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XP Pro - Software RAID

oCoMiKoCoMiK Oswego, IL
edited Dec 2004 in Hardware
Is anyone aware if there is a reg mod or hack to get this accomplished? The fact that 2000 servers have software RAID makes me wonder if there is just a switch to make this active.

Mirroring is listed as one of the options under "Disk Management" but it's greyed out.

I'm only looking for a software RAID solution and no hardware solutions at this time.

Thanks
Ocomik

Comments

  • ShortyShorty Manchester, UK Icrontian
    edited Jun 2004
    You need to turn them into dynamic disks first .. before you can use the RAID functions :)

    Read:

    http://www.winnetmag.com/Article/ArticleID/8619/8619.html

    .. about the pro's and con's before going down that road :)
    dynamic.jpg 19.6K
  • primesuspectprimesuspect HumanGarbageDisposal Detroit, MI Icrontian
    edited Jun 2004
    I can personally attest that software raid works just fine in XP pro - i use it myself. And in many cases, it's just as fast (sometimes even faster) than a "soft" hardware controller like a highpoint or promise controller.
  • oCoMiKoCoMiK Oswego, IL
    edited Jun 2004
    Shorty wrote:
    You need to turn them into dynamic disks first .. before you can use the RAID functions :)

    Read:

    http://www.winnetmag.com/Article/ArticleID/8619/8619.html

    .. about the pro's and con's before going down that road :)

    Thanks shorty but that's already been done... I know how to accomplish this in Windows 2K server varieties; however, everything I'm reading says that it cannot be done on XP systems (software RAID that is).

    I guess that's the real question. Can software RAID be done under the Windows XP OS? And if not by default, is there a "hack" out there to get it done?

    Ocomik
  • oCoMiKoCoMiK Oswego, IL
    edited Jun 2004
    I can personally attest that software raid works just fine in XP pro - i use it myself. And in many cases, it's just as fast (sometimes even faster) than a "soft" hardware controller like a highpoint or promise controller.

    Alright, give up the ghost... Everything I've come across mentions that it cannot be done on Windows XP Pro. XP Pro does support Dynamic Disks but not software disk mirroring.

    Currently I'm looking at Disk 0 (Dynamic) NTFS and Disk 1 (Dynamic) Unallocated. Normally I would just right-click on Disk 0/Add Mirror, follow the rest of the dialog box and be done.

    mirror.jpg

    For me "Add Mirror" is greyed out...

    Thanks
    Ocomik
  • Straight_ManStraight_Man Geeky, in my own way Punta Gorda, FL Icrontian
    edited Jun 2004
    XP Pro can do soft RAID across channels, off a RAID device. Dyn volumes are typically used to make logicals that exceed the physical space on a HD. Yuo can STRIPE with just software, mirroring works 100% better with hardware doing the duplicate writing for you, under a RAID subbios control, since the target for the copy from source (original) is not even having to be doen by the O\S, it is done by hardware and BIOS control of hardware. With hardware present, you can have two HDs on each side of mirror, and have duplicate striped volumes result, and that also can be done with XP plus hardware. Enterprise server versions of Windows facilitate this more, or O\Ss designed first for serving and then builtup with GUI added later-- but they rely on hardware more yet.

    If you want to imitate RAID with pure software, look at software that can autoimage and revise images, but if XP fails due to not enough RAM and\or virtual space to keep software running, you get a bad mirror image and have to salvage what you can when you recover. Soft RAID can imitate hardware, but not well. Easiest way is to hook lpatop to network, get a network aware iomager to image across network, or keep O\S and work in different physical drives to start qwith, back up your work drive, use your install media plus archives of update archives to recover faster than the time it takes to debug abstruse errors. Can be done, results not reliable, for pure soft RAID. Soft to supplement HARD is how Microsoft approaches things now.

    Linux is more likely to do what you migth want to accomplish, but it relies on HARD solutions even more. Let's try this a different way??? What general goal do you wish to accomplish??? Reliable backups that almost do themselves??? Or specifically soft-only RAID which has been tried and has failed from the 70's on more often than not, totally or in large part????

    True very useful and recoverable\redundant RAID needs to be hardware taking the load off the O\S to gain net performance, relaiblility imposes a builtin performance penalty, best approach is balance of both. Using both hardware and software methods. It is the to-hardware offload that gets you better performance of a combined workstation server, and if this is a LAN, server can back up and serve files via network with a network aware Acronis package or several other packs.
  • oCoMiKoCoMiK Oswego, IL
    edited Jun 2004
    For clarification sake...

    All I want to do is find out if it is possible to create a software mirror (RAID 1) using Windows XP Pro OS ONLY! No additional hardware, No additional software.

