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Trying to set up a Data RAID 1

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December 26, 2008 6:40:24 PM

Appreciate any thoughts on this.

New December build, ASUS P6T, which has a number of SATA connections, including two dedicated hardware SAS connections, which is to set up a hardware based RAID setup. This should be easy, but I have not been able to figure this out. Plus, ASUS technical support is having the holiday off work...understandable, but it would be nice to figure this out over the weekend.

I have 3 HDs. One is a WD veliciraptor for the OS and programs. I have this set up in a SATA connection, and it is my secondary boot device (behind the CD drive). Vista 64 bit, everything up and running and working great.

For my data, I have two WD 1 TB drives. I intend to have this mirrored in a RAID 1 (mirroring) setup. One currently has my personal data, the other is blank. I originally had them on a straight SATA connector, and this morning have moved them over to the SAS connectors, where I should be able to set them up as a pair of RAID 1 drives.

This is where I am failing to figure this out. I can get to two different BIOS oriented screens, one seems to be a ASUS tweaker setup utility, and one is more of a hardware BIOS utility. The ASUS tweaker setup utility does NOT show my two data drives as attached, but does have the BIOS Setup option for "Storage Configuration", which I can set to RAID or IDE...However, I can't see my two data drives.....

So, I pop out of that, and go over to the BIOS setup utility, which actually sees my two data drives. There, I can set up as a RAID, but haven't yet, because I haven't seen where the option is to choose RAID 0 or RAID 1 or others.....

I have read there is an issue with setting up a software RAID and a separate hardware RAID....I am strictly looking for the hardware RAID setup for my data at this time.

While one of my drives has my personal data on it, I could erase that if necessary as I do have backups.

If no one has encountered this to date, I will wait till Monday to talk to ASUS Technical support, but am hopeful someone at TR has encountered this and knows which direction to head down.

Thx

More about : set data raid

a b V Motherboard
December 26, 2008 7:28:17 PM

I'll try to help here, but it can be a little tricky.

Once you have your SATA controller set as RAID in the regular BIOS, and then there is also a seperate area in the regular BIOS that allows to select RAID as a bootable, or RAID as storage. You of course want to set that to storage.

Once the controller is enabled, and the RAID is set to be used as storage, exit the regular BIOS and during the last of your POST screen you should see another message something like "press ctrl-8 to enter RAID BIOS" to enter your RAID BIOS. Or it may say "press F8" or whatever, but you get the point. This message will not appear during POST unless you have done the previous steps in the regular BIOS first.

Enter the RAID BIOS, and from there you will have the options to select the drives, and setup whatever kind of array you want to build, you are looking for Mirroring, which is RAID 1, not Striping which is RAID 0. From there it should be pretty straight forward to build the array, refering all the time to your motherboard manual for the proper steps once you are there to build the array you are planning.

Once you get it all set, and boot to Windows, you may have to still install the driver for your RAID controller if you have not done that already during set-up of your other SATA devices. If that is not done, your OS will not be able to see the array. (Which it will simply recognize as a single drive with no name, it usually simply calls it a SCSI device). If you are using Vista, Vista should find and recognize, and auto install the drivers for most common controllers, including RAID arrays. XP will not.

I cannot stress enough though that RAID 1 mirroring is a very poor way to back up files. It was meant for redundancy, so that in case a drive fails a server can keep running on the other drive until it has been replaced.
You are still completely open to virus's, accidental deletions, controller failure, power surges, etc. In other words any thing at all that happens on 1 drive is instantly going to happen exactly the same to the other drive.
The only thing RAID protects you from is if 1 drive physically fails.

If you are happy with that scenerio, then by all means do the mirror.
If you are saving anything at all on the array that you absolutely do not want to lose under any circumstances, it is far better to back up those files to DVD's.

Good luck, and let me know if I was any help at all, I'll be around today to try and help further if possible.
December 26, 2008 7:45:20 PM

JIT, thx for the quick reply. I am going to think this through, and maybe try it a little later.

I have another question for you....am I going to lose my data that is currently on one of the data drives? The other drive is empty (but formatted).

I want to address your statement that you are stressing, that this is protecting against a hard drive failure only. I understand that. I admit there are two reasons why I want to try RAID 1 (mirroring).

The silly reason is that I have just never done it before, and this motherboard supports it, so I thought, hey......new toy! :love: 

The more practical reason is that with my previous computer I tried to maintain a set of 4 different hard drives to copy data back and forth. I ended up with Allway Sync as the program of choice for keeping drives in sync.

