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I want to set up a RAID 5 array in a machine that has an intel motherboard. It has built in raid (sata). My concern is what happens if the motherboard fails?

How can I take those hard drives and move them to a different machine - with a different motherboard and restore the raid array (the OS is not on the raid array, only data).

I am assuming there might be a function in the bios to back up the raid config, which means I could have a spare motherboard of the same type - or possibly other intel desktop boards are compatible to be able to import a raid config?

If this is going to be an issue, possibly software raid is something I should consider?

Note: I also found the grayed out RAID-5 option in Windows 7 disk management. Searching windows help I found a page titled "Move Disks to Another Computer" which mentions RAID-5 and that of course you would need to move all the disks in the set to the new computer, then use the import foreign disks option. This seems like exactly what I want, but searching for the windows 7 raid-5 option seems like it is not available? Then why is it a menu choice?

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It is doubtful that you have hardware RAID on an Intel motherboard. –  Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams May 17 '11 at 12:07
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3 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

In the event that the array cannot be resurrected on another platform, you reach for the offline backups that you have been making regularly.

You have hit the nail on the head though - you cannot guarantee that a hardware (or part-hardware) based RAID array will work on different kit so you would need to ensure you have access to an identical motherboard.

ps: http://serverfault.com/questions/2888/why-is-raid-not-a-backup

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+1 because RAID != backup; no need to worry about a spare motherboard –  Kara Marfia May 17 '11 at 13:35
    
Low quality/cheap RAID is a false economy. Get enterprise quality controllers that are common and easily replaced. e.g we standardized on Dell PERC because they are good and can be quickly replaced when they fail. If you budget is tight look on ebay or off lease sellers. You will find plenty of cards from big name RAID vendors with plenty of life left in them. –  james May 17 '11 at 15:56
    
Since my need is not high performance, I wonder if a software solution such as FlexRaid would be a good choice? –  Scott Szretter May 19 '11 at 10:21
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If the controller supports the Common RAID Formats then you can move them between controllers without much worry.

Some Intel RAID controllers (and many other controllers) have their own proprietary implementation of RAID, this is not portable.

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Actually, ALL enterprise level RAID products use proprietary formats, though the algorithms behind the RAID levels are more or less the same.

SNIA, the company behind Common RAID format has seen some interest form companies like DELL, but that is that. It's for now just another white paper standard.

Therefore, do not hope for any compatibility between brands, or even different models of the same brand.

If the motherboard or the controller fails, you will need to install another identical mainboard, or at least another mainboard with the same controller. Since the on-board RAID solutions are mostly software solutions (the chip does only simple controlling and RAID level setup, but no real hardware RAID since they lack XOR-hardware, to say the least), you might have a good chance to find the identical Intel controller on another mainboard.

So, all you then would do is, move the HDDs to the new mainboard and the array will be automatically recognized.

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