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My Situation

I'm looking for suggestions regarding getting Windows XP to boot from a RAID0 partition. I've got XP running on an 80GB PATA drive and I've got two new 350GB SATA drives.

If I Were a Witch Doctor:

In a perfect world, I would plug-in the two 350s and setup the motherboard's onboard fake-RAID to stripe the disks. Then I would boot to Windows and install the RAID drivers. Then I would boot-up in a live CD and copy the NTFS Windows partition over to the new RAID array. I would 'ntfsresize' so that the filesystem would take up the whole 700GB of the striped partition. Finally, I would unplug the 80GB and boot to Windows from the 700GB array.

Anticipating Problems:

I suspect that the above scenario would be difficult or impossible for a number of reasons. I imagine that the BIOS won't know how to load the Windows bootloader from a RAID0 partition and that the Windows bootloader wouldn't know what to do either (even if it could be loaded).

Aside: My Usual Tool Set

I know that, in Linux, I would just create a tiny boot partition in unRAIDed space. It would include the kernel and an initial root-disk that would setup the RAID device and then pivot root. (In this scenario, I wouldn't use the onboard fake-RAID but would use soft-RAID (i.e. 'mdadm').

Another Option:

I suspect that it would be easier to make Windows run from a RAID1 partition. (The BIOS would have no trouble handing-off to the bootloader but I haven't thought about making the bootloader and the Windows boot-up process respect the RAID setup.) I know that I get double read-bandwidth from my drives in either a RAID0 or RAID1 configuration and this is probably the most important concern for me.

Questions:

Has anyone made Windows boot from RAID? If I present the RAID drivers to Windows at install time (the F-key-for-disk-drivers prompt), does Windows know how to do the rest of the work and utilize a RAID0 partition for install and boot? Can this be done with RAID1? Can anyone offer me any advice or point me to resources that could help?

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migrated from serverfault.com Dec 8 '09 at 5:23

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1 Answer 1

Usually BIOS allows you to configure various RAID arrays and such arrays are presented as ordinary disk (IDE?) drives to system - windows setup bootloader does see them easily and allows install. Of course you need manufacturer drivers on floppy for install (F6).

I personally prefer having system partition on normal (non-RAIDed) drive, but I've seen (helped to install) many configurations with only motherboard RAID0 (or RAID1) either.

What I don't recommend is to have working system installed on single drive, then add RAID array and install second OS to RAID and after that remove single drive. This way bootloader may remain on single drive and RAID will not be able boot by itself.

To avoid such situation remove single drive before installing on RAID - to copy old data you can add it afterwards again.

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You suggest that my fake-RAID0 device can be accessed appropriate by the BIOS and will be usable by the Windows boot-up process. I will report back here when I've had a chance to test that theory. (It might be a few days.) Thanks for the prospective answer! –  Jsnydr Oct 29 '08 at 21:24
    
Actually if your goal is to copy existing partition to RAID array, then I'm not sure how my approach works. I've only did clean setups on RAIDs - but theoretically your idea should work too. I'm waiting for your results! –  Arvo Oct 30 '08 at 21:25
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