    I believe I may have confused a few folks when I used the term RAID and didn't specify the level of RAID I was looking to accomplish. Sorry!

    Thanks
    Ocomik
  • GobblesGobbles Ventura California
    edited Jun 2004
    All I can say is this... Back up your data. The above testimonials are well and good but when your software raid hoses.. your data is gone... unless you are mirroring, if you however are not mirroring but are running a spanned volume you are asking for trouble. XP may have gotten better about it but in 2000 dynamic disks and software raid was a recipe for data loss.

    Gobbles
  • ShortyShorty Manchester, UK Icrontian
    edited Jun 2004
    Gobbles wrote:
    All I can say is this... Back up your data. The above testimonials are well and good but when your software raid hoses.. your data is gone... unless you are mirroring, if you however are not mirroring but are running a spanned volume you are asking for trouble. XP may have gotten better about it but in 2000 dynamic disks and software raid was a recipe for data loss.

    Gobbles

    Il say it once, Il say it again.

    Acronis True Image 7 with incremental backups saved nightly onto another hard drive.






















    Wow.. this is like my "memtest86" ;D
  • TexTex Dallas/Ft. Worth
    edited Jun 2004
    oCoMiK wrote:
    Alright, give up the ghost... Everything I've come across mentions that it cannot be done on Windows XP Pro. XP Pro does support Dynamic Disks but not software disk mirroring.

    Currently I'm looking at Disk 0 (Dynamic) NTFS and Disk 1 (Dynamic) Unallocated. Normally I would just right-click on Disk 0/Add Mirror, follow the rest of the dialog box and be done.

    mirror.jpg

    For me "Add Mirror" is greyed out...

    Thanks
    Ocomik

    XP Home has nothing but XP pro has the same software raid through dynamic disks that win2k pro or server has including raid-0 , raid-1 and even raid-5 as well as spanned volumes.

    You create the raid array differant in win2k3 and XP. You create a volume and in that process it lets you select the disks and the type of volume. "simple" is non raided, but you can also do raid-1 and raid-0.

    And I find it hard to believe you are argueing and telling people that HAVE DONE THIS a ton of times that it can't be done and you "read" somewhere it couldn't and "gave up the ghost"... all because you have to make a couple differant mouse clicks.

    Next time go "read" a good source before argueing with the experts that have done this a thousand times

    Try somewhere like Uhhhhh.. Microsfts Knowledgebase perhaps?

    Tons of articles there about using the create volume wizard to craete spanned or STRIPED arrays.

    But then they put a even SIMPLER way for those that can't handle that either.

    Click your mouse on "Help and Support" off the start menu. See the cute little thingy you type in your search criteria in to get help? Cool... Enter
    "Create striped volume" and just like magic they zap you up ways to do it from the command line or through the Windows interface either one. They consider striped to be raid-0 or 1 but it will get you to the mirrored option the same way. All through the create volume wizard.

    P.S. In case the help and support is to complicated for ya I copied for ya also.

    Open Computer Management

    In the console tree, click Disk Management.

    Right-click unallocated space on one of the dynamic disks on which you want to create the striped volume, and then click New Volume.

    In the New Volume Wizard, click Next, click Striped, and then follow the instructions on your screen.

    Notes

    To open Computer Management, click Start, and then click Control Panel. Click Performance and Maintenance, click Administrative Tools, and then double-click Computer Management.

    You must be logged on as an administrator or a member of the Administrators group in order to complete this procedure. If your computer is connected to a network, network policy settings might also prevent you from completing this procedure.

    You need at least two dynamic disks to create a striped volume. You can create a striped volume onto a maximum of 32 disks.
  • oCoMiKoCoMiK Oswego, IL
    edited Jun 2004
    Tex wrote:
    XP Home has nothing but XP pro has the same software raid through dynamic disks that win2k pro or server has including raid-0 , raid-1 and even raid-5 as well as spanned volumes.

    You create the raid array differant in win2k3 and XP. You create a volume and in that process it lets you select the disks and the type of volume. "simple" is non raided, but you can also do raid-1 and raid-0.

    And I find it hard to believe you are argueing and telling people that HAVE DONE THIS a ton of times that it can't be done and you "read" somewhere it couldn't and "gave up the ghost"... all because you have to make a couple differant mouse clicks..{edited for length}


    Tex,

    My advice to you before you just go making blatant accusations is that you read the thread completely. I stated that I had done this in Windows 2000 server before, and although it wasn't stated, I have done it a few times.

    As for me arguing, my statement was that I've read numerous posts that have stated that "mirroring is not supported under Windows XP pro" including the Microsoft knowledgebase you so rudely mentioned.

