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Windows 7: How to use an manage a Win7 software RAID mirror drive

16 Sep 2011   #1

Windows XP 32bit
How to use an manage a Win7 software RAID mirror drive

I built a new computer. I wanted it to be more reliable. So, I got two identical hard drives. I installed Win 7 Pro as one big C: partition. Then I converted to dynamic disks and mirrored the first disk onto the second disk. Everything works! I even gave it a test. I powered off, and disconnected the SATA cable on the first hard disk. Windows booted right up, off the second HD. Great! It seems the mirroring works and can tolerate a missing disk. (I had to rebuild the mirror after doing this test.)

I have some questions about how this will work over the long term. I noticed that when the first hard drive was missing from the mirror Windows never gave an error message. How would I detect a failing or failed hard drive? This is important, I think.

How does Windows deal with a bad read on one hard drive in a two drive mirror? Say if one disk reads correctly, but the second disk reads a bad sector, how does Windows know what is the correct data?

I found that Windows gives a text mode menu when I first boot up the computer. It wants me to select which Windows I will boot: the first hard drive or the second "Plex". Is there a way to set a default, so it will always boot the first instance of Windows without user intervention? Or would this defeat the mirroring function in the case of a bad hard drive?

Does anyone have any other wisdom on running software RAID mirror under Windows? Thanks for replies.

My System SpecsSystem Spec

16 Sep 2011   #2

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1

My suggestion is to not use it at all. RAID is not a backup, so in a mirror, if one file is deleted, or a virus is will affect both. A better method is to run one drive, and use the second in an external cage to keep as a backup. You can use something like SyncToy to keep your important files backed up, once a week or so.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
16 Sep 2011   #3

Windows XP 32bit

Yes, I know mirroring isn't the same as a backup. But surely it has use? Hard drives are extremely cheap these days. I'm guessing the reliability of cheap hard drives isn't so good. There's SCSI, but at much greater cost. Also, I won't be able to maintain the computer daily. So, if the HD were to fail in a single drive computer, it might be 1-2 weeks before I could do a rebuild. And reinstalling everything from scratch is time consuming.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

16 Sep 2011   #4

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1

A full reinstall for me takes less than 2 hours. But if you don't want to do that, use any number of free programs to keep a drive image of your system on the storage drive that can be reloaded, if needed. Some programs will even create this system image on a schedule. RAID has it's uses in the server world, especially when you get into RAID5 and other useful technologies. On a desktop system, it's always been about hype and nothing more.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 How to use an manage a Win7 software RAID mirror drive

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