"IDE Training Course, Part 2: Performance and Data Security with RAID/RAID Without RAID," by Patrick Schmid [August 13, 2002] states: "RAID 0 and 1 are offered directly by Windows 2000 or Windows XP-as long as there are several hard drives."
The article "RAID Without Additional Hardware: Do It Yourself With Windows 2000" tells you everything you need to know to set up a software RAID under Windows 2000 or Windows XP [Patrick Schmid, Sept. 6, 2001].
This last article covers RAID 0, striping, but nowhere do I find where Windows XP supports RAID 1, mirroring, without additional hardware?
I would appreciate anyone having more information on Windows XP/RAID 1, pointing out to me whatever it is I may be overlooking?
Thanks, "DIY RAID technology" speaks SPECIFICALLY to my inquiry. Unfortunenately, it raises additional questions for me:  How do I go about physically installing the required third drive as I have no more open bays, new tower?  Just how will my system/motherboard support this third drive or will this prove to be a hardware limitation?  Will all three HDs ultimately have to be reformatted, etc., to implement this feature OR can I work from my existing C: drive; OS, applications and files intact?  I took a cursory look at "Management Console/Disk Management Folder (Storage category)," and "right-clicking" on the partition of the only partitioned drive did not give me the required option to convert the "Basic" drive to a "Dynamic Drive"?
Have you personally configured any computer this way, or has anyone else reading this "forum reply"? Any and all help will be appreciated.
Thanks again for your informative reply.
 How do I go about physically installing the required third drive as I have no more open bays, new tower?
It stands to reason that if you wish to install a third drive, you'll need an empty bay for the installation. If your current computer case doesn't have enough room, upgrading to a larger case is definitely the easiest solution.
2] Just how will my system/motherboard support this third drive or will this prove to be a hardware limitation?
As long as the drives are connected correctly and properly identified by the BIOS, the mainboard shouldn't have any difficulty with the scenario you choose, regardless of whether the volumes on the disks are basic or dynamic. If your IDE slots on the 'board are filled, you might wish to invest in a PCI card that provides additional IDE connectors.
 Will all three HDs ultimately have to be reformatted, etc., to implement this feature OR can I work from my existing C: drive; OS, applications and files intact?
This is a conversion, not a format. In most situations, if the drives do not contain errors, or have some kind of physical damage (i.e. bad sectors) the conversion should leave your current data intact, much as if you were converting from FAT32 to NTFS.
However, anytime you do something this drastic, backing up your data is a good idea, and should be a part of the entire working arrangement. That's just good, common sense.
4] I took a cursory look at "Management Console/Disk Management Folder (Storage category)," and "right-clicking" on the partition of the only partitioned drive did not give me the required option to convert the "Basic" drive to a "Dynamic Drive"?
Then you almost clicked in the right place, but not quite. Don't right-click on the graphical view of the partitions listed on the hard drives; click on the grey area which says:
(Size of drive)
I've never used this to create RAID 1 volumes, but I have done it a couple of times to create RAID 0 volumes. To be honest, I wasn't really impressed with the minimal speed increase. Also some programs don't work well with dynamic volumes, and converting a dynamic disk <i>back</i> to a basic disk requires deleting all volumes on the disk before the conversion can occur.
You should also be aware that Home Edition does not support this feature, and neither firewire or USB drives can be configured in this fashion. Dynamic disks can't be used on laptop computers, and it also can't be done on removable disks.
Thanks, for what has proven to be your "on target"/INFORMATIVE responses!
I have closure for now on this project, as I am currently running Windows XP Home Edition on my desktop computer.
On another note, before I "post" to a different forum, would you care to speak to a "hardware" issue?
Referring to the article by Patrick Schmid dated January 16, 2003, titled "USB 2.0 as a Multi-Purpose Solution: The External ATA Drive Case from ADS Technologies," he states "the performance is a far cry from what USB 2.0 is actually capable of. Compared to a Maxtor USB 2.0 drive (see benchmarks), the ADS housing only just manages half the performance both at the maximum transfer rate (burst) as well during the writing and reading tests."
Can you explain to this layman why that might be so?
Would you expect a similar performance from a "like" product, specifically the "External 3.5 Inch Aluminum HDD Enclosure [I35USB2AE] from I/O Magic"?
I have already purchased the ADS product, but it can be returned/exchanged for the I/O Magic product and I of course want the better performer of the two or for that matter, any others.
Well, first I must ask ... do you like the device, and the performance? If so, then the article may not apply to you.
There could be several reasons for the sub-par performance. Perhaps the ADS drivers were/are not well-written. There could have been something wrong with the hard drive or the internal cable used in the test. The tests themselves could be "biased" to a certain degree, since most of testing I've seen in this area either is with a drive connected directly to an IDE port, (or in the case of USB 2.0 drives) with an internal PCI USB 2.0 adapter card, which is usually bundled with the drive.
I would suggest that you pick up copies of the tests used by Mr. Schmid, and do your own testing in this area, before accepting someone else's word as gospel. Online reviews and articles are not always conducted as thoroughly as an end-user might do, with more time available. And your computer might achieve results that vary widely from what was shown in the article. You should also notice that the results are now out-of-date, and there have almost certainly been driver updates since then, both for the ADS USB housing, the mainboard chipset drivers, and any USB patches recently released by Microsoft.
Do your own testing, publish your conclusions, and see if you are satisfied with the device. That's really all that counts, in the long run. Personally, I think the Ziff-Davis WinBench 99 benchmarks are nearing the end of their useful lifespan, and HD Tach really only functions well if the drive is unformatted and unpartitioned ... and it is best for only determining burst rates, which could (and can) be limited by the chipset type, or even by an unnoticed IRQ conflict (which is not unusual in WinXP, as ghosted devices often cause conflicts difficult to detect by the user without altering the Registry.) HD Tach results may also not be entirely accurate, as there are complaints that the program shows drop-offs in drive performance with sequential write speeds (RAID 0) compared to SiSoftware's Sandra HD tests, which show increased speeds when running RAID 0. Which can be confusing for the person doing the testing, as you might imagine.
I really only use benchmarking programs to discover if a device is functioning within the advertised, "normal" expected parameters. Beyond that, everything else is nitpicking, as people can often spend a great deal of money in the name of the highest performance, simply for bragging rights.
Here's a link to the latest drivers for your kit, which may or may not be newer than what came on the CD-ROM:
I apologize for the delay in acknowledging your last response. As has been my experience with your replies, I found it helpful. To a point, I took your advice and purchased the ADS Tech product. It seems to work just fine and I'll leave it at that.
Thanks for the input on the initial issue, that of the RAID inquiry and the secondary, IDE to USB question. Your input helped me get closure on both points.