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Need advice, newbie RAID 1, formatting, saving current data,

by tjkramer / December 1, 2009 6:11 AM PST

Hello all,
I'm on Vista Ultimate SP2.
Currently I have a C:\ drive, on Western Digital 640 GB internal SATA. It contains all my programs and some data. I have learned the hard way that I want to use RAID 1 internally for backup. I purchased another identical Western Digital 640 GB drive to plug in another SATA plug inside.

So I'm hoping for some basic install info. Particularly, I have read that I have to format BOTH drives to install the RAID... but obviously don't want to lose years of programs files, AppData, settings, etc. etc.
So I guess I'm wondering if I can use Acronis or something similar to save my current C:\ drive and then load that onto both 640's ?? I am completely confused about how to install RAID if I already have my main Windows boot drive all full of precious files, folders.

I can supply more info if needed... I am just about totally blind as to how to procced here.
Thanks very much!!

Tim

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Did you check the WD site to see if these drives
by Steven Haninger / December 1, 2009 9:13 AM PST

are RAID capable? My information is that they may not be. WD makes "RE" drives which are said to be better for RAID array use. These drives are actually simpler in their controllers as I understand it. Read about "deep cycle recovery" issues that cause RAID failures. A google search for that term will give you plenty of material. I've used RAID 1 with both IDE and SATA controllers. I can say that I personally had no problems and no failures in several years of use on 3 home built machines but have been lucky. I wouldn't, however, us a RAID array as a total backup solution but only as part of the plan. In any event, if your WD drives are not RE models, Western Digital does not recommend them for RAID use. Sorry bout that. Good luck.

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Here's the compatibility spec sheet for RAID WD 640AAKS
by tjkramer / December 1, 2009 9:59 AM PST

Hi Steven, thanks for the input. I scoured the WDC site for that info and the didn't see anything about certain drives being more or less suited for RAID 1 (or any RAID for that matter) unless you refer to the external drives. Here's the link referencing the Caviar Blue drives: http://www.wdc.com/en/library/cs/2579-701239.pdf

I still just need to know what I should do about trying to set all this up and still keep all my programs and data in tact.

Tim

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ahhhhhh, WDC Enterprise drives
by tjkramer / December 1, 2009 10:08 AM PST

Hey Steven, Tim again... I just found the RE drives at WDC...
http://www.wdc.com/en/products/Products.asp?DriveID=503
They are designed for enterprise use, which I probably don't need. But you are 100% correct that they DO specify their RAID prowess. And they don't seem to be all that much more expensive than the Caviar Blue drives.
I'll look into the RE drives further....

T

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How to set it up...general information
by Steven Haninger / December 1, 2009 6:18 PM PST

Here's what you will need. RAID is set up in it's own BIOS/firmware. If this is on your MB, you'll need to make sure that the controller for RAID ports is enabled for that purpose as those I've seen can do either RAID or have individual drive capability. Once set for RAID, connect the drives you want to use and boot the machine. You'll see a pause during POST to allow you to enter the RAID setup by selecting a specific keyboard key. Here's where you begin. I can't know the screens you will see but you'll need to do at least 2 things. You'll select the drives you want to use and, of course, these will be the connected drives. You'll select the RAID type. The verbiage may differ but you might get a choice of RAID 1 or 2 or it could say mirror or performance. RAID 1 is mirror. Select that type. When you proceed with building the array, you may get a warning message that all data will be lost. This is normal. Any data on either drive will be lost. Once the array is configured, you may continue to boot normally. If you're running Windows XP or higher, you should get the "found new hardware" message. You'll need the RAID drivers for the adapter unless you found a way to preload them. This could have been done if RAID was already enabled but nothing attached. Anyway, present the drivers as needed. If they are successfully installed, the machine will need to reboot to complete the configuration of the array. After it reboots, the RAID array will be unpartitioned space and have no drive letter. You'll need to use Windows disk manager just like any other hard drive. You partition and format the drive as you wish. It will receive a single drive letter. That's all there is to it.

I'll have one recommendation and that's to turn off system restore for that drive. If you're only going to use it for storage, system restore is of no value and may even cause a few problems. Good luck.

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