Shared Knowledge

"How to - Setup a Redundant Array of Independent Disks (RAID)"

"Personal Computer (PC) Running Windows XP"

8 May 2011


Summary: must have Raid controller or motherboard that supports. Best to start with 2 empty disks. Not as difficult as I thought but not as easy as it first appeared either.



Multiple desktop mid-tower personal computers (PC's) on a local area network (LAN).

PC's used as data backup of main computers while others serve as Tivo servers.

Have experienced hard drive failures with loss of unique Tivo recorded shows.

All hard drives SATA.

All desktops have 500watt or larger power supplies.

Decided to set up redundant array of independent disks (Raid) to ensure Tivo and backup data could not be lost at failure of a hard drive.

My Raid would not be for a system drive or a drive holding an operating system.


How I set up Raid under XP:

Since power supply 500watts or greater no worry about this.

If you have an original 200watt or less power supply, upgrade before you begin.

Motherboard supports 2 SATA drives but not Raid directly.

Apparently some motherboards do support Raid.

Procured SIIG SC-SATR12-S4, PCI, dual channel SATA controller with Raid.

SIIG can support 2 SATA drives not configured for Raid.

Installed SIIG controller board in PC.

Using SIIG install disk, installed controller board driver.

With SIIG, SATA connector at top edge of board is drive 0 or what will be the "source" drive.

Had drive with data on it and connected this to drive 0 SATA connector.

Attached new SATA drive to drive 1 on SIIG controller.

New SATA drive identical to drive 0. Same manufacturer and size in bytes.

Booted up PC.

Did not go into Raid configuration utility.

In Windows XP administrative tools, selected computer management and formatted new drive.

Both drives appeared under My Computer.

Rebooted PC.

To get into RAID configuration utility, pressed function key 4 right after motherboard BIOS flashed.

In Raid configuration utility, defined new RAID set and of the mirror type (Raid 1).

Used rebuild function of utility to copy contents of drive 0 to new drive 1, to get 2 drives synchronized.

Took almost 12 hours for 1.5 terabyte drives to synchronize.

Note here that SIIG graphical user interface (GUI) was not included on the CD I got with board.

If you download SIIG GUI and install, you can set speed of synchronization copy, which might reduce synchronization time.

Exited RAID utility.

Windows began to start but immediately said that drive 0 or what was my D: drive had to have a chkdsk operation done on it. Ok, I let it run. Immediately Chkdsk found errors that it corrected.

Finally, Windows XP started and all appeared well.

In My Computer only saw Raid drive 0 or my drive D:. Makes sense to hide the mirror disk.

When I checked drive D, data appeared to be intact, more or less.

Rebooted system.

Once again, Windows XP said chkdsk required on D: drive but as I watched, Chkdsk did not find any errors. OK.

Rebooted again and once again, chkdsk appeared and found nothing.

Internet search lead to various ways to turn off chkdsk but I did not like that idea.


Using Raid configuration utility, deleted Raid set 0.

Windows booted properly.

Went into administrative tools, computer management and formatted both drive D: and E:

Note: I had all data on drive D: already saved to another drive on my network.

With both drives formatted, rebooted.

Used RAID configuration utility to set up new RAID set using my 2 drives.

Exited configuration utility and let Windows XP start. No chkdsk problem.

Created a folder on my D: and copied some junk to it.

Rebooted system and no chkdsk problem.

Copied all data from drive on another network system to my Raid D: drive.

Went to SIIG website and check for driver updates and saw reference to GUI tool.

Downloaded and installed GUI tool.

GUI tool monitors status of Raid and alerts you to a problem.

GUI tool also lets you see disks in array and also change some parameters such as speed of copy or how a rebuild is done.



From Internet searches:

- apparently not a good idea to run a chkdsk on a Raid drive.

- If a Raid drive fails or has to be replaced, new drive must go on same controller connector so mark SATA cables and drives so downstream you know what drive goes to which SIIG controller connector.


How does it work?

Had no idea if Raid would impact system performance or not. Well, no performance impact, negative or positive, obvious.

As expected, drives on SIIG controller not shown in motherboard BIOS, except for boot drives and then the "source" or SIIG controller drive 0 is shown as a boot option. Note here that I did try to use Seagate's Seatools to do a clone of my existing C: drive but Seatools would not work. Do not know if C: not Seagate is the problem or problem with RAID drives.



Ron - Shared Knowledge Home