Is a RAID right for me?

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Is a RAID right for me?

Postby BasharOfTheAges » Mon Jul 09, 2007 11:49 pm

Back in this thread I noticed that i had a significant problem with my system since I installed Windows on it in January. A whole host of issue (and a S.M.A.R.T. scan) made me come to tearms with the fact that the HDD was junk, and i need a new one. Well, it's been under a year, so i can still RMA the thing and get a new one, but in the time it takes to arrive i'll be missing my OS drive... Would it be wise (or possible) for me to grab another one of these (it's the drive i'm going to RMA), port my files on the drive to the new one and/or my 400GB media drive, RMA the broken drive, and set up a RAID array when I get the replacement? I don't know much about how this works, or if it's possible to RAID an already set-up drive with a new one, or even if a partitioned drive can be RAIDed (and if that has any benifits/consequences)... enlighten me someone?
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Postby Kariudo » Tue Jul 10, 2007 12:58 am

you can always re-partition the drive, and as long as you have at least 2 drives you can implement at least one raid level.(assuming you have a raid controller)
*I'd suggest porting your files to the 400GB drive, set up the raid array and then port the files to the raid array in that order!

as for the rest of your question...it really depends on what you want to do.
(high performance, data security, or a little of both)
There are several different raid levels, each having strengths and weaknesses.

The most common are raid0, raid1 and raid5
most motherboards with built-in raid controllers also support some hybrid levels (as do many raid cards)
examples of hybrid levels: 0+1, 1+0 (yes there is a difference), 5+0, etc...

read up on raid here, and here

Bottom line: if you want performance/disk failure protection and have a little money, then raid is for you.
if you're like me and don't really worry about disks failing then I'd suggest raid0
if you also want data protection I'd suggest 0+1 (a raid1 array made of 2 raid0 arrays, 4 disk minimum)

if your motherboard doesn't have a raid controller you'll have to buy a raid card
...and I really don't know anything about raid cards...so newegg anyone?
*friendly reminder*
a pci-e x1 card will work in a pci-e x4, x8 or x16 slot as well
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Postby BasharOfTheAges » Tue Jul 10, 2007 1:26 am

Quite an informative read there... I was misinformed it seems - thought you needed 4 drives for Raid5, but apparently you only need 3. I'm still not sure I understand the % of total drive size on a raid5. With 3 250GB drives would I have the total storage space of 500GB (minus the loss for formatting, and the rounding lies)?

The one thign i did want to get answered though is do i need to set up the raid before my OS is installed, or can I get new HDDs, install my OS, use it while i'm waiting up to 2 weeks for the RMAed drive to return, then hook up the other drive and establish my raid, or is it easier to just use my other computer until I can get it all situated at once?
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Postby WC Annihilus » Tue Jul 10, 2007 1:33 am

No, RAID requires a formatting of all drives involved. So it would probably be easier to use your other computer until all is set
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Postby BasharOfTheAges » Tue Jul 10, 2007 1:38 am

I figured as much. Also turns out that dispite the fact that i have 6 SATA connections on my motherboard it only supports raid0/1 and poorly at that (bios issues or whatnot). :?
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Postby Kariudo » Tue Jul 10, 2007 1:41 am

unless you want to be shuffling data back and forth a few times, I'd recommend setting up the array first, then installing windows.

making the raid array erases any data in the partitions you are using to set up the array.

if you're installing winxp, you'll want to find your motherboard's/raid controller's raid drivers and put those on a floppy disk (or two...or three...or more)
not sure if vista can load drivers from cd on install or not..but I know xp can't.
(oh yeah, you'll need a floppy drive)

the formula for total array size for raid 5 is:
(#of disks-1)*smallest_individual_disk_size = total_array_size
so with 3 250GB's you would be able to use 500GB
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Postby WC Annihilus » Tue Jul 10, 2007 1:58 am

Kariudo wrote:if you're installing winxp, you'll want to find your motherboard's/raid controller's raid drivers and put those on a floppy disk (or two...or three...or more)
not sure if vista can load drivers from cd on install or not..but I know xp can't.
(oh yeah, you'll need a floppy drive)

Actually you can slipstream RAID drivers onto the Windows install disc. I've never done this, but other people I know have.
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Postby BasharOfTheAges » Tue Jul 10, 2007 2:12 am

From a down-time perspective it doesn't seem worth it to me (given the fact that i can only do raid0/1 without buying another raid controler). I think i'm just going to get that 2nd HDD, clone the messed up one, boot from the clone, wipe the broken one, and RMA it. Just need to find decent cloning tools and something that will gaurentee total erasure of the broken drive.
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Postby WC Annihilus » Tue Jul 10, 2007 2:49 am

For clearing the drive, you can just zero it. Takes a bit of time, but it works. You can do this using Hitachi's Drive Fitness Test utility (found here, 3rd one down)
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