I have an HP laptop with 2 HDDs in it and I am thinking about modifying the setup to include mirroring of my primary drive to the second drive for data security. A few questions
1) I just want to verify that I have to mirror drive to drive, that I can't mirror a drive to a partition.
2) Once the system is up and running if my primary drive crashes would I be able to just plug the mirror drive in and take off running? Would the second drive be bootable, contain the MBR, etc?
3) Is there any method that would allow me to image my current C: drive onto the primary of the RAID or would I need to rebuild the operating system, etc., from scratch?
4) The two drive in the RAID need to be the same size but can they be different speeds? Could I use a 7,200 RPM as the primary but a 5,400 RPM drive as the secondary? Would this have a noticeable effect on performance?
I'm assuming that disk to disk mirroring will be my only option.
My plan would be to replace BOTH of my current drives with 500GB 7,200 RPM drives, set up the PC to utilize Raid 1 (Although I don't yet know how to change the configuration and would appreciate any help) and then re-build the system. Once the PC is set up to use Raid1 would I be able to ghost my current C: drive onto the system, or do I need to re-install everything?
If you don't want to go through the effort of rebuilding your OS, you can use Windows Device Manager to mirror the first drive to the second. I haven't done this myself, so I can't tell you how off the top of my head.
The plan you described shows that you are willing to put plenty of work into this. It's a good one; the main question is whether or not the HP BIOS supports RAID 1. If it does, you build the RAID 1 first and then install the OS, and everything is fine.
I would like to point out that having every write mirrored will eat into your battery life. My personal choice would be different, and based on the fact that I really, really don't care if my OS partition goes south, as I have lots of backups. I would
1) Partition the primary drive into OS and data partitions.
2) Use Disk Manager or a tool like MirrorFolder to mirror the data portion onto the second drive. If you are willing to lose a half-hour's work, you can set it up to replicate every half-hour, keeping the backup drive spun down the rest of the time. If not, mirror in realtime. The only thing that I mirror in realtime is my mailbox file, but that's a purely personal choice.
3) If my system partition fails, I just boot off my USB floppy drive and restore my latest backup. Let me reiterate that this is a personal preference; most people care much more than I do about their OS partition.