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SSD for OS and Raid 1 for files? What's best way to do

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March 7, 2012 2:59:51 PM

OK so I'm setup my dell xps 8300 as a server and I have a samsung 830 for the os and apps and I want to do a raid 1 for the fileserver on two identical secodary hard drives. In the bios I have to put the sata to ahci since I have the ssd if I do raid it won't work because the ssd is not being raided. The best I do besides buying a cheap 25 pcie raid card is doing a mirror in windows. The dell xps has an intel raid controller on the board but don't see how I could use it in my setup.

How bad is mirrored drives in windows compared to buying a "cheap" raid sata 2 card. Also tried intel rapid storage and I think it works but it put the drives in raid 0 instead of 1, can't seem to get into raid menu after bios post. (Server boots up in like 3 - 6 seconds no lie.)

ANyway what do you guys recommend, I'm already going to do backups so I thought maybe raid 1 is fine my only other thought was I could use an app I have that sync the files over as they change. I don't know why but I feel like raid sometimes leads to drive failure since it's more writing

More about : ssd raid files

a b G Storage
March 7, 2012 3:17:08 PM

Couple of things:

Raid isn't more writing PER DISK, and it can be LESS READING (per disk).

A Dell XPS is NOT server hardware, you do get what you pay for.

Naturally we like NAS for servers, that's what we do. But we have also setup installed countless Dell SERVERS (not workstations as servers) and they work well too.

As you skim these forums you will find 2 things about RAID on a workstation:

1) yes, it can work and even do pretty well at times
2) a LOT of people have problems, many of which result in lost data and frustration and TIME

Here is an article we wrote that may be of interest:
http://networkstoragetips.com/the-problem-with-workstat...

March 7, 2012 4:20:57 PM

what I mean by more writing is just writing the same thing on two drives at once. Since this is for a very very small enviroment I don't even want to do raid rather just have sync files over like every hour. I will have alot of backups so losing data is not an issue.

Any input on windows software raid vs a raid card. Is there much of a difference.
Related resources
March 7, 2012 4:52:33 PM

software raid vs hardware is a difference. so long as by hardware you mean a full blown raid card and not an adapter. google it up.
a c 277 G Storage
March 7, 2012 5:04:40 PM

michaeljean30 said:
what I mean by more writing is just writing the same thing on two drives at once. Since this is for a very very small enviroment I don't even want to do raid rather just have sync files over like every hour. I will have alot of backups so losing data is not an issue.

Any input on windows software raid vs a raid card. Is there much of a difference.

A RAID card will be faster than software RAID, but about the same speed (for RAID 1) as doing RAID in the chipset. Dell is a thing unto itself; their BIOS is weird. I will lay odds that you can set the controller to RAID mode and an unraided SSD will be treated as AHCI. RAID mode is a superset of AHCI.

That said, if you do frequent backups, I would not bother with RAID1 myself. It protects against one thing only: the failure of one of the two drives in the RAID. If anything else goes wrong, or a virus erases your data, then it won't do you any good. It can't hurt, but given the number of parts that can fail it isn't that great a boost in reliability.

Fortunately, you are already aware that RAID is not a substitute for backups.
March 7, 2012 6:13:03 PM

Yeah you may be right because it did attempt to boot from ssd even in raid set from the bios but it would keep rebooting. Then (I didn't spend much time with this last night) for some reason I can't get back into the raid config to set it to raid 1 it's stuck in raid 0. Intel menu screen just flashes for a sec and Ctrl-I does not work. Installed Inter rapid storage drivers and it went back to raid 0 in windows disk managment. But could not open up intel rapid storage app would just crash so uninstalled and used windows.

Performance seem's pretty much what I would expect for a 7200rpm drive about 123mb write. Can somebody tell me the intel raid controller on the motherboard is that a real raid or fake raid. Trying to find out what or if I am losing anything buy using windows mirrored setup.
a b G Storage
March 8, 2012 12:32:05 PM

I think some might be missing the point about RAID1 and backups.

First off, are your backups continuous?

How about an office of 5 people working all day long and the drive fails at 3:30pm. Do you really want to restore last nights data? Presuming the backup from last night is flawless?

The major selling point of RAID is UPTIME! Lose 1 drive and everyone keeps working.

How long does it take to get a replacement drive; when Thailand is flooded?

Operating a server that is critical at all, without RAID, is irresponsible for anyone considering themselves IT material.

Now if it's only yourself and you can tolerate a days lost work, maybe a lost file or three or five (how much work do you do in a day), some pictures, a game or whatever. Then fine. Wait 2 weeks for a replacement drive, restore your backup and you're good to go.

Hardware raid is faster, and more reliable with quality hardware.

That said, back in the day we saved many a company from data loss and downtime with Windows Server software RAID1.

Hope that helps.
a c 277 G Storage
March 8, 2012 1:13:17 PM

NetworkStorageTips

Take a deep breath and relax. You are nearly right about critical business systems, but most home users, even some of those who work at home, don't need to make the investment in that sort of reliability.

The reason that I wrote "nearly right" is that the RAID protects you against data loss from a single spindle, but not from rain or malware. Continuous backups to another machine WILL protect against those, my favorite examples of why RAID does not replace backups. But in a real critical environment you have to consider the possibility of the rest of the hardware failing. I've had more motherboards than hard drives fail on me (well, the score is only 2 to 1). So for serious uptime, perhaps you need a storage appliance and two servers?

I agree with you about disk replacement time, but that is why we have spares. I once worked in a bank where there were no spare drives. If a spare existed, someone took it and put it in a development machine to get more space. So I bought a few and locked them in my desk drawer. Next time we had a drive failure, I had a spare.