    If you can't be of assistance then fine. I don't need to waste my time responding to messages of this nature. I respect the people that run and patronize this board and for you to purport anything else is just a false interpretation of my original objective.

    As for the specifics you posted, "simple" is the only option that is available. Both the "Spanned" and "Striped" options are unavailable. So at least from my perspective, I'm still unable to see how I can accomplish a "software mirror" on this system under Windows XP Pro.

    Ocomik

    P.S. I sure would appreciate it if you would edit your post to paint a realistic representation of what I was after. The sarcasim didn't help either.
  • TexTex Dallas/Ft. Worth
    edited Jun 2004
    The specific requirements were posted to you. This isnt to hard to figure out. Amd XP pro definately does it. A "tad" differant then you were used to.

    Primesuspect is a mod and a admin here. He posted he had done this. Everything you "read" god knows where ... said you couldn't. Would you mine posting links? I would like to read the same thing.

    As I suggested. Use Help and support. They provide exact links to the wizard that holds your hand and walks you through it. Without coming to your house it's difficult to make this any easier. It also had a "notes" section telling you the exact requirements including the permisions your user needs to have and exactly what state your disks need to be in.

    You were wrong. XP indeed does it. Microsoft clearly states xp DOES IT. And many of us have done it many times. I cut and pasted exact directions and told you how to get the same instructions on your own box through help and support since you claim we are all wrong and probably still think I made it all up.

    But if instead you wanted to say .... Ok I'm still confused.... What am I still doing wrong here because you were right XP does allow raid-0 and raid-1 but I must of just clicked on something wrong can you help me get this fixed?

    I would say "Sure Bud". No problem. I just get sick and tired of people posting for help at times and then argueing and saying that the people answering his question are all wrong? Multiple people said YES XP DOES SOFTWARE RAID. They had done XP software raid with dynamic disks. Scan up and read again. And because XP has been supposedly "enhanced" with all these nifty wizards to hold your hand and walk you through this stuff it looked differant from what you were used to and you "gave up the ghost? And decided we were all wrong?

    Again please take a few moments and enlighten me with all the links (remember everything you read supported that XP does not support it right)

    Was this all in books or did you have some links? I got lots and lots of links saying XP does including tons straight from microsoft. And if you spent 30 seconds actually looking or searching you would know it also.

    Tex
  • ThraxThrax Professional Shill, Pokémaster, Watch Slut Austin, TX Icrontian
    edited Jun 2004
    Relax guys.

    We don't need Cold War arms escalation on S-M.
  • MissilemanMissileman Orlando, Florida Icrontian
    edited Jun 2004
    Guys - the problem is easy.

    XP Pro does it, but will not let you do any volume operations on a boot disk or a swap disk. If you want to RAID-1 you must use a disk that does not have the OS or the swap file on it.

    Otherwise you must use hardware RAID.

    I just went through this trying to RAID 10 2 hardware RAID-0's just for fun. Ended up losing all my data when trying to convert dynamics back to basic disks.


    Hope it helps.
  • BlackHawkBlackHawk Bible music connoisseur There's no place like 127.0.0.1 Icrontian
    edited Jun 2004
    Thrax wrote:
    Relax guys.

    We don't need Cold War arms escalation on S-M.
    What he said.

    Ocomik:
    DiskPart
    DiskPart.exe is a text-mode command interpreter that enables you to manage objects (disks, partitions, or volumes) by using scripts or direct input from a command prompt. Before you can use DiskPart.exe commands on a disk, partition, or volume, you must first list and then select the object to give it focus. When an object has focus, any DiskPart.exe commands that you type act on that object.

    You can list the available objects and determine an object's number or drive letter by using the list disk, list volume, and list partition commands. The list disk and list volume commands display all disks and volumes on the computer. However, the list partition command only displays partitions on the disk that has focus. When you use the list commands, an asterisk (*) appears next to the object with focus. You select an object by its number or drive letter, such as disk 0, partition 1, volume 3, or volume C.

    When you select an object, the focus remains on that object until you select a different object. For example, if the focus is set on disk 0, and you select volume 8 on disk 2, the focus shifts from disk 0 to disk 2, volume 8. Some commands automatically change the focus. For example, when you create a new partition, the focus automatically switches to the new partition.

    You can only give focus to a partition on the selected disk. When a partition has focus, the related volume (if any) also has focus. When a volume has focus, the related disk and partition also have focus if the volume maps to a single specific partition. If this is not the case, then focus on the disk and partition is lost.

    Create striped volume
    Creates a striped volume on the specified disks. After you create the volume, the focus automatically shifts to the new volume.

