Upgrade to RAID 0 array

Discussion in 'Windows 7 Hardware' started by Episteme, Feb 18, 2010.

  1. Episteme

    Episteme New Member

    Feb 18, 2010
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    I've run out of space on my 320G "C" drive, and would like to add a second identical hard drive in a RAID 0 array on my Gigabyte EP45-DQ6 motherboard to improve both speed and space. This, of course, means wiping out the existing OS, and I don't want to do a fresh install if I can avoid it.
    I also have 2 1T hard drives set up as "H" and "I" respectively which I use to back up the OS, using both windows backup and Norton Ghost (paranoid).
    I tried setting up the 2 1T hard drives in RAID 0 on the motherboard for practice, but once I change my motherboard setting from AHCI to RAID, the OS won't boot beyond the windows logo. I presume that is because the drivers/registry are not set up for RAID.
    [ HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESystemCurrentControlSetServicesMsahci VALUE 0 ]
    Should I:
    1) Install the RAID 0 drivers in the current OS, clone using Norton, set up the RAID 0 array, then restore from image? In which case, how do I force install the drivers ahead of time, and in this case, which drivers do I use?
    2) Set up the RAID 0 array, fresh install the OS, then restore from windows backup? Will that cover all my programs and settings? Will restoring this way also restore the drivers back to AHCI leaving me with an un-bootable OS?
    3) Don't be so lazy, hunt down all my install keys, and do a fresh install of everything once I set up the RAID 0 arrays?
    4) Does the Windows 7 64 professional cd have the necessary drivers for my RAID 0 hardware, or do I need to download and save it to a CD before I do a fresh install, presuming that is the direction I need to take?
    Are there other options/considerations I am unaware of?
  2. Digerati

    Digerati Extraordinary Member
    Microsoft MVP

    Oct 25, 2009
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    I can answer some of these and I will give you my opinion about the rest - since we don't know the primary use for this computer, type of data stored, how it is used, my opinion is based on "normal people" and how they use computers. Then you can decide how normal you are ;) and how it might apply.

    I think you need to back up a little bit, regroup and do some more homework and decide what is better for you, based on how you use your computer. Windows 7 has built in (software) RAID support that works well - see here. But your motherboard offers hardware RAID too, which will work better, in most cases. You need to decide what you want to use, based on the primary use of that computer (serving music, gaming, office productivity, DVR, graphics editing, etc.). The Window 7 DVD (not CD ;)) will not likely have the specific drivers for your Gigabyte board's controllers. You will need to use the drivers from the motherboard's utilities disk, or better yet, the latest 64-bit Win7 drivers for your board from Gigabyte's website.

    That said, you say you are paranoid but you want to run RAID0. That is the most risky RAID configuration because with the data spanning both disks, if you lose one drive, you lose the whole array, and most likely all the data on it. And while it is true striped arrays can improve disk performance significantly, that does not always translate into noticeable improvements in computer performance, not with today's machines running with lots of RAM and decent graphics cards.

    If you are unhappy with your drive's and your computer's performance, I would be looking at freeing up at least 250Gb from your boot drive before adding more disk space. I recommend you move everything not Windows or hardware related off of C drive. Boot into Safe Mode and run Disk Cleanup, then defrag C. Then consider leaving the boot drive for the OS and drivers only and use those monster 1Tb drives for your other stuff. Give Prefetch and Superfetch 3 or so days to learn you before deciding you need better drive performance. This assumes you have a decent supply of RAM too.

    In any event - should you decide to create this RAID, regardless the method you use, I recommend option 3 from your list above. You might consider setting up a boot partition too - so Windows (or the page file) never get crowded out again.

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