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Windows 7: Questioning suitability of Win s/w RAID for data drives

05 Dec 2018   #1

Windows 7 Ultimate 64
Questioning suitability of Win s/w RAID for data drives

Hadn't completed any substantial due diligence prior to deciding on adding RAID-1 to a friends computer. Their single internal drive which ran the OS and held camera images (overflow from filled up external HDD) failed. Now that they've experienced real loss I convinced them to build in redundancy. As their computer is predominantly being used to download/view camera image folders and turned off whenever idle (even for short periods of time) it seemed logical, keeping in mind they want 0% interaction required, to just mirror the data drives using RAID-1. We purchased an SSD and two 3TB HDDs. The two HDDs were installed using Windows software RAID via Disk Management.

After completing the hardware/software installations (incl. setting up RAID-1) and uploading all the salvaged and external data I "finally" dug a bit deeper into Win7 software raid. I wanted to verify mirroring but that's not as simple as peaking into the drive via explorer. I also now see Windows software RAID has no facility to warn of drive failure outside of manually opening and viewing status in Disk Management.

Now I question -- Has there been any recent MS Win7 updates that now provide for RAID drive failure notification (pop-up, action center, etc). In addition, since this is a data-only drive(s) is it safe to simply disconnect them in turn to view contents? I'm thinking there would be no rebuilding required as there should be no file changes (as opposed to an OS resident drive)? Will it break the RAID union and, if so, how easy will it be to re-pair the two drives?

Any info, opinions or suggestions appreciated.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Dec 2018   #2

Linux Mint 18.2 xfce 64-bit (VMWare host) / Windows 8.1 Pro 32-bit (VMWare guest)

I think you would have been better off by getting an auto backup solution such as Memeo (I haven't used Memeo in years, but back in the day it was an excellent product).

Here's how Memeo works: You specify certain folders and files on your hard drive, and it then does an initial backup of those items to an alternate drive. From that point forward, anytime any changes are made to the items in the backup list, a backup copy of those items is automatically made. You can specify how many versions (backups) you want to have; but the more versions you have, the more room it takes up on your backup drive.

The reason I prefer the Memeo-type method over the RAID method is because the Memeo-type method is a simpler method, both in terms of understanding it, and in terms of the way it operates.

Full disclosure: I have never done a RAID setup.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Dec 2018   #3

win 8 32 bit

If it's photos backup to Google photos it's totally unlimited and free I have 200 gigs backed up and you can get them on any device anywhere in the world and search them
My System SpecsSystem Spec

06 Dec 2018   #4

Windows 7 Pro 64 bit

If you are going to implement RAID (any form) it is important it be done for the right reasons. The purpose of RAID 1 is not to safequard your data. For that you need to maintain backups. No form of RAID ever devised is a viable backup solution. RAID can only protect against drive failure and you can't even rely on that. For other causes of data loss it provides no protection at all.

The purpose of RAID 1 is to maintain access to your data in the event of a drive failure. This allows you to defer drive replacement to a more convenient time. This is very important in a busy server but the cost is often hard to justify in a workstation. If that is your purpose, fine. But it is not a backup.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
08 Dec 2018   #5

Windows 7 Ultimate 64

Thanks for the replies!

As best I understand they are more hoarders of pictures than anything. I think they just take pictures for next to no reason and just dump them onto the hard drive when the camera card is full. Pretty doubtful they ever view the pictures again. I'm told the process of backup had to be as invisible as possible and even an external USB drive was frowned upon. Numerous times it was explained to them that best practice would be to use an external drive which should be store in a separate location (at least not attached to the computer) when not in use but they balked at that.

My initial direction was toward use of an automated backup utility such as the one suggested by mrjimphelps (was actually thinking FreeFileSync) but not sure it could be kept 100% "in-the-background". Also had to be real-time and not deferred due to their computer on/off habits.

I do appreciate RAID isn't designed for archival backups but it seemed a viable option in this instance for total invisibility to the user. True, redundancy for the purpose of up-time is not a factor here but the ability to simply replace an possible failed drive in the future for re-mirroring a backup drive seemed to be the simplest option. I'm just befuddled by the fact a drive can fail and MS RAID provides no action to advise of such.

As for the suggestion of cloud backup -- They're still tied to 1Mbps DSL so getting 1.2TB uploaded isn't really a viable option.

Would still be helpful to know if it's safe to disconnect the drives in turn to verify contents of each. Will there be any impact or should they both go back online without any hassle?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
10 Dec 2018   #6

Linux Mint 18.2 xfce 64-bit (VMWare host) / Windows 8.1 Pro 32-bit (VMWare guest)

I don't like to give assistance to anyone who is not willing to do anything themselves. There is no way to set up a totally automatic backup method that will last forever; at some point someone needs to be involved with the process to either install a new disk, make sure all is well, etc. You are going to get blamed if anything goes wrong, as it surely will at some point.

I would set it up the best you can, tell them what they have to do to ensure it works, and let them know in very clear terms that there is no guarantee that any method will never fail. And you need to make it very clear that you are not responsible for any failures that may happen.

I think the Memeo-style auto backup is the best option. But even that must be maintained, because the disk will eventually fill up or perhaps fail at some point. They need to keep their eye on it and either address it or call you when that is about to happen. In other words, it's up to them, not you, to keep it going.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Questioning suitability of Win s/w RAID for data drives

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