    Syntax
    create volume stripe [size=n] [disk=n[,[n,…]] [noerr]

    Parameters
    size=n
    The amount of disk space, in megabytes (MB), that the volume will occupy on each disk. If no size is given, the new volume takes up the remaining free space on the smallest disk and an equal amount of space on each subsequent disk.
    disk=n
    The dynamic disks on which to create the volume. An amount of space equal to size=n is allocated on each disk.
    noerr
    For scripting only. When an error is encountered, specifies that DiskPart continue to process commands as if the error did not occur. Without the noerr parameter, an error causes DiskPart to exit with an error code.

    If you want to read it all. Start > Help and Support > Search for "Diskpart". That should help.
  • TexTex Dallas/Ft. Worth
    edited Jun 2004
    Hi missilebuddy: Bummer as I think I had a utility I found to convert back to a basic from dynamic again.

    Nice to see you around again!

    tex
  • MissilemanMissileman Orlando, Florida Icrontian
    edited Jun 2004
    Hey Tex. I'm around most of the time now. You know me though. Just quiet and shy :) Just hanging around, FOLDING, and still playing/testing games.

    I went and bought a $50 dollar program called Partition Commander just because it was the only thing that said it could convert dynamic back to basic with no data loss. It was easy to do, but did a DOS type boot to do it. I don't believe the RAID-0 was seen correctly. It showed it as back, but wouldn't boot. Just hung. I reran Part com and did the fix boot option like the book said and it trashed my partition tables. Chkdsk even showed them as unrecoverable. Partition magic 8 couldn't fix em either. :banghead:

    Had back ups. Just in several places. Now I have exactly what Shorty said. I made an 80Gb IDE with the OS and true image on it. I just boot to it. Image my RAIDs to it. Take it offline and boot back to my RAIDs. Can recover whole system now in 20 minutes. I should have done this months ago, just too damn lazy.
  • BlackHawkBlackHawk Bible music connoisseur There's no place like 127.0.0.1 Icrontian
    edited Jun 2004
    "Try before you buy" ;)
  • TexTex Dallas/Ft. Worth
    edited Jun 2004
    Missileman wrote:
    Hey Tex. I'm around most of the time now. You know me though. Just quiet and shy :) Just hanging around, FOLDING, and still playing/testing games.

    I went and bought a $50 dollar program called Partition Commander just because it was the only thing that said it could convert dynamic back to basic with no data loss. It was easy to do, but did a DOS type boot to do it. I don't believe the RAID-0 was seen correctly. It showed it as back, but wouldn't boot. Just hung. I reran Part com and did the fix boot option like the book said and it trashed my partition tables. Chkdsk even showed them as unrecoverable. Partition magic 8 couldn't fix em either. :banghead:

    Had back ups. Just in several places. Now I have exactly what Shorty said. I made an 80Gb IDE with the OS and true image on it. I just boot to it. Image my RAIDs to it. Take it offline and boot back to my RAIDs. Can recover whole system now in 20 minutes. I should have done this months ago, just too damn lazy.

    True Image is by far the best of its class.

    Tex
  • MissilemanMissileman Orlando, Florida Icrontian
    edited Jun 2004
    "Try before you buy" ;)

    I hear you, but I ASSuMEd that since it said it plain as day on the box, front and back, that somebody had tried it once or twice.

    :eek2:

    Funny how every time I ASSuME something it bites me.

    I must have some Murphy blood in my family tree :)
  • oCoMiKoCoMiK Oswego, IL
    edited Jun 2004
    Tex wrote:
    Primesuspect is a mod and a admin here. He posted he had done this. Everything you "read" god knows where ... said you couldn't. Would you mine posting links? I would like to read the same thing.

    Prime knows I meant no disrespect and if he had an issue with what I posted, I know he would feel comfortable enough saying something about it.

    Instead of treating me like a freak'n leecher, why don't you try and understand it from the other side of the fence.

    Here are at least two links I just googled in the last 5 seconds, one specifically from Microsoft. I also included the text as a point of reference.

    http://www.petri.co.il/software_mirror_in_windows_xp.htm
    http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=307880

    {Site Text}
    You cannot create mirrored volumes on computers that are running Windows XP Home Edition, Windows XP Professional or Windows XP 64-Bit Edition. However, you can use a computer that is running Windows XP Professional to create mirrored volumes on remote computers that are running Windows 2000 Server, Windows 2000 Advanced Server, or Windows 2000 Datacenter Server. You must have administrative privileges on the remote computer to do this.
    {Site Text}

    As for you continuing to talk down to me like I'm some noob, that's just not cool. I don't need you to hold my hand but at the same time I am comfortable posting (asking questions) about areas I may not be 100% sure about. I've been in this business a longtime but would never profess to know it all.

