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RAID in WHS 2011


fblittle
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I have an XP system and a Win 7 system here, as well as my WHS system with a Hardware RAID5. The Win7 has a Software RAID5, the XP system has only single disks. This RIAD functionality is not available on either of these systems in the Disk Manager. Spanned Volume and Striped Volume are on Win7 but not on XP. WHS 2011 has "Mirrored" and "RAID5" functions speciffically. I think these are new functions to WHS 2011? I have never seen them before.

 

Also BEWARE of RAID cards that are not really hardware RAID cards. Some models advertise as if they are, but really use the CPU to do the work of the XOR process for the RAID card, which will slow down the whole system. Unless your system is doing nothing else besides processing data for the RAID card your performance will suffer greatly.

 

Rule of thumb: If the RAID card does not cost at least $300.00 new then it is probably a software RAID that uses the Motherboard CPU for the XOR function, AKA a "Fake RAID". The specs of a Hardware RAID should include things like CPU and RAM, just like your PC (DDR speed, CPU speed and type). Also a Hardware RAID should have ECC memory and a Battery Backup available as an option for the card to prevent data corruption (BIT Rot) during a power surge or system crash.

 

If you want an inexpensive 'Real' Hardware RAID card the best way to get an affordable one is to look on e-bay or similar for previous generation RAID cards that have come out of a server that has been upgraded or parted out. They're still not cheap, but are a fraction of the new price. These cards are plenty good enough for a Home system, in fact they have much better performance than a new "Fake RAID" card, and usually have more ports than you would ever need. The 3Ware card that I bought has 12 SATA II ports on it that can be used JBOD or almost any type of RAID, and HOT Swap, and HOT Spare, all at SATA II speeds that will overpower your gigabit network card, for $120.

 

Of course as with anything, It's your data. What is it worth?

 

 

I'll try to deflate most of this FUD you're regurgitating from incorrect/misinformed internet "experts"

 

XP can stripe and span, you need to convert the disc from basic to dynamic before they are an option. XP can be modified (rather easily) to support RAID 0, 1 & 5. All operating systems from Microsoft have the ability to software RAID.

 

Now before I move on let define a few terms that some folks seem to be confused with:

  • Software RAID is when you use the operating system to create and manage the array through disk management. It is offered in every OS from Microsoft including all those based off of either the NT kernal (XP, Server 03 products) or the 2008R2 kernal (Vista / W7 & server 2008 products) These use the CPU to completely manage any RAID overhead.
  • Onboard RAID uses the motherboard's RAID controller typically referred to as Firmware RAID (ICH9, ICH10R) These typically split management between the controller and the other resources on the board like RAM for cache and CPU for parity calcs
  • Hardware RAID refers to any storage controller card. These have a card with its own dedicated controller and ports. Higher end models can feature on card memory cache, co-processor for parity calcs, and battery backup.

Now sure the cheaper hardware RAID cards (no they are not "fake raid") will use the cpu for parity calcs but the controller is still the one managing the drives. On board memory will allow for higher transfer rates due to the immense speed and throughput gain of volatile RAM. While this is desirable in high load business/enterprise servers such as application and database servers. Rest assured with a cheaper hardware card without the additional features, isn't taxing any modern x86 based file/media server. The benefits are not only lower cast, but lower heat, lower failure rate (new vs old), can be migrated from system to system, and smaller low profile form factor.

 

If all you want is JBOD or a "dumb" drive controller for a large WHS system. I would suggest either the SuperMicro AOC-SAT2-MV8 (PCI/PCIX) or AOC-SASLP-MV8 (x4 PCIe)

 

For the the "magic smoke" comment regarding on board controllers. Should that happen any board with the same controller should pick up the array without a rebuild. I would like to point out that if it was 3 years old most likely it would be cheaper to use a new mobo/cpu/ram spec. To restore to the new equipment I will again point out that RAID is fault tolerance NOT backup. If something goes bad and you cannot find a replacement. restore from your backup. You did backup didn't you?

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I'll try to deflate most of this FUD you're regurgitating from incorrect/misinformed internet "experts"

 

This is why I am on the forums. Thanks, no-control.

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Listening to the last podcast, there was talk about being happy about using the raid controller on your motherboard to do RAID.

 

What would happend, if in say 3 years, your motherboard releases the Magic Smoke that makes it work, and you can't find another one?

If you go and buy a new mobo, will its raid controller be able to read the data on your array? Or can you kiss your array good-bye and hope you have backups from all of your data?

 

It's my understanding that hardware-RAID controller interoperability is basicly nonexistent. Is this still true (or has it ever been true in the first place)?

