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Mirrored Drives


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#1 Stang777

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Posted 14 January 2009 - 06:24 AM

Hi,

My hard drive shows up in fastbuild as 1X2 mirrored and I believe that means it is really two hard drives that are mirrored to be the same, causing it to only show as one drive in Windows. If this is the case I am concerned about reformatting and reinstalling Windows XP.

I don't think I really want to have them mirrored but since I do not know how to change that, I am willing to let them stay mirrored. However, to start over by reformatting and doing a clean install of Windows, I do not know if I need to reformat both of them, or even how to do that since I never see them as anything other than my C drive. I am thinking that since they are mirrored, I only have to reformat one of them and the other one will just copy that, but I do not know. I have read some articles about raid, as I think that is what sets them to be mirrored, but am still very confused.

Can anyone explain to me how this mirroring of drives work and what will happen because of it when I reformat the C drive?

Btw, even though I am usually good with issues concerning software and such, I am lost when it comes to hardware, so the mirroring and formatting for dummies version of this info would be great.

Thank you very much to any and all who can help me with this.

Edited by Stang777, 14 January 2009 - 06:30 AM.


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#2 hamluis

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Posted 14 January 2009 - 10:52 AM

Hi :thumbsup:.

Do you actually have two hard drives installed in the case? That's easily verifiable by looking.

I don't know enough about RAIDs to do any more than point you to what I consider decent documentation on what they are and how they work.

Basics of RAID - http://ezinearticles.com/?Basics-of-RAID&id=11919

RAID - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Redundant_arr...dependent_disks

I'm not sure what fastbuild is...but I came across this link which you may be interested in: http://www.hardwareanalysis.com/content/topic/34388/

Louis

#3 Stang777

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Posted 14 January 2009 - 04:10 PM

I believe I do have two hard drives but I have not seen them myself. I have never had a computer that was not easy to open until now, but this one is hard to open so I have not looked. However, when I had a guy put in another hard drive when I got this computer last spring, he said there were two hard drives already in it.

Fastbuild is a what comes up as my system is booting. It is from Promise Technology and I believe that is the program for the raid setup. My first screen on booting shows all the typical stuff, processor, plug and play cards which lists the Promise Parallel Card and the modem, then it shows my cd drives and at the bottom, press del to enter setup. Then it goes to another screen that shows it is testing IDE drives, says Fasttrak and then lists the drives, which also shows the mirrired drive, it shows as, 1* 1X2 Mirrored (that is how the two drives show and the other drive I had put in shows 2 1X0 Span) and at the bottom, says press ctrl F to enter fastbuild. When I enter fastbuild it brings up a screen that shows Fastbuild Utility 1.3 Promise Technology Inc. In there it has 6 different catagories and one of them shows the harddrive arrays.

I read those articles and believe I am running raid 1 but am still not sure how raid will work with a reformat. I dont even know if I need drivers to keep the raid working after reformat or what.

I would really prefer to stop using using raid but do not know how to do that :thumbsup:

Thank you for your help

#4 hamluis

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Posted 14 January 2009 - 05:22 PM

OK, I understand a bit better now :thumbsup:...I think.

Promise makes controller cards, which can be used to set up a RAID. AFAIK, they do not do controllers for motherboard manufacturers...so that means that you have a PCI controller card installed and at least 2 hard drives.

I have Promise controller cards, just had never heard of Fastbuild. It seems that Fastbuild is just the name given at some point to the card BIOS utility...I can follow from that understanding.

If you want to get rid of the RAID configuration, you can do that in the BIOS.

You see...the BIOS exists in order to reflect the hardware (hard drives) which are using that BIOS by virtue of connection. All you have to do is remove your designated RAID array (drives can be attached to a controller and not be used in a RAID, that's how I use my drives), while still reflecting the drives attached to the controller (which should be detected automatically as the system boots).

Now...you keep saying that you want to "reformat." Does that mean you are prepared to wipe those two drives totally clean?

I have a Promise card on this system, but I don't pay any attention to the BIOS. I will continue in a few seconds.

Louis

http://www.promise.com/upload/Support/inst...0QSG%20v1.3.pdf Looks like all you have to do is elect to delete the array...and you are done with that and gain the drive space each contains.

Edited by hamluis, 14 January 2009 - 05:42 PM.


#5 Stang777

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Posted 15 January 2009 - 04:52 AM

Thank you so very much Louis, you are awesome. :thumbsup:

Yes, I have a Promise controller card and two drives and Fastbuild does appear to be the name given to the BIOS. I do not know exactly what the controller card does other than it is used to setup the RAID. I am glad to hear that I can use it without a RAID configuration as I would not know how to get rid of it and I really do want to get rid of the RAID configuration.