    In the future, if my questions or style of posting are not welcome, I'm sure one of the THREE will let me know that I've overstayed my welcome. Until then, feel free to reply to my posts but please do it in a courteous manner. Flaming someone just isn't the cool or right thing to do, especially when your case isn't as clear cut as you made it out to be.

    No hard feelings...
    Ocomik
  • oCoMiKoCoMiK Oswego, IL
    edited Jun 2004
    Missileman wrote:
    Guys - the problem is easy.

    XP Pro does it, but will not let you do any volume operations on a boot disk or a swap disk. If you want to RAID-1 you must use a disk that does not have the OS or the swap file on it.

    Otherwise you must use hardware RAID.

    I just went through this trying to RAID 10 2 hardware RAID-0's just for fun. Ended up losing all my data when trying to convert dynamics back to basic disks.


    Hope it helps.

    It's the boot disk I'm working with. Thanks.

    Ocomik
  • primesuspectprimesuspect HumanGarbageDisposal Detroit, MI Icrontian
    edited Jun 2004
    Basically you need three drives - one for the OS and the other two for the RAID. Only with a hardware controller can you stripe the volume that the OS will reside on. If you want to add a RAID after the OS is installed, you need two seperate blank volumes with no partitions installed.

    Can you describe your drive setup, Mike?
  • TexTex Dallas/Ft. Worth
    edited Jun 2004
    Basically you need three drives - one for the OS and the other two for the RAID. Only with a hardware controller can you stripe the volume that the OS will reside on. If you want to add a RAID after the OS is installed, you need two seperate blank volumes with no partitions installed.

    Can you describe your drive setup, Mike?

    Sure because XP doesnt load drivers for a striped/mirrored dynamic disk untill the OS is loaded, so there is no way on XP or Win2k or any other version of Windows can ever possibly have the OS on a raided dynamic disk. From a simple dynamic yes but not a striped or raided one obviously.

    Which was why in the notes section in the instructions from MS help and support it clearly stated UNALLOCATED DISKS. And why I again mentioned above that it stated the exact user permissions and STATE OF THE DISKS required to create the volume.

    Tex
  • oCoMiKoCoMiK Oswego, IL
    edited Jun 2004
    Basically you need three drives - one for the OS and the other two for the RAID. Only with a hardware controller can you stripe the volume that the OS will reside on. If you want to add a RAID after the OS is installed, you need two seperate blank volumes with no partitions installed.

    Can you describe your drive setup, Mike?

    Hey Brian,

    On this particular system (just a workstation) it's two drives. On my W2K servers in the past I just mirrored the data drives; hence my confusion when attempting to do the same thing here. Then on top of it, I'm reading that "mirroring of drives" cannot be done in XP. It makes for a long day.

    Sorry I wasn't more specific about whether it was a bootable disk or not. It just didn't cross my mind that that's what could be causing the problem.

    I guess I am a little dismayed (and embarassed) that this thread had to take this course. It was never my intention.

    Thanks to everyone (and I do mean everyone) for the help and insight...
    Ocomik
  • primesuspectprimesuspect HumanGarbageDisposal Detroit, MI Icrontian
    edited Jun 2004
    dude, no worries at all. You weren't out of line even remotely by asking a valid question. If people didn't ask, how would anybody learn? :D
  • SpinnerSpinner Birmingham, UK
    edited Jun 2004
    Okay this topic made me realise we haven't got much information about this particular brand of RAID, so I've put together a little post and put it up in the RAID FAQ's Thread. It's been a while since I've played with software RAID, so let me know if I've missed something. Here's the post for peoples reference:
    Spinner wrote:
    Software RAID, as it is dubbed, works for the most part in the same way as a typical hardware based RAID setup, with the chip on a motherboard or PCI card simply supplemented by a piece of software which can perform the same functions.

    The latest Windows OS, Windows XP, has this ability (not the HOME version), as do a handful of other Windows and non-Windows based OS's.

    The primary draw back of using a Software RAID setup is that you can't run an OS on a software RAID partition, simply because the OS or software has to be loaded first so it can initialise the array. It's essentially the chicken and the egg scenario. Make note though that I said partition, not drive. As long as your OS is on a separate partition, another partition on that very same hard drive can be used to help make up a striped array (RAID-0). For RAID-1 however, you will require 3 hard drives in total. This is because Windows will not let you perform any volume operations on a boot disk or a swap disk.

