I have a Dell XPS with RAID1. It started with 2 160GB hard drives. One failed, so I replaced it with a 250GB hard drive. Then the other 160GB hard drive failed later, so I replaced it with a 500GB hard drive.

Current situation: RAID 1 with 1 250GB hard drive and 1 500GB hard drive. Windows shows 160GB available. I want to use the 250GB (max size of smallest drive).

The Dell XPS came with Intel Matrix Storage console. I upgraded the software to the latest version which includes an option to modify the volume to use all existing space. Unfortunately, this option fails with an error message, "Modification of volume failed".

Any ideas on how I can use the rest of the space available on my drives?


I'm one of those crazy people who is very conservatively-minded when it comes to the integrity and availability of my data. I'd back everything up, recreate the RAID volume with the new larger sized drives (at the 250GB mark-- or, better yet, go get another 500GB first and use the 250GB for backing-up the data during this process), and then restore everything.

It's a good test of your backup / restore strategy, and a surefire way to get the space w/o running into some kind of "lurking" problem that you might introduce by resizing the volume.

I don't have any experience with the particular feature you're talking about (I've worked w/ the Intel Matrix Storage Manager, but I've never tried expanding a volume). In general, I would shy away from volume expansion in any kind of consumer-grade RAID.

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  • +1 Wipe and restore is my favorite cause of action too, your backup should always do the work for you ^^ alas, step down (some say up) to Windows dynamic disks and Windows RAID1 instead of the Intel one - it'll let you expand the volume easily (and RAID1 is still bootable)... I generally don't trust cheap 3rd party RAID software at all, better use the operating system's – Oskar Duveborn Oct 28 '09 at 0:24

Since it is RAID 1 you can "break the mirror" and just remove the working 250GB drive and start a process like

  1. Break the mirror by removing the 250GB drive
  2. format it to 250GB
  3. use Ghost, Acronis, etc to copy the data from the 500GB drive to the 250GB drive (these programs can resize the partition during the copy process or you can reboot with only the 250GB drive at this point and use windows to extend the volume to the 250GB area.
  4. use the Matrix Storage manager or Windows to make a new RAID 1 array with the 250GB partition.

Another option would be to avoid the risk and hassle and create a new partition on the existing RAID array using windows. You would only have ~80GB on the new partition but it would save you the hassle of resizing the existing partition or cloning a bootable install of windows.

Of course the best option for long term use is to format and start over (Backing up data is nice but as Evan suggested buying a new drive saves you the trouble of making a backup) In this scenario you would

  1. Break the mirror by removing the 250GB drive (set aside to save existing data)
  2. Format the 500GB drive and install the OS/APPS (yes you can use Ghost/Acronis and keep the old config if you don't want to take the effort to start fresh)
  3. Install the new 500GB drive and make the new RAID 1 array.
  4. Copy data from old 250GB drive to the new RAID 1 array.

Anything you do with the numbered procedures involves the risk that you mess up and erase the wrong drive in the formatting/ghosting/mirroring. This is why you need to involve a 3rd drive (old or new) just in case you screw up. Somehow, somewhere you want a copy that isn't plugged in when you go to do the kind of changes that can wipe all your data.

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