install disks. (Why do compaines do this? :fou: ) It has a recovery partition on the drive and it had me use a Gateway utility to make a recovery CD. That's it. I guess I'm SOL then. :cry: 
Related resources
April 29, 2010 2:12:06 AM

Hi,

I have a question about setting up a Raid 1 array, or rather I want to confirm my understanding of what Paperdoc said.

I just built a new computer and I was going to install a 2TB HDD as a bulk storage drive for video and music. Unfortunately, the brand new drive failed immediately after transferring about 375GB worth of video and music. I lost it all. This experience prompted me to consider Raid 1. I ordered a new 2TB drive (WD Caviar Green) and received it today. However, the replacement for the defective drive is still about a week or more away.

My question is, can I install the new drive I have on-hand and begin recovering what I can of what I lost and then when the second drive arrives, set it up in a RAID 1 array with the first one without loosing the data?

I'm running Windows 7 Pro with an Asus P6X58D Premium mobo. The system is running on a separate 500GB drive so shouldn't be involved.

Hmm...is it possibly to set a single drive up for RAID 1 in anticipation of adding a second one, or do both drives have to be there at the time of the set up?

Thanks in advance,

Calamity
a c 342 G Storage
April 30, 2010 4:45:48 AM

Find and read the detailed manual for the RAID system you have. I am presuming that you plan to use the RAID management system built into the chipset on your mobo.

Most RAID1 systems I have seen do allow what you want to do. You have a 500 GB drive you do NOT plan to use in the RAID1 array, and it is your boot drive. You have received a 2 TB new HDD and you could add it to your system right now as a non-RAID unit, Partition and Format it, and start using it as a non-RAID data storage device. Later, when you receive the second 2 TB unit you can make the conversion.

The first step will be to install the second 2 TB unit. When you boot up it will not appear to be there, except in the lower right pane of Disk Management. That's OK. You should then boot into BIOS Setup and change the SATA port mode to RAID. This MAY be for ALL your SATA drives, even the one you don't plan to use that way, but don't worry. You save and exit and the machine will reboot. But this time during the boot process you will see a screen that tells you to push a certain key if you want to enter the RAID Setup and Management area. Do that.

Within the RAID management system you get to choose what type of RAID array you are trying to create, and which HDD units are assigned to the array. Any disk NOT assigned to an array continues to be a non-RAID disk, like your 500 GB original unit. For the RAID1 array you are creating, you will specify both 2 TB units as its members. It will ask about setting up the disks and Formatting them. When it asks you if it should completely wipe out all previous data, say NO. Use the menus to tell it to copy all the data from the drive that has some to the other drive as it sets up the array. You may need to be particularly careful to identify which unit already has the data to be copied.

As I said, most systems I've seen allow you to convert a single non-RAID disk into half of a RAID1 array and preserve its data on the new array. But before starting, make sure you read the manual and know how to do this on your system.

Once this is done, your Windows may NOT yet recognize the RAID1 array and show it as a single disk in My Computer. If it does not, install the RAID driver into your Windows so that it can use this new device type. You have to wait until the RAID array exists before you can do this step, however - I have seen Windows refuse to install a RAID driver if there is no RAID array present. If you're lucky, Windows may actually detect the existence of this new device and do the installation for you.
April 30, 2010 9:58:18 AM

Thanks, PaperDoc for the detailed reply. Unfortunately, my manual for my mobo is a bit sketchy on setting up a RAID array, so you're instructions are appreciated. I'll give it a shot when the new drive gets here.

Wish me luck!

Calamity
!