About 6 months ago I realized I needed some more protection of my data. I bought two 1TB Western Digitals and a SIIG Sata RAID PCI card to install to my ~4 year old system to install as RAID 1 as my first RAID installation. I did the installation according to the instructions: format the drives, put in the SIIG drivers at the appropriate phase of the Vista installation, etc. It installed okay, but I have had persistent problems that may or may not be related. Thank college for me being unable to attend to the problems until now.
1) The system sound, regardless of the source, sometimes stutters, gets choppy, and if it gets really bad starts abrasively popping and screeching. It appears to be related to system load, but I can't quite tell.
2) My music production software, Ableton Live 6, does this stuttering quite distinctly, and has even been freezing.
3) Whenever the system improperly shuts down (say a power outage or lock up), the SIIG boot screen with the RAID information says that, due to the improper shutdown, a rebuild will begin in the background. When I get into Windows I get the "Windows detected a hard disk problem" with details of disk failure "Disk Name: SiI RAID 1 Set 0 SCSI Disk Device". This is ongoing until the set is rebuilt.
4) The problem is that it does not "rebuild in the background" as it claims. If I restart after having left the system idle in Windows for several days (while I assume it should be "rebuilding in the background"), I still receive that message at the SIIG boot screen. The only way I can solve it is by going into the options from the boot screen and do a manual rebuild, which takes an extremely long time.
It would seem that the sound and HDD issues are unrelated, but I'm uncertain because I have:
-The newest drivers installed for the HT OMEGA Claro sound card.
-I have XP installed on another hard drive, also with the newest sound drivers, in which none of the problems mentioned in this thread affect. This leads me to believe it is not a sound card or sound card driver problem.
The only differences between the two conditions is that one is Vista on RAID 1 and the other is XP on a single SATA 40GB Western Digital.
Insights? I have absolutely no clue as to how to approach this other than to replace all my old components, buy Windows 7, the newest version of Ableton Live, do a new install and cross my frickin' fingers that the problems went out with the trash. And if it didn't, suicide.
Run a HDTune benchmark to see if you have PIO problems.
Also, you do know RAID1 option on a PCI card provides virtually no benefit. You have lower performance due to PCI bus (can only handle 1 I/O at a time so latencies go skyroof), and RAID1 provides very little protection for home users; no protection against filesystem damage, viruses, accidental deletion and failing of the RAID layer.
The Silicon Image RAID drivers are the cheapest/crappiest RAID you can run. For RAID1 it might be enough, still the prime benefit of RAID1 is uptime; even if a HDD fails the system can continue operating normally. For home users this is not important; they just want to keep their data safe. A backup therefore, has much more value than a RAID1.
My recommendation is to stop using the PCI card and use onboard SATA only so you won't have any slowdowns. Using 2 disks you can use one as backup - same level of redundancy but protects you against much more dangers and you don't have to use the crappy Silicon Image RAID drivers.
sub mesa, thank you for the explanation as to why my setup, as is, could lead to these slowdowns. I don't know how to interpret the HDTune benchmark, but something doesn't look right.
In regards to value of RAID 1: after having to spend almost a thousand dollars recovering a failed HDD because I had no up to date back up, that has become my primary concern, and I do not understand why people consider that 'no benefit'. Drives fail. In regards to accidental file deletion I have absolutely zero concern, because I'm a packrat and delete nothing. In regards to other things like filesystem damage and viruses I have less of a concern, but these are things that are outside of my control... to some extent?
I will fail to do scheduled backups. Do any of you recommend an alternatives? Perhaps a somewhat real-time file syncing program that will sync my personal files to the other disk when I make changes? Something I don't have to think about. Any suggestions would be ace.
The cause: bandwidth and processor overhead from the RAID 1 array is causing lag in the sound system. This is because RAID 1 has to write everything twice, but also the way it writes it twice. The RAID controller, if it does not have an onboard controller, writes the data to the first drive, then interrupts the processor to tell it something was written, then the processor finds the new data on the drive, copies it to memory, then writes it to the second drive. All sound cards suffer from this, but most notably Creative Labs cards. This is also why you have the most pronounced issue with your audio processing program.
I'd recommend this:
1. remove the RAID 1
2. set up the second drive as a standalone and use Windows Backup, or any other backup software you have handy, to do an automated weekly full backup and incremental backups daily (This is my setup, except I have a 3 drive RAID 0 array for my main.)
3. upgrade your processor as soon as you can. It will handle the audio processing and disk writes much better with lower overhead.
This should give you good data security and decent performance. I'd recommend also moving that second drive to an external eSATA box. I had a power supply in my nephew's system blow, and spike the 5V lead, frying everything hooked to it. the memory and processor were OK, but all PCI devices, drives, and the video card were fried. There was even melting on the 5V power input on the hard drive and floppy drive. I've used an external drive for my backups ever since.