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RAID 5 Array

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May 8, 2010 1:52:22 AM

This is my first post on Tom's Hardware, and I'd like to say hi and thank you to the community.

I am a computer newbie, and I hail those of you who not only have the know-how to pick up where the rest of us leave off, but have the courtesy and good will to do so for free.
My hat is off to you.

I bought a Syba PCIE-SATA RAID 5 controller card about three months ago, and for the life of me, I can't get it to work.
Syba SY-PEX40008 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ; http://www.syba.com/index.php?controller=Product&action...

I'm using Windows, and Windows works fine without the device (yellow exclamation point by the RAID controller in device manager) until I install the drivers. 5 to 10 seconds after installing the drivers, I get a "screen freeze" ("hard freeze," mouse and keyboard unresponsive, caps and num locks unresponsive). Windows freezes during boot on every boot thereafter (system restore necessary).
I was initially using Windows XP and have since upgraded to Windows 7, assuming that using new hardware on such an old operating system may have caused the crash. Installing the drivers on Windows 7 produces precisely the same screen freeze.
There are 4 1TB drives configured to a RAID 5 array in the card bios (registering as healthy), all the same brand and model (Maxtor I think).

I have tried:

- Installing the controller card on every single internal PCIE slot

- Changing the IRQ settings in device manager (card claims 10 by default, wanted to switch to 11 but could not figure out how in device manager)

- Swapping the mainboard for a newer one

- booting the card and installing drivers with only one drive attached

- installing 3 different driver packages on Windows 7 x64, each is compatible (Syba x64 inf and sys; SiliconImage x64 inf and sys; Silicon Image x64 software package with automated installer)

The same screen freeze on two different operating systems and two different mainboards points me to a hardware conflict, and with any luck, maybe a simple BIOS setting. The trouble is, I don't know where to look.
Syba support has been rather slow in more ways than one, taking days to return emails detailing suggestions I've already tried. I could not find a phone number.
Thank you for any insights you can provide. Tom's Hardware really is the last place I can think to look.

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a c 127 G Storage
May 8, 2010 2:17:50 AM

It's not your fault, the chip that card uses, Silicon Image, is a "FakeRAID" chip meaning all work is done by Windows-only drivers. But Silicon Image is really budget, and has only simple implementations. As RAID5 is alot more complex than RAID0 or RAID1, and the Silicon Image drivers do not do RAID5 very well.

So bottom line: the card is crap. If you really want RAID5, i suggest you look at FreeNAS instead, which does not require any RAID controller as their software RAID or ZFS filesystem is much more advanced.

If you need something simple on your Windows PC, consider running RAID0 with full backups or RAID1 with backups instead. Protecting your data with a bad quality RAID5 driver without backup has a high chance on dataloss over time.
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May 8, 2010 2:40:12 AM

sub mesa said:
It's not your fault, the chip that card uses, Silicon Image, is a "FakeRAID" chip meaning all work is done by Windows-only drivers. But Silicon Image is really budget, and has only simple implementations. As RAID5 is alot more complex than RAID0 or RAID1, and the Silicon Image drivers do not do RAID5 very well.

So bottom line: the card is crap. If you really want RAID5, i suggest you look at FreeNAS instead, which does not require any RAID controller as their software RAID or ZFS filesystem is much more advanced.

If you need something simple on your Windows PC, consider running RAID0 with full backups or RAID1 with backups instead. Protecting your data with a bad quality RAID5 driver without backup has a high chance on dataloss over time.


Thank you for your quick and coherent response.
I will look into FreeNAS. Thanks for the lead. When I visit the page, it seems to be for BSD. Is there a Windows version as well?
I duly noted your warning against data loss, but I don't like chucking hardware. Unfortunately, I like having old computer parts in my closet even less. Does anyone have any final recommendations before I play hackeysack with this thing tomorrow?
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May 8, 2010 2:47:17 AM

set 3 of them as RAID0 and use software PureSync to mirror important folders and stuff to the other one left as stanalone.. You'll be happy with the speed.
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May 16, 2010 4:43:14 PM

Best answer selected by ECHOSIDE.
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