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I am concerned about data security on my computer. I am worried about a hard drive failure causing me to lose valuable information (a thesis for example), to combat this, i would like to implement a RAID system on my computer as added protection (I already do regular backups on to externals, but i find it annoying).

I bought my computer 2 years ago, a Dell Dimension 9200. After doing a bit of research and opening up my desktop, I found that my computer contains 6 SATA connections, of which 2 are used, one for my current hard drive and 1 for my dvd burner.

I also have some sort of Intel RAID controller program running in the background of my computer.

My question is, is it possible for me to set up RAID 1 (or possibly RAID 10) on my computer and how would I go about doing that?

Thanks in advance,

-Faken

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4 Answers 4

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Find the manual that came with your machine, it should contain instructions.

Your board probably won't support RAID10, so RAID1 is you best bet. For this, you'll need to get another drive the same size as your current one. Sometimes on home machines, only 2 of the ports on the MB can be used for RAID, so you need to make sure you plug in the correct one. As long as RAID is enabled in your BIOS, you should get an option to manage your RAID on boot, it's often on F8 (after they give you the option to go into setup). You'll then have to create a RAID1 array, with your two disks in. You need to be VERY careful here, if you have the disks the wrong way round, you will end up with two blank disks. Triple check before you do this, different makes of drives makes it a bit easier. Because it's going to be crappy software RAID, you might have to install their drivers for Windows, although they may already be there.

To be honest, RAID isn't your best option here. Disk failure is actually pretty rare, and any corruption/deletion of a file won't be heled by RAID. You might want to look at a service like Carbonite, which gives you automatic, offsite backups, for $55 a year, which will give you protection against deleting a file, or losing both your machine and your backups, in a fire, for example.

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I know that RAID can't beat good old off site backup (which i will have setup between my university computer and my home computer next month), but the benefit of RAID 1 is it gives me a very nice performance boost when reading information off the hard drive. Thanks for the warnings, ill make more complete backups before i begin. –  Faken Jul 21 '09 at 19:26
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I use Dropbox for backups of important documents. It securely backs-up files as soon as you hit the save button. For free, you get 2GB of storage (more if you use referrals) and 30 days of revision history of all files. Plus there is a client program for Windows, Mac, and Linux platforms.

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The manual should describe how you can create a RAID array. Your computer only supports RAID 1 according to the manual so RAID 10 is out of question.

It's good to know that RAID 1 can also improve read performance. It's because read operations can happen striped. So when it comes to read it'll be like RAID 0!

You should know that you probably have to reinstall your OS if you want to put it on a RAID array.

And don't forget about that RAID doesn't protect you from accidental deletions and data loss because of power loss, software malfunction, etc. The only protection it provides that you can keep running your computer while one of the HDDs is corrupted.

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Actually i looked up my RAID controller (Intel 82801HR) and according to Intel documentation i can set up RAID10 if i want to, which makes sense since my computer was originally intended (by dell not by me) to be a high end work station and not a gaming computer (which was my fault). –  Faken Jul 21 '09 at 22:02
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One point to make is that RAID is not backup. RAID will only protect you against hardware failure. You are actually far more likely to lose data accidentally, through software failure or through malware. Consider also finding a solution for backup. The simplest and cheapest of these is a CD or DVD burner and high-grade DVD-R and DVD+RW rewritable disks. Reputedly, the media produced by Taiyo Yuden is the best quality DVD-R and DVD+RW media.

Depending on your budget, more upmarket solutions involving tape backup units are possible but they are more expensive.

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