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RAID on my parade

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June 15, 2011 7:19:17 PM

i am going to install windows 7 pro into my home build.



i have two 250g hard drives to tinker with. there is also a 1tb drive, but i intend to reserve that for video.

since i have all that going for me, i am considering a RAID option.

i have never messed with RAID before, so i was wondering which would be the best option for setting. and if it was yours would you do it?

all comments are welcome. thanks!

More about : raid parade

a b G Storage
June 15, 2011 7:30:27 PM

What kind of RAID are you talking about here. I am kind of guessing you are talking mobo or windows RAID not an actual raid card?
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June 15, 2011 7:34:27 PM

i was thinking mobo. but if windows works best i'm open to that as well. no raid card.
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a b G Storage
June 15, 2011 7:38:45 PM

Do a raid 0 with the 2 250's it will be noticably faster use the motherboard raid not windows or you will not be able to boot off of it. Also save all important data on the 1tb disk as the raid has a 2x likelyhood of dieing.

Thently
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June 15, 2011 7:45:29 PM

i do have two 250g drives to set up a RAID. i'm just wondering how much performance i can gain if i do.
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June 15, 2011 7:48:17 PM

should i set up RAID before i install the OS? will it install to both drives? or should i install it on one drive, then set the RAID?
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a b $ Windows 7
a c 289 G Storage
June 15, 2011 7:48:19 PM

If it were mine, I would not do it. Unless I were to put the two smaller drive in RAID1, which would give a total capacity of 250 GB but have two copies in case one drive failed.

Best place to start with RAID if you want to tinker with it is using the motherboard's chipset. You can then build a RAID array in BIOS. However, you will have to change the drive controller mode from the default of IDE to RAID. If you already have a running OS, it won't boot after that, since it will have the wrong drivers.

So if you have bare metal, set the drive mode to RAID, build a RAID1 from the two smaller drives, and install your system. Win7 will be easy; WinXP would require a driver floppy during the installation.

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Whether or not to use RAID, and which level of RAID to use, depends strongly on what you want to accomplish. Joining two drives in RAID0 will give double the capacity of the smaller one and double the speed of the slower one. But, it will be more likely to fail than a single drive, and more difficult to recover should it fail. Do frequent backups.

RAID1 just keeps two identical copies of every sector, one on each drive. If one drive fails, it runs happily off the other and, when you replace the failed drive, will copy the surviving drive's data to the new drive and be back in RAID1 mode.

Other levels are compromises, with some disks containing data spread-out a la RAID0 and one or more disk containing parity information that can be used to recover the contents of one (or even two) failed drives.

In my mind, there are only two reasons to use RAID. Either you need one of the features (greater speed or capacity by combining drives, or surviving the failure of one drive) or you want to muck around with it as a learning process. If you can't figure out a specific benefit that you will get from a specific RAID level, don't use it.

Read Wikipedia on RAID levels or talk to a knowledgeable friend.

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As to "mobo vs. Windows", the process of combining the various disks into one volume can be done at the Windows level (slow and eats your CPU, but simple), by your chipset (faster for RAID0 and 1), or with a separate and potentially expensive RAID controller (well worth it for high-performance production systems). As with RAID levels, there are advantages and disadvantages to each choice, and the correct choice depends on what you need to accomplish and how much money you have to invest. I personally own a datacenter-grade external RAID array that takes eight drives, but I use it to play with and learn from. Got it surplus for only a grand a few years ago.
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June 15, 2011 7:59:25 PM

that's a great explaination, wyomingknot. thank you.
i am trying to learn a few things so i may just try it. i don't necessarily need the enhancement, but since i have the parts lying there i figure why not? i'll most likely go with RAID 1 setting. since i hate losing things. :) 
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a b $ Windows 7
a c 289 G Storage
June 15, 2011 8:08:43 PM

Googlybear said:
that's a great explaination, wyomingknot. thank you.
i am trying to learn a few things so i may just try it. i don't necessarily need the enhancement, but since i have the parts lying there i figure why not? i'll most likely go with RAID 1 setting. since i hate losing things. :) 

That's spelled "Wye Knott." Joke is from Heinlein's book "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress." Have fun.
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June 15, 2011 8:13:32 PM

Best answer selected by Googlybear.
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