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Can you convert Windows 7 boot partition into a dynamic disk

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August 24, 2009 3:26:13 AM

Hello,

I want to setup a Raid 1 mirror from one drive to another using Windows software raid. I know in previous versions of Windows you could not do this on the boot partition (C drive). Is it possible to do this in Windows 7?

Thanks
a b $ Windows 7
August 24, 2009 4:27:19 AM

Why software RAID? Doesn't your motherboard have a RAID controller?
August 24, 2009 11:52:27 AM

No it doesn't. When I bought the MB I didn't realize Intel dropped the raid controller in certain models. Since this is my work PC I really don't mind the slower performance. I just want to know if changing the primary basic disk to a dynamic disk will cause any problems. I know if you try this in XP, it won't boot.


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August 24, 2009 5:40:53 PM

I would back up my hard drive first then try it and see what it does :) 

I always love a good experiment....

If you do decide to make a back up let me know what you use, I hear Acronis can do it but Ghost does not like it (although I have not tried the newest version of Ghost, I am loath to buy it if the thing does not work)
August 24, 2009 5:52:16 PM

I predict that it will NOT work, chiefly because the BIOS
will probably not recognize that "soft" partition in the boot menu.

This problem is somewhat similar to running Windows XP Setup
with RAID enabled in the BIOS: F6 must be selected in order to load drivers.

Likewise, with Intel's ICHx controllers, after running the RAID Option ROM,
one should enter the BIOS again, in order to confirm that this RAID array
is detected as one of the possible boot devices. If the BIOS does not
see that newly configured RAID array, it's very likely that Windows Setup
won't see it either.


Anyway, let me know if my prediction is correct :) 


MRFS
August 24, 2009 7:26:01 PM

I wonder if there is a hacked BIOS out that would enable that feature ?

I know sometimes the difference between two boards is just the BIOS features and some connectors. (well price too)

August 24, 2009 7:33:24 PM

JonathanDeane said:
I wonder if there is a hacked BIOS out that would enable that feature ?

I know sometimes the difference between two boards is just the BIOS features and some connectors. (well price too)



There is chipset that handles the raid for the hardware. I don't think the BIOS has anything to do with what I am asking because you can set a software raid in Linux regardless of if the BIOS has a raid controller on it or not.

August 24, 2009 7:59:48 PM

npolite said:
There is chipset that handles the raid for the hardware. I don't think the BIOS has anything to do with what I am asking because you can set a software raid in Linux regardless of if the BIOS has a raid controller on it or not.


What Mobo is this ? or Dell or HP model ? I can look into it :) 

Most Sata hardware is capable of RAID and the difference between a non RAID board and a RAID one is literally the BIOS.

Unless its IDE then yeah you need some hardware in there to do RAID.
August 24, 2009 10:34:37 PM

JonathanDeane said:
What Mobo is this ? or Dell or HP model ? I can look into it :) 

Most Sata hardware is capable of RAID and the difference between a non RAID board and a RAID one is literally the BIOS.

Unless its IDE then yeah you need some hardware in there to do RAID.



The board is a Gigabyte GA-EP35-DS3L...it doesn't have it. You need to get the model with the R in the model in order for it to have it...I'm going to give it a try now and see...hoping for the best.
August 25, 2009 12:44:38 AM

npolite said:
The board is a Gigabyte GA-EP35-DS3L...it doesn't have it. You need to get the model with the R in the model in order for it to have it...I'm going to give it a try now and see...hoping for the best.


Yeah I see that now :(  I was hoping for you.

Usually they just remove the RAID option in the BIOS and a quick hack and reflash will put the option back in.

Let me know if it works, I am interested if this works or not (I would not use it myself but I can see where it would be useful)



Still in shock over the creation of separate hardware for your board... I guess they caught on to people moding the BIOS lol
August 25, 2009 2:03:12 AM

Well it worked! I converted the Disk0 into a dynamic disk, rebooted and then added my 2nd drive. After I converted my 2nd drive to a dynamic disk, I selected my C drive partition on disk 0, right clicked it and selected mirror. It asked me for what drive and I selected the 2nd one. It is re-syncing now and is about 66% complete. I'll post the results tomorrow.


