Win 7 post OS install RAID 1 on 2nd 3rd HDD?

My situation:

I have an existing system with a single 1TB HDD 7200 RPM SATAIII with OS Win 7 64 already installed; mobo ASRock z68 Extreme4; Intel core i5-2500k

I am adding two 2TB HDD 5400 SATAII

I'd like to put the two 2TB into a partitioned RAID 1, where about 750GB would be used for system backups, and about 1.25TB would be used to store movies, photos, and other valuable docs.

I also have two other systems I'd like to network that would store and backup to this array. One system is also Win 7 64 bit, but the other is Windows XP Pro.

My questions:
1) Can I get the two 2TB drives into a hardware array without re-installing the OS? re-installing is a bit of a bummer here?

2) given my goals is there a reason why I shouldn't go software array? I want RAID 1, my system is not strained at all, so most cons I understand of software RAIDS - limit of RAID types, stealing cycles -don't apply except ...

3) Can a Windows XP box access a Win 7 software RAID?

4) Is the config I'm looking at crazy :pt1cable: ? Would you suggest a different config considering my hardware and systems?

Thanks for your help!
7 answers Last reply Best Answer
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  1. Best answer
    1) If the drive controllers in the BIOS are already set to AHCI or RAID mode, it's easy. If you left them in the default IDE mode, you will have to do the convert-to-AHCI mode tweak on your OS drive before changing the controllers to RAID mode to support the RAID.

    2) By Software Array, do you mean setting up the mirroring in Disk Mangler instead of the chipset? Well, it would work, and you could skip the stuff I wrote for Step 1. Most people prefer to RAID at the chipset level, but why not? It will use cycles that you are not using now.

    3) Yes.

    4) Crazy, no. And there is a small advantage in recovery to using OS-level mirroring; each drive can be used independently in another system in case of failure.

    4) Personally, I think that backup to drives inside the same machine is risky. You are vulnerable to total loss from power surges, malware, or rain coming in through the window. My backups are to removable hard drives in a hardshell, antistatic case. That's my limit; I don't backup offsite.
  2. Thanks WyomingKnight. Big help. I did mean the Disk Mangler vs the chipset.

    A follow-up then, basically how would I (or should I even try) RAID 1 via external hook-ups. My mobo has a single eSATA connector in back, along with firewire and USB 3.0. Do the available connection types limit my external RAID options?

    Also it seems your advice could be summed up: change OS to support RAID/AHCI, set RAID via chipset, and have all back-up drives external.

    (here's my back panel: I/O Panel
    - 1 x PS/2 Keyboard Port
    - 1 x VGA/D-Sub Port
    - 1 x VGA/DVI-D Port
    - 1 x HDMI Port
    - 1 x DisplayPort
    - 1 x Optical SPDIF Out Port
    - 4 x Ready-to-Use USB 2.0 Ports
    - 1 x eSATA3 Connector
    - 2 x Ready-to-Use USB 3.0 Ports
    - 1 x RJ-45 LAN Port with LED (ACT/LINK LED and SPEED LED)
    - 1 x IEEE 1394 Port
    - 1 x Clear CMOS Switch with LED
    - HD Audio Jack: Rear Speaker / Central / Bass / Line in / Front Speaker / Microphone)
  3. Draneico said:
    Also it seems your advice could be summed up: change OS to support RAID/AHCI, set RAID via chipset, and have all back-up drives external.

    Guess I wasn't clear enough.

    On the question of Mirror in OS vs. RAID1 in chipset, I am neutral. If the small amount of extra CPU load won't make any difference to you, mirroring in the OS is fine. Recovery of data might be simpler after a system failure for OS mirror than for chipset RAID1.

    On the question of external backup drives, I meant "removable," not "external." And this solution isn't really compatible with the RAID1 / mirroring solution. Use the RAID1 and accept the very, very small risk of total system loss.

    What I do is backup to unRAIDed drives that can be attached to and removed from my system trivially, while the system is running. That's because I have two of these in my system: (they now have a three-drive product that fits in the same space). So I slide in a bare hard drive, do backups, use Safely Remove hardware to purge the buffers, and take the hard drive out.

    I think that the removable disk and the mirror solutions do not go together (you'd have to mirror two removable drives). You can't mirror one internal and one external drive and then safely remove the external.

    I hope that this is clear enough. OS mirroring is good-enough. Mirroring and removable external drives are an either-or question, not an and.
  4. Thank You!
  5. I need an 'and' statement to combine your two answers for best reply
  6. Best answer selected by Draneico.
  7. The AND statement is to keep RAID1 inside your machine AND back up said RAID1 to a removable disk, a remote site, or a cloud service provider (I personally avoid the latter).
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