 

Good question. RAID in your OS only will not always port to a new system or OS so you will have to have backup. In may case using the 2680 controller, I changed motherboards, OS, and moved it from one system to another and all I had to do is load the drivers. I even read the array from an older 4 port controller in the new 8 port. Seems pretty robust.

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Just a little something to add about the cheap RAID cards without parity offload. Michael is correct that modern CPUs and motherboard architecture is perfectly capable of making this work, but that wasn't always true. If you want to go with this type of setup, make sure you get a MODERN setup with SATA2, core i3+ CPU and PCIe x4 if that applies. You don't want to go recycling an old PCI Promise card with "fake" RAID because that may send you straight towards the very issues that gave RAID the fearsome reputation it has today.

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Not to add fuel to the fire, but I have to agree with no-control. Using a 3rd party card is hardware raid and not "fake raid". What's so fake about it? It's still a Redundant Array of Inexpensive (or Independent) Disks. As with anything else, there are cheaper RAID cards and more expensive RAID cards. The features you usually associate with more expensive cards are better controllers, more ports, onboard cache and battery-backed cache.

 

I still have quite a few Promise PCI controllers and they work rather well, even in Windows 7. More "modern" RAID controllers aren't necessarily better at RAID, but they do typically have more modern drive support(e.g. SATA II and Native Command Queueing). These controllers are still viable, and should work well with mirroring two large 2TB drive for protection. 2TB should be more than adequate for the typical WHS box.

 

Since the inexpensive controllers tend to not have battery-backed cache, at least spend some extra money on a good UPS. This will help protect you from unexpected power failure. This is especially important if you plan on using RAID 5. With RAID 5, a single write operation in Windows results in 4 IOps on your RAID 5 array. If you unexpectedly loose power to your home server while data is being written to the array, you could end up with data corruption. A UPS should provide some level of protection from power loss.

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Not to add fuel to the fire, but I have to agree with no-control. Using a 3rd party card is hardware raid and not "fake raid". What's so fake about it? It's still a Redundant Array of Inexpensive (or Independent) Disks. As with anything else, there are cheaper RAID cards and more expensive RAID cards. The features you usually associate with more expensive cards are better controllers, more ports, onboard cache and battery-backed cache.

 

I still have quite a few Promise PCI controllers and they work rather well, even in Windows 7. More "modern" RAID controllers aren't necessarily better at RAID, but they do typically have more modern drive support(e.g. SATA II and Native Command Queueing). These controllers are still viable, and should work well with mirroring two large 2TB drive for protection. 2TB should be more than adequate for the typical WHS box.

 

Since the inexpensive controllers tend to not have battery-backed cache, at least spend some extra money on a good UPS. This will help protect you from unexpected power failure. This is especially important if you plan on using RAID 5. With RAID 5, a single write operation in Windows results in 4 IOps on your RAID 5 array. If you unexpectedly loose power to your home server while data is being written to the array, you could end up with data corruption. A UPS should provide some level of protection from power loss.

 

I really need to do so research on RAID (specifically RAID 5) for a possibel WHS 2011 build. I was intrigued by the article from pcdoc in regards to using a HighPoint RocketRAID card. This maybe the solution I use if I move forward with a new WHS 2011 build.

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Not to add fuel to the fire, but I have to agree with no-control. Using a 3rd party card is hardware raid and not "fake raid". What's so fake about it? It's still a Redundant Array of Inexpensive (or Independent) Disks. As with anything else, there are cheaper RAID cards and more expensive RAID cards. The features you usually associate with more expensive cards are better controllers, more ports, onboard cache and battery-backed cache.

I would say that any RAID controller that doesn't have its own processor for the parity calculations isn't a true hardware raid card. This can become especially true when doing something more intensive like RAID5 or RAID6. Sure the CPU can handle it in most cases, but it will always be faster for the processing to be done locally.

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What else is new?

 

What would classify it as then? Its an hba with a HARDWARE controller on it. Last time I checked that qualifies as hardware. On board parity processing is just an additional feature. The manufacturers agree, might want to let them know they gave classified their products incorrectly.

I'm trying to keep this simple so everyone who isn't a technician can understand how this all works. So that we all build from a correct and common point.

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I would say that any RAID controller that doesn't have its own processor for the parity calculations isn't a true hardware raid card. This can become especially true when doing something more intensive like RAID5 or RAID6. Sure the CPU can handle it in most cases, but it will always be faster for the processing to be done locally.

 

 

To me I measure it by whether or not the array is in the controller (even if it uses the CPU for parity) and can be moved. Another words, If I blow the OS, my array is still intact and can be moved or ported to another system or OS without risk of data loss. Software cannot really offer me that. Granted a hardware card with its own CPU is faster, it is not necessarily much different in terms of how it handles the array.

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