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Should I continue using RAID 1

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February 3, 2012 3:17:31 PM

I'm getting ready to clean and upgrade my HTPC. I'll be adding a graphics card and Blu-ray drive.

Currently I have two WD Caviar Black 640GB drives in RAID 1 configuration and I want to know if I should continue using that configuration or if I should split them and use them separately.

The array regularly reports as degraded. I haven't figured out why, but rebuilding seems to solve the issue temporarily. When I test the drives they report as healthy, etc.

I've thought about discontinuing the RAID 1 use because the array regularly degraded and I thought maybe I have a hardware problem. I don't back up the OS to Carbonite so if the disks go then I'd have to reinstall the OS and applications anyway.

I did manage to fill up the array with recorded TV but that won't happen again. I have 142GB of media files in iTunes. I plan of offload a lot of that to CDs to use in our cars. I also plan to rip up to 100 DVDs (mostly TV quality, not Blu-Ray) and transfer our Hi8 tapes to digital.

We have four systems in our home. The HTPC is connected directly to the Internet and the other 3 are wireless G.

I would like to use the HTPC as the primary storage system and media server. The other systems would have data, media, applications and games specific to the individual.

I have been using Windows Live Mesh to sync data files between the systems. We use iTunes to sync iPods and share media.

I use Carbonite to back up the HTPC.

I use a 1TB drive to do monthly back ups of the other systems.

I have a 320GB 2.5" drive available from a laptop that died.

My thoughts are:

1. To use the 320GB drive for the OS (Windows 7 Professional) and applications on the HTPC. Then at some point in the future I could replace this drive a SSD or just a newer faster drive.

2. To stop using RAID 1 and use the 640GB drives as storage. I'd use one for Media (that can be easily downloaded again) and one for Data and Media that is harder to replace (photos, home movies, etc.). I'd add at least the Data/Media drive to the Carbonite back up. And possibly parts of the Media drive as well.

3. Install the 1TB drive into the HTPC so that I could set up back up to run automatically instead of having to move the drive from system to system to do the back ups. And to add it to the Carbonite back up to act as offsite storage.

Any thoughts about how I should configure the hard drives I have available?

Should I continue to use the two 640's in a RAID 1 configuration?

Am I asking the right questions and heading in the right direction?

More about : continue raid

February 4, 2012 3:25:28 PM

I'm no expert, but I'm done with RAID as soon as I recover or not, my data from my RAID0. I inadvertently messed up my internal software RAID and my backup (an external RAID)) bit the dust at the same time. I would either get a cloning software, or use the Windows backup, or a cloud of some sort. I back up manually which is a pain, but if you make yourself do it, it works. I know one thing, I'm not going to trust RAID again until improvements are made. Also, I recommend, if you backup to your own physical drives, take one to a friend or relative's place in case of disaster at your home.
I almost forgot, WD says not to use any of their drives for RAID other than RE drives. I think I remember it has something to do with the "TLER" firmware being absent on non RE drives. It may not be as important if you are using a software RAID, but they claim a Hardware RAID will damage regular Black drives.
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February 4, 2012 3:44:50 PM

That is useful information. Thanks.

I'll check out the TLER firmware and WD's recommendations. When I was looking for the drives I saw the RE version but couldn't see any difference in specs other than the RAID recommendation.

Now that I'm talking about it I can't remember if I have Blue or Black drives. I know I don't have Green.

The best part of these forums is writing your own thoughts down. And getting the input from others. And then there are the little tidbits that add to your knowledge like TLER firmware. Thanks.
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February 26, 2012 11:55:19 AM

I installed the video card (Sapphire FleX HD6540) and a blu-ray writer. The kids say the Gilligan's Island DVDs look sharper. Glad I spent all that money!

I still haven't reconfigured my storage so if you have any other thoughts let me know. I now have another 320GB 2.5" drive. Hmm. Maybe another RAID1 array for just the operating system and applications. Then data only on the 640's.

