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What would I gain from a "real" RAID?

Discussion in 'Tech Talk' started by CitizenOfDreams, Jun 30, 2013.

  1. srhoades


    Jul 14, 2000
    Those are only separate partitions and hence separate logical, not physical drives. If the drive fails you still lose everything on C and D.
  2. He probably realizes that. But keeping OS and data on separate partitions still has irrisputable(tm) advantages, even if the partitions are on the same physical drive.

  3. Yeah, I realize that but, in times of having to re-install the OS (and we know that NEVER happens with Windows) all my personal data is secure on its own partition plus it's all backed up to the second hard drive.

    In all honesty Windows reliability is much better than it used to be. Years ago when I could run Linux for everything I got spoiled on the rock solid reliability of Linux.

    All the Best,
    D. White
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2013
  4. Dieter


    Jul 20, 2006
    SF Bay Area
    Well, if you are happy with that, I think you've answered your own question!

    Rather than spend money on a mobo that might cost more with a fancier, built in RAID controller, you could save that money and consider an SSD Blade PCIe card - more expensive than a normal SSD, but the performance is there for sure. But you don't need a big one - just something to house the OS and your applications.

    You can use a separate "spinny" drive for your video editing, and then build a RAID array to use a dump site for your data, sync it up to make backups at various times when you're not using the machine, and such if you're really concerned about software RAID performance. (Though with modern processors, I don't think this is a big deal, especially not with a single array, or even two.)

    Hardware solutions I think are the way to go with multiple large arrays but for the home user, or small business, software RAID gets the job done - slower, but cheaper, and in my opinion, more reliable.

    Sure, people will argue with that, but as already mentioned - you can run into proprietary issues with hardware, and controllers can fail too, just like anything else.

    I have a machine at my office that is supporting 4 x RAID 1 arrays (28TB/2 = 14TB mirrored), 2 internal sets (3TB@) and 2 external sets (4TB@), all SATA III scaled back to SATA I as that is the max the machine can support anyway, and it does just fine. ANY machine you get today will blow the doors off this 9-year old thing.
  5. Paul53

    Paul53 Geezer Boomer

    Nov 27, 2011
    Anybody ever wonder why 535 Congressmen can't come to an agreement?
  6. srhoades


    Jul 14, 2000

    Their brains are missing the parity bit.
  7. I've been telling folks for years that no news is not necessarily good news.
  8. Fixt-it-for-ya.
  9. ND40oz


    Jun 29, 2008
    N. Yorkshire/Denver
  10. Thanks for the tip, looks like you could save $100-$150 that way.

    For now, I have settled for the "fake" Intel RAID10. Works fine for what I'm doing, and the price was right.
  11. If I were doing business on my computer, I'd probably get a 'real' raid controller.

    That said, I've been running raid 1 controlled by motherboards on my home PC for years and it's never been an issue. I don't use it for a server or anything, I just like to have my data on two hard drives in case of a failure at some point between my weekly backups.

  12. How do you set that up; in the BIOS, or does the motherboard come with a software utility you run from within Windows?

    What other RAID formats do some MoBo's support?
  13. There are two ways to create an array:
    - in the RAID BIOS (if you are planning to install Windows onto the RAID drive);
    - or using the Windows utility (if you already have Windows installed and running on a separate drive).

    Installing Windows on the RAID drive (or even on a non-RAID drive on the same controller) can be tricky. In my last build I was not able to do it (Win7 x64 required signed drivers which Intel did not publish).

    From what I've seen, most RAID-enabled motherboards can do RAID0, 1, 10 and 5.
  14. srhoades


    Jul 14, 2000
    Even if the drivers are not signed you still should be able to use them. As long as you have them on a flash drive to point to during the install it shouldn't be an issue.
  15. Call me stupid, but I couldn't figure out how. The Windows setup just plain refused to use unsigned drivers, no matter how I tried. :dunno:

    No big deal really, since my OS is on a standalone SSD anyway. But I still do not understand why a company as big as Intel would not have signed drivers for their chips. :upeyes:
  16. It can typically be done in the OS or on the motherboard. I usually do it at the motherboard. Depends on the chipset on the motherboard but typically they will support 0/1/10 and sometimes 5.
  17. JimmyN


    Sep 29, 2006
    The Intel drivers are signed, the problem is the Windows installer frequently doesn't know a signed driver when it sees one. Once Windows is installed you can go into Device Manager>Storage Controllers>Driver and you'll see the driver is indeed digitally signed by Intel. The problem seems to be with Windows 7 installer not the driver.

