Creating Basic RAID Arrays

RAID technology allows you to take multiple disks and make them work simultaneously, to provide additional reliability, performance, or both. In this guide, we will cover the basic RAID setups and show you how to do it yourself.
Things you need to know

This guide is going to focus primarily on using the onboard controllers provided on many motherboards nowadays for setting up basic raid setups. It will also cover the basic ins and outs of a RAID configuration and RAID array, to help you better understand your system and help you troubleshoot hard drive and RAID related issues in the future.

Intel based motherboards have at least one controller handled by the intel chipset. Some motherboards have additional controllers such as Marvell.

In order to use the RAID functionality, you must first set the configuration of that particular controller to RAID mode.

Consult your motherboard manual how to change the SATA configuration from default IDE/AHCI to RAID.

When you change your configuration to RAID, this will add an extra step in your systems’ boot process. You will usually see a menu shortly after the system POSTs, that shows you RAID configuration and allows you to go in there and make changes.

Typically the most common shortcut keys for entering the RAID configuration menu are:

Intel – CTRL  + I

Marvell – CTRL + M

As you can see, it’s typically a combination of the CTRL key and the first letter of the manufacturer, although not always.

Although motherboard manufacturers claim that integrated controllers can support more complex RAID setups such as RAID 5 or RAID 10, this is not always recommended. Without a dedicated hardware controller, the more complex the RAID setup is, the more taxing there is on the CPU and RAM of your system. They are also more prone to failure.

When using onboard controllers and standard hard drives, it’s best to stick with simple raid, such as RAID 0 or RAID 1

Differences:

RAID 1 will give you reliability. If one disk fails, you will have a copy of it on another disk.

RAID 0 will give you performance. Usually about 20-40% increase in read speeds, however no reliability. IF either disk fails, you lose your data.

The Setup

To setup a new raid system, you want to go into your RAID configuration by pressing the appropriate key combo, and choosing an option to create an Array.

This is where you can specify what type of RAID to use. As mentioned, although more complex RAID can be available, stick to 0 or 1 for simplicity. If you want to run RAID more complex than that, it’s best to purchase a dedicated controller.

You can usually accept the setup defaults and name your volume something you can recognize easily.

When installing Windows OS or any other OS, you may need to obtain drivers from the manufacturer’s website in order to see the volume. These drivers are often referred to as the F6 drives, due to the way they used to be loaded (still are) by pressing F6 key during setup. Windows 7 allows to you put these on a flash drive and simply browse for them, rather than having to use a floppy as it was on Win XP.

Notes

There are couple important things to keep in mind for RAID

1)      Configuration is stored on drives, so if your BIOS resets, don’t panic, just reset it back to RAID and you will have all your data.

2)      If you have RAID 1, and one disk fails, when you replace that disk and start the system, the volume will automatically be rebuilt to healthy status.

3)      Backup your RAID 0 on an external drive, because the data is gone if either drive failes.

*Disclaimer: AVADirect and its Staff are not responsible for any damage to software/hardware, loss of data or personal injury by following our How-To guides. These guides are provided only as an aid to help you troubleshoot system problems. If you do not feel comfortable performing these steps its always best to send in your system to a local repair shop or contact an appropriate technical support line for additional assistance.