    Below are some related FAQ's:
      Windows XP Pro supports RAID-0, RAID-1 and RAID-5 as well as spanning.
      You need at least two dynamic disks to create a striped array (RAID-0) and at least three if you wish to setup a mirror array (RAID-1).
      You must be logged on as an administrator or be a member of the administrators group in order setup software RAID under Windows.
      Unlike in a hardware RAID environment, there is no need for matched drives.
  • edited Jun 2004
    Despite what is commonly stated, it is possible to run Software Raid 1 and Raid 5 on XP. It does however require the hex editing of three system files to do so. I found this information on StorageReview.com, but unfortunately the link to the thread has been subsequently edited and the information removed. It can be found by looking at a history of the thead though. I've included a link to the history here.

    In addition, it is possible to install XP on a Sofware Raided drive, though it must be Raid 1. Also, it is possible to run different levels of Raid on different partitions on a set of drives. For example, this machine has three 200 GB drives installed and is configured with both Raid 1 and Raid 5 partitions:

    Disk 1 : |-- 16 GB Raid 1 --|--- 184 GB Raid 5 ---|
    Disk 2 : |-- 16 GB Raid 1 --|--- 184 GB Raid 5 ---|
    Disk 3 : |--16 GB Scratch -|--- 184 GB Raid 5 ---|

    (A Raid modified version of) XP is installed on the Raid 1 partitions of Disks 1 & 2. The Raid 5 array gives a total of about 375 GB of storage. It may be possible to Raid 5 four or more disks, though I haven't tried it. The Raid 5 should give K*(N-1) storage, where N is the number of disks and K is the size of one partition (all the same size).

    It is essential to use a UPS on a Software Raided machine - the slightest power glitch will cause both Raids to rebuild. This hasn't been a problem in itself (so far), but the Raid 5 takes about three hours to rebuild on this 1GHz Nehemiah processor.
  • primesuspectprimesuspect HumanGarbageDisposal Detroit, MI Icrontian
    edited Jun 2004
    Bradley99: First off, welcome to short-media. We always welcome people with expertise such as you seem to have.

    Second, would you mind perhaps elaborating on the method used to do the modification? That would make a fantastic guide, and we'll publish it if the information is accurate :)
  • QCHQCH Chicago Area - USA Icrontian
    edited Jun 2004
    Bradley99... Welcome and what a way to introduce yourself... nice info. I might just try to do this later this weekend!!!!!
  • GobblesGobbles Ventura California
    edited Jun 2004
    if you are going to buy a software raid solution then just buy a raid controller and put the issue to bed...


    Gobbles
  • edited Jun 2004
    Gobbles wrote:
    if you are going to buy a software raid solution then just buy a raid controller and put the issue to bed...

    This is a way to have cheap (read free) Raid 1 or 5. Raid controllers that can do Raid 5 are somewhat high-end, at least they used to be.

    There are some things to consider before you attempt this. You will surely be violating the EULA - I doubt Microsoft approves of people modifying their dll's. This may be in fact why the information was removed from the StorageReview.com website - pure speculation on this point though.

    Next, it is possible for Microsoft to issue a patch at some point that overwrites these system files, though it hasn't happened yet. I am not curious enough to try replacing the altered files with the originals just to see what happens to the Raid.
  • edited Nov 2004
    Just a report - the XP software RAID 1 and RAID 5 patch also works with SP2. I successfully converted a SP1 array comprising both RAID 1 (OS), and RAID 5 (data) partitions to SP2. More information on the patch can be found here. Also, Tom's Hardware did an article recently discussing the patch. Tom's shows the SP1 files though, not the SP2 files. The technique to modify is the same but a couple of the files are different lengths and the data is at a different offset within the files.

    To convert the existing SP1 array:
    - break the RAID 1 partition
    - copy in the original (unmodified) system files
    - update to SP2
    - copy in the modified SP2 system files
    - rebuild the RAID 1 partition
  • edited Dec 2004
    Bradley99 wrote:
    Despite what is commonly stated, it is possible to run Software Raid 1 and Raid 5 on XP. It does however require the hex editing of three system files to do so.

    Great thread. I have some follow-up comments and questions:

    A previous version of Windows that I used (I think it was 2000 Pro) could access already created arrays but couldn't create them itself. I had an array from a previous install and while it couldn’t create arrays like it, it could access the one I already had without a problem. Does anyone know if XP Pro works that way?

    I'm trying to do a similar thing as the original poster with my machine. I’m building a new computer and I have 2x 300 GB drives in it. I’ve decided I want the OS boot portion to be a standalone partition (for compatibility) but I also want a mirrored partition to safely store the files I create and a striped portion for speed to store games and programs.

