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Software RAID to Hardware RAID without data loss?


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#1 pcarey

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Posted 22 August 2013 - 05:54 PM

Is it possible to change from a 3GB/s SATA II Intel ICH10R software RAID1 setup on my ASUS P6X58D Premium motherboard to a 6GB/s SATA III LSI SAS9211-8i hardware RAID controller with the same type of RAID1 setup in the same MOBO without losing any data? MY OS is Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64-bit.

The two drives in my current software RAID1 array are 500GB SATA II Seagate Barracudas and I'm thinking of buying a couple of 1TB SATA III Seagate Constellation ES.3 Enterprise drives to replace the Barracudas as they're 3-4 years old now, but re-installing everything on the new drives is something I absolutely DON'T want to do.

I was successful a year or so ago in installing AHCI/RAID1 using the integrated Intel ICH10R controller on this system long after Windows 7 x64 was first installed in the non-RAID IDE mode without losing anything. I've heard people say that's not possible. Took me most of a day to iron everything out and I can't say it was fun, but it's been working fine ever since.

I'm sure I've seen instructions recently in a RAID controller manual about how to install the card in an existing Windows installation, but of course I haven't been able to find it again. It was probably an LSI or Dell PERC manual (actually about the same thing).

Has anyone had any success in preserving the data on a primary drive while going from software RAID1 to hardware RAID1? Any suggestions would be appreciated.

ASUS P6X58D Premium LGA1366 motherboard
Intel i7 930 @ 3.2GHz Quad-Core Hyper-Threading
12GB DDR-3 1333 PC3-1066 Triple-Channel RAM @1178MHz
Two Seagate Constellation ES.3 1TB SATA III HDD on ICH10R RAID 1
Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 500GB SATA II external HDD in Vantec eSATA case
nVidia GeForce GT240 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI-Express 2.0 x16
ASUS DVD-E616A2 DVD-ROM
ASUS CRW-5232AX CD-R/RW
Optiarc AD-7200S SATA DVD+R/RW DL
External Pioneer DVR-217DBK SATA DVD+R/RW DL
Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64-bit

#2 continuum

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Posted 22 August 2013 - 09:35 PM

Most RAID controllers have to properly mark drives and then initialize the volume, so I'm not sure it is possible to do so without losing all data.

However, you may be able to create a system image to another drive, then restore the image to your hardware RAID after you slipstream (or maybe repair install) the drivers for the new RAID controller in.

Unfortunately while the AHCI/RAID/IDE is just a controller mode change on the same controller (so the driver monkeying you did is possible, just tedious), an entirely different controller is likely to be substantially more difficult if it is even possible at all. (skipping VolumeSet initialization after creating the RAIDset (speaking in Areca terminology, at least, is how you recover from a failed drive and force a rebuild in some failure circumstances, but given you are coming from an entirely different controller here this might not work at all...)

#3 pcarey

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Posted 23 August 2013 - 10:15 AM

Most RAID controllers have to properly mark drives and then initialize the volume, so I'm not sure it is possible to do so without losing all data.

However, you may be able to create a system image to another drive, then restore the image to your hardware RAID after you slipstream (or maybe repair install) the drivers for the new RAID controller in.

Unfortunately while the AHCI/RAID/IDE is just a controller mode change on the same controller (so the driver monkeying you did is possible, just tedious), an entirely different controller is likely to be substantially more difficult if it is even possible at all. (skipping VolumeSet initialization after creating the RAIDset (speaking in Areca terminology, at least, is how you recover from a failed drive and force a rebuild in some failure circumstances, but given you are coming from an entirely different controller here this might not work at all...)


Thanks for the reply and for keeping directly on topic! As you've probably assumed by now, I'm a complete newbie when it comes to hardware RAID. If my MOBO supported SATA III RAID on the ICH10R, I'd happily continue with software RAID1 since my system is (for the first time) fast enough that I really don't see any difference in operation with RAID1 enabled. I've added my basic system specs as my signature for anyone's reference. It sometimes saves a lot of questions in replies when posting.

I was not too concerned about installing the LSI drivers and getting the controller working, but was afraid that I would lose data when I defined the RAID array in LSI's storage manager and let the controller initialize the drives for RAID1. You've confirmed that.

One thing I don't understand, though. Since the RAID drivers are usually installed during the OS installation, apparently the controller doesn't destroy the installed OS when defining the RAID array and initializing the drives for RAID1 after the OS installation - just any other existing data?

ASUS P6X58D Premium LGA1366 motherboard
Intel i7 930 @ 3.2GHz Quad-Core Hyper-Threading
12GB DDR-3 1333 PC3-1066 Triple-Channel RAM @1178MHz
Two Seagate Constellation ES.3 1TB SATA III HDD on ICH10R RAID 1
Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 500GB SATA II external HDD in Vantec eSATA case
nVidia GeForce GT240 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI-Express 2.0 x16
ASUS DVD-E616A2 DVD-ROM
ASUS CRW-5232AX CD-R/RW
Optiarc AD-7200S SATA DVD+R/RW DL
External Pioneer DVR-217DBK SATA DVD+R/RW DL
Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64-bit

#4 continuum

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Posted 24 August 2013 - 12:54 AM

Since the RAID drivers are usually installed during the OS installation,

The array is initialized in the RAID firmware before to OS installation; however the OS will have no idea how to talk to the RAID controller unless you slipstream the drivers or otherwise provide them to the OS prior to installation.

