Use RAID or Not on New System?

I am no PC guru at all so please bear with me.
I just started working in a studio where I am the only one with a PC The others have Macs). The funny thing is no one in the studio knows (or remembers) where the PC tower came from or who ordered it. So not to look a gift horse in the face, we got a monitor and turned it on to see what was under the hood. We kept getting a “E61 media test failure” so could not boot up. I went online to see what that error was about and one suggestion was to reset the BIOS to default and check the boot priority. I did both and still got the error.

So I opened it up and PC seems brand new with no sign of dust or wear. All cables seem intact. It has 2 Intel Xeon processors(E5 Family, LGA 1356 and 5500/5600 series, LGA 1366) with 4 cores each, 4 sticks of RAM with 8gigs each (32gigs) but where I became unfamiliar is when I discovered what a RAID configuration looks like. (It has AMCC 3ware 9650SE Serial ATA RAID Controller) I never had a system with any RAID setup. Also I am not sure if there is an operating system installed already. So we loaded up the windows 7 disc to see if that would help but ran into some kind of issue during the installation (not at all knowledgeable move on my part). I’m thinking it has something to do with installing the RAID drivers.

But part of me is like, why do I even need a RAID setup? I’m used to just having the Hard drives plugged into the motherboard and that’s it. I read up on some advantages of using RAID but I know how to constantly back up data off of the main drive (to slaves or external drives). To add to it, the hard drives are 1T each. I will be using this rig to do 3D modeling and rendering for the most part. I know nothing about this setup and I’m thinking of just pulling out the RAID configuration and going to a straight forward one HDD at a time like I’m used to. But perhaps I’m just missing a simple thing to do and would actually benefit from having this RAID setup.

But first I must figure my next step. Why is the system not booting up with that E61 error? When I put the windows 7 disc in, I get an option to upgrade or custom install. Does that mean there is an operating system already installed? When installing drivers for RAID, should I be in windows already making my next move to put the driver software in the disc drive a futile plan? I could use some advice here. This machine looks like it can serve me very well if I can only get it booted up.

Thanks for your help arexma. I couldn’t get it to boot and even with the driver disks in, I kept getting a message saying it could not locate any drivers. Plus after further investigation, I found out this rig has Linux which I know nothing about. My next move is to strip the rig of the RAID hardware and plug the SATA Hard drives directly to the mobo, disable RAID mode in BIOS, install windows and call it a day.

I’ve only worked for one company that expected the artist/programmer/data entry operator to also be the hardware expert. And that particular job only lasted two and a half days before I quit.

I’ve got a Raid Zero set up on my home PC, that has been running for the past four years. Raid Zero doesn’t give you a failsafe backup, but it is fast. I didn’t install it myself, though, I took the machine to my local computer hardware shop, and they took care of it in a couple of days for something like $70. Now I need to upgrade the graphics card to something that can handle Cycles GPU rendering.

I do not vote for RAID, it’s not performable enough and it’s risky. I had tried it once and I had system instability and crashes, fortunately my data were not corrupted and I switched back to classic mode.

You can try these in order to get things working:

  1. Firstly try to clear the BIOS (either pull out the battery for a couple of minutes or check it under the settings).

  2. If things do not work then try to see if some clever-boy switched the jumpers on the hard disks (see the manual of model), also check if the motherboard has jumpers as well (it depends on the model type, nothing is for sure).

  3. I do not think that something worse happens there. But if there is no other choice then most obvious would be to get a new motherboard for only 50-80 dollars. OK don’t hit me, just saying :slight_smile:

To be blunt, that was a poor choice, and/or poor advice from your shop. it really raised risk of data loss. Now you got double the chance a disk fails and you’ll loose double the data.
You should extend your RAID0 to a RAID5 with a 3rd parity disk.
Your current setup means, if one of your drives die, you loose the data of both disks, because RAID0 splits the data on both disks for performance reasons.
The parity disk “links” the data between the two striped disk with an XOR.
So if Disk1 stores a 0 and Disk2 stores a 1, the parity disk stores 0 XOR 1 = 1. So if either disk is missing you can revert the operation.

