I have 4 onboard sata ports on my motherboard - Can I add an additional drive and configure RAID

I have had a lot of interest in this topic and should have probably included this in a previous question about "sata raid pci cards".  I have an HP a630n P4 that has 4 sata ports.  I just replaced the HD with a Maxtor 250 gig drive that states on the box RAID ready.  I have been told conflicting information about the ability to put another drive in the machine and configure RAID.  Some say that the motherboard must have a RAID Controller and support onboard (i.e. hardware) and others say that the solution is with installing drivers and updating the bios (i.e. software).  

Can anyone point me in the correct direction.  Can I add a drive utilizing the onboard ports and implement a RAID array or will I only be able to use the additional ports for separate drives (no RAID array).
rdilenaAsked:
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matriciiCommented:
For the most part when you have the 4 SATA ports on a drive (such as newer computers) it usually has RAID support built in.  To take advantage of it, you would have to set it in the onboard SATA controller (either in the BIOS or after the Post-Test when the SATA bios/detection screen comes up).  Next depending on your operating system, you will more than likely have to install the software support that came with your motherboard/computer.  Most times it is not installed as a default. Check your computer/motherboard manual and specs and see where the software is needed to be installed.  

Also, usually with these multi-SATA port boards, you are able to select which ones you would like to use for the RAID array.  Such as on mine (I have 4 as well) I have the first 2 set up as stand-alone drives, and the second 2 set as a RAID array.  Mine is set up through the independant "SATA BIOS" that comes up after the POST-Test screen.
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SputnicCommented:
PS.. I recommend giving some deep thought to which level of RAID you REALLY want!  While 'stripping' may have some performance appeal - LOSING EITHER DRIVE MEANS LOSING EVERYTHING - effectively doubling the odds of data loss due to hard drive failure.   (lesson learned the hardway)

 http://www.raidweb.com/whatis.html - Nice Site on RAID basics
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Wooky JackCommented:
<<<<Can I add a drive utilizing the onboard ports and implement a RAID array or will I only be able to use the additional ports for separate drives (no RAID array).


You can do both.  What type of motherboard do you have so we may investigate some recommended uses of a mobo with 4 SATA connections.

If you really wanted some bitchin hardware you could get a SATA Western Digital Raptor hard drive that runs 10,000rpms :)

I have dual raptors on 0RAID, I know its risky, but if done right everything runs top notch for me.  But i'm not a person too worried about losing data since I install all games and programs on a separate hard drive from the dual raid I've got going.
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rdilenaAuthor Commented:
thephalanx

HP's site has this

Motherboard:
ASUS PTGD1-LA
HP/Compaq name: Grouper-UL8E  as the motherbord spec.  

I also found HP's posting of the complete set of raid drivers for this model (not sure if they are motherbord or os drivers)

I'm at a loss as to the set-up all of this.  I have read that if the raid drivers were not installed during the os installation there is a way to install after the fact.  I also have read that there should be a BIOS setting referring sata raid or an independant SATA BIOS.

From what I can tell I will need some type of download for my motherboard and mybe additional drivers for the os (XP Pro)  
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matriciiCommented:
Those would be mobo RAID drivers to utilize the RAID on the mobo.

By going into your mobo CD that came with the HP computer, you should find the drivers for the raid in a directory.  After that, you should install those, and go into your BIOS settings.  This is usually done by a key such as F1, Del, Tab, or F10 (Depending on the BIOS your computer is using). Search there in the Main menu option that should be "Advanced Preferences" or "Integrated Periphials" or something to that nature.  You should find there where it will let you switch SATA mode from "IDE" to "SATA RAID".  

If not, wait until the beginning POST-Test has been run, but before the WinXP Pro splash screen comes up, and it might say something about "Detecting SATA Drives - Press whatever to enter setup".  This would be the independant SATA BIOS that was mentioned.  There you would look for the option on using either IDE or SATA RAID mode.

XP Pro shouldn't need any additional drivers to utilize the RAID functionality, but the mobo might need the drivers off that CD so that you can utilize the onboard hardware.

If you have any other concerns about it, please post it here, but I think that should be enough to get you going rdilena.