Initializing drives will generally always destroy all data on a drive, period.

#5 pcarey

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Posted 24 August 2013 - 07:12 PM

The array is initialized in the RAID firmware before to OS installation; however the OS will have no idea how to talk to the RAID controller unless you slipstream the drivers or otherwise provide them to the OS prior to installation.

Initializing drives will generally always destroy all data on a drive, period.


I ran across this -

My link

The document is dated 2010, so not so old as to be irrelevant. The raid card they're using is an Adaptec RAID 1220SA SATA II controller in RAID1 mode. Not in the same class as the LSI 9211-8i I'll be using, but the basic operation should be similar. They don't mention the operating system they're using, but considering the date, probably Vista or Win7.

What's your opinion?

ASUS P6X58D Premium LGA1366 motherboard
Intel i7 930 @ 3.2GHz Quad-Core Hyper-Threading
12GB DDR-3 1333 PC3-1066 Triple-Channel RAM @1178MHz
Two Seagate Constellation ES.3 1TB SATA III HDD on ICH10R RAID 1
Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 500GB SATA II external HDD in Vantec eSATA case
nVidia GeForce GT240 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI-Express 2.0 x16
ASUS DVD-E616A2 DVD-ROM
ASUS CRW-5232AX CD-R/RW
Optiarc AD-7200S SATA DVD+R/RW DL
External Pioneer DVR-217DBK SATA DVD+R/RW DL
Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64-bit

#6 continuum

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Posted 25 August 2013 - 03:29 AM

The key point for you in the document that is concern is on page 5, when they go through the RAID creation process.

That one assumes that a single drive, attached to the controller, does not require a destructive initialization step and furthermore than you get a chance to preserve one drive as a source drive.

It's been a long while since I've tried to do this for RAID1 on an Areca card, so I honestly don't remember if Areca has a similar option. It would make sense that this is possible, but again I have no idea if it actually is.


Some of the steps in that guide look very old and controller-specific as they card they are using is an old one even when the guide was written-- the Adaptec 1220SA came out in 2007; and their "performance issues" section is full of performance "findings" that most tech websites close to a year before the guide was written (nor are their "findings" true, as some sites found...), so I would take it with a little bit of concern.


Honestly if you're replacing both drives anyway, just do a test install on the new drives and see if it behaves as you're hoping?

#7 pcarey

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Posted 25 August 2013 - 09:42 AM

The key point for you in the document that is concern is on page 5, when they go through the RAID creation process.

That one assumes that a single drive, attached to the controller, does not require a destructive initialization step and furthermore than you get a chance to preserve one drive as a source drive.

It's been a long while since I've tried to do this for RAID1 on an Areca card, so I honestly don't remember if Areca has a similar option. It would make sense that this is possible, but again I have no idea if it actually is.


Some of the steps in that guide look very old and controller-specific as they card they are using is an old one even when the guide was written-- the Adaptec 1220SA came out in 2007; and their "performance issues" section is full of performance "findings" that most tech websites close to a year before the guide was written (nor are their "findings" true, as some sites found...), so I would take it with a little bit of concern.


Honestly if you're replacing both drives anyway, just do a test install on the new drives and see if it behaves as you're hoping?


I have a new spare bare drive on the shelf thatís identical to the two installed in my system (except maybe for the firmware). Rather than wait until I get two new SATA III drives, Iíll probably clone my current primary RAID drive to the spare drive using Acronis TrueImage, remove the original primary drive, put the cloned drive as the primary in the system and try installing the LSI 9211-8i per the article. Iíll let you know how (if) it works. It will probably be a week to ten days before I get the LSI 9211-8i.

BTW, thanks a bunch for being patient with a RAID newbie and for not being a RAID snob. I know you could have argued that RAID1 is practically useless and that I canít expect much of a performance increase in going from SATA II to SATA III and that I really need a RAID card with a GB of memory and a BBU. But I'm hoping to get just a little better performance out of the new SATA III ES.3 Enterprise drives if I get them on a 6Gb/s hardware controller, rather than the 3Gb/s ICH10R RAID controller built into my MOBO.

And, if this LSI 9211-8i is at least as smart as the Adaptec AHA-2940 SCSI controllers I used years ago, they'll also increase overall system performance by relieving the CPU of virtually all of the drive I/O demands that software RAID puts on it. Add in the fact that the new drives will have a 128MB cache vs. the 32MB cache on my current drives and maybe Iíll think it was all worthwhile. Besides, these drives are 3-4 years old and, although theyíve been as reliable as a stone axe, who knows how much longer theyíll last?

OK, enough rationalization, I confess I just feel the urge again to tinker with the system.

ASUS P6X58D Premium LGA1366 motherboard
Intel i7 930 @ 3.2GHz Quad-Core Hyper-Threading
12GB DDR-3 1333 PC3-1066 Triple-Channel RAM @1178MHz
Two Seagate Constellation ES.3 1TB SATA III HDD on ICH10R RAID 1
Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 500GB SATA II external HDD in Vantec eSATA case
nVidia GeForce GT240 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI-Express 2.0 x16
ASUS DVD-E616A2 DVD-ROM
ASUS CRW-5232AX CD-R/RW
Optiarc AD-7200S SATA DVD+R/RW DL
External Pioneer DVR-217DBK SATA DVD+R/RW DL
Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64-bit




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