Today it’s really easy to handle a RAID, it’s even hotplug/swapable for SATA3+.
Connect new drive.
Go to RAID manager.
Select RAID level.
Initialize RAID.

If your RAID controller is half decent you should be able to initialize the RAID5 over the RAID0.

RAID is highly performant, highly secure, highly stable and is used literally everywhere for professional data security.

If you had problems with your RAID setup it’s either because you had a crappy RAID chip, wrong drivers or simply a misconfiguration. HDDs and their controllers have lots of operating modes and switching them on a running systems can cause all kinds of odd behavior.

SATA drives don’t have jumpers on them.
The master/slave/cableselect/scsi-terminator era is over for years now :wink:

Moved from “Misc: > Off-topic Chat” to “Support > Technical Support”

A proper RAID is a good thing, but if you care about your data, you’d do well to avoid RAID 0 (and, to a somewhat lesser degree, RAID 5). Whether you have hardware RAID or software RAID, your best bets for a small array are RAID 1 and RAID 10 (partially dependent on the number of drives you’re using in your array).

The main problem I’m having is getting the rig to boot up. Obviously the drivers are not installed, but during installation, even with the disks in the drive, the drivers are not seen. I am the given some choices to manually install and given a list of drivers. Naturally I am looking for 3ware drivers but none on the list have anything I can identify. When I gave up and restarted to see what will happen, I noticed the word “Linux” and I can safely assume there is Linux installed on this system. I do not want Linux but even when attempting to install windows, it’s as though the drives are not recognized. But they do show up in the BIOS and during the startup screens. So I am just confused about this whole setup.

RAID dose sound interesting, but what are the advantages over keeping all data on external or slave hard drive? I understand why there would be a performance boost for older rigs but this thing has 32gigs of RAM and 8 cores. Isn’t RAID overkill for this system if it’s about performance?

RAID0 gives better performance but with the greater chance of you losing data with a drive failure

RAID1 has a mirrored pair of disks. If a disk fails you still have a full copy on the second drive. Remove the dead disc and replace with a new one. Then just let it rebuild on the new drive and you’re back where you started. You have simple protection for when you’re drive will fail.

Having all those gigs of RAM and multiple cores will not protect against drive failure and data loss

I developed a habit of saving all my data on drives other than the “C:” drive. I put myself in reformat ready mode all the time. I see the point in having mirrored drives. It seems I would gain data loss security at the expense of hard drive space and basically be in my habit automatically. That part I can debate. When I talk about all the RAM and cores, I am referring to the performance not whether data is safe or not. I read some have RAID to increase performance. That part I am definitely not worried about.

Now if I decide to keep the RAID setup, I still have the problem of getting the system to work. When I go back to the studio tomorrow, I will post exactly what I’m getting trying to install the drivers. But what also confuses me is that if LINUX is already installed, why would I have to install drivers for the RAID controller? I would think someone already had it working. I just don’t understand the relationship between the RAID hardware and the hard drives and what to look for in the boot process.

Which is exactly why I chose RAID0. I am not asking for recommendations, I am simply relating my experience with the topic of this thread. If I were running a server or a shop I undoubtedly would have had other considerations.

The advantages over keeping data on an external drive is that RAID systems are continuous and self correcting. Even if a drive fails, the system keeps plugging along (the exception being a RAID0 setup.) The performance boost for RAID0 is in faster disk access, loading files, saving files, virtual RAM on disk, that sort of thing. It is not affected (or not much affected) by RAM or CPU or GPU capacity.

In case you’re interested - here are support pages with user guides and software downloads to help recover or build a new RAID.

I did use RAID0 on windows for some time. Speed improvement might be worth data loss (which did happen ofc) if RAID0 is used for OS and software. Do not keep your data on it.

RAID5 was successfully keeping office running for several weeks while PC guy was convincing top echelon to cash out for some hardware.