One thing to note though...I had two partitions and selected to mirror both before I left. I came back 3 hrs later and noticed it was only 25% completed because it was trying to write both partitions at the same time. Make sure to only do one at a time.
August 25, 2009 2:38:46 AM

npolite said:

One thing to note though...I had two partitions and selected to mirror both before I left. I came back 3 hrs later and noticed it was only 25% completed because it was trying to write both partitions at the same time. Make sure to only do one at a time.


Yeah something I was never able to figure out is why double copies or transfers to the same drive take longer then if you did both of them separately.

I thought when the new SATA drives came out with NCQ that this would end and finally the operations would take at least the same amount of time..... but no :( 

August 25, 2009 11:52:39 AM

Both partitions are now built. Here is what they look like:


September 17, 2009 7:48:45 AM

Hi! I'm starting to get interested in this software RAID thing.

So in the picture above he has two drives C: and D: that are mirrored (to prevent data loss caused by disk failure). Correct?

- Would it be possible to use the unallocated drive space as a normal single disk?

- Could this be done as spanned disk - not spanned, but striped? (Spanned striped disks don't duplicate data. They split it to several disk for more speed. This of course puts your data at risk.)

My ideal plan would be to have windows and programs and games installed on spanned striped (faster but riskier) disks. And have my important data (,y documents, pictures, work projects, desktop) on a mirrored disk.

Disks don't fail that often anyway. If that happens you can install windows and programs again. Also for me it's enough to backup only the things I can't get back like my pictures (you can't get back moments), texts/work, and maybe music folder because it took so many years to download. Movies and videos are not worth backing up because you can get them again and you usually won't watch them again even you like to have them.

Any comments?
a b $ Windows 7
September 19, 2009 7:43:36 PM

You're much better off with hardware RAID. While disks may not fail often, your OS certainly does hose itself much more often... so depending on it for RAID isn't a preferable choice. Plus, hardware RAID will perform much better. Most motherboards support hardware RAID nowadays... there are very few that don't (mostly budget boards or budget systems)... and even if they don't, you can buy add-in cards relatively cheap. Hardware is always better than software.
September 20, 2009 8:43:24 PM

I actually read about a comparison where they concluded that with modern computers the difference in performance between software and hardware RAID was quite smal.

And isn't it a benefit of software RAID that you can just use a part of a disk for RAID (have a smal striped volume for paging file for example). With hardware RAID you lose disk space if the other disk is bigger than the other.
October 14, 2009 9:51:57 PM

I lost my disks once because of Intel hardware raid 0 corruption. It was a massive pain. It was also fiddly and there was no obvious way to fix the situation.

I by far prefer the dynamic disk / software raid approach, assuming one does not have a quality raid controller.
December 11, 2009 3:39:45 AM

basic disk can be converted to dynamic disk in the disk management tool in Windows. However, dynamic disk is more risky in data safety.
January 1, 2010 5:11:21 PM

I agree with the comparison's between 'software & hardware' raid. I have two drives setup for RAID 1 using Win 7 but using different sizes.
I currently mirrored a 640GB drive and 1.0TB drive together with the remaining space of the 1.0TB partitioned for VM's and unless you are hosting critical applications and serving a large quantity of users, the differences in performance that I can see are neglible. With today's processors and memory timing's a home based software RAID can be just as good as a hardware based RAID setup.

However, the RAID 1 functionality of the boot drive has peaked my interest!
March 22, 2010 2:01:49 PM

appaly said:
win7 can setup a mirror for your boot partition by using disk management.
to convet back to basic disk in windows7, see: http://www.dynamic-disk.com/windows-7-convert-dynamic-d...

