another question. so if I set up in a RAID 1 config. could I back these files up to an external hard drive? or it would it would not be able to read the info because it is split into two different drives?
Raid 1 data is not split to two drives, raid 0 is. Raid 1 just places a copy of the data on the second disk. Yes you can back up the data to an external drive, you can do so with any drive setup.
I suggest you setup the raid system on a clean set of drives, not anything with your files on it. With the question you are asking, it seems you have not done this before, and you probably don't want to start learning on a live system.