Shared Knowledge

"Redundant Array of Independent Disk (RAID: Setup Preparation"

10 January 2018


Summary: No matter if you are reusing old drives or brand new drives, have to prepare drives before using with a RAID controller.



Windows Vista and Windows 10.

Have 3 desktops running 12/7.

All desktops are on local area network.

Desktops hold movies and backups of critical data.

All drives are SATA.

After suffering complete data drive hardware failure, went to RAID.

I use 2 channel RAID controller but defined here is applicable to 4 or more channel RAID controllers.

RAID controllers "like" all drives attached to be same size and if possible same make and model drive.

RAID on all desktops now.

RAID is configured in MIRROR mode or both disks contain the same data and changes made to one are automatically made to second drive of array.

Perhaps it depends on RAID controller you are using but for my old Silicon Image controller, there is drive preparation required before you can build array.


Preparation for New Drives:

You can not simply attach 2 new drives to a RAID controller and build a new array.

With a PC with an available SATA channel, shut down PC, attach drive and startup PC.

PC may find new drive and automatically install device driver.

Now must go to "Windows Administrative Tools" which should be in control panel.

Select "Computer Management".

Under "Storage" select "Disk Management"

"Disk Management" will not begin and most likely say that your new drive needs to be "initialized".

Whole drive in one partion.

Initialize new drive and then format it.

In my case, my RAID is set up for my "D" drive, so define drive letter for new, formatted drive as "D".

Once new drive assigned "D", initialized and formatted, shut down PC and remove drive.

Label this drive "Channel 0"

Now take second new drive and install in PC on same channel used above.

Again Administrative tools, Disk management.

Initialize and format but do not assign a drive letter.

Shut down PC and label this drive "Channel 1"


Preparation to use an Old Drive:

You can use an old drive and a new drive on a RAID controller but must prepare both.

If you are going to use an old drive, going to have to delete all partitions that may be on it.

There are several free partition tools on the Internet, so download one onto the PC you are going to use to configure RAID drives.

Connect old drive to SATA port on PC and start PC.

Start partition tool and find old drive. Remove all partitions on it. CAUTION: make sure you are deleting partitions on the correct drive!

Once all partitions on the old drive have been removed, use "Administrative Tools", "Disk Management" and initialize and format drive.

Assign a drive letter if this drive is to be "D" or "E" or the drive on channel 0 of your raid controller.

Once drive preparation is complete, shutdown PC, remove drive and label it "Channel 0".


Setting up RAID:

Depending on your RAID card, you may need to install RAID software before installing the controller and disk drives of array. If required, install RAID software.

With fully prepared channel 0 and channel 1 drives, find channel ports on RAID controller and label both channels.

Now label both ends of SATA drive cables. One will be "Channel 0" and one will be "Channel 1"

Install RAID drives into PC.

Now connect the SATA cable from Channel 0 to the Channel 0 hard drive.

Connect the SATA from Channel 1 to the Channel 1 hard drive.

Attach power to both drives.

Double check that power and SATA connectors are firmly in place and SATA drive cables are routed so they can not be easily disturbed.

Start PC. At this point you may see the RAID controller come up before anything else and indicate you need to configure RAID.

Ignore at this point.

Once PC running, use Windows Explore to check that new RAID "D" or "E" or whatever you assigned it drive is being seen by Windows.

If Windows does not see "D" drive on RAID controller, either, drive is not getting power or channel 0 and channel 1 are misconfigured.

Only one of the RAID controllers will have a drive designation and should be on Channel 0.

If you can see one of the RAID controller drives, restart PC and this time when RAID presents itself on screen, do whatever it tells you to configure RAID. Just be sure you designate "source" is the "D" or "E" or whatever drive letter drive connected to RAID. Should be on "Channel 0".


RAID Maintenance:

It is critical that you have everything labeled somehow to include ports on RAID card, SATA cables and hard drives. Labeled by raid controller port 0 and 1.

When you loose a drive in a RAID configuration, going to tell you defective by channel number.

Some RAID controllers allow for "offline" or "online" rebuilds.

I have found that "offline" rebuild is much faster on "online" but can not use PC during "offline" rebuild.



You can not just attach hard drives to a RAID controller and expect it to configure and work like you want.

Preparation of drives for RAID is not difficult but must have clean, no partitions drive, formatted and at least one drive having a drive letter designation.

In my case, my RAID controller came with some management software which is loaded at Startup and is resident on my Windows 10 tool bar. This tool allows me to see status of my RAID set.