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Thread: Questions on Hardware RAID1 -- ASUS P7P55D-E; 3 x Drives; Win XP Pro SP3

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    Question Questions on Hardware RAID1 -- ASUS P7P55D-E; 3 x Drives; Win XP Pro SP3

    Hi folks.

    I wonder if anyone has any experience/tips on setting up 2 drives in a RAID1 array (with a cold-spare nearby), facilitated by the motherboard chipset + relevant drivers/controllers (and not a dedicated RAID card). The OS is still Win XP Pro SP3.

    I have investigated many RAID solutions. RAID1 is my preferred choice.

    It is probably worth noting that I currently run software controlled back-ups of specific folders to two external USB drives. I will continue to do that in future whether I implement a RAID array or not.



    MY CURRENT SET-UP:

    A summary of my current set-up is as follows:


    (1) Motherboard: ASUS P7P55D-E motherboard.

    All of the latest versions of key drivers/controllers installed. i.e.:

    * Latest Intel P55 Express Chipset drivers -- for the 6 x light blue SATA 3GB/s ports on the bottom-RHS of the mobo (as housed in the case). I am currently using 3 of these ports for 3 x identical hard drives, plus 1 port for an optical drive.
    * Intel Matrix Storage Manager -- for managing and administering a “RAID array” where the drives are connected to the light blue motherboard SATA ports it appears. Allows access to an administration program at the Power-On Self-Test (POST) stage.
    * Latest JMicron Controller Driver -- for the single black SATA 3GB/s internal port and single external SATA (“eSATA”) 3GB/s port. Not of great significance for my purposes.
    * Latest Marvell Controller Driver -- for the 2 x grey SATA 6GB/s ports up nearer the top of the mobo (as installed in the case). I’m not using these anyway, so they are not of great significance for my purposes.

    However, I have not yet installed the RAID driver(s). (Out of interest, these are not present on the Win XP Pro SP3 CD. They are available on the ASUS P7P55D-E support DVD and the Intel website however.)


    (2) Drives: 3 x identical Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 500GB drives (SATAII, 7200RPM, 16MB Cache) (Mfr part #: ST3500418AS).

    The current set-up of the drives is as follows:
    * SATA1 drive is the main drive. It currently has OS + Program files + My Docs + E-mail on it.
    * SATA2 drive and SATA3 drive are currently connected but unused. They show as “unallocated” via My Computer > R-click > Manage > Disk Management.


    (3) OS: I am still using Win XP Pro SP3! (all major Windows Updates implemented though)



    QUESTIONS ABOUT IMPLEMENTING AND RE-BUILDING A 2-DRIVE RAID1 SOLUTION:

    Here are some questions I have about the actual nuts-and-bolts implementation of a RAID1 solution:



    Implementing

    (i), I plan to run a 2-drive RAID1 solution (i.e., a 2-drive RAID1 array), with a 3rd drive stored nearby as a “spare”/“replacement drive” should SATA1 drive or SATA2 drive fail (i.e., should the array “become degraded”).

    Out of interest, Section 4.4.3 (page 4-12) of the ASUS P7P55D-E mobo manual appears to indicate that all drives connected to the light blue SATA ports must either all be “in RAID”, or all “not in RAID”. (I should clarify that while that may be worthwhile for some to note, it is not a problem for my purposes.)


    (ii), The ASUS mobo manual, over Sections 4.4.3 and 4.4.4 (pp. 4-12 to 4-13) suggests that the best way to build-up the RAID 1 (mirroring) array over the two drive (SATA1 drive and SATA2 drive) is to:

    (a) implement the appropriate settings in BIOS; then
    (b) implement the desired/appropriate settings in the Intel Matrix Storage Manager (accessed by pressing <Ctrl> + <I> during POST).

    After this, I believe I should install the RAID drivers.

    Then, after this, I believe the array should start to be “built-up”, culminating in a RAID1 array coming into existence.

    Is this correct?


    (iii), Can I build a “RAID1 mirror” on to SATA2 drive now, without any data being lost from my install on SATA1 drive (from which I am sending this message)? I think I can indeed to this. But I would like to make sure of that first.


    Re-Building

    Should, say, SATA1 drive fail, what are the exact steps to take in order to “re-build” a RAID1 array (i.e., to achieve the previous “RAID1” position from a “degraded” position)?

