Mirror 2 HD's with PCI IDE Controllers

I  have an Asus CUSL2 motherboard that I would like to use as a low end server...pIII-500 with 512 RAM...

I have a 40 Gig IDE HD for the primary and will install W2000 SBS on it...

Then I want to mirror 2 - 80g HD's with 2 separate Maxtor Ultra ATA/133 PCI Adapter Card (999812) IDE Controller cards...

It will be used to store CAD/CAM drawings in an architectural firm...

Will this configuration work???


Steve MutchlerIT TechAsked:
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Lee W, MVPConnect With a Mentor Technology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Software mirroring is great to ensure you don't loose your data.  It's not so great to ensure the system stays up and running.  When a device fails on the system, Windows tends not to take it well and crashes (not all the time, but often enough).

Doing a software mirror will PROBABLY result in the system crashing, should a controller or drive fail.  Then you'll be able to yank the defective disk/controller and reboot - but YOU will have to be involved in the process before the system comes up again (most likely)

Hardware RAID is generally better in my opinion because the hardware device masks the multiple hard drives and the drive failures to the OS.  The OS generally won't know a drive failed (and you won't either unless there's some monitoring software for the RAID Card).

1.  Probably not - cheap ATA RAID Controllers can usually do RAID 0, 1, 0+1.  This is done by setting up the RAID either on the same channel or on different channels (Even though this RAID controller should support 4 drives, it won't be able to do a RAID 5 Because it can't combine disks in that manner accross two channels with two disks. (not what you're asking for, but I thought I'd point that out)

2.  Yes, this is RAID 1 with Duplexing if you got a second RAID controller.  See http://www.pcguide.com/ref/hdd/perf/raid/concepts/genDuplexing-c.html for a clear explanation of duplexing and why you really aren't going to be doing it for a "low end" server

3.  I understand the desire for a completely redundant setup (two controllers, two drives), but I've never seen a way to do a hardware RAID with two controllers.  Typically, that's only software that can do that.  Keep in mind that the controllers have no moving parts and are far less likely to fail.  Yes the controller could go bad, but odds are much greater a drive will die instead.  One controller is typically sufficient and setting up two in your circumstance MIGHT be overkill.

4.  For a hardware mirror, there MIGHT be software with the controller (usually there is with SCSI RAID cards, haven't really seen that with (S)ATA RAID cards.  Otherwise, you would install the card and hard drives physically, then boot the system.  The card would have it's own hot-key combination that would allow you to enter it's specific BIOS where you would configure the RAID.  For software RAID, you would need to make the disks dynamic (easy, but generally a one-way move) using Disk Management under Computer Management, and then create a partition on ONE disk.  After it was formatted, right click the disk and tell it to create mirror.
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Don't see why not, provided you are talking about a software mirror.
Steve MutchlerIT TechAuthor Commented:
Yes...a software mirror...I just want 2 controllers to work it in case one shoots craps...

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masterbakerConnect With a Mentor Commented:
I think you'd be better off with a hardware mirror.  You could get a card like this:


I've just had a lot of problems with software mirrors in the past.  Your server is already going to be pretty slow, why burden it with the job of mirroring data as well?  Just my $0.02.  

However, you should do whatever you're comfortable with.  If you've done software mirroring before and are OK with supporting it and handling crashes, go for it.  It will definitely work.

Unless you are backing up off system daily, I would definitely agree with masterbaker. Software systems are too unreliable.

Chris B
Steve MutchlerIT TechAuthor Commented:

Since I have not set up a mirror system before...and your idea makes a LOT more sense than mine...

Couple questions...

1.  Specs of the controller indicate 2 channels...does this mean that I will have a cable going from channel A to one HD and another cable going from Chanel B to the second HD???

2.  Is this setup called RAID 1 w/ duplexing???...

3.  My plan was to have 2 separate controllers...do I need to purchase 2 of these Promise controllers to have duplexing???

4.  How do you set the 2 drives up to mirror???...is there a wizard???...is there a menu after I plug in the Promise cards???
How does this work???

Leew is correct on point #3.  You won't be doing duplexing with a pair of IDE controllers.  There is a ways to do duplexing, but we're talking some serious equipment (probably around $10k or more) to do this.  The likelihood of this controller failing is pretty darn low.  You'll lose both drives before you lose the controller.  However, you don't ever want to count on hardware always working, so definitely figure out a good backup scheme to tape, external drive, or something else.

Yes, you'd want to set up one drive on channel A and one drive on channel B.  This is mirroring.  It should be very straightforward and easy to do.  Infact, it may bt the default for that controller.  The controller should come with a manual to show you how to do this.  Basically what you'll do is pop the card in the computer and then attach the drives as masters on each channel.  Then when the computer is booting, you should see an option like "Hit Ctrl-A to enter Promise IDE RAID configuration".  Do that and then follow the prompts to establish your RAID1 mirror between the two drives.  Again, I'm sure they include instructions on how to do this.

If you do run into problems, you can always post another question on this site, but I doubt you'll have to.  No worries my friend. :)

Steve MutchlerIT TechAuthor Commented:

Many thanx to both of you...things are a WHOLE lot more clear now...

If I have any other issues, I will post a new question...

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