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Assigning Hard drives different tasks

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July 8, 2011 9:30:49 PM

I'm new, and I don't know if this has been asked, but I'm currently working on a new computer, and I'm doing all my research for it. I want to get 3 hard drives. 1 for booting, just having OS information on it. The other two are going to be for data, but im going to hook them up into raid 1 i think so that they copy eachother in case one of them fails. I dont know how to configure them to be separate, i want them to seamlessly integrate, What do you do so that after you boot, if you were to download something it automaticaly goes to the drives that are for data? Is there a way i can set them up to where i wont have to select the hard drives for data, like making the first one boot-only? And is this a good idea overall?
a c 104 G Storage
July 9, 2011 1:54:39 AM

Hello, and Welcome to Tom's Hardware!

You can do it either way. You can have a HDD as the system and boot drive (contains the system files and OS), which is standard. You can also place data on it in the 'Libraries', such as Photos, or Documents.

You can also take two other HDDs, and using the software RAID configuration, set them up in RAID1, which is done by that config built into the MB controller, so that any data placed on drive 1 will be mirrowed onto drive 2 automatically. You can move your Library folders to drive 1 so when you download data and store it in 'Photos' or 'Documents', it's not on the OS HDD (could be a smaller SSD) but on Drive 1, which will get mirrowed.

You can alternatively, at the time of OS installation, install the RAID drivers just beforehand, so the OS goes on Drive 1, and everything gets mirrowed to Drive 2 (OS and DATA). Here you have just 2 drives.

It's a value judgement, but I'd elect the first choice, OS on 1 drive (can modify or change it at will) without affecting the Mirrowed Data drives.

When you set up a RAID configuration done in software, you actually set up a Dynamic Disk volume, which looks to the OS as a single volume living on two separate physicals Disks. Most MB's now actually have 1 or 2 separate controllers which can be placed in RAID 0, or 1 if you want.
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July 9, 2011 2:01:15 AM

So if i was going to put it on just 1 then mirror 2 drives separatly later on, i would boot from OS CD and instal it on the first HD. Then I would restart computer, and hook up the other 2 and at the start screen enter the raid setup? Is the raid setup in BIOS?
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a c 104 G Storage
July 9, 2011 3:47:23 PM

b4w said:
So if i was going to put it on just 1 then mirror 2 drives separatly later on, i would boot from OS CD and instal it on the first HD. Then I would restart computer, and hook up the other 2 and at the start screen enter the raid setup? Is the raid setup in BIOS?



Hi there,

That's a very straight forward way of setting it up.
You didn't mention what MB you are using but most are similar.
When you install your OS on the system HDD, don't have any other HDD or SSD connected. Just the 1 HDD. Partition as desired.
If you are using a regular HDD, no BIOS change necessary, if you are using an SSD, you should set the Integrated Peripherals 'PCH SATA control mode' to AHCI, instead of IDE.

Then install the OS normally and install the MB CD chipset drivers. You're all set.

Then later, on one of the integrated separate SATA controllers, you would connect your 2 Mirrowed drives on that controller's SATA ports, and in the BIOS set that Controller Mode to AHCI, and the Transaction Mode to RAID & choose RAID 1. (choices are slightly different than on the integrated SATA controller so read the manual carefully.

You need two identical HDD's in model and size for the mirrowed pair
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July 9, 2011 9:48:51 PM

I'm going to use a sabertooth 990FX. So I don't want to plug the system HDD into SATA? I'm supposed to plug it into something else? If so, is there a specific type of HDD I should look for because this whole time I've been looking at SATA III HDD's. So I won't be able to just plug it into the SATA port on mobo if the other 2 will be there? Oh and while I'm at it, what do I specifically do so that the 2 HDD's in raid 1 are default hard drives after the system boots off the one just with system data
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a c 104 G Storage
July 9, 2011 11:54:58 PM

Hi again,

I understand better. You are considering the Sabertooth 990FX but haven't purchased it yet (don't have the user manual to review). I downloaded the manual to look at but it was in German or Japanese, so I can't read all the details.

The MB has 6 SATA 6Gb/s ports (Brown colored) that come off the AMD southbridge directly. That is where you would plug your system HDD into SATA_0. Those 6 function all the same in that they would be set in IDE mode (non AHCI or RAID). That is standard. I don't think you can make 1 IDE mode and say 2 others RAID mode from the southbridge chip. These are for regular SATA III drives. So 1 would be for your system drive, The others would be for a CD, DVD, or additional storage drive you might add later or for a different OS, lots of choices. You have the new UEFI type BIOS on this MB so there could be fancy variations on how the 6 SATA ports can be configured that I can't read about.