    Here’s the layout I want:

    |---boot1--|---mirror---|----stripe---|
    |---boot2--|---mirror---|----stripe---|

    I had no problem with the striped portion and standlone partitions, XP did this without trouble, but it wouldn’t create the mirrored partition. I installed Server 2003 on a separate drive, booted that, imported my dynamic disks, and created a mirrored set. Rebooted into XP and it could see the mirrored array but labeled it “failed” and both the disks had “!” icons over them The only option for the disks was “Reactivate Disk” but it didn’t do anything (even after multiple reboots.) The only option for the “failed” mirrored array was to break the mirror. It would appear from this that unmodified XP can’t access mirrored partitions created in Server 2003. Has anyone else tried this? Has anyone tried with arrays created in 2000 Server? I may try that next.

    I like this design because the machine should remain bootable even if something goes wrong with the ability to access the mirror (e.g. another service pack). I can also install another OS on the “boot2” partition then just change which drive is the first to boot in the BIOS and I have a second OS. It works as a low level unobtrusive boot manager. That is the best kind of fault tolerance in my opinion because I can get to my important data easily, even if my OS gets corrupted or my motherboard dies. It will also let me do the modifications to the dll’s Bradley99 pointed out without resorting to rescue mode on the disks. Just boot the second OS and I have full access to mess with the files of the first one. Having a second OS you can boot is also nice when your machine gets riddled with stubborn spyware or virus’s. The second OS will be clean and able to remove infected files from the first one.

    I want to point out for all the people who suggest using a "hardware" raid card: All ide raid cards (except 3Ware cards) are actually just software raid implemented in drivers. All the work is done in the driver on the CPU just like software raid done by the OS, the hardware portion simply stores the settings for the driver and has bios routines to support bootstrapping the drives. That's why you can get $25 "raid" cards that obviously have no chips on them capable of significant computational power and why they can be switched into regular controller mode so easily. An array created on these things won't work unless they are hooked up to the same type of controller that created them and they won't work unless the raid driver is loaded. You can easily wipe them by accessing them without the driver loaded and an improperly written driver can destroy their data itself. In my opinion, raid arrays done this way are buggy and dangerous. I have 2 raid controllers on my new motherboard (1 promise and 1 via) and I won’t use them. I’ve had too much trouble with them in the past.

    You also can’t mix raid types on the same disks with hardware raid like I’m doing where a portion of each disk is standalone, a portion is mirrored and a portion is striped. I’m not saying nobody should use hardware raid, but there are good reasons to use software raid instead. It’s as fast if not faster, much more flexible, and arguably safer.
  • TexTex Dallas/Ft. Worth
    edited Dec 2004
    But your missing the differance in hardware raid and software raid. You can't boot or have the OS on a software raided volume. Thats your problem. Which mucks up a bunch of what you thought were advantges of mixing differant raid volumes.

    its not faster or safer but is more flexible. I'll give ya that one.

    If the controller uses the computers ram and cpu to handle the striping, they are not hardware raid just fancy drivers but they are just like the software raid built into XP/Win2k etc...

    REAL hardware raid controllers are much safer and much faster. And more expensive also needless to say.

    Cheers and best of luck !

    Tex
  • edited Dec 2004
    Tex wrote:
    But your missing the difference in hardware RAID and software RAID. You can't boot or have the OS on a software raided volume.

    True. But do I really care? I can reinstall my OS from CD. It's the files unique to my machine that I care about keeping safe. Those are the ones I want mirrored not the OS. I also don't want the OS partition to be striped since it's risky and it would make little difference in the speed of the machine.

    From my standpoint, having 2 separate bootable os partitions is more useful than having the OS on a partition that is on RAID.
    Tex wrote:
    REAL hardware RAID controllers are much safer and much faster.
    I’ve actually done a lot of reading about the speed of hardware vs software RAID. I’d be interested in knowing what comparisons you know about. The reading I’ve done seems to confirm a sneaking suspicion I’ve had lately that software RAID is getting to be faster than hardware RAID.

    I don't know much about the speed of Windows's software RAID, my advanced storage experience is mostly on Linux. My most important stuff is on a big RAID5 array attached to a 3Ware controller and has nightly backups. The array is getting to the point I want to replace it though. It is horribly slow at writing so I've been looking carefully at what to use on my next array. There isn't a lot of glossy marketing comparing the speeds of hardware RAID with software RAID (which is itself telling) but I did manage to find this guy's tests of a 3Ware 8506-8 hardware vs software RAID-5:

    http://www.chemistry.wustl.edu/~gelb/castle_raid.html

    I graphed some of the results in excel to make them easier for me to compare:

    http://www.ericgarland.com/help/raid/

    There's also the Tomshardware reviews involving raidcore cards which are driver based RAID cards which show the raidcore's can keep up with and in some cases surpass the performance of the best 3Ware card available:

    http://www.tomshardware.com/storage/20041006/raidcore32-05.html
    http://www.tomshardware.com/storage/20040831/sata-raid-controller-20.html
    http://www.tomshardware.com/storage/20031114/raidcore-26.html

