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Are my HD's, motherboard and OS compatible?

Posted on 2011-02-24
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Last Modified: 2012-05-11
I have a computer that was built as a server that I'm using as a home computer.  The OS loaded was Server SBS 2008 but I'm using Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit.  It has the following hardware, Q9550 CPU, Intel S3210SH motherboard, 8GB (2x4) G.SKILL F2-6400CL6S2GBMQ,  using 3 1TB WD WD1001FALS HD's RAID 5.  I recently had one of these drives fail and while troubleshooting I remember seeing something on line about incompatibility with this drive and this board and/or using this drive with a RAID array.  I'm wondering if the problems listed below are due to this or something else?

After the drive failed I replaced it and the RAID array rebuilt itself, now when I play a Blu-ray, just as the movie begins to display the system blue screens.  From there when its restarted it will not boot until I manually adjust the boot order so that the RAID array is first.  Once I do this all is well but if I run the Blu-ray again this happens again.

My question is, is the board my problem due to its incompatibility with the OS, HD's and/or RAID array?  If so should Intel motherboard work?  Finally, if I use the board in the link, should this RAM work in it also? Thanks in advance.
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Question by:1namyln
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LVL 117
ID: 34975234
have a read of this issue here with WD HD's RAID 5, and TLER issues.

http://www.experts-exchange.com/Hardware/Misc/Q_26622969.html
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by:1namyln
ID: 34975330
Having read the post, if I want to maintain a RAID array looks like I need to plan on using another drive and stay away from the onboard RAID controller.  I've seen this alot but before reading such advice I'd used onboard RAID controllers for years with no issues when drives failed.  Having said that its better safe than sorry.  Are there any programs I can use to establish the array or would you recommend a controller?  Thanks for the prompt post.
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by:BITCooler
ID: 34975404
There is more than one possibility 1) Video Driver Conflict, 2) Bad Memory DIMM, 3) RAID Array Drivers.

Suggestions:

1) First, rule out raw hardware issues with a diagnostic program.  Intel should have one that will test the system board, memory, on-board video, NIC,. etc.  This is good place to start and usually done in a non-Windows environment.  Here's a link to you Intel Board.  Start here and look for diagnostic tools from Intel.

http://www.intel.com/Products/Server/Motherboards/Entry-S3200SH/Entry-S3200SH-overview.htm

If all checks out proceed to next step

2) Second check RAID controller firmware and drivers (Your RAID is either on-board or via a PCIe/x Controller Card.

3) Most servers just rely on the onboard video because they are not meant to be graphical intense systems.  Therefore, since you are watching BlueRays, can we assume that you have added a high-end or mid-range graphic card?  If Yes, you may very well have a video incomplatability to which you will need to debug.
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LVL 117
ID: 34975453
You could use the TLER program from WD, or get a better RAID card, but the disks are still not to be used in RAID arrays, you need to purchase enterprise WD disks.
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by:dlethe
ID: 34975565
The bottom line is that you have risk of data loss using non-enterprise class disks.  Whether or not you have a secondary problem doesn't change the fact that your data is not safe.
The fact that you read anecdotal information from people that have not exhibited problems is most likely due to them being lucky.   When the HDD goes into a deep recovery phase, they will simply take longer than the controller allows.  The controller will fail what very well may be a perfectly good disk.

if any surviving disks have bad blocks (or several together), then the RAID controller aborts, and depending on the firmware, you are left with something that you either need to take to data recovery firm, or you have limited data loss.  

WD SPECIFICALLY STATES THAT BLUE/GREEN/BLACK DISKS ARE NEITHER CERTIFIED NOR SHOULD THEY BE USED IN ANY RAID5 CONFIGURATION.  I AM USING CAPITAL LETTERS TO EMPHASIZE MY POINT.  

Here is the direct quote and the link to the spec sheet (per EE rules for copy/paste)

WD Caviar Black Hard Drives are not recommended for and are not warranted for use in RAID environments utilizing Enterprise HBAs and/or
expanders and in multi-bay chassis, as they are not designed for, nor tested in, these specific types of RAID applications. For all Business Critical RAID applications, please consider WD’s Enterprise Hard Drives that are specifically designed with RAID-specific, time-limited error recovery (TLER), are tested extensively in 24x7 RAID applications, and include features like enhanced RAFF technology and thermal extended burn-in testing.

(SOURCE: http://www.wdc.com/wdproducts/library/SpecSheet/ENG/2879-701276.pdf)
(SOURCE: http://www.wdc.com/wdproducts/library/SpecSheet/ENG/2879-701277.pdf)

The low-cost solution ...

1. Buy a 4th 1TB disk, and use native windows software-based RAID1. (make 2 x RAID1)  So for under $100, you have same amount of usable space, and will likely get twice the performance of what you have now on both reads and writes).

If you are slot bound, then you can get away with some LSI (3ware) family RAID controllers.  They have a few on the lsi.com web site that are qualified for desktop class disks ... Otherwise, just redeploy these disks elsewhere and get enterprise class.  you'll have a much more stable system to begin with.
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by:1namyln
ID: 34980032
@dlethe, If I go with your option of adding another 1TB would it be safe to use the RAID controller in the current system?  If it matters, this is a server level motherboard.
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by:dlethe
ID: 34980076
intel doesn't qualify ANY consumer class disks for their servers.  What does that tell you?
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by:1namyln
ID: 34980081
@dlethe, "and use native windows software-based RAID1."  Is this something that's within Windows 7 Ultimate or something I'd need to purchase?  If its in Windows, where do I look?  I can't use the Intel software because I can't get it to work with Windows 7 as this is a server board and Intel doesn't offer the software for this version of Windows.  I tried anyways but it appears to be smarter than I.
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by:1namyln
ID: 34980091
@dlethe, that if I want my data to be secure I should move to another board or use a controller card.  Sound right?
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Expert Comment

by:dlethe
ID: 34980197
other controller cards will work OK with consumer-class disks ... but in grand scheme of things remember that the MANUFACTURER of the disk drive designed these disks for duty cycle of  2400 hours per year,  which is 8 hrs/day  300 days/year.   The MANUFACTURER makes disks designed for server use, which is 24x7.

Personally, I think not try to "overclock" disk drives.  I would buy the right HDD for the job.  This isn't obviously what you want to read, but you came here for expert opinion, and you have one expert plus the maker of the HDD themselves telling you not to use those disk drives the way you want to use them.   So my advice is to just use those disks elsewhere and get something designed for the job at hand.
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by:1namyln
ID: 34980220
@dlethe, understood.  This machine though is no longer functioning as a server.  Its an older server that I've made a personal machine.  Gaming / multimedia machine to be precise.
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dlethe earned 500 total points
ID: 34980444
Well technically, you asked if they were "compatible", so the answer is no ... but if I was in your situation I could live with that :)
Just use windows software raid. turn off the raid capability in the intel controller (which means reformatting the disks & backup/restore) then google one of the zillion pages that tells you how to set up windows software RAID.   On software RAID, make sure both disks that mirror the OS are in boot path).
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