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I'm considering a Sans Digital eSata RAID enclosure to expand the capacity of a system with no room for more internal disks.

I would put two 2TB drives in the enclosure and set up RAID 1 mirroring.

But sometime in the future, I will upgrade the system to a larger case. Then it will have room for more internal drives, so I'd like to move the drives from the enclosure to the computer.

So - will the RAID controller in the enclosure use some sort of proprietary format that makes the disks unreadable to a different controller? Or will it be identical to a single, non-RAIDed drive?

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I have moved several raid 1 mirror drives to another non raid system to recover data, they have always mounted and worked fine as individual volumes, occasionally I have had one in need of the "import foreign disk" function of disk management before windows explorer can see the drive, data was intact in all cases.

I own a Sans Digital mirror enclosure, I had issues with a pair of new 1.5tb Samsung drives I installed earlier this year, they had 1tb of data at risk on them, I pulled them from the enclosure and mounted them to another Windows PC using a USB adapter so I could run the manufacturers hard drive diagnostics on both of them one at a time, they came up clean on the extended tests so I put them back in the enclosure and they functioned just fine with data intact and no failures of any kind.

That has been my experience with basic Raid 1 Mirrors.

Intel says to break the raid 1 array on their controllers before using as individual drives, never had to do this. I must be lucky as I have never done this prior to mounting the individual volume.

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Intel is right. Imagine this: you take a disk out of RAID1, change some data on it, and put it back into the same computer, intending to use it separately now. But the RAID controller will try to automatically sync the RAID to that disk, without prompting, as it remembers this disk as part of the array. This is why you have to break the array before taking the disk out. – haimg Dec 28 '11 at 3:44

Moving RAID drives between controllers produced by different manufacturers is very risky. My experience is that it almost always ends in failure. Sometimes even moving RAID drives to a controller with a different firmware revision is risky.

The drives would still be useable after reformatting of course, but the odds of being able to keep your data is very low.

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+1: More like "very very very very very RISKY" – surfasb Dec 28 '11 at 1:47
What you say is 100% right for any other RAID type, except RAID1. I've never seen any RAID controller (in this price range as OP posted), where RAID1 is not a plain dumb copy of data on each disk, without any additional metadata on disks. – haimg Dec 28 '11 at 3:48
Bradley, could you elaborate here? Is your experience with RAID 1 or other types of RAID? – japreiss Dec 28 '11 at 17:19
I don't recall ever trying this with RAID 1. I would follow the guidance of the others who have more experience with that specific setup. – Bradley Uffner Dec 29 '11 at 19:14

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