Thanks.
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March 4, 2012 2:29:11 AM

Well I started to install the two recycled drives and discovered that I have to change the Storage Configuration in BIOS from SATA/IDE to RAID or AHCI.

I tried to do that using a registry edit and then changing it in BIOS and hosed the system.

After trying to undo and/or fix the problem I decided to install the OS on one of the recycled drives after changing the BIOS setting to AHCI. So far, so good. I've got the system back up and running.

In the morning I'll see if the old drives will mount and then see if I can repair the registry on them so that I can clone them to the other recycled drive and not need to reinstall all my applications.

I'll keep you posted. The main lesson I learned is about the AHCI setting in BIOS. You would think that Windows 7 would at least ask about it during the install. Well that's why I like building my own. I learn something new with each new challenge I create by my ignorance.
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March 4, 2012 5:19:50 AM

Remember that Mirroring drives still creates a single volume, so if that fails, you STILL have to run recovery software to get to the data.

I still don't understand the benefits of RAID1, other than the convenience of drag-and-drop..

It sounds like in your situation it would be better to just run them each individually as storage.

Also make sure to get your hands on a good HDD monitoring program, considering your RAID keeps trying to puke on itself.

I use HD Tune Pro, and I've been pleased with it.
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March 4, 2012 11:52:21 AM

thirteenthcor said:
Remember that Mirroring drives still creates a single volume, so if that fails, you STILL have to run recovery software to get to the data.

I still don't understand the benefits of RAID1, other than the convenience of drag-and-drop..

It sounds like in your situation it would be better to just run them each individually as storage.

Also make sure to get your hands on a good HDD monitoring program, considering your RAID keeps trying to puke on itself.

I use HD Tune Pro, and I've been pleased with it.


The plan is to split them and use them for storage. Data on one, media on the other. Just have to decide if photos are data (somewhat irreplaceable) or media (generally replaceable).

I did get the system up with one of the recycled drives. I set the SATA mode to AHCI before I installed Windows 7.

I plugged one of the old mirror drives in and can see the System Reserved partition (Healthy, Active, Primary) and the other partition (Healthy, Primary). I can't see that larger other partition which has the corrupted registry and my data/media on it.

I am trying to figure out how to "activate" that partition so I can see the files. I'm not sure if I should just set it to Active. I can't seem to find anything that tells me if switching it to Active will harm the data or confuse the system during boot.
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March 5, 2012 3:29:35 PM

I'm still working on this issue but wanted to add a thing or two that I've learned.

1. I created a new boot drive. That was easy enough.
2. A full format takes a long time.
3. Plug your boot drive into the lowest numbered SATA connector if you have another drive with boot files on it connected to the system. After I got the new boot drive going (it was plugged into one of the higher numbered connectors) I just plugged the corrupted drives into the available SATA connectors (lower numbered) and the system tried to boot to the corrupted drives and would not allow me to select the good boot drive. Easy enough to fix by switching where the drives are plugged in.
4. After two days of trying to fix the registry I realized that I use CCleaner and that it creates a copy of the registry. In checking around the way you restore that old information is to find the file, right click and select Merge. Pretty easy, except it isn't obvious where it will Merge the information. I'm guessing that it will Merge it into the active registry on the good drive and not into the corrupted registry on the drive that it was created on. Any thoughts?
5. Most people dislike "fake RAID." I thought they meant software RAID, but I'm not so sure since someone hates "fake RAID" also suggested using the software RAID built into Windows 7. Of course I can't figure out if setting Storage Configuration to RAID in BIOS is hardware RAID or fake RAID. I'm pretty sure it is not software RAID, but I could be wrong. They also don't explain if:
a. You need to switch to RAID in BIOS if you want to use software RAID.
b. If you need to do anything in the registry before you switch from AHCI to RAID mode in BIOS.
So for now I'm just sticking with straight up AHCI until I get all my data moved around and backed up.
6. I've pretty much resolved myself to reinstalling everything. Oh well. I really appreciate the help at get at Tom's. Thank you.
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