Now, there is a separate additional JMicron chip on the MB that controls 2 SATA 3Gb/s ports (Black color) , and 2 e-SATA ports on the back (Red color). That controller after the CD MB drivers are loaded after Windows installation, is the controller you would configure to RAID, and choose RAID-1. They are SATA ports SATA_6 and SATA_7 and you would connect you other 2 SATA drives there. So you would use the SATA HDD's you were considering for RAID-1 and the two Black colored ports on the MB. They are right next to the 6 Brown ones. You can set them up and configure them separately from the others, which is what you were considering.

There are several ways to 'integrate' the RAID-1 volume into the 'main' system. One way would be to move your 'Documents' library or 'Picture' library over to the RAID-1 volume so anytime you saved a document, or picture, it would go to the RAID-1 volume. Another way would be to 'mount' the RAID-1 volume to an empty folder in say 'Documents' so you could just lick on that folder to save files.

I am not aware of a way to save everything from programs to application data to documents automatically to the RAID-1 volume, but there may be an easy method. You could set up a RAID-1 Volume before installing Windows, where your OS system files would be placed on one disk of the RAID-1 array as well as programs, but that is more complex, and requires RAID driver installation before the OS is installed.
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July 10, 2011 12:03:42 AM

So I wouldnt be able to use the DATA 6GB/s ports for the RAID 1 configured HDD's? And instead put the OS and System files HDD onto the slower 3GB/s port? Or is it not possible to do Raid 1 using 2 of those 6 SATA 6GB/s?
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a c 104 G Storage
July 10, 2011 1:56:22 AM

Hi again,

You can do that but it becomes much more involved. If you think about it, to put the OS on the secondary controller, you have to install the drivers for the secondary JMicron controller before you install the OS, which means you have to install them from the CD or download them and have them ready part way through initial installation. The OS will ask for them. They are not available on the Win-7 DVD the way standard drivers are.

Another choice would be to consider a different MB that has secondary controllers with SATA 6Gb/s ports. There are other ASUS MB's with those options.

And when you really analyze it, a 6 Gb/s SATA drive will transfer data at an avg rate of possibly 200-250 MB/s max which is still not going to saturate the 3Gb/s port on the MB. So it is not really a big issue. Why buy 6Gb/s drives, because as transfer rates get better and better, you don't have to repurchase new drives every time.

Lots to think about, but that's part of the fun of computing.
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July 10, 2011 2:17:22 AM

What does it mean if it says the 6 SATA III ports are 0+1 RAID compatible too? And if thats not what i think it is, then could i just get rid of the HDD for the OS and System, and instead just go with the 2 SATA III HDD's running in RAID 1 off of 2 of the 6 SATA III ports?
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July 10, 2011 3:10:52 AM

Alright, I DO still want to have an answer on the post i made befor this but i wanted to ask this before i went to bed. Could you give me step-by-step instructions on how to go about installing the drives for the JMicron controller first so that i can put the OS on the 3.0Gb/s and later the 2 HDD's in RAID 1 on the SATA 6 Gb/s? I found the page with the drivers for the JMicron here: http://driverswin.com/aus-sabertooth-990fx-win7-64bit-d... So I actually need instructions on like the whole process. Im new so the parts that you think i might already know how to do on my own without you explaining, I really dont know. If you dont want to could you at least direct me towards a site or something that has a detailed How-To description? EDIT: the reason im going through all this trouble is because I really like this Motherboard. It looks and sounds cool. Im open to suggestions though...
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a c 104 G Storage
July 10, 2011 4:37:28 PM

b4w said:
Alright, I DO still want to have an answer on the post i made befor this but i wanted to ask this before i went to bed. Could you give me step-by-step instructions on how to go about installing the drives for the JMicron controller first so that i can put the OS on the 3.0Gb/s and later the 2 HDD's in RAID 1 on the SATA 6 Gb/s? I found the page with the drivers for the JMicron here: http://driverswin.com/aus-sabertooth-990fx-win7-64bit-d... So I actually need instructions on like the whole process. Im new so the parts that you think i might already know how to do on my own without you explaining, I really dont know. If you dont want to could you at least direct me towards a site or something that has a detailed How-To description? EDIT: the reason im going through all this trouble is because I really like this Motherboard. It looks and sounds cool. Im open to suggestions though...