Can Windows 7 Home Premium do this or do I need Professional. I am looking into RAID 0 to increase disk performance.
April 20, 2010 12:11:00 PM

npolite said:
Both partitions are now built. Here is what they look like:


http://i29.tinypic.com/160rm05.png


Hi npolite,
Ive been trying to convery my boot disk to dynamic for the last two weeks. Ive tried everything. Just doesnt happen. Im running win7 ultimate.
Can you post how exactly you went about it?
What ive tried:
1) Normal install, with Win partition of 33GB created through setup from unallocated space. Win7 creates a separate system partition of 100MB. If after the install, i convert disk to dynamic through Disk Mgmt, on restart it doesnt boot at all-halts after POST with a blinking cursor.
2) Then i noticed Win doesnt create a separate system partition if i create a primary partition using the DISKPART tool. Again after the full installation, it restarts for the last time only to halt after POST.
3) I even tried interrupting Win setup just after installation partition select screen (basically just cancelled it while Win was on the "copying files" step). This was so that the partition was already marked as type "System". Then went back to Diskpart, converted the disk to dynamic and ran setup again. Win wont normally install on a disk thats already dynamic, but with this partition marked as "System" it installed, but again on the final restart it just doesnt continue after displaying the msg "Press any key to boot from CD"

Help! i think im losing it.
thanks
June 2, 2010 10:02:56 AM

MikeySoft said:
Can Windows 7 Home Premium do this or do I need Professional. I am looking into RAID 0 to increase disk performance.


MikeySoft

It seems nobody has replied to you. You need Pro or above.

RAID 1
I have spent some time with my new computer checking all this out. First, you can boot off either the original boot disk or the 'secondary plex', but you can only do a restore (using the W7 native backup and restore) to the original boot disk. To be able to get the secondary plex restored requires more geekiness than I was able to bring to bear, or more than another W7 forum.

RAID 0
For the above reason, I have configured my computer to NOT use RAID1, mirroring, on my system disk, but on my data disks. I have put the 2 system disks in RAID 0 and they go like lightning. They are two 300G Velociraptors... Of course, if one of them goes feet upwards, then I lose my system but I have tried this and I can do a restore to two 'new' drives, so as long as I do regulare system backups, I am OK.

SeptimusFry
July 12, 2010 5:47:31 PM

Hi all,

I recently had this same issue. What happened was that I needed to upgrade my OS to 7 Ultimate x64, so I did a fresh install after backing up my data. I needed 4 Partitions but due to the compulsory system-reserved 100Mb-partition, I ended up having 5 partitions. So the only option was to convert to Dynamic Disk format since Basic Disk format does not allow more than 4 partitions on a disk.

I did this conversion to Dynamic Disk and restarted Windows 7 Ultimate x64. OOOpppsss!!! The OS boot got stuck where everyone else's got stuck. Then I did a quick re-install of Windows on the same partition where I have Windows running, and voila! It was back and up!

I think the best way to go about this business is;

Step 1: Backup Ur data
Step 2: Take Ur hard-disk to another PC running a Compatible OS
Step 3: Convert the disk to Dynamic, format and partition it as you desire
Step 4: Bring it back to Ur PC
Step 5: Install Windows

Alternatively, in Step 2, you can choose to do the work on Ur PC, but it will take Installing the OS on the disk, converting and partitioning it and then re-installing the OS.

Ultimately, I think that the issue is that Windows 7 does not have the ability to read the boot record once the conversion takes place. So you will have to install on the disk after it has been converted to a Dynamic Disk format.
September 23, 2010 4:15:19 PM

Seth John said:
basic disk can be converted to dynamic disk in the disk management tool in Windows. However, dynamic disk is more risky in data safety.



Why is dynamic disk is more risky in data safety? in what means? any reference?
I would like to know about it.
a b $ Windows 7
September 23, 2010 6:59:55 PM

This topic has been closed by Mousemonkey
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