-Mat
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rdilenaAuthor Commented:
Mat - i'm feeling like I understand this a lot better.  I'm still having an issue with access to the above mentioned BIOS options.  I tried to see if there was a way to install the drivers I downloaded from HP's site.  Below is the text doc. included in the driver download executable.  there are also s few other files i.e. sys, dll, oem...etc

******Title: Summer 2004 Original RAID Driver Collection

Version: N/A

Description:
Complete collection of original RAID drivers

Purpose: Original Driver

Category: Storage

Operating System:
Windows XP Home
Windows XP Professional

Language(s):
Global English

Fixes:
N/A

Prerequisites:
N/A

How To Use:
1. Download the driver package.
2. Double-click on the icon for the driver package downloaded in step 1, and then click NEXT.
3. Accept the terms in the HP license agreement, and then click NEXT.
4. Click OK to continue.  The original drivers are now stored in the C:\HP\Drivers\Raid folder.
5. Follow the Windows XP installation instructions to install the driver on your PC.

Copyright © 2004 Hewlett-Packard Development Company, L.P.********
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matriciiCommented:
All this would do is to put the drivers on your computer, then you would go to that directory and install them.  You still wouldn't have set the BIOS (either independant SATA or mobo BIOS) to do raid functionality.  

Since I don't have the computer in front of me (and I've never used that model), the best thing would be to ask one of the HP technicians exactly how to enable the RAID in your particular computer.  For the most part they are forthcoming with help, as I have had to work on many HP computers, usually much older though, for my customers.  

http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/product?product=426322&lc=en&cc=us&dlc=en&dlc=en&lang=en&cc=us

By following that link it will lead you to a page where it has information about your particular computer.  On the right hand side there is a "Chat with an Online Technician" link.  It will install their active chat software and you should be able to talk to someone that can help you find the EXACT option to turn on the RAID option for your SATA ports.

I will say one thing though in closing, and that is it's been my experience that if you're not too familiar with something like RAID, I would play around with it first instead of jumping into something you are not sure of.  As mentioned before, you can learn the hard way that RAID can be tough on an end-user.

If you have any other questions, please feel free to post. =D

-Mat
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rdilenaAuthor Commented:
Thanks for all the advice.  Yes I agree about playing around first and this is what I am doing on what is for me an older machine.  For me like many I know I have an overwhealming need to... "figure it out" or understand how somthing works.

Ralph
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matriciiCommented:
The techs will be able to help you understand exactly where it is...  Hopefully I've been helpful in getting you to understand... I know how it is, I'm the same way about figuring everything out.
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Wooky JackCommented:
rdilena,

I would suggest talking to ASUS if the mobo manual is not helpful enough.  I believe also that you would need to re-install xp to have the OS running on the RAID after you install the RAID drivers.  I've called ASUS and they've walked me through RAID 0 and 1 setup before and they were an awesome help to me and now whenever I need to do it I know how to get it done.

visiting asus.com just look up your motherboard, find the RAID drivers for it, download it and make it a bootable floppy of the files you obtained, there should be a program that makes it bootable for you immediately (its a quick process) and once you have those done pop the xp cd in and reboot to start new and fresh and when the blue prompt screen pops up you need to hit one of the F controls (F2 or F6) to install any 3rd party drivers such as RAID drivers, tap the key until the screen changes and it should prompt for the floppy.  This is kinda sloppy directions but I believe Asus will walk you through similar steps.

Good luck!
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jimilicaCommented:
http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/document?dlc=en&lc=en&product=426322&jumpid=re_r329_search/internal/cc_a630n&lang=en&cc=us&docname=bph07110

this is the link for configuring the Bios but as I checked there is no raid on the motherboard so I am not sure if you could use this option without hardware suport but anyway Good Luck with your new MoBo
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rdilenaAuthor Commented:
This has been a good learning experience for me.  Thank you all for the comments.  It turns out the solution relates to the motherboard including the chipset family (Intel 915 express), and storage controller, and if they are supported by the RAID program "Intel Matrix Storage Technology" that is used to set-up the RAID configuration.  In my case the storage controllers are the issue and it appears the I will not be able to move forward with a RAID array.

Its incredible what you'll find on the net if you know where to look... inluding some great support from all of those who commented here.  Thanks!!
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