    For instance, would the process be:

    (a)
    * Disconnect/remove the failed SATA1 drive.
    * House + connect the “spare” drive as the “new” SATA1 drive.
    * Use the Intel Matrix Storage Manager to re-create (or “re-build”) a RAID1 mirror from SATA2 drive back to the “new” SATA1 drive. (Or would it simply do this automatically?)

    or, would the process be:

    (b)
    * Disconnect/remove the failed SATA1 drive.
    * Re-connect SATA2 drive so that it becomes the “new” SATA1 drive.
    * House + connect the “spare” drive as the “new” SATA2 drive.
    * Use the Intel Matrix Storage Manager to re-create (or “re-build”) a RAID1 mirror from the “new” SATA1 drive to the “new” SATA2 drive. (Or would it simply do this automatically?)

    Are both ways viable?



    QUESTIONS ABOUT INSTALLING THE RAID DRIVERS FOR WINDOWS XP USERS -- FLOPPY DISK DRIVE PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS:

    Here are some questions I have about installing the RAID driver(s), from the perspective of a Win XP Pro SP3 user:


    (i), The P7P55D-E manual, in the introductory para in Section 4.5 (page 4-16) states that:

    ”A floppy disk with the RAID driver is required when installing Windows XP operating system on a hard disk drive that is included in a RAID set.”

    In other words, the relevant RAID driver(s) are not included on the Win XP Pro CD (including the SP3 CD I should note), and therefore must be implemented by other means. In this instance, that means by floppy disk!

    The manual then gives instructions on how to make the floppy disk containing the RAID driver(s) over Sections 4.5.1 and 4.5.2. It appears that I can get the driver(s) from the accompanying ASUS support DVD or online via a simple Google search for “Intel AHCI/RAID driver” and clicking on the first Intel link. (Link: http://www.google.co.uk/#hl=en&sourc...%2FRAID+driver)

    Given that I am using Windows XP Pro SP3, I will do this step.

    I wonder if anyone can explain this step a little more clearly? For instance:

    * Why the need for a floppy-based install from an F6 interrupt?
    * Also, should I install the RAID drivers after adjusting the BIOS or Intel Matrix Storage Manager settings, or before? My current understanding is that I do it after.


    (ii), Unfortunately, I do not have a floppy drive, nor does the ASUS P7P55D-E motherboard have a floppy drive connector on it.

    Therefore, I believe I will have to use an external USB floppy disk drive when (i), creating a SATA RAID driver floppy disk, and (ii), installing the driver(s) from that floppy disk.

    My preference is the Freecom External 1.44MB Floppy Disk Drive (with standard USB connection). At time of writing, it costs £21.51 direct from Amazon, including delivery. Link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Freecom-2276...dp/B00028MGS4/.

    (I’d have liked to have bought an internal drive, but all of the internal units found online had ancient 34 PIN IDC connectors, which are not present on the relatively new P7P55D-E motherboard.)

    Is this a good solution? For future reference, does anyone know where I can get a Floppy (only) drive with an internal USB connector? (On that front, I’m not interested in a floppy/card reader combo drive.)


    (iii), Section 4.5.3 (page 4-17) of the P7P55D-E manual specifies that the actual install process for the RAID driver for Windows XP users is as follows:

    1. During the OS installation [or: during post-installation boot-up with Windows CD in optical drive], press the F6 key to “interrupt” the typical process (in order to install the “third party” SCSI or RAID driver).
    2. Insert the floppy disk with RAID driver into the USB floppy disk drive.
    3. When prompted to select the SCSI adapter to install, select Intel ICH8R/ICH9R/ICH10R/DO/PCH SATA RAID Controller.
    4. Follow the succeeding screen instructions to complete the installation.

    Does anyone have any experience with this process, and any views as to how reliable it is? (The reason I ask is that I have read some NewEgg reviews that noted the process failed.) Moreover, can this be done even although I have already fully completed my install of Win XP Pro SP3 to my main SATA1 drive? I believe it can, but I would like to make sure.


    (iv), Section 4.5.4 (pages 4-17 to 4-19) of the motherboard (P7P55D-E) manual specifies that

    “Windows XP may not recognize the USB floppy disk drive when you [attempt to] install the RAID driver from a floppy disk during the OS installation”.

    In response, it outlines a solution/preventative measure that involves adding the USB floppy disk drive’s Vendor ID (VID) and Product ID (PID) to the floppy disk containing the RAID driver.

    Has anyone had any experience with this process, or any views on how reliable/successful this solution/preventative measure is?

    If of interest, the manual can be consulted via: http://uk.asus.com/product.aspx?P_ID=9i872VNaAILRp8bS > select “Downloads” > select “Win XP” > select “Manual”.


    (v), As an alternative to the floppy/floppy drive process, I believe I can use the nLite software program to “slipstream” the relevant RAID driver(s) (obtained online, or from the ASUS mobo support DVD) on to a “re-created” version of my WinXP Pro SP3 disc.

