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Porting A Windows RAID Array To Other Systems

Using WindowsXP to Make RAID 5 Happen

We set up the RAID 5 array using Asus' P5DGC-V, which uses the ICH6 Southbridge.

One scenario many administrators are afraid of is the death of a mass storage controller. Usually, identical or at least suitable replacement devices are not at hand, making it especially difficult to run an intact array on another host system/controller. The main problem here is that RAID signatures of different RAID adapters typically are not compatible with each other.

Of course we wanted to know if there is a similar problem when running Windows RAID arrays: Is it possible to inherit an existing RAID setup by only attaching the drives to another host system?

The basic test machine consisted of an Asus P5GDC-V. This one is based on Intel's 915G chipset and comes with the ICH6 Southbridge, on its part featuring four native Serial ATA ports. Here we deployed four Western Digital WD740 Raptor drives.

When we chose the destination system to port the RAID array, we specifically selected one whose SATA controllers are incompatible with the ICH6 ones. The AOpen AX4SPE MAX II comes with the 865P chipset and the matured ICH5 Southbridge. On the one hand, this component is not an AHCI-compliant device. On the other hand, it comes with only two SATA ports, forcing us to attach at least two drives to the Silicon Image Sil3114, which AOpen placed on the board, too.

We have to admit we did not expect the swapping to be so smooth. All we had to do was to attach the SATA cables to any free ports of the destination system and we were done. Neither did the order of how drives were attached matter, nor did it make any difference whether we used the Silicon Image controller or split the array to run both on the ICH5 and the Sil3114.

Getting the four drive RAID 5 array running on another system was enjoyably easy. Nothing had to be reconfigured, and we even picked SATA ports arbitrarily.
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