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Installation procedures with an XP Raid and Win7 Upgrade

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December 23, 2009 6:10:46 PM

Alright, well as the title would suggest I need to install an operating system.. But I'm afraid that it'll be a little more complicated than I expect.. So I thought I'd ask here, because most all the advice I've gotten from Tomshardware has been really helpful!

I bought a:
ASUS M4A79XTD EVO motherboard
AMD Phenom II x4 955 BE
4gb of G.Skill DDR3 1333 Ripjaw Series

(So, there's the components, if you need more information please ask me)

I have a full OEM 32bit WinXP Pro and I have a 64bit Win7 Upgrade copy. I am, I think, aware of most of the difficulties that envelope the upgrade process from 32bit-64bit OS. But the joker for me is that I want to set up a Raid 1 with my new build. I have two WD 640gb drives I plan on using.

What I'd like to know is: should I set up the raid while installing XP (since I read that I need to have a installed/activated copy of windows previous to installing an upgrade version of windows) or should/can I wait and setup the Raid while doing a 'clean upgrade install' with my Win7? (since I'll be going from 32bit to 64bit with my OS's)

Well, there's my question in short; I do have another question too, I guess, and that is: I assume that I set up the raid within the BIOS, correct? or do I need to do something different while I install XP or Win7? (i.e. something likened to that of SATA drivers while installing XP, pressing F6 or something; the other thing is that this motherboard doesn't have a floppy chip/connector, so I guess I'd use a flash drive.. but I'm not quite sure.)

Thanks for taking time to read my post! And if anyone has any comments, I'd love to hear them. (As you can probably imagine, I'm working on the project now; so quick replies would be even more useful!)
December 23, 2009 6:46:26 PM

Typically you want to set up RAID within the BIOS. I haven't played around with W7 yet, but even if it did have software RAID, you wouldn't want to use it if you have the option of hardware RAID.

Without googling the hardware, I would recommend setting up RAID first, prior to installing any OS, then install XP, then do the upgrade. Windows 7 should detect the RAID container and deal with it appropriately. The step I have had the most problems with during XP installs is making sure that XP recognizes the drives.
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December 23, 2009 7:11:42 PM

You cannot install the drivers for your Sata Drives with Windows XP unless you have a floppy drive, the install will not allow you to use a flash drive, only Vista and Windows 7 have that option. So setting up the RAID first does not work. :(  There is a way to add the ACHI drivers afterward see:http://forums.pcper.com/showthread.php?t=444831
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December 23, 2009 8:17:51 PM

Thanks for the responses!

Coldsleep:
Yea, setting up RAID within the BIOS was the way I was thinking about doing it. And correct me if I'm wrong, but by 'software RAID' you mean BIOS? and 'hardware RAID' you mean a RAID controller card? Unfortunately, if the latter is true, I don't think I can afford a RAID controller card.
So according to what you said, I should be able to set up my RAID without installing xp; but since both of my HD's are SATA the real bear is going to be installing XP without being able to load SATA drivers via floppy..

"The step I have had the most problems with during XP installs is making sure that XP recognizes the drives." - So XP doesn't like recognizing the SATA drives? or the RAID configuration? Sorry for not quite understanding..


Howardp6:
Unfortunately I was afraid of that.. :(  I haven't had time to fully read that article but I will try and see what's in it, thanks for the link though!
EDIT: So, I noticed that the article mention looks like it's for an Intel board, will this affect my results?

And one more thing I forgot to mention.. I am currently running on the Win7 RC Build with my 'old' setup on a different WD 320 gb HD (that is to say that I'll be using the case, I am currently using, for my new build).

Thanks again
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December 23, 2009 8:31:19 PM

I wasn't referring to a separate RAID controller, no.

Software RAID is when the OS does the RAIDing itself. Some OSes can do that...while I'm pretty sure XP doesn't, W7 may be able to, but I can't say because as mentioned, I haven't played around with it. Most UNIX/Linux distros can do software raid, however.

Hardware RAID is when the motherboard or a dedicated RAID controller handles it all. The ASUS website says it supports a variety of RAID configurations, so in general, you should be good to go...as far as creating a RAID container in the BIOS.

And yeah, you could create a RAID container prior to installing XP, but as I believe you've figured out, then with your current set-up, you wouldn't be able to, you know, install XP.

One potential solution would be to get/borrow a USB-connected floppy drive and load the drivers on there. I won't guarantee that will work, as XP may think it's a flash drive, though you would hope not.

Another potential solution depends on the RAID capabilities of the motherboard. It's possible (but unlikely) that you could extend an existing single-disk to a RAID 1 config. The way to test if that will work would be to install XP on one disk, then before you go to the trouble of upgrading to W7, boot, and see whether or not it tells you it's going to destroy all the data when you try to set up RAID 1 in the BIOS. If it wants to trash everything (likely), then you can't extend the container from the primary disk. If it doesn't say it's going to trash everything (unlikely) and you are able to extend and then boot into XP, you'd be set. Again, that's highly unlikely, as that's generally more like something you'd see in software RAID.
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December 23, 2009 8:36:55 PM

Hmm.. I wasn't aware that the OS could do that, interesting. Boy.. I sure wish this wasn't so complicated.. :(  One more time.. do you know if it's possibly to set up a RAID after I install Win7? I don't think so, but I thought I'd ask.
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December 23, 2009 8:53:57 PM

FYI - I was able to do a fresh install of Windows 7 home premium 64bit upgrade version onto brand new, never used, never had an OS on them before drives in raid-0. So its quite possible you can just go straight to 7 without installing XP.
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December 23, 2009 8:56:49 PM

@shalom24 - I suggested a way to test before getting to the W7 install point, but my guess would be no. Or, at least, unlikely.

@trevorvdw - He could if he had a retail copy of W7, yes.
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December 23, 2009 9:00:50 PM

Trevorvdw:
Correct me if I'm wrong, but you used a Win7 HP 64bit Upgrade on a 'fresh' HD without any previous version of windows? Because as far as I've known you can't install a 'Upgrade' without first having a installed and activated version of Windows.. very intriguing non-the-less..

EDIT: Well.. I guess I could just try and see what happens... I guess the worst thing that could happen is that I'm back to where I started.

Alright, I'm going to try, and I'll see what happens.. wish me luck!
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December 23, 2009 11:44:35 PM

In bios setup your hard drives as raid. This does not and will not setup your raid array, it simply tells the bios to recognise the hard driver as raid. Now using the bios/chipset raid utility, make your raid configuration. For full details check your motherboard manuall.

When switching from 32 to 64bit os, you will need to do a fresh install. Luckily win 7 student upgrade allows this! Trust me, its the version i have. If its the retail upgrade, should also be fine, to check, put the cd in a working comp, autorun should start, and you will be given the option to install "custom", if not then you need an os installed on your comp before upgrading. Also as far as im aware you cant upgrade from xp to win 7, so again, im sure you will have the option to do a fresh install.

Once you have the files for your raid drivers, copy them to a floppy for xp or usb for win 7. Boot from cd, with floppy inserted for xp, and press f6 as soon as you are promted, first blue screen. Boot from cd for win 7, when choosing where to install, insert usb with raid drivers and it will now show your hard drive, however i have also found that sometimes you dont need to install the raid drivers, win 7 already has them.

The rest is just the usual os install.
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December 27, 2009 11:38:02 PM

Well everyone, after much headache, I decided to not install the RAID setup.. I just keeped running into issues with the installation :(  So I think I'll just setup a software RAID with my school documents and other information I really want to keep.
Thanks for all the advice and help! Now I just need to figure out how to do that software RAID :p ..
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