Hi again,

The answer to your prior question is the AMD southbridge SATA ports are RAID0 and RAID1 compatable, you can use them as a RAID volume. Just have to load the drivers for the RAID controller in the BIOS before loading anything onto them. You could also use the JMicron secondary SATA controller for the OS which is RAID0 and RAID1 compatable. Just need to load the drivers for this chip before loading anything onto them. If you were considering doing that, get the JMicron drivers from the MB website, not some other site. I took this driver info off the Sabertooth site, so you don't have to be looking other places.

JMicron JMB36X Controller Driver V1.17.62.0 for Windows XP/Vista/7 32bit & 64bit.

The important question is what are you wanting to accomplish by using a RAID 1 volume - speed, redundancy, ease of use, protection of critical data? As a newcomer, RAID is not a simple easy to understand or use or maintain system. If it's speed, RAID-1 is no faster, if it's for backup, the Backup and Restore application built into Win-7 is easier and automatic. If it's for critical data storage on a server, RAID-1 would be the answer, if it's for gaming as the MB Sabertooth name would suggest, there is no speed write advantage.

There are lots of websites explaining how to load RAID drivers. Here is the Intel site:

http://www.intel.com/support/chipsets/imsm/sb/CS-021736...

Another good resource for step by step instructions is the MS PRess book Windows 7 Inside Out, by Ed Bott, which gives you photos and steps to follow.
Available on Barnes and Noble or Amazon

Also when you install Win-7, you can try different ways of loading the drivers and program, and if you make an error, you can just start over and try again or try a different path. It's an excellent way to learn about the BIOS, driver installation, Win-7 installation etc.

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July 10, 2011 6:12:48 PM

Im running RAID 1 for HDD failure protection. Im a gamer, and modder, and an aspiring game designer and i dont want to loose all my file to a crappy HDD failure. So when i turn on the pc for the first time ever is it going to want the Win 7 OS CD or the JMicron CD, or a CD from the motherboard box that has drivers, or does BIOS come in the mobo, just an un-updated version? While im installing Win 7, will it tell me to remove OS CD and put in the JMicron CD or will i need 2 CD Drives to do them at the same time?
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a c 104 G Storage
July 10, 2011 7:05:59 PM

b4w said:
Im running RAID 1 for HDD failure protection. Im a gamer, and modder, and an aspiring game designer and i dont want to loose all my file to a crappy HDD failure. So when i turn on the pc for the first time ever is it going to want the Win 7 OS CD or the JMicron CD, or a CD from the motherboard box that has drivers, or does BIOS come in the mobo, just an un-updated version? While im installing Win 7, will it tell me to remove OS CD and put in the JMicron CD or will i need 2 CD Drives to do them at the same time?


Getting closer! When you set up a RAID array as in RAID-1 with 2 or an even number of disks, that HAS to be set up as a Volume (It's a single volume with a single VolumeName) BEFORE you put the OS or anything on it. That's done in the BIOS before Win-7 installation using Ctrl I to open that page up. Disks are attached to SATA_0 and SATA_1 with your MB. There you set up your RAID array and it's functional before you install Win-7. When set it up that way you can install Win-7 the OS on that volume.

If you were going to set it up on the JMicron controller, it's done as a separate step and when Win-7 needs the secondary driver, it will ask for it and you change DVDs, intall the driver, exchange back, and continue on.

Here is a good NTXT Utube video of how to install RAID 0 and RAID 1 in the BIOS to help with understanding.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYBtmVMtH1g

When you use a RAID 1 array, you need to be very familiar ahead of time what to do when one drive has failed, determining which drive is bad or missing, how to add a disk, or if necessary how to break a mirror. Working with RAID 1 is probably the simpliest, but it does take knowledge of the BIOS, experience, and identical drives, to set it up, and for replacement should one fail.
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July 10, 2011 9:30:12 PM

Well i think im goin to drop the 3rd HDD which was going to be solely OS, and just RAID 1 the 2 HDD's together.If 1 fails my computer will still work and i can figure out how to rebuild the array. That video was alot of help, thanks. Thank you for all the help, you helped me figure out everything i needed to.
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July 10, 2011 9:30:55 PM

Best answer selected by B4W.
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