HARDWARE RAID ACTIVATION POST WIN 7 OS INSTALL
Installing a RAID array during a new system build is not so difficult but Once I decided I wanted a RAID 0 array on my existing Win 7 PC, I quickly discovered that it is not easy to accomplish that particular wish. However it can be achieved without hacking the registry. Here is the procedure that worked for me. Goal
– to install a pair of 1TB WD Caviar blacks in Hardware RAID 0 on an already installed Win 7 system.
Win 7 OS resides on a separate 64GB SSD boot disk.
Motherboard: ASUS P9X79PRO,
SATA Ports as follows:
- 2 x Intel SATA 3
- 4 x Intel SATA 2
- 2 x Marvel SATA 2
CPU i7 3820, 32GB
OS Win 7 Professional x64
Drives: (in final configurations)
1 SSD 64GB Win 7 Drive, On Intel SATA 3 controller, Non RAID assigned, but controller in RAID mode.
1 SSD 128 GB Data Drive, On Intel SATA 3 controller, Non RAID assigned, but controller in RAID mode.
1 x 2TB Internal, non RAID drive to backup RAID array, 7200RPM, 64MB, on Marvel SATA 3 Controller/AHCI
2 x 1TB Caviar Black in RAID 0, 7200 RPM, 64MB, on Intel SATA 2 controller, in RAID mode
2 x 1TB External USB 2.0 Drives (Backups)
1 x DVD on Intel SATA 2 controller – Non RAID assigned, but controller in RAID mode. Issue.
Once windows is installed without RAID it is difficult to get it to recognise RAID hardware.
If you install RAID drivers
without the RAID hardware enabled the drivers do not fully install.
If you enable the RAID hardware without drivers installed windows will crash on boot. Catch 22. Outline of procedure.
- Part install the latest RAID drivers while the SATA ports are in AHCI mode.
- Juggle the boot & RAID disks to appropriate SATA ports temporarily
- Enable RAID in BIOS and set it up with its POST utility.
- With RAID hardware enabled Windows driver install can be completed
- Disks are reorganised onto their appropriate controllers if necessary.
- The BIOS is tidied up & the RAID disks are finalised for use in diskmgr or partition wizard.
- I flashed the motherboard BIOS to its latest version (2104).
- Begin with BIOS in SATA controller in AHCI mode for all disk controllers.
- I backed up C drive to External Disk prior to messing with RAID drivers.
- Win 7, Norton Ghost & Partition wizard recovery disks were on hand.
- Downloaded and installed latest Asmedia SATA Controller driver V22.214.171.124 using the provided setup.exe / Reboot.
- Downloaded & installed the Intel Rapid Storage Technology Enterprise (IRST) driver 126.96.36.1996 using the setup.exe / Reboot. This is the RAID driver and it gets partly installed at this step.
- Backed up again, post driver install.
- Copied these drivers to USB for use later in the process.
- You may note that diskmgr now has some RAID functionality in its menu options but we are not done yet.
- Turn off PC
- Physically connect boot drive (SSD) & CD to Marvel SATA controller.
- Put RAID drives on the Intel SATA 3 controllers.
- Boot to BIOS, switch BIOS from AHCI to RAID.
- Check/set boot sequence to DVD 1st , SSD boot disk 2nd.
- Save & Exit / Reboot
- Pass the BIOS, but enter the IRST RAID by CTRL-I during POST.
- Assign the two Caviar disks to RAID 0, 128K, Save/Exit / Reboot.
- If all has gone well at this point it will boot into windows.
- If the driver installation hasn’t succeeded windows will BSOD during the load.
- If it hangs put the drives & bios back to their original settings and windows will probably load fine in which case you can re-attempt to load the SATA & RAID drivers.
- If Windows won’t boot, restore the C drive from backup and then reattempt to load the drivers.
- Carrying on as if Windows booted successfully after setting BIOS SATA to RAID …
- Windows will now detect the active RAID Controller hardware.
- I had to direct windows to the drivers I had placed on the USB key.
- Those drivers were recognised & installed correctly, reboot.
- Check that the system boots correctly (drive letters may have jumped around but don’t reset them yet).
- Turn off the system.
- Now I placed my SSDs on the 6GB Intel SATA ports and my DVD on the SATA 3 ports with the RAID disks.
- Next I booted to the BIOS and checked/set the boot sequence to DVD 1st and my 64GB SSD boot drive 2nd.
- Save / Exit /.
- Reboot to Partition Wizard, the RAID pair should appear as a single drive, in my case with two unallocated areas.
- I set the 1st area to a primary partition & formatted it. Then I expanded the partition to occupy the full capacity of the pair. Apply & Exit / Reboot.
- When Windows fires up it may advise that it has found new hardware, in my case it now started calling my SSDs SCSI drives, but it installed the drivers by itself & prompted me to restart again. / Reboot.
- Once back in Windows, go to diskmgr.
- Reassign / allocate drive letters, as necessary.
- My RAID disk was visible but still showing zero capacity so I formatted it again from diskmgr and then it was ready.
- Note that a drive letter must be allocated before the drive will be visible to applications.
I was intentionally avoiding setting up RAID disks on the ASUS X79PRO Marvell controller ports due to the performance constraints of the Marvel RAID Controller.
So that left me with 6 drives across 2 Intel SATA 3 ports, 4 Intel SATA 2 ports & 2 Marvel SATA 3 ports. All the Intel ports go to RAID when the Intel controller is switched from AHCI to RAID. Not all drives on the RAID ports have to be allocated to a RAID array. Windows will fail to boot from a drive on a RAID controller until such time as the RAID drivers have been fully installed. Then it will happily boot from a non RAID drive on a RAID controller.
Prior to succeeding with the above process I attempted to boot into windows with the boot disk on a RAID controller before the RAID drivers were fully installed in windows. Several variations of that were tried unsuccessfully and I had to restore the OS 64GB SSD disk before going through with the procedure I described above.