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Windows 7x64 Boot Disk CPU Raid 1 - Good idea?

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February 28, 2010 2:12:50 PM

Hi experts,

I'm building a new system with a Gigaybite x58A-UD3R Motherboard with supports hardware Raid. I interested in setting up Raid 1 on the boot disk. I use Acronis home backup software to USB drive on current Windows 7 32Bit system but looking at quick recovery if needed. New system will be Windows 7 x64.

Is Hardware Raid 1 on OS boot disk a good idea on Windows 7? Performance hit?


Does it matter if a small drive (500 GB or 1 TB) make a difference in performance. WD 7200/32MB Cache SATA?


Thanks,

Bob

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a c 209 $ Windows 7
a c 415 G Storage
February 28, 2010 6:53:46 PM

You shouldn't see very much of a performance hit. RAID 1 has somewhat slower write speed since it has to write to both disks, but this is done in parallel and with write caching the impact is pretty minimal. For reading, the controller is theoretically capable of reading from two disks at once or from the disk whose heads are closest to the correct position, so you might actually get a bit of a performance boost (but don't expect miracles).

Large drives generally give better performance because their tracks contain more info that's delivered during each revolution - but it also depends on the number of platters that the drive has (more platters = less density per track = slower transfer rate). You can eke out a little more performance by short-stroking - using a small partition for the OS with nothing else on the drive.

Don't stop doing those backups! RAID 1 only protects against drive failure, it doesn't protect against a whole host of other risks to your data and it introduces it's own administrative quirks which can also increase the risk unless you spend time up front testing failure scenarios to get a good understanding of how to handle them properly.
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February 28, 2010 7:25:53 PM

Thanks.

I was leaning toward doing it. Will still backup but like the thought of a fail safe. Would it be best to keep my OS only on the raid or O/S and applications ( my biggest concern on a failure).

I do alot of work on VMware images. Have numerous images. Though of setting up another set of drives for the VM Images. With backup(copy/clone) to USB drives ( which I do now for backup/travel for laptop use) or should I use spare Disk Drive now for regular backup and USB for periodic backup /travel. Thoughts? or Should I raid 1 for VMware usage disk?
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a c 209 $ Windows 7
a c 415 G Storage
February 28, 2010 10:25:33 PM

External USB, Firewire or eSATA drives are best for backups because you can disconnect them from the computer and store them in a separate location. Backups that are always connected to the computer are subject to many of the same risk factors that the original data is vulnerable to (theft of the computer, for instance). Storing at least some of your backups offsite offers the best protection.
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March 1, 2010 12:59:48 PM

Thanks Again,

As part of my research I found references to Western Digital Caviar Black drives not supporting RAID. Asked WD support to confirm.

Here is what I recieved.

Thank you for contacting Western Digital Customer Service and Support.

Unfortunately these drive are not RE ready drives, and may drop out of the RAID if used, we recommend that you buy RE edition drives if you have a RAID system.

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a c 209 $ Windows 7
a c 415 G Storage
March 1, 2010 4:58:09 PM

What's different about the RE drives is that their firmware is configured for TLER (Time-Limited Error Recovery) - they won't spend an excessive amount of time trying to recover unreadable data. This is good in a redundant RAID array, not so good in a non-redundant array.
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March 8, 2010 8:17:28 AM

That's interesting. I knew the term from research, but not what it meant. I ended up returning the WD Cavair drives and getting Hitachi Deskstar drives that are raidable. They were even $10 less.


I raided my OS drive and everything is working fine to date.

Thanks again,

Bob
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March 20, 2010 11:27:37 AM

Best answer selected by rowsinski.
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