SOLUTION BELOW... read or skip now:
OK, keywords for those who might search in.. once upon a time, my AMD system used to boot to primary partion located on a Promise RAID card Fastrack SX150-SM4 attached to 4 SATA disk drives. This card was obsoleted by the maker (read they make no money on individual low end users) so the only choice I had was to have it replaced with a newer (I guess) Fastrack TX4310, also a 4 port SATA card. Basically, the operating system upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7 made this a non choice, because I was not willing to wipe or format my array. Because the system I built in '05 was an AMD 64 bit based computer, the O/S was upgraded to windows 7 x64 professional and that is where I am today.
XP did not have an issue with the SX150 but Windows 7 did, Promise stopped supporting this card so I was left hanging with a RAID 5 array housing .75 Tb worth of my stuff. I spoke at length with Promise tech support twice regarding this, and the short story there is that, while their support does leave a lot to be desired sometimes, and for sure the friendly factor for hardware, drivers
and compatibility of our PC's is about zero for us users, someone finally endorced my move to the TX4310 with the assurance that I would not sorry for making this choice etc...
Well this thread is proof enough of that assurance... LOL... and lucky for me I seem to have solved my own problem. Really, this is because I seem to be the only one that gives a rats arse about the 6 years of data I packed into a RAID 5 for the very reason of compatibility and portability, that are hallmarks (allegedly) of Promise technologies.
Anyways, for anyone in my boat, or considering a RAID card and the peace of mind that RAID 5 is supposed to bring, here is your roadmap courtesy of me.
Windows 7 and Promise RAID do not seem to be to be as plug and play as one might think. I had the minimum possible drama with my situation, and the install was still a disaster from the get go. Given my array and drives were already formatted and running, my volume was portable and literally should have been the essence of plug and play.
Windows 7 will not recognize the SX150 whatsoever, and neither Microsoft or Promise will support a driver
to change this. Both however support the TX4310, so anyone wanting a 4-port SATA card should move straight to this model or better. The card and array would not operate for me, and it is not fully clear why, but my suspicion is that the array was once bootable, and that confuses Windows 7 just enough to leave you hung or frozen at the glowing logo start screen.
I removed the card, rebooted the PC, and found that windows update suddely wanted to perform several updates. Maybe this was coincidence I dont know, but 11 updates later, I was able to reboot clean. Then and only then did I install the card, with no drives attached. This was the trick. Once the card was in, but no volume was present, my boot up went flawless. Straight to the login, right to the desktop, and a trip straight to the device manager confirmed the RAID controller was present and looked to be installed correctly.
The second trick might be this. The CD that shipped with the TX4310 has a lot of 2007 file dates on it, and I am no eScholar, but I am not even sure Windows 7 was a beta at that time. So old a$$ card, and outdated driver disk, meant windows put its own driver in and called it a day. Well the trick was to go to the Promise website, download the latest driver http://www.promise.com/support/downl...5®ion=en-US
that actually says Windows 7 on it. LOL at the CD that comes with the card, it has x64 and i386 folders to choose from... WTF?? Anyways the trick was to install the card, let it take whatever driver so it would appear in the device manager, then spoon feed it the current driver, manually picking the device and choosing 'update driver' and browsing your way to the Windows 7 cab file you already downloaded. Finally at this point, its a cake walk!!
Cliffnotes: Remove all HDD until you have one drive to boot to, that contains the OS, then go online and use windows update over and over until no more updates exist. Once you're there, go to Promise and download the Windows 7 driver. Do all that, then shutdown and physically install the raid card, but do not connect the drives. Reboot, let windows put any driver in, and confirm you can find the card in the device manager (right click 'my computer' and pick 'manage'). Find the card under the device manager, then under storage controllers. Right click the card and choose 'update driver software' but do not pick the 'search automaticaly' choice, instead choose to browse your computer the old way, and navigate to the folder with your downloaded driver. For me this was the amd64 folder in my download, I did not need to pick the file itself. After install, I just shutdown from there, plugged in all the SATA cables for my existing array and viola... finally... my beloved volume back in action.
Thus after much pain, drama, and little on target tech support, I had a 'new' card, the new driver, and my old array back intact. No BIOS changes, no jumper issues, no cable problems, no formatting, no wiping, no virus, and no more drama!!
(ok.. this was total drama, but I emerged victorious
sorry for the mega post, but i felt obligated to contribute my story, in case some poor ******* out there feels like me, with everyone whining to just fdisk the drives and get over it