That methodology did work, and provided me with some redundancy, but to be honest, very seldom did my drives actually match, simply due to size of volumes. (couldn't put all the files on one single drive). Plus, I was sporadic in my backup procedure, so I often went weeks before backing things up.

So, this time around, I bought two data drives 10x the size I need today, and that should last awhile. With a mirror, I avoid problems with hard drive failure, yes.

A separate USB drive will be used for off computer backup. This will be setup with Allway Sync.

Does this make sense to you, or do you still feel this is the wrong solution to the data backup issue? I guess I am trying to make life simpler for keeping a 2nd set of backup files (and structures of the folders, etc.), always there, without a lot of work.

For my OS/program drive, I am intending to ghost this image on my data drive as well. Well, I could buy another drive, and will if I need to or if it makes more sense....

Thx again.
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a b V Motherboard
December 26, 2008 8:00:40 PM

Nothing wrong with RAID 1 at all, I would just be sure to save those critical files in an additional area. I understand perfectly about having a new toy, if you want to go RAID 1, then by all means do it. I was not trying talk you out of it, just trying to say.......save your critical data somewhere else as well!

That said, you should be able to build a mirrored array and have the array bascially "mirror" your data to the other drive at the same time.

Now, I have only built RAID 0 arrays, so I cannot tell you step by step how you do this, but it is doable (after all, that is what mirroring is for, if 1 drive fails you have to be able to add a new drive, and rebuild the mirror with all the data intact) As I said, keep your manual handy, and actually most RAID BIOS's are pretty good about being self explanitory once you figure out how to turn them on and get into them.
December 27, 2008 5:49:29 PM

First JIT, thanks for the responses.....In the past 24 hours I have learned a little bit...mostly about how little I know about RAID....ok, here is the situation...

one drive WD VelociRaptor for the OS and programs. IDE drive.

two drives WD 1 TB drives, one for data, one for backup. Also IDE drives.

Originally I placed the one VelociRaptor drive on a IDE SATA connector, and the other two drives under the SAS motherboard connectors, anticipating a RAID 1 setup. I have since moved the two data drives to the IDE SATA connector.

From numerous board forums from ASUS to here, I am questioning now if the SAS controller is a good idea, and would prefer, if possible, to use the Intel ICH10R channel instead. Am intending to disable the SAS controller in the BIOS, reducing boot time.

Which leaves me with two issues:
1. A backup (image or clone or ghost or ?) of the OS drive......I could buy another VelociRaptor if needed. I think I should have bought another VelociRaptor for an image of the OS drive, in the event it crashes. That would give me 4 drives...one OS/Program, one for data, and two to back up the originals....
2. A backup of the data drive.....if this could be a RAID 1 setup without affecting the OS drive, that would be be great (back somewhat to my original plan, just using IDE connections instead of the SAS connections on the motherboard).

Decided not to mess with this until I talk to ASUS on Monday. Am open to both hardware and software solutions.

For the weekend, I will be exploring the Vista Ultimate backup solutions, and see if there is an option here....

So, what is the simplest setup I should be going after? I was thinking RAID 1 (mirroring)....now, not sure. If anyone has any good thoughts, would appreciate hearing them.

Thx
December 28, 2008 2:56:06 AM

Decided to make this a diary of some of the things running through my mind, in case others are going down the same path. This may be simple for those of you who have done this before, but I am finding fragments of information only.

One thing that seems to be a good guide is the User Manual for the Intel Matrix Storage Manager. I have not loaded this yet, but I believe this is a way to go. I would advise other newbies to download this from the Intel site and read it....it seems to be a good guide.

My assumption at the moment is that I can get this Matrix Storage Manager loaded onto my ASUS P6T motherboard based system. And I know how "assumptions" can go wrong. :sarcastic: 

If I had created a data RAID 1 initially in the BIOS, it would have worked. However, I (in my desire to migrate data quickly to the new computer) already have data copied onto my first data drive. So, if I "set up" a data RAID now from the BIOS, I lose that data. While I do have two separate backups of that data, it would be a hassle to recopy.

The Intel Matrix Storage Manager does offer several options for RAIDs. For my data, I will proceed with RAID 1 (mirroring). I believe the steps will be:

1. In the BIOS, "enable RAID", which is not the same as "setting up" the RAID. It seems that if I do "set up" in BIOS, I lose the data on my data drive. So, I want to "set up" the RAID while in Windows.

My main question with the above is, I am really wanting the RAID 1 for the data drives only. I assume (there is that word again) that changing the BIOS to "enable RAID" will not affect my boot drive (which will remain non-RAID). (Maybe.....see point #4 below....)

