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Windows XP won't boot with PCI SATA RAID1 set

Posted on 2007-11-22
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I recently bought a pair of 500GB Western Digital SATA II drives (set to SATA I mode by jumpering pins 5 and 6) and a PCI SATA I card with a Silicon Image SiI3512 chipset to install onto my ASUS A7V8X motherboard.

I successfully migrated my existing IDE boot drive onto one of the SATA drives, removed the IDE drive and confirmed that XP worked okay.

I then went about creating a RAID 1 set and mirrored the first 500GB WD drive onto the second 500GB WD drive. When I try to reboot with this RAID 1 set in place, I now get stuck on the device list.  The only way to boot into Windows is to remove the RAID set.

If I delete the RAID set, XP starts fine and I can access both disks independently. It's only when I define the RAID set that there's a problem.

I've installed the latest drivers and BIOS for the RAID card and am now a bit stumped as to what else I can try to get this set-up working.

Any assistance would be appreciated.
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Question by:webwill
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by:dlan75
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Hi,
You have to install Raid before installing windows.
Make sure with Raid set up you computer boots properly in order to install XP on the two HD being in Raid 1
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by:webwill
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Thanks, but I don't think that's true in this case as my RAID controller's documentation includes installation guidance for existing as well as fresh Windows XP systems.

Also, when creating the RAID1 set via the controller's BIOS, I'm given the option of mirroring drive 1.

From within Windows, the drivers appear to be installed correctly.
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by:PUNKY
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Access bios to change boot order. Sometime you will have to run repair console to fixboot or fixmbr.
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by:webwill
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Thanks, but the BIOS is already set to boot with controller first.

Let me clarify...  In my PC are the two 500GB drives, both attached to the SATA RAID controller.  When they're configured to act as independent drives then Windows starts without a problem and I can access each drive independently. They hold exactly the same content as each other because I'd previously mirrored them.

If during boot up I configure the two drives to act as a RAID1 pair and instruct the controller to do an online rebuild then it tells me that online rebuilding of the array will continue once Windows has finished booting however, Windows never fully boots with the RAID set configured. It just stalls on the device list screen.

If I restart my PC, go back into the controller BIOS and delete the RAID set then Windows will start okay and both drives will work independently.

The problem only seems to be when I tell the controller to treat the two drives as a RAID1 set.
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alfalfa6945 earned 350 total points
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webwill;
You've been given the advice you need to get this going. What dlan75 said is the foolproof way of making this work. Punky also gave good advice in listing the only other thing that may work for you (ie, the fixboot/fixmbr).  The problem you are having is that Windows wants to boot from a single drive. It was installed that way. The boot.ini has been set to boot this way. What you are trying to do (and failing) is boot now from a raid array, but Windows wants to load from a single drive. It will never boot no matter how good the mirror might be.

Here are a few things you can _try_ to make this work.
Setup the array for the mirror like you have done. Reboot the computer with the XP cd in the drive (like you were going to re-install the OS). Hit F6 and load the driver for your SI card. Select the repair console when option presents itself. From there, use "fixbooot". If this doesn't work, you're probably hooped, but you could try an Fdisk /mbr for giggles.

Another way to do this without re-installing the whole thing would be to drive image your current setup to a third disk (of a like size) and then create your raid 1 array, and mirror from the third disk to the new array. This method will probably work the best, I prefer Acronis, but to each his own.

Re-install the OS on the new array is likely the best method, as it gives you a clean slate. Backup what you need first and go for it.

What has been described here are the ONLY ways this is going to work for you. For a fact, your card _does not_ support making the array on the fly, so the way you have been doing it will never work.

You've been given 3 ways to make this work. I guarantee one of them will.
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by:webwill
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alfalfa6945, I really appreciate your thorough explanation and will first try your suggestion of booting with the XP CD.  The last thing I want to do is reinstall from scratch, but if that's what needs to be done...

I'm a bit disappointed that the guidance supplied with my SI card seems to suggest that I can install onto an existing Windows installation and then create the mirror.

Thanks to all.  I'll update this question thread with my progress.
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by:alfalfa6945
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webwill;

Using Acronis is a really good option. The image it makes of your existing setup can be compressed, and likely fit on a very small drive (you should have one kicking around). Image your setup onto this small drive, create a boot disk with Acronis, reboot the computer, set the raid 1 array, boot from the Acronis floppy or cd (you can make either with the program) and then start streaming your image from the small drive to the large raid 1 array.

Look at it this way, if it still failes to boot, you can then stream the image back to a single drive and know in your heart you will have to re-install the OS. Highly recommend the Acronis route, it just plain works.
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by:webwill
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alfalfa6945,

I actually used Acronis Migrate Easy 7.0 to migrate from my original IDE drive to my primary SATA drive.

How would making an image of the drive and then restoring it put me in a different position from where I am now?  If the problem is that my current installation of Windows wants to boot from one drive only then any images I make of that install will still have that one-drive requirement won't it?
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by:alfalfa6945
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Excellent question! You're right, how would you be any different imaging than you are now? Take a minute to read a bit about Acronis True Image (specifically the part about being able to migrate from different raid HBA's to new hardware).  I should not be saying that it will work 100% in your case, but of any other option out there, this one will show the most promise.

Drive signature, that's your issue with going from a single drive to an array (this is a clue for you ;)
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by:webwill
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After much tinkering, the solution that's working is to not use the PCI SATA RAID controller, but use the one built into my motherboard which I didn't realise existed!  I knew it had RAID functionality, but I thought it only worked with IDE disks.  Turns out it will work with SATA too.

You guys were right.  I had to get the RAID installed first and then install Windows.

Thank you for your expert assistance!  
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