RAID problem

Discussion in 'Windows 7 Hardware' started by seekermeister, Apr 14, 2013.

  1. seekermeister

    seekermeister Honorable Member

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    A problem that has been haunting me ever since I installed my current motherboard (ASRock 890FX Deluxe 4) is that my two external drives, contained in a Startech ESATCASE2, which connects to a SI RAID controller card (can't remember the model at the moment), causes the BIOS to hang on the last BIOS screen, unless I remember to turn the drives off, until Windows starts booting.

    I never really tried to solve this problem before, but the longer I deal with it, the more annoying it becomes. Not sure, but I think the problem is because the external drives are set to run separately as non-RAID drives, and the BIOS is looking for RAID instead.

    I'm thinking of two possible means to solve the problem...either configure a RAID system that combines the two drives as one, but with two partitions, or to find an external SATA controller with two ports, that has no raid within it.

    I don't remember if my RAID controller has the ability to do it, but I vaguely remember something about a configuration that does nothing more than to connect two drives as one, but I would imagine that even if I could, to configure it in that fashion now would be destructive, and I would lose all of the data now on those drives, which I shall not do.

    That seems to only leave the possibility of buying a new non-RAID controller. I did some shopping for one back quite some time ago, and as far as I recall, nothing quite fit the bill. Does anyone know of a card that would solve my problem?
     
    #1 seekermeister, Apr 14, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2013
  2. Saltgrass

    Saltgrass Excellent Member
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    I am not a RAID expert, so maybe someone else will know, but when you boot you can get into the OpRom for the add-in RAID Controller? What type of RAID are you running?
     
  3. seekermeister

    seekermeister Honorable Member

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    That's the point, I'm not running any RAID at the moment. Perhaps I rambled on too much (I have a tendency to do that), but the only reason that I even mentioned setting up a RAID is just a matter of how my mind works, and puts ideas into words, so that I can either use or reject them. In this case it was the latter...unless someone can come up with an idea that I didn't think of.

    I think I could get into the BIOS setup, because that comes one screen before the one on which it hangs, but I don't think it is possible to setup a RAID now that wouldn't destroy the data on the two drives. That is why I'm thinking about getting rid of the RAID controller all together, and try to find a straight eSATA controller with 2 ports on it, so that the two external drives will look like any of the other drives in my computer.

    I don't know if it has any bearing on things, but I've noticed that SpeedFan only sees one of the drives, even when both are running, and WDC's Data Lifeguard sees both drives as being identical, even down to the model and serial numbers. HD Tune has no problem with identifying each drive properly though.
     
  4. Saltgrass

    Saltgrass Excellent Member
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    If you need a simple eSATA card, I think Startech sells one.

    StarTech Model PEXESATA2 PCI Express to SATA Card Add-On Card - Newegg.com

    If you could get me the model number of the card, I could check its properties. I probably assumed you were using RAID because of the RAID controller card. After I posted, I saw you said they were being run as individual drives. My question about that is can they be run as individual drives. I know the Intel RAID software can run a system as "RAID Ready", but I don't know about the Silicon Image one.

    The other thing I should mention is, if you were to be running your system in a UEFI configuration, Windows 7 does not like extended/logical partitions. And that will keep the system from booting normally.
     
  5. seekermeister

    seekermeister Honorable Member

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    It's a Silicon Image 3131 SoftRaid 5 controller. As I said, I am running them as individual drives now, I just have to wait until the BIOS finishes it run before turning them on. No, I don't have UEFI. I'm not actually booting from those drives, it just that I can't boot with them turned on.

    I never had this problem with my old Asus motherboard, only with the ASRock that I'm now using.
     
  6. Saltgrass

    Saltgrass Excellent Member
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    All I can find is for a 3132 device and it appears to be fairly old. The link below might help, if it is for your device and the driver date was in 2010, but it does not mention Windows 7.

    http://www.siliconimage.com/support/

    I can't really think of anything else I might suggest, except perhaps getting a newer controller as you have already considered. But whenever you change controllers on a drive, you do have a danger of data loss.
     
  7. seekermeister

    seekermeister Honorable Member

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    The only thing that was updated in that list is the Windows SATARAID5 Management Utility, which is only needed to configure RAID, the driver I'm using is much older, but is still the current version.

    I don't think there should be a problem changing controllers, since I'm not using RAID now. All that a non-RAID controller does is to provide connectivity...right?
     
  8. seekermeister

    seekermeister Honorable Member

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    That Startech looks as though it should do the job, but one of the reviews says that it doesn't pass SMART data to the computer and I wouldn't care for that idea much.

    It also has a feature that I don't understand:

    My motherboard only has one eSATA connector, which is why I opted for a controller card, but if this card already has 2 ports, why would anyone need a port multiplier?
     
  9. seekermeister

    seekermeister Honorable Member

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    I'm still pondering a Startech card (only because I haven't been able to find anything else), but I came across a different model that looks a little better:

    Amazon.com: StarTech.com 2 Port PCI Express SATA 6 Gbps eSATA Controller Card - Dual Port PCIe SATA III Card - 2 Internal/2 External Card PEXESAT322I: Computers & Accessories

    When I checked for this model at Tiger Direct, they have a notice in their ad that they can't/won't accept any returns on the card after delivery is accepted, which means if the card arrives defective, that you have to go to Startech for a replacement, which means that they might either repair it or send you a refurbished card.

    Do you know if that would be a universal policy regardless of the dealer you purchased the card from?
     