2. Load Intel Matrix Storage Manager. I can't find this yet on my system, could already have been loaded, but I doubt it.

3. Perform a "RAID Migration", choosing RAID 1, specifying my source drive, and the destination drive. This should establish the RAID setup for the two data drives. And, importantly, this preserves the data on my source drive.

4. This brings me to Chapter 9 of the Intel Matrix Storage Manager manual. It seems to suggest a more involved path....

Instead of doing a RAID 1 for data, I may be able to create two RAID volumes. One for data (as described above), and one for the OS/Program HD. (requiring an extra HD purchase for a OS/Program mirror).

Except, for the OS hard drive, if I choose a RAID 1 volume setup, will the mirrored drive be bootable if the first drive fails? Or, do I choose the "recovery volume" installation, still requiring a second drive, but then recover using the Vista CD when necessary to re-initialize a new HD.

This "recovery volume" is something I had not considered.

5. Then again, I did purchase Vista Ultimate. This version of Vista has a backup feature I was unaware of until today. I could do most of my backups with an image file of my OS/Program drive (updated monthly or so), and possible backup my data drives this way as well on a schedule basis.

At this particular moment, I am inclined to simply go back to software based solutions, or perhaps Vista.....sigh....


:sleep:  Am tired now, will continue my diary tomorrow. If nothing else, this has made me document my thoughts, and that is helpful for removing some levels of internal confusion. Any corrections, cautions, or recommendations would be appreciated.

Cheers,
January 2, 2009 9:54:44 PM

Having related issue. With P6T, after configuring storage as RAID and hitting Ctrl I to designate Drive 0 (OS drive) as non-RAID and Drives 1 & 3 (data drives) as RAID Drives, you do not appear to subsequently have the option to designate the system should boot from the non-RAID drive. Will discuss with ASUS once they return from their holiday break.
January 3, 2009 11:21:26 PM

Islandman,

I was unable to get hold of ASUS last week, so I have still not set up my RAID for data only, leaving the OS/Program on a "non-mirrored drive". (Actually, I did try, but their phone lines were totally tied up, was on hold 20 minutes before someone answered, said they would call back, and nothing...nada.....)

Your comment is interesting, as it would appear I would have to do one of two things:

1. Get another drive to mirror the OS/Program drive. Otherwise, I cannot boot from it....that's a bad thing...

2. Forget RAID, and instead use Vista and make drive images of both the data and the OS/Program. Together, only about 200 GB of stuff.

Please post the results of your ASUS conversation. Still tempted by RAID, as I want to make life easier with the backup situation. (I would still back up images to at least one USB connected drive once a week).

Cheers,
January 9, 2009 8:08:23 PM

Hey HikerGuy, I just bought an Asus P6T Deluxe MB yesterday and will put it together on the weekend. I purchased 4 * 500 GB SATA drives as I want to set up two 500 GB RAID1 partitinos. From what I understand - having not even strated the process but from past HP desktops - if you change the HDD in the BIOS from ACHI to RAID you will no longer be able to boot into Windows XP because it cannot read the drive. Also, as you discovered, if you have data on 1 disk and setup RAID1, you will effectively create a new array that will be blank and your data will be lost. Back it up to your various USB drvies before you start!

I'll let you know how I go with my build. I plan to install Vista x64 SP1 on 1 drive (non-RAID) and test data on a second (non-RAID) and then restart and try settings in the BIOS to see what works/breaks with different combinations.

Keep in mind that using IDE and SATA together confuses (but is probably better than saying PATA for the old style) and that SAS is a very different beast to SATA. Serial Attached SCSI runs at the same speed but is configured differently internally. Google it for more detail. The point is SATA drives won't work in SAS connectors or vice versa.

I'll post you on my results...
January 11, 2009 2:45:54 PM

Gbirmin,

I will be (im)patiently waiting on your results. What you are attempting to do is just what I was planning on doing, but I never completed it. I am still on a non-RAID setup.

My current understanding is that, if the Bios is set to RAID, one needs the boot drive to also be in a RAID volume. So, I was going to set up two RAID volumes, one for the OS (requiring a 4th HDD), and one for data. so, let me know how your efforts go! (and provide lots of details....)

My ignorance is showing on the HDD designations. I am not using the SAS connectors now (having disabled that in the BIOS). My drives are all new drives, and they are SATA connected.

Apologies for confusing you, others, and myself by mentioning IDE. me bad.
!