I am building small home server with raid 1 (mirror) on data disk. I have MB: Asus M2N SLI Deluxe with nvidia media shield RAID on board and 2 x 1TB HDD, OS: Windows Server 2003 x64.

My questions are:

  • which RAID I have to use, fake RAID on my MB from nVidia or software RAID(mirror) in Windows Server 2003?

to software RAID:

  • after OS reinstall will be this RAID still accessible, if not data will be OK?
  • can I take one hdd from raid and plug it to other PC and only read data?
  • what about performance?


Edit: Ok, I set up software RAID in Windows Server 2003 and it works fine. But a lot of times I see in Disk managment console that disk are beeing resynching. So if I write data to disk are these data immediately on both discs, or not? I googled but did not find how exactly software RAID works. Can you help me?


What if your MotherBoard die?. I think that software RAID will be easier to recover than the one provided by your MB. You might also consider using another one/two HD for your OS and putting your data in the soft raid volume. Performance will probably be equivalent between your soft and hard solutions.

EDIT: Here's a link for you showing how RAID levels works. Hope this fits your needs.

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  • +1 softraid most likely more stable in this case – Oskar Duveborn Dec 3 '09 at 9:22
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    +1, cheap "hardware" RAID is never a good solution, especially with lesser-known chipsets which can be harder to replace (I'd use it if it was an Intel one, but not with NVidia). – Massimo Dec 3 '09 at 9:48
  • ok, software RAID wins, if I understand it right, this RAID is pure OS implementation. So if I reinstall OS or put HDD to other machine I can read data from HDD as from regular HDD, right? – Cicik Dec 3 '09 at 9:52
  • I never had to do this, but i think that depending on your configuration, you may have to tweak the boot.ini. – Maxwell Dec 3 '09 at 10:19
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    @Cicik: Why wouldn't you mirror the operating system volume, too? You might as well protect that from disk failure, too. Isn't your time you spend setting the system up worth being able to handle an OS volume disk failure? I know mine is... – Evan Anderson Dec 3 '09 at 16:27

My order of preference for RAID is;

  • First choice - good hardware RAID controller (any Compaq/HP/Adaptec) OR RAID using ZFS
  • Second choice - regular software RAID or a middling hardware contoller (Dell)
  • Third choice - no RAID
  • Never a choice - crappy mobo fake-RAID
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    I would use a Dell PERC card over software raid any day – ITGuy24 Dec 11 '09 at 15:54

Software mirror in 2003 has a habit of breaking on a reboot. Many years ago I opened a case with PSS regarding this and, even though 75% of the time we could recreate it on a variety of hardware platforms, PSS could apprently never recreate it and they closed the case.

If you are wanting anything like "real" fault tolerence, using the built in Windows options just will not suffice I'm afraid.

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This is sort of on a side note, but I'd really check out Windows Home Server (WHS) if you are attempting to set up a home server. It takes most of the managment work out of running it and it "just works".

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Answer for your question will be:

* after OS reinstall will be this RAID still accessible, if not data will be OK? = yes, but as a precaution you can import the disk in other computer and take backup of important data.
* can I take one hdd from raid and plug it to other PC and only read data? = yes
* what about performance? =  all depends on processor and amount of memory. bigger is better.
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