RAID 1 Setup - how do I do it? Is it the best thing for what I want?

PPI Zulu

Standard Member
Hi all,

I've done a search on RAID 1 but can't find exactly what I need (or think I need!) - if it's out there then please feel free to re-direct me...

Firstly, I need a new PC as my old one is too slow/small/rattles...etc..etc.

I've been thinking of picking up a Dell Studio 8300 i7 - I know a little about PCs but not enough to build my own or look any deeper than the major retailers.
I have also been thinking about RAID 1 for a while now (even with my old machine) as I have had two HDD failures in six years. The first was when everything was on the same HDD and then the second was on the OS (Win XP) drive when I repaired the first crash and used seperate OS and Data HDDs. The second repair was easier than the first but, from what I understand from Wiki (I know, I know!!!) about Raid 1 it would mean that I would simply have to replace the drive rather than all that re-installation malarky.

If I buy a machine (say the 8300) with only one drive, can I install the second drive and do the RAID 1 magic without upsetting the first drive's installation?

The Dell Chat guy says that a 2 x 500GB (too small) Raid 1 is available, or a 2 x 1.5TB (bigger than I really wanted) RADI 1 option (both only over the phone). The second option is also £220 quid more. So, for 40 quid more (the cost of a 1TB SATA HDD on ebay) can I do it myself? Is this a good method of combatting drive failure?

Thanks,

PPI
 
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Martynpd

Novice Member
what happens is the raid controller on the motherboard splits the data into strips, usually 128kbs each strip

raid 0 is when you have 2 harddrives which the data is divided evenly between the two, which gives you slower access times, but faster copy and read speeds.

raid 1 is when you have 2 hardrives or more again, but this time they mirror each other.

so basically you have a master and slave harddrive, when either of them break the other one takes over. so if you get 2 drives of equal size like 500gbs then you will only get 500gbs of storage because the other is a backup.

also i know from experience that with raid 1 if you replace the dead hard drive the raid controller will copy the data to the empty drive.



so raid 0 if you want fast speeds, but because you have 2 drives there is more chance of data loss because the data is split between the 2 drives

raid 1 for the same speed as a normal harddrive but you have a backup.

the other problem with raid 1 is the fact if you get a virus it will be on both drives. but normally if that happened to me i have 2 drives which are exactly the same so if you lose some data you still have it on the other
 

Martynpd

Novice Member
you can add drives to raid 1, but with raid 0 you have to partition the drives first to merge them into one drive.

so yes using the intel software you can setup raid 1

you can also mirror your drive to be safe and mirror it back after you configure raid if its a problem

i went for 2 samsung spinpoint f3s, about 30quid each for 500gbs and 1tb is 45quid

i would say its a good way to fight drive failure,

but you could get a western digital book ( external storage drive) and that will mirror your harddrive with the software it comes with.

you dont need any software for raid anymore btw you just push control I for most computers at boot up
 
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jasonf01

Active Member
i would say its a good way to fight drive failure,

True, its a good way to fight physical drive failure, especially if you still want access to the data while the failure is bring fixed.

Remember though that RAID1 is more of an availability platform, not a backup solution. As well as drive failure theres loads of other things that can happen to cause the RAID array (or any storage) to lose data. Malware, OS crashes, accidental deletion, data erosion, the list is endless.

Hell, I can remember a few years back one cheap RAID controller used to corrupt the data as it passed through!

In your situation, I would probably go for 2 drives, one as main and one as a backup, and NOT use RAID - very few people need data availability or the added layers of complexity it brings whereas everyone who creates files on a computer needs backup.

Jas.
 

PPI Zulu

Standard Member
Martynpd
...so yes using the intel software you can setup raid 1

you can also mirror your drive to be safe and mirror it back after you configure raid if its a problem

So...the original HDD from Dell will remain intact and is, effectively, just copied? Is there any chance of corruption with the addition of the second drive and then the RAID 1 request?


Jas

In your situation, I would probably go for 2 drives, one as main and one as a backup, and NOT use RAID - very few people need data availability or the added layers of complexity it brings whereas everyone who creates files on a computer needs backup.

Ok, I see what you are saying; with RAID 1, if I accidentally delete my music folder I'll I accidentally delete it from both drives...?

With my current system (40GB O/S drive + 180GB Data drive - now not big enough) I also use 'Casper XP' to clone the drives onto spare drives every now and then. If either drive fails then I can simply copy the whole thing back again on to the replacement drive or put the cloned drive in instead. This, of course, only protects me up to the point of the clone.

My attraction to RADI 1 was that it happened instantaneously, without request and is always right up to date.