The reason I started with suggesting that you calm down is that most people don't need, or want to invest, in that level of safety and reliability. Let's offer them the knowledge, not beat them over the head with it.
a b G Storage
March 8, 2012 1:34:13 PM

WyomingKnott,

I breathing and relaxed.. no worries.

But I did differentiate between home & office in my post... (see below, though, on why it doesn't matter THAT much)

And one reason I did differentiate is because lots of other people besides the OP will read this post for potentially years down the line - so I try to be as clear as I can about what I REALLY think.

Spares are great, but hardly anyone has them. Even in business, my experience (over 25 years in hundreds of companies) is that spares (if ever purchased to begin with) get used, then never replaced - either due to not getting approved (budget knot-heads) or negligent (or over-worked) IT.

For home users??

I cannot tell you how many "home users" told me (when I was suggesting backup) that it was no big deal if they lost their hard drive on their home computer. Not a problem.

THEN!, THEN!!

When the inevitable happens and the machine goes south (usually because they bought a cheap piece of junk in the first place that I recommended against) - they come crying to me asking if I can perform a miracle and get their photos (or whatever) back.

Just saying...

So my policy is simple, whether home or business:

"Never, ever, ever, lose data"

And no, I don't beat them over the head with it, I've tried that for 25 years and found out it doesn't work.

I tell them what I know, then let them decide. If they don't take my advice I simply shake their dust from my feet and move on - and remember that if they come to me later asking for a miracle.

And while people will say they don't want to "invest" in that level of technology, why is it that they won't even sign up for a FREE online backup account that would save 5GB of whatever is most important to them?

It's not just money.. (laziness is one suggestion; it will never happen to me, is another; and apathy - which disappears after the first data loss of something dear to them)

* Yes, you're right, sometimes it is the money. But at times if you don't spend the money you just don't get to play. And people need to be told that too. *

And you are absolutely correct that RAID is no substitute for backup, feel free to beat that over the head of everyone as far as I'm concerned :) 

Hope that clarifies my point(s) and that I'm still breathing!

Best,
Roger.
March 8, 2012 2:03:56 PM

Guys we are losing the point the here I know why I need raid the issue is which raid to do and software vs hardware (if that's what this dell xps 8300 has). I have a samsung ssd 830 for the os and that is imaged everyday. Another user in the office has the exact same ssd so if that fails I am taking it out of there and using it. Second for the files I have 4 total seagate 7200rpm drives I plan on using two or three (depending if I do raid 1 or 5) Now this raid is important because 5 employees will all have there user drives there and all company files. No need to stress how important raid and backups are trust me I know. Unless the building burns down they will be safe.

Now my issue or question is this dell xps 8300 has an intel raid controller on the board. But it only does raid 1 and 0. Second I have a ssd for the boot drive so I have to put into ahci mode which then disables the ability to get into raid menu.

Next is should I just use the windows server software raid 5 and call it a day. I'm leaning towards this. Performance so far seems pretty good. And worse case if a drive fails I have another laying right there on the side. And in a year or two this will not be a server it's just for now. I don't know but for most of my clients I don't do this just wanted to see how cheap I could put together an office. But not buying cheap stuff just buying what I need.
a b G Storage
March 8, 2012 2:28:38 PM

I realize we have gone beyond your question, but I believe I answered your points for the most part, at least to the extent that I can.

I pointed you to an article explaining why I don't recommend RAID on a workstation.

I also made it clear that hardware raid is better, but software raid has done the job for us in the past (but on SERVER hardware, perhaps I didn't make that clear).

We use server hardware (NAS devices currently) to perform server tasks. If there is a database that needs a Windows Server (such as Exchange or MS SQL) then a NAS is not an option.

I can't answer the question directly on the XPS 8300 because, as you might guess, I've never tried to use one as a server for all the above mentioned reasons.

While I can appreciate you are not buying a "cheap" workstation or "cheap" drives, you are buying a "cheap" server. What this ends up being in a year or two is irrelevant in my opinion. The company will be relying on this machine for a period of time.

And it wouldn't be the first time something "temporary" ended up being permanent, seen that all too many times.

What you do at this point is up to you and any other decision makers at the company, you know what I would do.
March 8, 2012 3:05:11 PM

first let me say thanks for even commenting any input is highly appreciated. I went this route because I looked at price for performance to get this in a tower server it would of cost at least 600 to 1200 more. This machine screams fast.

Going to go with the windows software raid 5 and see how that works out. In this case going to proper route might not even make sense. I don't even know where the server is going could go in a room with no ac and melt in a few weeks.
a c 351 G Storage
March 8, 2012 3:48:37 PM

Are you saying that if you put the three drives, 1 SSD and 2 HDD, the On Board Raid bios will Not aloww for one drive, NOT a member drive, and two drives as a member drives to a raid set up.

If you can exclude the SSD as part of the Raid (what ever) member drives and this is an intel seystem you should have No problem as you DO NOT have to set the Bios to AHCI for the SSD.

Connect just the SSD Leave the pair of HDDs disconnected, Download the Intel F6 driver iaSTor. Do The windows install in custum mode and check box that you have additional
driver. Install windows 7.

Allow windows to tdo Updates, Down load and instal Intels RST drivers, Install all other drivers, install programs.

Test stability of system.
Down load and install AS SSD (Do Not need to run benchmarks), just open and verify that driver = iaSTor and that partition is properly aligned.

Power off, connect the two HDDs and set up your raid1 using only the two HDDs as member drives.

Intel iaSTor will PASS trim with bios set to Raid0/1 as long as the SSD is NOT a member drive of the raid0/1.
!