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I have this box of mine that I use mostly for VMs for my Windows LAB Practices while I am preparing myself for Windows certifications. It has Win7 with VMware workstation.

I have 1 HDD on which I run most of the VMs and when I turn on more then 3 - 4 VMs it becomes very slow.

Today I decided to setup RAID0 on my Desktop box that runs Win7. Because I don't want to reinstall everything I've decided to by 2 HDDs and setup RAID0 on those while I leave the original HDD intact. That way I plan in the future to run all of the VMs on that RAID0 Array and use the main HDD for the host OS.

Can this be done?

Today I decided to test this little experiment of mine before I buy the 2 HDDs.

I went into the BIOS and changed the SATA Mode from AHCI to RAID. The Win7 crashed on loading. I may assume that this is because of the missing RAID drivers? What can i do to fix this problem?

Can i try the Repair Windows 7 option to fix the missing drivers?

Also can the RAID configuration be set up this way one array with 2 Disks in RAID0 and another array with 1 Disk in RAID0?


EDIT:
This is my motherboard model with the specifications: http://www.asus.com/Motherboards/Intel_Socket_1155/P8Z68V_LX/#specifications

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1 Answer 1

I' have decided to by 2 HDDs and setup RAID0 on those while I leave the original HDD intact. ... Can this be done?

Yes. It can be done.
Not all disks in your computer need to be in RAID mode, or even in the same RAID mode.

The only complication to this are some hardware RAID cards. Not all of them support a normal disk (JBOD) and those need single disks as a 1 drive array.

I went into the BIOS and changed the SATA Mode from AHCI to RAID. The Win7 crashed on loading. I may assume that this is because of the missing RAID drivers? What can i do to fix this problem?

There are two things here:

  • It sounds as if you use Intel fake RAID mode. This one has noticeable points:

    1. If your motherboard ever dies you might no longer be able to access the data via an other motherboard. Therefor it is not recommended to use this ever unless you have very good backup. (A good backup is a backup which you have tested and which is not on the same computer.)
    2. It logically replaces your normal AHCI controller with something else.
      This means there is no more normal AHCI controller, no recognised windows installation on a harddisk on this AHCI controller, and thus windows fail to boot. You might solve this by installing Intels RAID drivers, then rebooting and changing the setting. My recommendation is to leave it alone. Set the BIOS of AHCI and never move it off that setting.

  • There are two other options to add RAID.

    1. Via a pure software solution. Read up on dynamic disks, LVM etc.
      Make a backup and test the backup. Then play with these. No BIOS changes are needed. And it will continue to work if your motherboard dies.

    2. Via hardware. This is probably overkill for you, but it has advantages when you get to corporate setups. (Partially because this is usually SAS based. If a SAS drive dies it just dies. If a SATA drive dies it often takes down the entire bus, forcing you to physically remove the drive and reboot. This is a minor bother at home, but bad news for a corporate file server).

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Thank you for your answer, I realy appreciate all the details you gave me. I may have missed a few things. This is my motherboard model as I am not sure wether if it is Fake RAID or not: http://www.asus.com/Motherboards/Intel_Socket_1155/P8Z68V_LX/#specifications –  Spirit Oct 5 '12 at 16:25
    
As for the other things you've mentioned: 1. Via a pure software solution. - I already know that I can setup RAID via Win7 Disk Management but that is not an option for me as it is much slower then the original raid. 2. Via hardware - It is for home use no need to go into so much depth. Also the backup is not much of a problem as all my backups are on external HDD –  Spirit Oct 5 '12 at 16:27
    
The manual indicates Intel rapid storage. That is a fancy name for intel Fake RAID. –  Hennes Oct 5 '12 at 18:59
    
Did you test if software RAID via Win7 Disk Management is that much slower? Because it really should not be slower. Striping two drives does not involve any significant overhead and both the normal software RAID and the software RAID configure should be equally fast. –  Hennes Oct 5 '12 at 23:13
    
Interesting observation.. Perhaps I should test this to see if it will be same or slower.. Once I buy the drives I will test this first - since I will have the opportunity before I deploy the VMs on the raid array. Last I will post the results as an update to my question. First I will make a Striped Volume using Win7 Disk Management and will make some tests. Seccond I will create the Intel Fake RAID from the SAS Configuration and will make tests again. I plan on using AIDA64 to make the tests. Do you know any better utility for Disk Benchmarkin? –  Spirit Oct 7 '12 at 0:19

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