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Installing Windows 7 on a RAID 0 or 5 using six 1.5Tb barracudas

    Question

  • How Do I Install Windows 7 on a RAID 0 or 5 array using six 1.5Tb barracudas. In my attempt to install Windows 7 on a RAID 0 array (on a ASUS Formula Striker II mobo; nvidia based) I ran into the interesting issue of the 9Tb array being seen in the Windows 7 setup as a 2Tb partition. How do I install Windows 7 on this array so all 9Tb are used as a large partition?
    Friday, August 07, 2009 6:45 AM

Answers

  • This setup will not work this way (with a 9 TB partition).

    In order to create a partition larger than 2 TB, the disk must be a GPT disk and you can not boot a BIOS based system from a GPT disk. You need EFI for that.


    Ray
    Friday, August 07, 2009 7:29 AM
  • You can use the RAID5 array for data storage from Windows 7. As it will be larger than 2 TB, the disk will automatically convert to GPT when you use the Disk Manager in Windows 7 to populate the disk. After initialization you can create the partitions on the disk as usual.
    Ray
    Wednesday, August 19, 2009 8:53 PM

All replies

  • This setup will not work this way (with a 9 TB partition).

    In order to create a partition larger than 2 TB, the disk must be a GPT disk and you can not boot a BIOS based system from a GPT disk. You need EFI for that.


    Ray
    Friday, August 07, 2009 7:29 AM
  • Thanks for your reply. I've changed my strategy based on your information. Since the motherboard features six SATA ports I've decided to utilize one for a blue-ray optical drive and the rest for a RAID5 SSD array for the boot, system, paging and OS installation. Additionally, this will be where my recorded TV will initially reside and be processed.

    My goal now is to utilize a RAID5 array with Windows 7. I am contemplating purchasing a HighPoint RocketRaid 2320 8 channel controller card and populate all eight channels with 1.5TB Seagate Barracudas. How will Windows 7 interpret this array? (This controller features 64bit LBA allowing arrays greater than 2TB.) Will Windows 7 simply access the array or will I need to convert to GPT in order to utilize the storage? If I need to convert what steps do I need to perform?
    Wednesday, August 19, 2009 3:56 PM
  • You can use the RAID5 array for data storage from Windows 7. As it will be larger than 2 TB, the disk will automatically convert to GPT when you use the Disk Manager in Windows 7 to populate the disk. After initialization you can create the partitions on the disk as usual.
    Ray
    Wednesday, August 19, 2009 8:53 PM
  • Good to see I am not alone in assembling such a beast.  I have been playing with this for some time now, trying to draw the line between good enough and spending more money.  First some rules:

    1) You can't put MBR partitions on arrays greater than 2 TB.  It does not matter whether that array is motherboard fakeraid or HighPoint RocketRaid.  It must be GPT partitions for >2TB.

    2) You can't put an OS on GPT, it must be MBR.

    3) Never put OS on RAID5 without battery backup.  The OS is always writing to the disk even when the machine is idle.  Only God and Microsoft know why.  A crashed OS or power fail has a high probability of never being able to boot up again.

    4) Never put an OS on RAID 0.  If any drive fails, you can't boot up to run the RAID utilities.

    5) This basically means the OS must be on a array less than 2TB and it should be RAID1 (or RAID1+0)

    What you may not have noticed with motherboard RAID (assuming you have Intel ICH chipset) is that you can create two arrays on the same set of drives.  The same is true for most hardware RAID controllers.  With 4 or 6 drives, you can build a small RAID1+0 for the OS and other partitions needing high speed or often write access.  Then build a large RAID5 for the storage data tank.  Remember the small array must be less than 2TB and MBR while the large array is >2TB and GPT.

    A problem with this route is that the Intel BIOS ROM utility won't build the RAD1+0 or RAID5 on such large drives.  I reported the bug to Intel (and they indicate it is now fixed).  However it is unlikely the new ROM image has propagated to your motherboard' BIOS vendor.