    A comparison of Windows’s software RAID in there would have been nice but they didn't do it. I'd say that it’s not a given that hardware RAID is faster than software RAID. The big argument people usually use against software RAID is it uses too much CPU time but you need to think of how much CPU time a slow array takes up? Granted it's not using the CPU while it's writing but whatever application is writing the data is stalled waiting for the write to finish. Is it better for your massively fast expensive CPU to be idling while a cheap slow co-processor churns through data writing it to disk? If the CPU has something else to do (e.g. a database server or application server) the answer is probably yes. If the machine is a dedicated file server, probably not. If it’s a desktop, there are tradeoffs and my guess is most of the time software RAID would win but there doesn’t seem to be much information about it.

    Clearly the performance profile of software RAID is different than hardware RAID and neither is better all the time. The impact of this, though, is that there are times when dumping good money into a good hardware RAID card will slow your machine down, something that most people find hard to believe.

    As far as "safer", 2 copies are 2 copies. Sure, the OS can go haywire and corrupt a software RAID partition but the same OS can corrupt a hardware RAID partition. A hardware RAID controller can die though and you have to buy another one to get to the data where as I could pop one of my drives into any other computer and read the data off of a software mirrored partition. Again, there are different aspects to “safer”. To me, being able to get to my data should something go wrong with my machine feels “safer” to me.

    I have also run into a problem with a striped array on a 2 port controller before. One of the drives started giving SMART warnings that the drive was failing so I bought replacement drives. Unfortunately there was no way to copy data off the old drives on to the new ones because I couldn't hook them both up at the same time. Using a hardware controller is also pain because you need floppies around to install windows and need the floppies again if you ever need to do a rescue session.

    I know software RAID can do what I want (I’m used to Linux’s which is very capable fast and compatible) but it appears that Windows XP Pro's software RAID is rather crappy and I plan to be running XP Pro on this box. You’d think with 4 billion a year in revenue they could give me an OS that I can play Doom 3 on that will also store my documents safely.

    I may simply just setup something to periodically back-up all the files from my important partition to what was going to be it’s mirror or I may try the hack to enable mirroring in XP Pro. Or I may even (gasp) get a hardware RAID controller. Any recommendations?
  • TexTex Dallas/Ft. Worth
    edited Dec 2004
    egarland wrote:
    I’ve actually done a lot of reading about the speed of hardware vs software RAID. I’d be interested in knowing what comparisons you know about.

    My viewpoints come from a differant angle. I have been building PC's and servers since the early 80's. I build and tune high performance disk subsystems for a living.

    if you want high performance the first step is flush IDE and software raid.
    here is an atto from a real hardware disk controller btw.. Oh yeah and its got ONE 4 year old drive attached also not 4 or 8 disks high perofrmance disks.

    Quit quoting B.S reviews and listen to folks that have actually used the products and do this for a living. There is more B.S. posted by nitwit wantabe's on the internet that have no clue then I have breath to even argue with.

    Tex
  • edited Dec 2004
    Damn Tex where can I get me one of those?

    Now that is some ATTO scores!!
  • TexTex Dallas/Ft. Worth
    edited Dec 2004
    Tmod wrote:
    Damn Tex where can I get me one of those?

    Now that is some ATTO scores!!

    Sure. You just gotta come over to the dark side and do scsi. (grin)

    And really if you look close its not the top ends thats awesome but look at the top few lines. thats scary fast!

    I mean some guys running raid-0 with two drives would love to see the peak score be as high as the THIRD line on that atto for a single drive.

    Welcome to the world of HARDWARE raid. You can do things with real hardware raid with a single drive that no software raid with a dozen drives can equal.

    Tex

    The differance between hardware raid and software raid also is that software raid won't ever lower the access time of the array. Look at the access time of this sandra score on hardware raid. I mean the sandra score is pretty hot too but check the access time for the array. And this has NO CACHE on the controller enabled.

    2 friggin ms. I can boot from the xp cd, and format the disk and install XP and boot to the desktop clean on that array in 11 minutes.
  • edited Dec 2004
    Tex,

    I just checked the pricing of that controller card and it is a wee bit out of my price range, But being that Christmas is right around the corner it would be a great time to send me that setup as a gift. :D
  • TexTex Dallas/Ft. Worth
    edited Dec 2004
    I paid a little over $350 new if that helps. If its not THE fastest its one of the two or three fastest u320 dual channel controllers made in the world today. Guys here blow more then that on a AGP card. (grin) And will never realize what a differance 2ms access and 300mb STR make on a disk subsystem versus a AGP card on how a system feels.

    Tex
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