    The relevant instructions appear to be on the nLite forums: http://www.msfn.org/board/topic/1075...-raid-drivers/

    Am I correct here? What would I do after setting-up the disc? Would I just boot-up the machine with the disc in the optical drive, then let the install process automatically install the drivers?



    FINAL THOUGHTS:

    That’s all the questions I have on this for the moment I think!

    (There is no need for anyone to answer all the questions -- as reading the post back, there are rather a lot!)

    Just some general impressions/descriptions as to how I can implement a RAID1 array over 2 drives, via my motherboard chipset + firmware + relevant drivers/controllers -- and then restore it should a drive fail -- will do just fine.

    Any basic hints here would be much appreciated.

    All the best,

    David
    Last edited by D001; 18-08-2010 at 07:25 PM.

  2. #2
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    Re: Questions on Hardware RAID1 -- ASUS P7P55D-E; 3 x Drives; Win XP Pro SP3

    Other than this supposed 'all ports must be RAID' thing, is there a reason you want to mirror to two drives? You're not adding any extra redundancy with a third drive (save the incredibly small chance that you lose two drives at exactly the same moment, but chances are that would require external trauma which is just as likely to damage the third drive).

    RAID 1 best works (IMHO) when you just use two drives and then you can simply replace the broken HDD with your spare and rebuild the array should it fail. However I wouldn't leave it connected - best redundancy would be to keep it physically separate.

    However I think your reading of RAID modes is incorrect. Yes, the sata ports have to be set to RAID mode, so that the driver is loaded etc, but I don't believe that you have to include all attached volumes in the RAID array - RAID mode can be JBOD for example. I haven't tried this to backup my opinion though.

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    Re: Questions on Hardware RAID1 -- ASUS P7P55D-E; 3 x Drives; Win XP Pro SP3

    Why on earth do you want a 3 drive RAID1 solution?

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    Re: Questions on Hardware RAID1 -- ASUS P7P55D-E; 3 x Drives; Win XP Pro SP3

    3 Drives is RAID 5 anyway
    □ΞVΞ□

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    Re: Questions on Hardware RAID1 -- ASUS P7P55D-E; 3 x Drives; Win XP Pro SP3

    Not sure about support for a 3 drive raid 1.. though im sure there must be cards out there that support it.

    Why not do 2 drive raid 1 + hot spare?

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    Re: Questions on Hardware RAID1 -- ASUS P7P55D-E; 3 x Drives; Win XP Pro SP3

    Thanks very much for your replies everyone.

    Much appreciated. My original post was not thought out properly, and so I have updated it to correct errors.

    A "2-drive RAID1 + cold-spare" solution is what I am thinking about right now. (The spare will be kept in a near-by storage drawer.)

    As to the "2-drive RAID1 + hot-spare" suggestion, this does sound very interesting, but I don't think the motherboard / firmware / controllers I have available support that set-up. I believe a dedicated RAID card would be necessary for that.

    On the post about RAID5 being appropriate for 3 drives -- I am not too interested in RAID5 to be honest. I have always found the simplicity of RAID1 more appealing. In addition, under the RAID1 array, I already have a spare drive on-site (i.e., 2 drives are used for the RAID1 array, while the 3rd drive is kept as a spare).
    Last edited by D001; 18-08-2010 at 02:36 AM.

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    Re: Questions on Hardware RAID1 -- ASUS P7P55D-E; 3 x Drives; Win XP Pro SP3

    I'm assuming "hot spare" means that you leave the hard drive plugged in to the computer, so that when one of the drives goes you can instantly reboot and start rebuilding the array, without having to disassemble the machine.

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    Re: Questions on Hardware RAID1 -- ASUS P7P55D-E; 3 x Drives; Win XP Pro SP3

    An array configured with a hotspare should immediately start rebuilding the array with the spare if the array becomes degraded.

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    Re: Questions on Hardware RAID1 -- ASUS P7P55D-E; 3 x Drives; Win XP Pro SP3

    Quote Originally Posted by snootyjim View Post
    I'm assuming "hot spare" means that you leave the hard drive plugged in to the computer, so that when one of the drives goes you can instantly reboot and start rebuilding the array, without having to disassemble the machine.
    Quote Originally Posted by Splash View Post
    An array configured with a hotspare should immediately start rebuilding the array with the spare if the array becomes degraded.
    ^^ Yes, I believe both of these comments are correct.

    It sounds like a good solution, but as far as I am aware, this is not possible with the hardware (mobo chipset only)/firmware/controller at my disposal at this time (specified in opening post). I believe a dedicated RAID controller card would be necessary for that.

