question RAID 1 questions in Windows 7

Adcadet

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Hey guys,
I'm re-doing my backup scheme. The first layer of protection I want is a mirrored data drive (RAID 1). I've never created a RAID array, and I'm a little confused.

I have two identical Hitachi 7k2000s, both are currently basic disks, one contains my data and the other contains junk. My motherboard (Asus P8P67Pro) uses the Intel Rapid Storage Technology stuff. Should I use the Intel software or just use the manager built into Windows 7? Does anybody know off the top of their head if by creating the array if I'll loose the data currently on my data drive? Is there a reason Windows' disk management tool says that one is drive is "active, primary partition" while the other is just "primary partition", and the size varies by a little?

Any reason I shouldn't convert all of my disks to dynamic disks while I'm at it?

Thanks,
Adcadet
 

Bozo

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Generally active = boot.
Yes, you will lose all your data when you create the RAID array.
I would use the motherboard RAID setup. That's what I'm using on
my ASUS motherboard.
 

Chewy509

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As Bozo mentions, I agree use the Intel RAID, rather than the Win7 one.

As for your other questions:
Does anybody know off the top of their head if by creating the array if I'll loose the data currently on my data drive?
Yes you will the lot if you use Intel RAID. For the Intel RAID method, you'll need to completely reinstall Windows and all applications. I'm unsure if you'll need the RAID Disk Driver on a USB key during installation or if Windows 7 comes with the driver built-in. Either way, have it handy when you reinstall the OS. After taking a reliable backup of all your data, reboot and enable the Intel RAID in the BIOS. Reboot again, and from the POST press (IIRC) CTRL-A (or it could be CTRL-S) when it comes up with the Intel RAID screen. This will take you to the Intel RAID setup. Create the mirror, and reboot. Now reinstall Windows, etc. (PS. Some BIOSes integrate the RAID BIOS/setup into the main BIOS, so the array creation may be in the standard BIOS, but AFAIK they are separate on your board as described above).

If you're going to use Win7 mirroring, then no you won't. The basic procedure for Win7 is to convert all disks to dynamic disks. Remove all partitions off the drive that will hold the mirror, and in disk management, setup up the mirror. Win7 will then clone the first disk to the second one. And now leave the PC for a while while it goes about the mirroring operation.

Is there a reason Windows' disk management tool says that one is drive is "active, primary partition" while the other is just "primary partition", and the size varies by a little?
The first one is the boot one. As to why they differ in size, is that Windows has a hidden 100MB partition that holds the OS loader which will only be present on the bootable drive. The first drive partition will be drivesize - 100MB, and the second drive partition will be of the whole drive size.

Any reason I shouldn't convert all of my disks to dynamic disks while I'm at it?
Not that I'm aware of...
 

Adcadet

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If I'm not using this RAID array for my OS, what is the advantage to using the Intel drivers?

The Intel software doesn't give me the option of creating a RAID array. I was wondering if this is because all disks are basic disks, but I ran across this in the help section of the Intel Rapid Storage software under system requirements for creating a RAID array "There are less than four volumes present at any point in time in the storage system". Hmmmm. I have 4 drives in my system, which I guess means Intel won't let me combine two drives into a RAID 1 array. Have you guys seen this before? Seems odd.
 

time

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I assume both drives are connected to 3Gbps ports rather than 6Gbps ports, and that your SSD is connected to a 6Gbps port?

Does the Intel software only work if the second drive is unpartitioned?

Is the Intel software incapable of mirroring an active boot drive?

Hopefully someone else can fill in the blanks.
 

Adcadet

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Yes, my SSD is on the 6 Gbps Marvel port (wonder if that's an issue: http://www.storageforum.net/forum/showthread.php?t=8937).

My two 2 TB data drives are both on Intel 3 Gbps ports (they only support SATA II anyway).

If Chewy is correct, than I can't create the RAID array unless I'm in the BIOS. Seems strange, since this isn't true hardware RAID. Using the Windows drive manager snap in seems easier, especially if there is no advantage to using the Intel software.

But again, I found that comment in the help files about <4 volumes. Perhaps they mean "in the RAID array"? Seems silly to limit people to a max of 4 volumes when most motherboards come with 6 SATA ports.
 

Bozo

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The Intel RAID is hardware RAID. That is why you need to set it up in the BIOS. In an add-in RAID card, the RAID is set up in that cards BIOS before the operating system boots.
Check your motherboard specs to see which ports the RAID controller is attached to. Some motherboards use two different RAID controllers or SATA controllers. You mentioned that your SSDs are on the Marvel controller. That would only leave 4 ports for the Intel controller.
 

Adcadet

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Wow, two problems with Dynamic Disks: 1)if you accidently say that you'll allow compression, you get ugly blue file names that are hard to remove (takes a lot of time); 2)Windows backup doesn't play nice with dynamic disks. The snippet below is from MS.


"The hard disk that you save the backup to must be a basic disk, not a dynamic disk. You can back up dynamic disks, but then you must back up all dynamic disks on the computer."
 
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