Are you saying that my curent method is probably the best? Maybe add a normal back-up to the Data Drive rather than just the clone so that it's more up-to-date? What I'm really trying to avoid is having to rebuild the O/S drive and all the program loading and configuration that goes with it...it took me two days the first time...

...so my next question is:
If I have a seperate O/S drive for a Win 7 O/S what sort of size should it be? Other programmes include Office 97 Professional, Adobe CS5 and about 20 others like TomTom and Blackberry Phone interface, email...blah...blah...blah.

Thanks for your replies fellas,

PPI
 
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MarkE19

Moderator
With RAID1 whatever happens on 1 HDD is exactly mirored on the other - so if you delete a file or folder then it gets deleted from both HDD's at the same time. So RAID1 is not a backup of any sort, but more insurance against the HDD failing.
I would just suggest that you buy a second HDD (either internal or external) and setup the backup program built into Windows to run on a regular basis to copy all changes to the other HDD. I do this on a weekly basis to an internal HDD and then back that up to my server monthly. You could also use the free SyncToy to give a more 'real time' backup of the HDD if required.

Mark.
 

Clav

Novice Member
A raid array will protect you from a physical failure of the hard drive, which happens very rarely in the grand scale of things. If you get a virus, accidentally delete stuff, get a dodgy driver or some corrupted OS etc etc then it will all be mirrored to the second drive and you'll be back to square 1.

What you need is a different approach to the way you handle your data combined with a backup strategy of the most critical data (if you have any).

For example, lets say you have HD1, HD2 and USBHD. You can install your OS and applications on HD1, keep your data on HD2 (including moving your my documents, pictures etc to that drive) and then perform some sort of backup on the USBHD.

Any new PC you get is going to arrive with Windows 7 which has backup and system imaging tools built in. The good thing about this is that you can install Windows and your applications and then take an image of it and save it to another hard drive or DVD's or whatever. That way if your HD1 with Windows on it has problems you can use the Windows 7 DVD to install the image you made previously and in 20-30 minutes you have your working system back with all your drivers apps and whatnot. Albeit without any apps you may have installed since you made the image. As your data and backups are on seperate drives they will all remain safe and intact.

Hope this helps! :thumbsup:
 

Clav

Novice Member
You don't need Casper 6.0 as Windows 7 has it built in and is free. A 3rd party backup app will probably be more user friendly and maybe have additional features but you have to put your hand in your pocket and pay the extra for it. Give it a go and see if it does what you want.
 

MarkE19

Moderator
A 3rd party backup app will probably be more user friendly and maybe have additional features.....
This is very true - for example you can only create an image of the Windows HDD/partition. Any other HDD's in the PC can not be imaged with the Windows program. Another limit is that you can't backup to a network location, the destination must be hard wired to the PC (ie internal or via USB, eSATA etc). So if any of these features are required you will need to look elsewhere for a backup application.

Mark.
 

PPI Zulu

Standard Member
Another limit is that you can't backup to a network location, the destination must be hard wired to the PC (ie internal or via USB, eSATA etc).

So, with the Win7 back-up tool, I won't be able to back up to the //Readyshare 1TB desktop that's USB'd to my Netgear 3700 router?

PPI
 

MarkE19

Moderator
Try it is my advice. When I setup my backup I could only see local drives to put the backup on. My server was not seen, even though I have mapped drives to it.

Mark.
 

PPI Zulu

Standard Member
...many thanks everyone for your advice. I've settled on:
1. Small(er) O/S Drive - see below
2. 1 TB Data Drive (supplied with the new machine)
3. Small back up (cloned) O/S drive (perhaps the Samsung 150GB 7200rpm that's already in my current machine through a desktop interface)
4. 1 TB Data backup (Maxtor desktop - already owned) - possible through the //Readyshare USB port on my Netgear 3700 (if I can find it on the netork for automatic backup purposes).

I have one further question:
I'm thinking of going for an SSD for the O/S drive so....what's the smallest I can get away with? They're very expensive and I'm not even sure I'll go for it - but I like the fast-boot that it traditionally allows and the quick access to the programs.
I don't use the machine for any games but I do a lot of work with MS Office 2010, CS5, video editing with Corel Video Studio Pro x2. These are the 'biggest' programs I have and there are also twenty or so other 'utilities' like LogMeIn, TomTom...etc...

...so what's the minimum O/S drive size I should look for?

PPI
 

Clav

Novice Member
For Windows 7 I reckon 60GB is about the smallest you can go. However if you want your image and video editing projects on the ssd instead of the (slower) data drive I reckon you would need something a lot bigger, maybe 100 - 128GB. Depends on how big the projects you work on are.
 

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