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Upgrading to RAID

Last response: in Storage
April 12, 2010 11:24:03 AM

Hi to all,
I haver a failing hard drive at the moment and want to move it to a RAID 1 Mirror.
I was thinking of adding the two new 1TB drives to the system, setting up the hardware RAID 1 in Bios (I have Asus P5E-VM HDMI)
Then I was hoping that I could boot to the old drive, then clone (Maybe with Acronis) to the new RAID 1 drive.
Then shut down, pull the old drive out and there it is, all data and now running on new RAID drive

That sound possible

Thanks in adavance.. Scott

More about : upgrading raid

a c 348 G Storage
April 12, 2010 6:03:16 PM

Sorry, no. In order for a Windows installation to use a RAID array it must have a driver installed. To be able to boot from a RAID array, the installation of Windows must have that driver installed as an extra step early in the Install process. This allows Windows to load that driver first, then use it to access the RAID array for all other following operations.

Your old version of Windows will not have this extra driver installed because you never were trying to boot from a RAID array. So although a good clone of your old OS could be made on the RAID array you create, Windows still would not be able to boot from that.

You have two options. One is to buy another HDD to replace the failing one and clone to it. Use it as your boot drive, and then with the RAID1 array created and the machine running in Windows booted from the non-RAID third drive, you install the correct RAID driver in Windows to let it use the array as a data storage system. It will be happy to use it, but it will not be able to boot from the RAID array.

The other option is to do a clean re-install of your Windows. First you will need to arrange to have the RAID driver(s) on some medium you can use for installation. If you're installing Win XP this will have to be a floppy disk in a floppy drive connected at least temporarily to the machine. If you are installing VISTA or Win 7, read how to put the RAID drivers on another medium to use. Next you would create the RAID1 array in your machine and set it in BIOS as your second boot device (after the optical drive). Disconnect the old drive for the windows Install step to avoid any confusion. Then you put your Windows Install CD in the optical drive and boot into it. Watch early for a prompt to hit the "F6" key to allow you to install external driver(s) as part of Windows. Do that and follow instructions. When drivers are in, continue with the Install to your RAID array.

When Windows is all installed and updated, etc., shut down and reconnect the old drive. Windows should find it when you boot up, and you can copy all its good stuff to the new drive system.
a b G Storage
April 12, 2010 6:14:42 PM

Why would you need to reinstall windows to add the RAID driver to it?
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April 14, 2010 5:49:50 PM

Many thanks for your help on this. Thought it wasn't going to be straight forward.
Appreciate your time. Scott
a c 348 G Storage
April 14, 2010 5:52:00 PM

No version of Windows has its own RAID driver built it. In a simple Windows Installation to a standard IDE HDD, all Windows versions DO have basic drivers built in for IDE devices, floppy drives, and one or two other things. Vista and Win 7 also have additional built-in drivers for AHCI devices (the "normal" way to handle a SATA device). So the Install routine already knows how to handle the IDE device you are installing it to, and the installation goes just fine. Windows can write to and read from that device for its Install purposes. However, during and immediately after that process it still does NOT know how to use a RAID device. There is a common system for getting Windows able to use RAID devices as additional storage resources - you install a RAID driver in Windows that is already running.

Now, what that actually does is copy the driver to the right place on the hard drive and then put instructions into a couple of Windows files telling it that, after it has loaded from the boot hard drive, it should go find the driver on that same HDD and load it in so the RAID devices become usable. HOWEVER, that loading of the driver comes late in the process AFTER Windows has loaded from the boot device and got itself running.

At boot time under that first scenario, there is a very basic loader that knows how to use the IDE device and can load up the key Windows files to get going. BUT it does NOT know how to use a RAID device, so you cannot boot from that type of device because it can't be read.

At least two decades ago Microsoft designed in an alternative for systems that were using devices other than plain stand-alone IDE drives to boot from. During the initial Install routine that is running from the software CD, there is a place where you have the option to push the "F6" key if you want to load in additional device drivers. If you do this, you can insert a floppy disk into a floppy drive (in Win XP, although Vista and Win 7 can use other devices for this) and basic Windows Install already knows how to use this type of device. It can read the driver software into itself and temporarily "install" that driver (or more than one if necessary) into the version of itself running currently in RAM so that now it DOES have the expanded ability to use the new device. More than that, it ensures that these drivers are written to the boot device (now made accessible by this driver) AND the Windows boot files get notes written to them that these drivers must be loaded from that source FIRST so that it can be used from the outset in any subsequent boot process. This process fundamentally changes the boot files and sequence for this version of Windows installed on this disk device - it's one of many customizations of the Windows installed on this machine. The result is that now there IS a way for Windows to find and load the device driver necessary to use this new device type EVERY TIME it boots.

The only way for the extra device driver to become part of the Windows initial boot process is to use this technique during the Install process. So to do it, you have to be doing an Install.

I have heard that there are ways to edit and adjust several Windows files and its Registry to achieve this revision for a Windows that is already installed. But I don't now how well it works, nor how difficult it is.
April 15, 2010 4:44:07 AM

If you aren't using Vista of windows 7 you can use this tool:

It allows you to create a windows install disc, with drivers, updates, and applications preinstalled. I created windows install discs with the RAID drivers built in, it works!

Now if you read this, email the program writer and beg him to make a version for windows 7 !!!!!
April 15, 2010 9:20:17 AM

many thanks again. That really clears it up. Well explained
April 15, 2010 9:21:56 AM

sorry. did a thumbs down on the answer accidently...opps