    Coming back to the 2-drive RAID 1 (+ cold-spare solution), would the actual set-up process be as follows?:

    (i), implement the desired BIOS setting(s) (as per ASUS mobo manual);
    (ii), the desired the desired Intel Matrix Storage Manager settings (as per ASUS mobo manual);
    (iiia), set-up floppy with RAID drivers on it, and install via F6 interuption.
    OR
    (iiib), Create a new Win XP Pro SP3 CD with the RAID drivers integrated into it via the "slipstream" method, and install by simply making sure it is in the optical drive during boot-up.


    Given that the current hardware / firmware / controller available to me (ASUS P7P55D-E motherboard SATA ports; Intel firmware and controller(s)) does not allow a "2-drive RAID1 + 3rd drive as Hot-Spare" solution, it looks like a simpler "2-drive RAID1 + 3rd drive as Cold-Spare" is what I will have to use.

    Under this solution, the "(cold) spare" (AKA: 3rd drive) is stored at a location outside the build, ready to be installed later (and built-up into a replacement RAID1 array) should a drive failure happen in the current RAID1 array (i.e., should the RAID1 array become "degraded").

    However, I'm not actually too sure about how to work through the actual process of a "RAID1 re-build", should a drive failure occur to one of the drives in a 2-drive RAID1 array. i.e., would it be as simple as:

    (i), removing the failed drive
    (ii), fitting the identical replacement drive
    (iii), letting the RAID controller automatically re-build the array?

    Or would more steps be required?
    Last edited by D001; 18-08-2010 at 07:29 PM.

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    Re: Questions on Hardware RAID1 -- ASUS P7P55D-E; 3 x Drives; Win XP Pro SP3

    I'd be tempted to leave it in a drawer, should make it last a bit longer.

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    Re: Questions on Hardware RAID1 -- ASUS P7P55D-E; 3 x Drives; Win XP Pro SP3

    Quote Originally Posted by D001 View Post
    However, I'm not actually too sure about how to workthrough the actual process of a "RAID1 re-build", should a drive failure occur to one of the drives in a 2-drive RAID1 array. i.e., would it be as simple as removing the failed drive, fitting the identical replacement drive, and letting the RAID controller automatically re-build the array? Or would more steps be required?
    I think that's pretty much it. Probably with a yes/no prompt

  12. #12
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    Re: Questions on Hardware RAID1 -- ASUS P7P55D-E; 3 x Drives; Win XP Pro SP3

    http://download.intel.com/support/ch...ageconsole.pdf


    If a disk fails and you replace it while the array is in a degraded state then the rebuild *should* be automatic. Be aware that dependent on the size of the disks this may take some time.

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    Question Re: Questions on Hardware RAID1 -- ASUS P7P55D-E; 3 x Drives; Win XP Pro SP3

    ^^ Thanks again folks.

    I wonder if anyone has any views on the best way, given that I am still a Win XP Pro SP3 user, to install the RAID driver(s)? e.g.:

    (i), via floppy with the extra instructions followed, or
    (ii), via a newly created Win XP Pro SP3 CD with the drivers integrated into it via the "slipstream" method?

    Also, should I install the driver(s) before changing (i), the BIOS and (ii), Intel Matrix Storage Manager settings, or after? My current impression is that I do this after (during a boot-up phase I believe).
    Last edited by D001; 18-08-2010 at 07:31 PM.

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    Re: Questions on Hardware RAID1 -- ASUS P7P55D-E; 3 x Drives; Win XP Pro SP3

    Your choice. Both methods work perfectly well in my experience, although I've tended to prefer the latter because I don't have any floppy drives.

    Mind you, I'm told that USB sticks with the right software can emulate floppy disks and therefore work. Never tried it though.

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      • EVGA P55 Classified 200 (Socket 1156, P55 Chipset)
      • CPU:
      • Intel Core i7 870 (Socket 1156)
      • Memory:
      • 16GB Corsair Vengence Low Profile DDR3 1600MHz
      • Storage:
      • Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 3x500GB
      • Graphics card(s):
      • EVGA GeForce GTX 660 FTW Sig2 3GB
      • PSU:
      • Corsair AX860
      • Case:
      • Corsair Obsidian 650D
      • Operating System:
      • Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
      • Monitor(s):
      • Iiyama ProLite E2407S
      • Internet:
      • VirginMedia Broadband 20MB

    Thumbs up Re: Questions on Hardware RAID1 -- ASUS P7P55D-E; 3 x Drives; Win XP Pro SP3

    ^^ Thanks again.

    I think I will use the slipstream method to implement the RAID drivers.

    I have heard it is a more reliable method than the floppy/F6 interupt method.

    I should be able to get this up and running soon I think...
    Last edited by D001; 18-08-2010 at 02:29 AM.

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