I am building a rig now, and I want to set up a RAID 5, using x4 2TB Drives. The motherboard (ASUS EVO) says it can do the raid, and Im using windows 7, (pc stats; amd 6 core,4GB RAM, 750w psu, x4 2TB drives, 500GB drive)so here are my questions.
- Can I just use the mobo for RAID?
- Will I see all the storage in disk management and be able to partition it out(2tb max?)?
- Do I have to mess with raid at all inside the OS
- Is there an advantage to use 64 bit win7 pro, intsead of 32bit win 7 pro with this raid?
- If I wipe/reinstall my OS will I destroy my array?
- Once RAID is built, can I add another 2TB drive to it without wiping the array first?
Ok, so it looks like you have quite a few things that need to be cleared so you understand what is your best option. First thing you need to do is check the manual and see if it has a an ICH9/10 or whatever. Those are onboard hardware controlled raid sets. That means, when you put all of your HDDs on the right SATA connections, you will be able to go into the bios and set the option to RAID. After rebooting a separate configuration might pop up for the actual configuring of the RAID. This is where you tell it what type of RAID you want and dedicate whatever amount of space on the drives to the RAID. Remember some motherboards are different and that whole process might be done inside of the bios configuration. But the principle remains the same... it's not done in Windows for hardware configuration on a mobo. Then once booted into Windows, you'll bring up probably intel matrix storage. That program lets you name, create and build the array. It will see that you have all of the hard drives that you dedicate in the pre boot up stage as on array. It will list all the drives underneath that array. You will create a new RAID and then format it, all within the intel matrix utility. Also, remember that there's a limit to what size you can use for the MBR that contains the OS on it (2TB) So, that being said, your option is strictly for a second storage drive.
Now your question about the partitioning problem. Actually before you bring up the intel matrix storage manager you will bring up the manage prompt by right clicking on 'My Computer' You will see your raid in there as unpartitioned. Select create new partition and it will give you two options for the type, you will pick the one that doesn't have MBR for it. It's GPT, or something like that. You'll know you did it right when all 4 of your 2TB drives equal what you think it should by putting them together and not just under 2TB's. If you go that then you need to delete the partition and start over. Then you will go into Intel Matrix Storage Manager and create the RAID, etc.
As for the advantage of the 64bit over 32bit for a RAID. The total answer is yes but you may not really notice it. But you'll see improved performance in other things like being able to use more than 4GB of RAM and some games can take advantage of that. Now if you wipe your OS, your raid remains configured and as long as you're installing the OS onto the other drive and don't do anything on the RAID until you get your drivers, Intel Storage Matrix back on there, then it should be OK. But as a rule it's good to back up. I would use an offsite solution like Carbonite if you need to do that for sure. Then you'll really figure that out.
You're next one is tricky... the adding another drive without wiping the array. The short answer is no. You would have to rebuild the entire array to include the extra drive into the array. Intel Storage Matrix Manager allows you to put that drive in as a rebuild drive or hot spare in RAID 5's. That means, that it will use that extra drive to rebuild the data with until you replace the other drive. However, I've never used that option and I'm a bit sketchy on the details of how that all works and is done. But for the answer that I believe you were looking for... no, rebuild it to get the storage.
It doesn't hurt to check the website of your drive to see if it needs a firmware update. Do that first before making your RAID. Now, it shouldn't need it to make it work in a RAID, however that being said, something that I found out was an issue of my own. Here is the link to read about before you do yours. It might help in case there's an issue with yours.
By the way, your question about adding another 2TB drive to the array without wiping it is simple in Intel Matrix Storage Manager. When you go open the program, go to help and show contents. In there under capacity expansion it gives great instructions on how to do it. It looks pretty simple.