Hidden RAID Drive problem

  Effie 12:58 24 Dec 2007

I have a Windows Xp machine which I was given a few years ago but it came without any software. It has been great to us up to now. It is only used when I go overseas to my partner's place.It has an Abit BX 133 RAID

I now am finding that there is a whining noise coming from the hard drives which are configured in RAID.

I took 2 new hard drives with me planning to copy them using Nortons Save and Restore.

However , when I looked into the Highpoint Controller ( HPT370/372) , the primary hard drive is hidden.

Unfortunately, I have no RAID software, please could anyone suggest any means by which I can copy this hidden hard drive to the new hard drive.

  anskyber 13:11 24 Dec 2007

Which RAID do you have?

If it is RAID 0 then if disc one goes down so does the other. If it's RAID 1 then the new disc should be "repaired by" the other automatically using the inbuilt RAID contrller.

  Effie 14:17 24 Dec 2007

The information we have found is :

Primary Master; stripe ( RAID 0) For array #1 UDMA 5. 15007 HIDDEN.


We have been to the motherboard website but found no answers to our query there.

Being pure novices in respect of RAID, we hope someone in the Forum has come accross this issue before and could suggest some means of being able to copy these drives.

We have formatted the new hard drives with Disk Genius. Unfortunately, it didn't detect the hidden hard drive so we are stuck at a dead end. The noise of the current drives are unbearable hence wanting to put in new hard drives.

  UncleP 17:16 24 Dec 2007

First, the question of the 'hidden' disk; RAID arrays, whether RAID0 or RAID1, both act as a single disk within Windows. You cannot divide them without 'breaking' the array. So both appear as your main drive C: (assuming that you don't have a third drive carrying the operating system). A second drive letter is not assigned because it is unnecessary - although it will appear automatically if the RAID array is degraded ie broken.

Note that a RAID0 array has no redundancy; the data is striped across both disks, and if the array fails for whatever reason you lose everything, as anskyber noted. So I hope you have your important files backed up separately and safely. A RAID1 array will continue to function as a single disk if either disk fails, and you can then recover by replacing the faulty HD with one of the same size and type and rebuilding the array.

So the answer to your question is that you cannot - and don't need to - copy data from the 'hidden' disk, because RAID arrays act as single disks, and conventional methods of copying transfer all of the data to another disk, tape or whatever. What this does not do is allow you to set up a replacement RAID0 system.

Before outlining how you do that, you should think seriously about whether you really need a RAID0 system. The main advantage is that you get a very large HD with a small increase in performance. The disadvantage is that it has twice the chance of failing and losing all data not backed up. Alternatively, you could use the two hard disks as a RAID1 array, which gives some protection against HD failure (but not against theft, fire, virus effects etc) at the cost of losing half of the total capacity. Or you could simply connect them as a conventional master-slave pair, with the master carrying the operating system and the slave additional programs and data files.

If you do decide to retain the RAID0 system but using the new HDs, the procedure would be
(a) copy all of the data files off the existing array (assuming that you have the original installation CDs for the programs you use) - this may be unnecessary if you have a recent, complete back-up. The new HDs should not be used for this purpose.
(b) replace the existing HDs in the computer with the new ones, empty but formatted
(c) use the computer's RAID facility to generate a new RAID0 array
(d) install Windows XP on this
(e) re-install the required applications and copy over the data files

For (b) and (c) you will need the instructions for the RAID programming for your computer (from the supplier or the motherboard manufacturer if you don't have them). You might be able to simplify this procedure considerably using disk image software eg Acronis True Image, but I have no information on whether this will work satisfactorily with RAID0 arrays - perhaps another forum member has this information?

I hope all this doesn't put you off; feel free to come back with any further questions and I (or someone else) will try to answer them.

  Effie 22:45 24 Dec 2007

Thank you UncleP for your excellent thread which separated out the nuts from the bolts for me and taught me that this subject is a really difficult one to master.

Thank you for your excellent suggestions. Unfortunately we don't have any original software/installation CDs so it looks like we may have to forget about using Raid all together.
I'm also left wondering is there any real benefit in the long run for Raid 1 versus using just one hard drive as master and a second as full backup?

Thank you for your offer to help UncleP, it is very much appreciated!

We are considering perhaps buying a new operating system and providing Windows allows us to, put everything onto just one hard drive given that we don't have setup discs for the current configuration? If you have any other suggestions, I'd be delighted to consider them.

The computer itself is still working fine except for the increasing noise coming from the drives.

Sometimes it is impossible to be in it's vacinity when it's in use without getting a headache. Indeed, its's ten times worse for the person trying to use it hence the reason for trying to move everything onto a drive which hasn't got this noise issue attached to it.

If anyone can suggest ways of getting rid of the noise without losing the current setup, ( and the avoidance of headaches), we would be very grateful.

Thanks everyone.

  UncleP 02:45 30 Dec 2007

I hope you all had a pleasant and enjoyable Christmas, and add my wishes for a happy and prosperous new year.

Effie: I've added below some comments on the various topics you've mentioned in your thread. However, I would recommend that you start new threads (with appropriate titles) for the major items, to encourage those with knowledge or experience in those areas to read them and respond. Relatively few forum members are interested in RAID arrays, so your problems with noise are probably not being read by those who may well know the answers.

Incidentally, before opening a new thread, it's worth searching the existing PCA knowledge database - you will probably find some relevant information which will help focus the form of your initial posting. And occasionally it comes up with the answer!

(a) unless you have a particular reason why you need a RAID1 array, a single HD or a master/slave configuration is simpler and more effective. As most computer users have these, you're more likely to find forum members with answers to any problems that arise. I would avoid RAID0 arrays as a general rule.

(b) whichever configuration you choose, you must also decide how to protect it from malware (even if it is not connected to the internet) and how you are going to back up the data on the hard disk(s). One convenient and commonly used back-up method involves disk imaging software; this will also enable your existing OS to be transferred to the new disks - worth doing if it is an up-to-date version of XP with SP2 included. However, this software is very powerful and can perform a wide range of tasks, but as a result has a steeper learning curve than a straightforward copying program.

(c) are you sure that the noise is being generated by the HDs? Sure, HDs routinely generate some noise, but excruciating levels are uncommon, and usually due to the bearings on the computer cooling fans failing. One technique for deciding is to fold and tape a piece of card into a cone shape, open at both ends, so that you can focus on individual components when the side panel of the computer is removed. This and other methods have been described in previous threads in the HelpLine forum.

You will appreciate that the comments above are very general, and intended only get you started. However, I've found the PCA forums are excellent places to move from the general unknowns to specific answers. Good luck!

  Effie 14:05 30 Dec 2007

Many thanks for your help. Hope you and your folks had a Happy Christmas and all the very best for 2008.

In answer to your query, the noise definitely comes from the existing hard drives and not the cooling fans giving trouble.

We plan to change the setup to a singele HD with the second one as a backup.

Unfortunately, most of my disc imaging software etc. isn't with me at present so I'll have to bring more software etc. (including a new XP whenever I can get my hands on one, they appear a little scarce on the ground over here) with me next time I come visiting in order to use the computer.

Many thanks once again for your very valuable suggestions.

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