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Question about Raid Networks

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  • New Build
  • NAS / RAID
  • Systems
Last response: in Systems
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September 21, 2009 5:05:23 PM

Hello all, I've been building computers for many years. This year, for the first time, I'll be using my computer in support of my friends business. To add data security, I decided to add a raid network to my next build. I just ordered the parts, which included 3 western digital "black" 640 gb drives. My plan was to use two in raid 1, and the other as a solo disk for my personal use. The raid drives will hold the business files. Finally, I plan to use one of my existing drives (300ish gb) drive as a boot drive using windows 7 os.

Question 1: does this work? I've never created a raid network before, and I just assumed you could have both a raid network alongside standalone drives. Today it occurred to me that this assumption hasn't been tested.

Question 2: I read with great interest the article written a month or so ago by the security expert concerning the use of virtual machines to assure security, rather than virus software. In Her case, she setup three virtual machines, one with absolute restrictions EXCEPT her bank, second with a bit less restrictions for her business, and third was a vm with no restrictions...which she knew would be infected daily, and for which she simply started each day with a fresh install of a clean "image" of that machine.

This seems wise, and I was giving it some thought for this current build.

I'm naive with respect to Virtual Machines. If anyone knows a good teaching site for how Virtual Machines work, I'd appreciate it. I assume it has NOTHING to do with physical hard drives, but I could be very wrong. Indeed, it very well may be that one must partition a hard drive, and assign specific partitions to specific VMs?

Any help here would be appreciated.

And if anyone is interested, the rest of the coming build will be i7 860 on a Gigabyte GA-P55M-UD2, with 4x2 gb of G.Skill Cas Latency 7 DDR3 1600 ram, a coolermaster hsf (Hyper tx3). I plan to continue to use my Geforce 8800 GTS (G92), and onboard sound. My primary use is 3d modelling and graphics design.

Cheers and thanks in advance for any help!

Bob

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September 21, 2009 5:22:37 PM

First off, there are 2 types of RAID arrays that don't really get differentiated much. Hardware based, and software based. Hardware based RAID arrays are built before the BIOS even loads, using a Host controller's ROM utility. This is where you specify which drives are to be members, and which ones are to be left out. If you have 3 drives, but are only interested in putting 2 in RAID, when you get to the BIOS, you'll see 2 volumes, the RAID 1 array that consists of 2 physical hard drives, and the standard physical drive.

Hardware RAID arrays must be configured in this manner, and is a must if you plan on making the RAID array the primary partition (C: Drive).

Software RAID arrays can be built using Windows disk management tools in "admin tools". They behave similar to hardware RAID arrays, but the major difference is that you cannot make a software RAID array a bootable disk.
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September 21, 2009 5:31:13 PM

Wathman, thank you for such a fast response. My primary purpose for establishing a raid array would be to protect against hardware failure, so it makes more sense to me to create a hardware array. Do you agree?

Which leads to the second question, to what value is a software raid array? From a raid 0 standpoint, I would assume you'd only enjoy the efficiency of striping by using two different hardware drives, and likewise for using the redundancy array.

I won't be booting from the raid array, in my current plan.

Best,
Bob
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September 21, 2009 5:54:38 PM

As Wathman mentioned, hardware RAID arrays are necessary for booting to a RAID array, such is common in RAID 0 arrays where speed is desired for OS performance. In your case however, you will have a single drive for booting too, and then an additional RAID 1 array to store the business files. In this particular situation, a software RAID array would be fine, the effects of software and hardware RAID are quite similar, though there is performance benefits with hardware RAID for demanding applications like servers.
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September 21, 2009 5:57:50 PM

Transmaniaco, thank you for more clarity. I'm sensing that separate hardware devices are used regardless of defining the array as "hardware" or "software" raid.

Thus, the primary difference is whether the array is defined in cmos or by the os. Am I getting close?
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September 21, 2009 6:14:04 PM

Yes.

RAID controllers are very expensive, and for a single, non-boot, RAID array that is just storing files, it will be plenty sufficient to use software to configure the array.
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September 21, 2009 7:15:35 PM

To further elaborate on Transmaniacon's point, GOOD RAID controllers are very expensive, It is true that almost every ATX board shipped in the last few years will have some kind of integrated RAID controller chip on it, they aren't good at doing RAID arrays other than 0 or 1. For most desktop users this is fine, but a serious RAID controller from Adaptec, Highpoint, Promise, Syba, etc... start in the $300 range. Software RAID is a lot easier to configure, and will take you about 15 minutes to figure out and setup. Hardware arrays aren't all that difficult either, but may take longer to figure out the first time.
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