  10. seekermeister

    seekermeister Honorable Member

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    I just got off the phone with Startech sales, and apparently the Tiger Direct's return policy is strictly their's. The rep said that it was not because of some universal policy between them and the dealers. I also asked about how to use the port multiplier feature, and it will not work on any externals, unless they are in an external case that permits it (mine doesn't). I forgot to ask about the SMART data issue, so I sent them an email on the subject and will have to wait for a response.
     
    #10 seekermeister, Apr 15, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2013
  11. Saltgrass

    Saltgrass Excellent Member
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    I was thinking the Startech card because it probably has been tested with their external unit.

    I got one of their USB 3.0 docking stations with 2 ports and one port stopped working after a few hours. NewEgg replaced it and the next one worked fine.

    My new case has a place to slide in two hard drives for hot swap capability. On my motherboard, these two slots are on a separate controller from the normal Intel one.

    But since I have no experience with your type of setup, I just have the feeling using an actual Controller Add on card would be different than using just a Port card. But it might use its own drivers, just like your present one.

    Edit: You could take the drives out of the enclosure and attach them internally for testing.
     
    #11 Saltgrass, Apr 15, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2013
  12. seekermeister

    seekermeister Honorable Member

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    One would think that, but I wouldn't bet too much on it, because my ESATCASE2s have been discontinued for some time now.
    Not sure I follow what you mean when you say "just" a port card. Both the one that I'm using now and the Startech a controller cards, are plugged into PCIe slots are have their own drivers.

    The only advantage that I can see with using the eSATA port on my motherboard is not needing an extra controller, but since it only provides one connection, that wouldn't work for me. I also read elsewhere that when connecting to that port, the external drive shares utilization of the Marvel controller, and it apparently has two chips and if both are used at the same time, it causes a BSOD. Therefore that eSATA connector shall remain vacant.
    Yes, if I were forced to, but I can't imagine why I would be, unless the lack of SMART data wouldn't allow any of my diagnostics to see them...don't know.

    EDIT: Originally my concern about the SMART data was just wanting my monitors to be able to keep track of their temps, but now you have tossed another concern into the hat.
     
    #12 seekermeister, Apr 15, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2013
  13. seekermeister

    seekermeister Honorable Member

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    I just got a respone from Startech on my question regarding SMART data, and neither of their's don't. Therefore I shall keep looking.
     
  14. seekermeister

    seekermeister Honorable Member

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    I found another card that I'm curious about:

    Newer Technology® : Storage : MAXPower eSATA 6G Pro PCIe Controller Card

    Like most advertisements, it doesn't provide all of answers to questions that I think of, so I just sent an email to their sales dept to see what they would say. However one of the questions might have an answer that someone here could provide. It says that the card requires no driver, and I fail to understand how that is possible? It fits into a PCIe slot, but every other PCIe card in my system requires a driver for it to operate properly, why not this one?
     
  15. seekermeister

    seekermeister Honorable Member

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    Just got a response on question on the MAXPower, which said that it would pass SMART, as long as the controller on the external case did. I'm guessing that it must, because of the fact that some of my diagnostic programs can read the SMART, even now with the current card, but is somewhat scrambled, because each of the diagnostic sees the drives differently. O&O DriveLED even sees the drives as either RAID 4 or RAID 5, even though there is no RAID configured.

    I guess at this point, all I can do is order one and keep my fingers crossed.
     
  16. Saltgrass

    Saltgrass Excellent Member
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    I think that means it needs no user supplied drivers. My USB 3.0 card did not require any drivers to be loaded, but it used a Renasus driver which was built into the OS, or downloaded.

    I found this site, not because I recommend anything, but because it seems to have quite a bit of information about your question. Lower down on the page there is a hardware compatibility list that might help.

    Hard Disk Sentinel - HDD health and temperature monitoring
     
  17. seekermeister

    seekermeister Honorable Member

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    You might be right, but the phraseology used in the ad makes it sound otherwise:

    Yes, there are components that use a native driver (usually one that the/a component manufacturer provided when the OS was first released), but it also says that no updating is needed, which makes it sound as though even Windows Update won't look for an update for it...don't know.
     
    #17 seekermeister, Apr 17, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2013
  18. seekermeister

    seekermeister Honorable Member

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    Well, I hit my procrastination limit, and went ahead an ordered it. After it arrives and I install it, I'll let you know how it went.
     
  19. seekermeister

    seekermeister Honorable Member

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    The new card just arrived, and I was a bit surprised by the fact that it is only 3" long, but that turns out to be a plus in my case, because the motherboard has 1 PCIe x1 slot at the top that nothing else would fit in, and it frees up a x16 slot the old card was using for something else.

    I wasted no time installing it and voila!, no problem booting with the external drives turned on. The BIOS recognizes both drives and Windows did install some kind of driver for it, but I have no idea what, because the Storage Controllers section no longer appears in the Device Manager.

    Oddly, I just started having problems with my HTPC, because it delayed about a minute reaching the Silicon Image 3132 card there, but it isn't a raid controller, so I don't yet know what happened. I will probably replace it with the controller card that I just removed from the desktop, because I never had a problem with that motherboard (Asus) recognizing and booting properly with it in the past. Have to wait and see.
     
    #19 seekermeister, Apr 22, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2013
  20. Saltgrass

    Saltgrass Excellent Member
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    Sounds like it worked out well for your original problem.

    The entry for Storage Controllers are usually for RAID type devices. You might look up in the IDE ATA controllers section. But it loads a driver for the controller on the card, for which Windows has a driver.

    The 3132 appears to be a RAID capable card. It is also PCIe 1.1 x1. Since I don't know what system your HTPC is, it might be best to get one that is version 2.0.
     

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