    The workaround is to temporarily install the OS on a IDE drive, run the Intel Matrix Storage Manager software to create the RAID1+0 andRAID5, then remove the IDE drive and install the OS for real on the RAID1+0.

    Be EXTRA careful.  With Window 7, the default is to activate immediately on installation.  Be sure to uncheck the option when doing the temporary IDE install or you will waste an activation and $$$.


    Scott, since it looks like money is no object (as you talk about Bluray, SSD arrays, six 1.5 TB drives, 8-port RAID controllers, etc.), here is what I would build.

    Get a 4-port hardware RAID card.  Use two ports for a pair of SSD drives in a RAID1 mirror configuration and install the OS and high speed data partitions.  Put the Bluray on the third port and perhaps an external eSATA connector on the fourth port.

    Use the motherboard RAID for the six 1.5 TB drives.  I would still set up one <2TB RAID5 using MBR and one RAID5 with GPT.  On the smaller array put small files and stuff you may need to get at with 32-bit recovery boot CD in emergencies.  On the larger array only put your large movie files.

    I found through experimentation that 32 KB stripe is ideal for motherboard RAID5  Use 8kB allocation unit NTFS on small file partitions and 32 KB allocation unit NTFS on large file partitions.

    --
    Lawrence

    Saturday, August 29, 2009 5:54 PM
  • Lawrence, I very much appreciate your advice. Since your post the following developments transpired:

    (1) I received a Highpoint RocketRaid 2310 8 channel RAID card. I plan on setting up all eight channels with 1.5Tb Barracudas. I figure if I fill that up I need to have my head examined. Then again, with Blu-Ray discs as large as they are, I wonder how many can fit on the array. This array will be RAID5 media storage.

    (2) Although I haven't yet started purchasing SSDs yet I've set a goal to eventually deploy them on a Apricorn PCIe Drive Array Board ( http://www.apricorn.com/product_detail.php?type=family&id=59 ) Keeping in mind that the MBR ceiling is 2Tb (the drive array card maxs at 4Tb), I anticipate that this deployment ought to be more than sufficient to handle a large enough RecordedTV buffer to handle an HD NFL football broadcast as well as recording other channels simultaneously. Keeping my goal of a PCIe drive array board in mind I'd like to start with 512Gb SSDs but seriously at $1,500.00 per it's out of my (or anyone's) budget. There are several 256Gb SSDs on NewEgg: the Corsair CMFSSD-256GBG2D looks the most promising. It's the best rated on the site. Comments regarding this purchase are most welcome.

    (3) The ASUS Striker Formula motherboard that I based this system on simply is not the best choice. I'm uncomfortable relying on the Nvidia based Ethernet ports, their nForce based RAID and the 780i chipset for this project. Additionally, with Ceton CableCard tuners due out soon, I would rather have more PCIe slots. I'm contemplating a EVGA board based on the Intel X58 chipset and some flavor of Core i7 CPU.

    Regards,
    Scott
    Friday, September 11, 2009 5:11 AM
  • I have an 8-channel RocketRAID 2320 with 5x1TB drives. The 2320 lets you create multiple arrays from the same set of drives. In fact you can even have 4x1TB, 1x1.5TB and 1x500GB, then put the 4x1TBs and the 1.5TB in RAID5, then make a RAID 0 or 1 out of the remaining 500GB free space from the 1.5TB drive and the additional 1x500GB drive.

    So on 5x1TB I created a 100GB RAID5 for Windows and a 3.9TB RAID5 for data.
    Friday, September 25, 2009 4:40 AM
  • Scott, after I wrote the above I mentioned it to my wife and she said "sounds like you wrote a letter to yourself".  She was right.  I researched and found the newly released RocketRID 2680 8-channel card.  Sweet!  A hybrid soft/hard RAID as it has a built in XOR processor, but does not have the on board RAM jacking the price up.  Review site showed RAID5 compared in speed with true hardware 8-channel RAID, typically >$400, but was only $145 on NewEgg.  It is faster than RAID 0.