    Plus you have the fact that Win 7 64bit won't load an unsigned driver at boot (supposedly to prevent rootkits from being loaded during the boot process), so if the Intel driver wasn't signed you wouldn't be able to have RAID function at all since Win7 64bit would refuse to load it. The 32bit version of Win7 will load an unsigned driver when booting up.

    If the motherboard chipset was on the market prior to your Win7 installation disk then Windows already has the correct Intel RAID driver and will install it, you won't have to do the "F6 - install additional driver". I'm currently working with the X79 chipset which is newer than Win7 so additional drivers need to be loaded, but I don't use the "F6" method. I use the "Where do you want to install Windows" screen to load the driver, as it seems to work better at forcing installation of the "unsigned" Intel driver.

    If you want to boot from a RAID array there are several steps that must be taken in order to install Windows 7 on it.

    1) Since you're going to boot from the RAID make sure your drives are plugged into the correct Intel SATA ports. Consult your MB manual. Disconnect any other drives until you get windows installed, you can add those later. DVD or CD drives are OK, but unplug any other hard drives.

    2) Start the system, go into the BIOS and set the Intel controller into RAID mode, it will be in a default AHCI or IDE mode.

    3) Save and exit the BIOS. When the system starts back up you'll see new screen text for the Intel RAID configuration, It may appear before or after the normal POST info, usually before. Press <CTRL> I to enter the configuration utility. Select your drives and the type of RAID you want to use (typically 0,1,5, or 10). If you miss this step you'll have the controller set for RAID, but no actual RAID array since you haven't told the controller which SATA ports (drives) to include in the array or the type of RAID you desire. This will result in an error message such as "no device found", driver installation failure, or the system may hang when you try to install the drivers.

    4) Restart the system again and go back into the BIOS. Since you've assigned drives and the RAID mode you should now see the RAID listed in the storage/boot sections of the BIOS. Make sure you place it first for boot, or second if you want the CD/DVD as the first boot option.

    5) Save and exit the BIOS and boot from the Windows installation disk. Choose the "Install Now" option and then a "Custom" install. After the license agreement the next screen up will be "Where do you want to install Windows". Your RAID won't be shown unless Windows already has the correct drivers, if so select it and proceed with the install, you won't need any additional drivers. Otherwise click on the "Load Driver" option and navigate to your RAID drivers, it works well to put them on a flash drive. After you load the drivers the RAID will show up in the "where to install" window as Disk 0 (check the unallocated size to make sure everything is correct). Select that "drive" and you can proceed with installation.

    The flash drive needs to be formatted in FAT32. Copy the Intel RAID drivers to it, you'll only need the .inf and .sys files. Plug the flash drive into a USB 2.0 port. USB 3.0 won't work, and don't plug it into a USB external hub. The best location is a USB 2.0 port on the motherboards I/O panel in the rear. When you get the "unsigned drivers" notice tell it to install them anyway and your RAID array should then show up as "Disk 0 - Unallocated Space" in the "Where to install Windows screen". Select it and continue on with the install.

    To get back on topic using the Intel controller is a "real" RAID, it's not a software RAID, and it will work very well. I use it for both RAID 0 and 1, and the speed is excellent. It uses a driver for interface with Windows but so does an add-on hardware RAID controller. Windows will only see the RAID array as a single drive, which is good as it's best to keep some things hidden from Windows so it can't mess it up.
  18. So how do you convince the installer to use those drivers?

    Here is where my show stops. I try to load the driver, and the installer says the driver is unsigned and "installing an unsigned x64 driver is not supported".
  19. srhoades


    Jul 14, 2000
    Perhaps installing an earlier version of the driver that is signed and then once the system is up and running you can update the driver.
  20. JimmyN


    Sep 29, 2006
    Sorry I'm late with a reply, I had some oral surgery so I was heavily medicated for a day. Maybe it was two days I'm not really sure at this point.

    That method has worked for me, I've installed the Intel RAID drivers on 14 new system builds running Win7 64bit. I checked the files on the thumb drive and unfortunately I left out something in the above, you will also need the .cat files on the thumb drive, which are the actual certificates.

    I used the Intel drivers provided on the motherboards setup disk and copied those to a flash drive, rather than downloading from Intel. Maybe that makes a difference, I checked this morning on two of the systems I have running here, and they are version I then checked Intel's site and the latest version is

    I downloaded the drivers and extracted the zip to look at the certificate. Double click on the file and the 'Security Catalog' window opens. Click on 'View Signature' and Windows says "This digital signature is OK". The issuer is "Microsoft Windows Hardware Compatibility PCA". So the drivers are actually signed by Microsoft, I don't know why the Windows 64bit installer always has a problem with them.
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2013