As for getting rid of the RAID configuration in BIOS, I assume that to do that, I can just highlight the array in the BIOS and press enter and that will give me the option of deleting it. It is probably more complicated than that though, but is that how you are thinking it will work?

Yes, I am prepared to lose everything I have on these hard drives and I have a brand new Windows XP Home Edition full version disk to install the op system with and I have backups of all the programs that I use. Even though I am prepared to lose everything, I am thinking that maybe the smart way to do this would be to separate the drives first, which will make the second one independent of the main drive and accessible, and then reformat the main drive. That way, if after reformatting, it turns out that there are some drivers or something that I need, I will still have all of the things that were installed on the system, on that second drive. If it turns out I don't need anything that I had before, I can just delete everything off of that second drive and have an empty drive to use for doing manual backups to, or whatever. Does that way sound to you like the best way to do it?

I really want to get rid of the mirroring and be able to use that second drive, even though I am sure I will never fill up even the one drive. I like the security of knowing that everything I have that I might need is on a second hard drive, but, I like to be in control of what goes on that second drive and I am not when it is mirrored, and I also want to be able to access it. I also do external backups but it is really convenient to already have everything I want on a hard drive. I did that with my previous computers and it made it really easy to put everything on the new computers. I did not have an operating system on the back up drive (I might put it on this one though) but I had everything else so I just had the backup drive put into the new computer and copied all my music and such over to the main drive. Turned out it was really the only logical way to do it and I would like to be able to do that in the future. The drive that I did that with before is now full, so having the mirrored drive accessible to use that way, instead of the older drive that I have been using to do that, will help me out a lot.

I would really appreciate your thought on what I am planning to do and I appreciate, so very much, all of your help with this. Like I said before, you are awesome. Thank you :flowers:

#6 hamluis

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Posted 15 January 2009 - 08:52 AM

<<As for getting rid of the RAID configuration in BIOS, I assume that to do that, I can just highlight the array in the BIOS and press enter and that will give me the option of deleting it.>>

If you take a look at page 6 of http://www.promise.com/upload/Support/inst...0QSG%20v1.3.pdf , it looks that simple to me. Since you set up with the Fasbuild utility, just reverse and eliminate it in the same way.

When I played with my RAID setup, it was pretty simple. I went into the Promise BIOS, elected the boot drive, elected the array, it was done. When I had tired of playing, I just went in, removed the RAID, and left the drives reflected in the BIOS (as they should be because they are using the controller card).

As for installing Windows...I find that the first rule is...don't have anything connected to the system which is not necessary for the install. That means that all USB devices, external drives, PCI controller cards, etc...come off. I try not to enhance my chances of failure when I know that the install CD expects to deal with 1 hard drive and 1 optical drive.

In fact...if I didn't need the RAID drives for the install...I wouldn't even bother deleting the RAID. I would just remove the drives, remove the controller...do my XP clean install on 1 hard drive...and then add other hard drives later, reformatting each of them (electing NTFS), using Disk Management.

One key part to remember...your system boot options need to be changed (in the system BIOS). In order for the RAID to boot, the option currently reflects SCSI (because that's how some system BIOSes see controller cards).

Your other BIOS, the one for the controller card, will disappear once you remove the PCI controller card from your system.

Compliments appreciated, I just try pass on what little I have learned via the Experience Trail :thumbsup:.

Louis

#7 Stang777

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Posted 17 January 2009 - 01:38 AM

I am so sorry that it has taken me so long to write back, I have been crazy busy. Thank you so much for all your help.

I plan to just eliminate the array, leaving the card in place, then reformatting the main drive and reinstalling Windows and then eventually reformatting the other one. I cannot remove the card as I would not know what to remove and I cannot disconnect the other drives while I do this as I do not know how to do anything with the stuff inside the computer. Since I have always had other drives in the computer while I have formatted the main drive, I doubt doing this will give me a problem. If it does, I will just have to take it into the shop but I am hoping I wont have to do this.

Turns out that I have free service on this computer forever so if I do this and I mess it up, I can just take it in and they will fix it. They would do all this for me if I take the machine in and leave it with them, but I would rather not do that. I do not want to leave it with anyone unless I have to and I would like to be able to do all this myself anyway.

I will copy and save your tips on how to do this so I will have it when I am ready to do it. I really do appreciate all your help, thank you, and again, I am sorry it took me so long to write back.

#8 hamluis

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Posted 17 January 2009 - 02:17 PM

A user-friendly shop should allow you to bring the system in and have them just remove the controller card...takes about 2 minutes if you are slow with a screwdriver (to take the cover off).

It seems reasonable to give them a call and ask if you can do something like that, explaining that you are just a little unsure of your abilities to do so without hands-on guidance.

FWIW: When I routinely took my system to the shop for such things as reinstalling Win 95, I tried to be there when they first opened, before they started working on other things. It worked for me :thumbsup:.

Louis




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