    So I have six 1.5 TB drives on this card.  I created a six drive RAID10 with MBR of 750 GB.  It has the W7 64-bit OS and anything I may ever need to access with 32-bit boot recovery disks (my pre-installation archive and my backups and virtual images).  The rest of the drive space is a RAID5 with GPT of 6250 GB.

    I am still not fully functional as I am having problems with W7 BCD.  Since I originally installed W7 on a IDE drive before I had the RR2680 card, I tried to simply copy the boot and system partitions over to the RAID10 (using Acronis TrueImage 2010), but that would not boot.  Trying to fix the BCD via "repair windows" on the W7 DVD only destroyed both my original and the copied W7 installs.  Back to full reinstall this weekend.  Then I get to immediately image it, destroy it, try to restore it, and hope I don't have to reistall ever again.  Wish me luck!

    Since this email seems to also be doing a lot of free advertising, I might as well mention:

    a) Get Partition Wizard 4.1.  It is a free partition manager that is better, bar none, than any purchased partition tool I have tried.  It even has partition recovery built in, which restored a partition that a Windows XP bug wiped out.

    b) Get NeoSmart's EasyBCD.  It makes multi-booting a breeze.  Unfortunately it didn't help me restore my damaged BCD like I hoped.

    c) My motherboard of choice was Asus P6T Deluxe V2.  It is Core i7 X58.  No regrets at all.
    Friday, October 02, 2009 8:30 PM
  • Lawerence,  I can't believe I missed that card. It would have been a better choice than the 2320 I got. I didn't know that this card was compatible with SATA drives. I saw that it was for SAS drives, which I know nothing about.

    Good luck with your reinstall. I opted to install the boot & system partitions on a 2Tb RAID0 array of two 1Tb Barracudas. Its working very good. It's disappointing that Windows 7s WEI scores the array at 5.9 an not higher. I realize now that it's artificially capped, and the actual performance deserves a higher merit, but nothing one can do about it. I intend to eventually swap out the RAID0 Barracuda array in favor of some flavor of SSD, though now SSD fabs are now selling premounted SSDs on a PCIe RAID card. SuperTalent is coming out with a RAID Array card that is based on this idea. Looks very interesting. So is that ApriCorn card I mentioned earlier.

    I'm going to look into the Partition Wizard 4.1 you recommended. My idea was to pair my W7 HTPC with a WHS. I thought that I would rely on WHS for backup. Haven't started that built yet. I plan on starting that build with the new 2Tb drives. I would need eight of those to achieve a backup strategy. Thats going to take some time...

    I still haven't decided about a mobo yet. I was burned by ASUS via the Striker Extreme (what a POS that one was) I RMAed it three times before I ASUS kindly swapped it for a Striker II Formula. As I mentioned, I wish it had more PCIe slots. However, with ATI now offering the 5850 card with HD video and HD audio via HDMI, I can now avoid shelling out for the new AuzenTech X-Fi card. It's going to be quite sweet to simply connect a HDMI cable to this card and have TrueHD signal to my Bravia system...
    Saturday, October 03, 2009 3:41 AM
  • Irealize that this thread is on the old side, but it had some good information.Also, i have spent a few hours researching my question before i came here, so dont be too quick to judge if it is a simple question.

    Like the OP, i may soon be building a home media server, but i would like to avoid adding volumes for any time soon. I will likeley start off with 10TB, and over the next 2 or so years, approach 20 or 25 TB (lots of other information as well, aside from movies alone) by expanding the volume rather than creating separate volumes. It will run in raid 6+spare, on an Areca raid controller.

    Does windows 7 pro (or ultimate), 64 bit, support LBA 64? This seems like the only option to get volumes over 16TB. I know windows server does, but W7 is by far my favorite operating system.

    Wednesday, September 01, 2010 10:31 PM
  • Well, after a few more hours of searching, i finally found the answer.
    Thursday, September 02, 2010 12:45 AM