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I'm trying to convert my system to RAID 0 and so far I found contrasting opinions on the process. Somebody says Windows 7 can't boot from virtual volumes, somebody says it can.

My ideal setup would be two 500gb HD striped in RAID 0 with the OS and software installed on them.

Any thoughts?

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You need to specify how you want to do this. Does your motherboard have RAID that you will be using or do you want to use Microsoft Dynamic Disks? –  MDMarra May 10 '10 at 15:47

6 Answers 6

Ok I've actually done this for windows server 2003. I converted a Raid-5 to no raid and then back to Raid-1. The key is to have backups.

As far as I know, this only works with hardware Raid. The hardware Raid produces one virtual hard drive out of the several hard drives that are in the Raid. This virtual drive should be accessible to live cd's and such just as if it were a single drive.

I used the Acronis live CD to crate the backup of the Raid-5. CloneZilla should also be able to do a backup and restore of a Raid (if it is hardware raid) as described in their FAQ.

Once you have the backup of your current drive (no raid), you can create whatever Raid configuration you would like in the hardware raid settings manager which is either in the bios or in a menu right after the bios (creating a raid will delete all the information on the drives that you are using for raid).

Once the raid is created, you can use CloneZilla or whatever backup tool you used to restore your disk image back to the Raid virtual drive.

If the boot settings are correct, and your raid hardware supports booting hard drives (which it probably does) then your set.

By the way there are many different Raid controllers so instructions may vary. This is just how I found I was able to do it with the hardware that I was working with.

good luck.

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No I don't think you can boot Windows with software RAID 0. I couldn't find anything definitive but it wasn't possible in Server 2003. Since I don't believe you can configure software RAID in the setup process there couldn't be a way to set it up later. Interestingly it looks like you can setup a RAID 1 mirror on the boot drive.

It looks like you'll need hardware RAID to be able to boot a RAID 0 array. Most motherboards have some RAID support built in, so if you're board has that you can setup the array in hardware and Windows will be able to boot from that array.

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Windows might need some drivers during the installation to see that array though. Mine did. –  Svish Oct 30 '09 at 7:13

If your BIOS supports RAID, then your problem will mostly be W7 drivers.
There are several ways you can go about it:

  1. Try installing on the RAID - it might work out of the box if you're lucky.
  2. Install on another drive, ensure that W7 sees your RAID, then take an image of the system disk and restore to the RAID.
  3. Disconnect the second drive, set your BIOS to RAID and install on the first, add RAID drivers, then add the 2nd drive and convert it to RAID. See the advice at the end of this thread for similar advice.

Finally, whether this can work or not depends on the combination of your BIOS, motherboard and W7 drivers. The complications involved have led many people to using non-RAID as the boot medium.

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I've got two 1TV Samsung F3s RAIDed (striped) on my Gigabyte EX58A-UD3R motherboard, and Windows 7 had no problems with it at all.

YMMV, depending on the motherboard you are using, but Windows 7 is rather well supplied when it comes to drivers.

You can create a striped array in Windows, and you could move your bootable volume across, but it is fraught with problems sometimes - I just wouldn't bother. I'd only stripe your disks id you have a decent mobo with on-board RAID support.

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I'm running Windows 7 Ultimate on RAID0 with my 2x250GB WD Caviar SE's on a DFI LanParty UT X38-T2R. Everything works fine. :)

I even partitioned my RAID0 volume into 3 separate partitions, one for the OS, one for Apps/Games and one for temporary data (my downloads and stuff)

There's quite a significant write speed improvement (I install Adobe Master Collection CS3, Full Suite, in about 1-2 minutes, compared to my old system with just a single 7200rpm drive, which took about 5+ minutes)

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Booting from virtual hard disks is a feature exclusive to the Enterprise and Ultimate editions of Windows 7.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VHD_%28file_format%29#Windows_7_support_for_native_VHD_boot

Trying to "convert" an existing installation from a non-Raid to a Raid setup is not possible from what I understand. I recently wanted to do that with a hardware Raid and, after research, came to the conclusion that re-installing my system after setting up the Raid was the best solution.

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