Implode

Install OS on RAID or separate drive?

6 posts in this topic

Hi all, I have what hopefully doesn't sound like too dumb of a question :D

My Promise EX8350 should arrive any day now, at which point I'll rebuild my PC from scratch. I've 4x Western Digital Caviar 320 GB SATA II drives to plug into it, in a RAID 5 config giving 960 GB usable space, most of which will be in a large network file share. I'll also keep a 60 GB and a 100 GB IDE drive plugged in (to the motherboard's IDE controller - no RAID). Other specs below FYI.

I need to install WinXP both 32 and 64 bit editions (although I've got 64 bit drivers for all my components, some of the software my company uses won't run on the 64 bit edition), so they'll be on two partitions.

What I'm stuck on is whether to create the two OS partitions on the EX8350 RAID drive, or on the separate 100 GB IDE drive. Obviously installing on the EX8350 is going to give faster access, making booting up, accessing the swap file and just about everything else faster.

What I'm nervous about with this is that having to reformat & reinstall Windows periodically is inevitable, I probably end up doing this about every 1-2 years. In 2 years time when I need to reinstall the OSes, I really don't want to have to touch the main 800ish GB partition on the EX8350. But if I delete the two OS partitions, won't WinXP setup then recognize the 800ish GB partition as the C: drive and subsequently screw up the installation because the 800ish GB partition is on a later part of the drive (where would it put boot.ini? on the existing C: drive, which wouldn't be the first partition on the disk (doesn't boot.ini always have to be on the first partition) or on the new D: drive (doesn't boot.ini always have to be on C:?), the whole thing just sounds a mess)

Alternatives I can think of are to either a) install the OSes on the 100 GB IDE drive (I don't care about fault tolerance of the OSes, if they die I just slap in another drive and reinstall... all my data will be safe on the RAID drive). or B) create the 800 GB partition first as C:, so it has boot.ini on it and will be at the start of the drive, and then WinXP 32-bit will be on D: and WinXP 64-bit will be on E:?

Thanks for any comments/suggestions :D

Implode.

Other specs:

MB: Asus A8N-E

CPU: AMD Athlon 64 3000+

RAM: 768 MB

GFX: BFGTech 7900 GTX OC 512mb

Edited by Implode

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NEVER have the C drive where OS is installed on a 800 GB drive. If it fails to boot and repair dont work. How will you then remove the os without formating the 800 GB disk ?

So my advice is to keep the OS on the 100 GB IDE disk and let the Raid 5 be your storage. That why you can format your OS disk without thinking about your files. I have my OS running on a Raid 1 (2x 36 GB raptor) its fast and I have a mirror. Because my server is also my mail server. So if the disk die, my emails dont disapeare.

I also have a EX8350 raid controller with 8 x 320 GB seagate disk in it..

I hope it answer your questions.

Henrik.

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NEVER have the C drive where OS is installed on a 800 GB drive. If it fails to boot and repair dont work. How will you then remove the os without formating the 800 GB disk ?

By just installing your OS. For Windows, this means the old windows directory will be removed; and a new profile directory will be created. You keep all your personal files and still have a fresh installation.

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But it won't be a clean install. Best to have a separate drive or partition for the OS. This way you can just delete the entire partition if you wish so.

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I did just that in the end. FYI I tested the speed of both drives, on my regular 100 GB IDE drive I get write/read rates of 24 MB/s, and on the RAID 5 drive on my EX8350 (4x320 GB Western Digital SATA II drives) I get a write rate of 70 MB/s and a read rate of 44 MB/s. Tested both by writing & reading back a 2 GB file.

That sounds odd, I thought RAID 5 was supposed to give faster read than write rates?

In any case, compensated for the O/S being on the slower drive by putting the swap file on the RAID drive, so hopefully that'll make some difference.

Anyway thanks for the comments.

Implode.

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