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Question about determining/changing RAID status of my two drives

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December 30, 2011 9:32:31 AM

Hi All!

I hope someone can point a RAID newbie in the right direction for addressing a straightfoward RAID issue. I just bought a new laptop (http://www.webhallen.com/hardvara/140458-msi_gt683dxr-6..., the page is in Swedish but the computer specs are in english at the bottom). One reason I bought the computer is because it has two hard drives, which I assumed would improve reliability by adding redundancy - I could have a backup OS installed on the second drive, and mirror important data. However, according to the specs RAID 0 is installed, which I didn't think about before. I didn't realise that it meant an (arguable) gain in performance by sacrificing reliability. I would prefer not to have this. However, my understanding is also that if RAID 0 is installed, I should see only one hard drive. I see two, however: a C drive of 549 GB and a D drive of 366 GB. I am confused, now I don't even know if RAID 0 is installed or not.

My three questions are therefore:

1. How can I diagnose the true RAID status of the computer?

2. If it is RAID 0, it is possible to change it to two independent disks with no RAID without reinstalling the entire OS from scratch?

3. Do you think it would actually be worth doing that or am I a little too paranoid? I keep daily backups, after all.

Thanks a lot for any advice!

Cheers,

Ben
December 30, 2011 2:18:03 PM

Answering my own questions as much as I have so far been able to:

I found out about Disk Manager (1. Click on Start 2. Enter diskmgmt.msc into the search field), and there I can see that windows thinks I have one disk, in two partitions. So I definitely have some kind of RAID0. Further I realise this might be hardware or software raid, which might influence the answer to question 2. Haven't worked out how to tell this yet.

Cheers,

Ben
a c 119 G Storage
December 30, 2011 2:34:44 PM

When you boot up your computer there is an option to enter the raid bios I believe it is " control I " , that is what it is on my computer so it may be the same on yours. Once in the raid bios there are options there to set up the different raid types. You only have the option to enter the raid bios if you already have raid installed.
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a b G Storage
December 30, 2011 2:55:47 PM

You most likely have a RAID0 that is in two partitions - C: and D:. I don't know why they partitioned it, but that's probably the situation.

RAID0 definitely improves performance - there's nothing arguable about it. It almost doubles your read and write speed which means faster boot times and faster application loading. I can explain what happens if you want, but it's not really relevant to the topic.

You should be able to change the RAID but you won't be able to do that without losing the data on the drive. If you have an external drive then you can use backup software (like Acronis) to make a backup of the drive, then change your hard drive configuration, and then restore the backup to the internal drives.

So then how do you change the RAID? I can't give you specific instructions because it's different on every motherboard. You need to get into the BIOS and/or RAID controller. I can't find a make on the motherboard so you might have to email somebody. I would start by finding your way into the BIOS. Ususally this is done by holding or tapping a hotkey during startup - often delete or one of the function keys.

The last issue is what you want your hard drive configuration to be. You have three options.
*RAID0 will give you a single partitionable space of 1000GB. RAID0 is vulnerable to failure or corruption of one of the drives. If one of the drives go down you will lose all of your data. This is reasonably safe (you should backup) and it is something people do all the time to increase their hard drive performance.
*You can use no RAID at all. This will give you two separate 500GB partitionable spaces. If one of the drives fail then you will lose all of the data on that drive but the other drive will stay intact.
*There is also RAID1 which will give you a single partitionable space of 500GB. This RAID mirrors all the data identically on the two drives so that if one of the drives goes down then you will not lose any data.

With no RAID at all you will have two drives each with the speed of a single drive. A RAID0 will have read and write speeds twice that of a single drive. A RAID1 will have write speeds half that of a single drive (but read speeds are unaffected).

Hope that helps.
December 30, 2011 5:37:58 PM

Thank you so much, that explains very well everything I wondered! I particularly like the idea of making a drive backup and then restoring, that means I might manage to change my RAID configuration, because I'm not sure I could manage a complete reinstall otherwise.

I understand RAID0 of course undeniably improves performance, I should clarify the context I read the quibble in was whether it had much effect on most games. That's a different question I suppose.

Thanks also inzone for your reply, for some reason I didn't see it before.

Cheers!

Ben
a b G Storage
December 30, 2011 5:41:00 PM

Correct, drive speed does not improve gaming performance in terms of fps. However hard drive speed does have a large influence on overall system performance.
!