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Windows 7: RAID 1 from Bios or in software?

28 May 2015   #1

W7 Pro 64
RAID 1 from Bios or in software?

I always had my main data on a RAID 1 (mirror) and used the Bios RAID (see my system spec). I know i still need to back up... this is more an instant backup before i do my hourly backup to a different disk.

now I'm retiring my 2x750 GB because I ran out of space and will use 2x2Tb disks to use in same RAID 1 setup. now i wonder if using the BIOS Raid is better, or if i should use the Windows RAID (in Computer Management). Since Mirroring really does nothing for performance, and doesn't strip data apart it shouldn't really matter, right?

One of the good things of RAID 1 is, i cna jsut take one disk and plug it into a totally different PC and get to my data. no dependence on the RAID controller algorithm etc. I also was told, the cheap Bios RAId is just a glorified software RAID. so then why not just use Windows RAID. an advantage of software RAId would be int he future i son't need to buy MB with RAID (not sure if that matters since most better ones have RAID anyway)

One thing I encountered in Bios RAID, the software for HDD testing doesn't see the HDD in the Bios RAID. I'm not sure if that will be the same in Windows RAID? Being able to test the HDD every once a while would be good. On the other hand the Bios RAID uses the Intel Storage software that lets me verify the data (I assume it compares if data on both disks still are the same), which I think is neat. My new HDDs are HGST Deskstar 7K400 and i like to use the WinDFT tool from HGST (which tests the HDD for errors).

So I wonder what the pros and cons are to cheap Bios RAID or windows RAID and what would be better for my situation?

My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 May 2015   #2

W7 Pro 64

i did a lot of reading on this and kind of conclude software and the fake-Hardware (aka Bios Raid on my chipset) are not really useful. The W7 software RAID doesn't seem to notify the user when a disk fails. Obviously this is a big fail (pun intended). And for the fake-Hardware RAIDs it seems they can have some problems going to a different PC (with different MB etc.). Obvioulsy one of my scenarios is not only HDD failure, but any other failure and want to just take my HDDs out and plug in new PC.

Maybe I just scrap the whole idea of RAID 1 and only rely on my backups. the only advantage RAID 1 would give me is a backup for the data since last backup. (I run hourly backups to a separate HDD in same PC, daily to online storage and every few days via network to a different PC in a different room in my house, and ever so often to an USB HDD).
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 May 2015   #3

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1

The main difference between BIOS(fake-hardware) and Windows (software) RAID, as far as I know, would be: (please note my experience is with RAID0) From top of my head

--- the array is seen as 1 disk by OS and can be used to boot
--- You would need to re-create the array if you change motherboards (talking about moving both disks)

- Software
--- creates a dynamic volume, still 2 harddisks in device manager, can't be used for OS
--- You can take them to another Windows installation and they would work

If you are taking so many backups, I don't know why you aren't using RAID0 striped set. From another post of mine (both RAID0 are Windows-raid):
Here is a test I just made: a simple one that is

From my Samsung 850 Pro to other drives - 3.07 GB (3D Mark Folder)
- Single drive - 640GB WD Cavier Green - 1:05.19 s
- RAID 0 - 2x640GB WD Caviar Green - 24.76 s
- RAID 0 - 2x1TB WD Cavier Black - 18 s
I wonder what others are thinking/their experience. Maybe I was lucky, I have used BIOS raid for 4.5 years in this same PC (previous OS installation) with no issues at all. Now, I changed to Windows-raid due to changing SATA mode to AHCI due SSD reasons, will see how it goes.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

30 May 2015   #4

W7 Pro 64

GoKay: thanks for the reply. I should have pointed out i have my OS on a single (no RAID) SSD. I only meant to store data on RAID... so any booting is not necessary. Stripping is also not necessary as 7200 rpm HDD is fast enough for data. and it would defeat the purpose to have an interim backup.

The reason to use RAID 1 was to have the data rescued before the backup. for example if I automatically backup every 6 hours and the HDD fails 5 minutes before the backup (and HDD fail always right before they woudl have backed up!!), I could lose the 5:55 hours of work. I know, probably not a likely and horrible scenario. I'd consider RAID 1 an interim backup in real time for in between my backups.

I moved all my data just on one of the HDD and decide to not use RAID. I rather used that 2nd HDD (I had bought two 2TB HGST) for my backup drive. I originally used a WD Green for backup, but that is really slow (I perform weekly viruscans of my data).
BTW, I found Macrium had the best free option to clone drives. Some of the free cloning software would not recognize my new drives (I hadn't initialized them), but Macrium did and also has a verify option. I probably could have just copied my data, but figured to be sure all my path settings work i clone the HDD.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
30 May 2015   #5

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1

If I were you, I would rather use the one disk as data drive and just use syncing to the other one. RAID1 does not necessarily safeguard from failures (depends how it failed). And any problems may propagate to the second disk since they are always in sync.

A reading about RAID as a backup method NEVER Use A RAID As Your Backup System! | Pete Marovich - Photojournalist and Political Photographer in Washington, DC

In short:
The problem with considering a RAID as your backup is that it doesn’t help you with file deletion, corruption by applications, operating system or viruses.

So if you accidentally delete a file, it will instantly be removed from both mirrored copies. If your disk is corrupted by a software bug or virus, the corruption will be done to both mirrored copies simultaneously.

Having all the drives in one box that is being served by one power supply and controller has its problems too. A bad enough power surge will probably fry all disks in the RAID. If your house burns down… well, you get the point.
You can try out FreeFileSync, it is free (as the name implies) and works real well. It has a real-time sync as well if you would like to use that ( I don't have experience with that feature though). However, real-time sync may have the same risk as in RAID1.

Give these a thought, I am sure others will pitch in too.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 RAID 1 from Bios or in software?

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