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Determining if RAID is required and bay selection for ssd drive

Posted on 2013-01-12
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2016-06-26
I am building my own pc and my uses of the pc will be some limited gaming, intermediate movie watching, a lot of surfing, and a lot of ms office work.

I have the following components
Asus motherboard p8z77-m
Corsair 330 r case
Intel 330 series maple crest 120 gb ssd(note I plan to install win 7 on the ssd drive)
Wd 500 3azex 500 gb 7200 7200 rpm

I keep reading about how people go in and configure RAID (which I am still a little sketchy on what it is) and thus I am wondering if :
Do I need to perform raid
Can I just install the ssd drive and western digital hdd and it will be plug and play ?  If not what type of configuration do I need to do
Does it matter what bay\drive I put the ssd drive and wd hdd in
Question by:upobDaPlaya
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LVL 40

Assisted Solution

als315 earned 200 total points
ID: 38770204
You can install system to SSD drive (look BIOS to ensure SATA is in AHCI mode) without raid, because SSD has very good performance (and for RAID you will need more then one drive).
SSD need some system tweaks. You can use free ssd tweaker:
Store video and other large files on HDD.

You have more then one drive, so you should select proper boot drive (SSD) in BIOS.
LVL 40

Expert Comment

ID: 38770225
Connect SSD to 6 Gb/s SATA port of motherboard (gray), HDD and DVD to 3 Gb/s - blue
LVL 88

Assisted Solution

rindi earned 300 total points
ID: 38770293
If you have 2 WD 500GB drives, you can use them in a RAID 1 array. If one of those disks fails, the other keeps on going and you can still access the data. RAID 1 is 2 disks of the same size which have exactly the same data on each (a "Mirror").

Be aware that even if you use RAID, you still need to make backups to some external media, like a couple of USB disks. RAID doesn't replace backups!

Also, if you do use RAID, don't go for the "Fake-RAID" options your motherboard has. Those RAID controllers are HIGHLY unreliable when used in RAID mode and you will be sure to loose data. You should rather use the built-in Software RAID of Windows 7, which is very good and reliable.

Expert Comment

by:Levi Gwyn
ID: 38770345
I'm afraid I have to respectfully disagree with you rindi - sorry.  In my 18 years of IT experience, I've found that hardware RIAD is almost always better than software RAID not only in practice but as a matter of formal education.

Software RAID will require your computer's processor to take on all the RAID indexing and processing and will slow your PC down.  I do agree with rindi in that many of the hardware RAID controllers that come with motherboards are unreliable.

In my opinion, if your mission is to protect your data and your data has to be on local disks, spend the extra money and buy a real RAID card from Adaptec for instance and configure your two 500GB drives in a RAID 1 setup as others in this post have suggested.  Leave your SSD on it's own and use it as the system drive (where Windows is installed).

If you don't want to spend the money on a RAID controller (a good one is pricey), you could go for a cloud backup solution - in the long term you'll spend more money on the cloud solution though.  There is another thread on EE that has a very inexpensive solution for this (
LVL 88

Expert Comment

ID: 38770372
You are talking of hardware RAID, and not of those cheap fake-RAID controllers built into most mainboards these days. Real hardware RAID is fine, but it also costs much more, and you also need enterprise class disks to go with them.

Software RAID is no problem at all today. All modern OS's (from Vista/Windows 2008 upwards, or any current Linux distro), is highly performant, you won't notice any speed issues from any modern CPU either. With RAID 1 the system will read the data from both disks simultaneously, speeding up read times, and that most hardware RAID controllers can't do, or not as reliably as the OS RAID.
LVL 25

Assisted Solution

by:Tony Giangreco
Tony Giangreco earned 200 total points
ID: 38770376
You should be able to just install Win 7 normally on the SSD drive unless your Motherboard is special and expects a raid configuration which is highly unlikely.

After the Win7 install, I'd run Ms updates to catch up with everything and then install your WD drive. I would use bay-1 for the 1st drive just incase your mb expects it.

Hope this helps!
LVL 70

Assisted Solution

garycase earned 300 total points
ID: 38770488
Simple answer:  NO ... you don't want to use RAID for this configuration.

Second bit of advice:   Install the SSD but NOT the 2nd 500GB drive.   Install Windows 7.   THEN install the 500GB drive.    This will ensure there are no drive-letter issues and that Windows doesn't put any boot-related files on the 2nd drive (this can happen, depending on the order in which the drives are detected during boot-up;  but is completely avoidable by doing the install with only the SSD installed).

Which bay you put the drives in is irrelevant.
LVL 32

Assisted Solution

_ earned 100 total points
ID: 38771195
I'm with gary on this one.
Forget the raid, and install the OS with the SSD as the only drive connected.
LVL 47

Assisted Solution

David earned 200 total points
ID: 38771371
Do you need RAID?   No, not if you back up and don't mind losing data between the time you backup and your hardware fails.  Bottom line, the laws of physics in this universe say that 100% of HDDs/SDDs fail.  

As for the hardware vs software raid nonsense, I should remind the hardware raid bigots that all RAID controllers run software, and the overhead with RAID1 is statistically insignificant.  Nt only that, but in most implementations, including native windows software RAID, you get read balancing. So in perfect world, RAID1 reads give twice the throughput as a single HDD.

Now cheaper hardware raid controllers, like those found on desktop machines do NOT do read load balancing. They are $2.00 chips and the device driver does all the work anyway.

To burst some more bubbles, many of the $10K - $100K NAS/SAN appliances by Dell, NetApp and others are really not much more than LINUX computers running JBOD and software RAID.
LVL 93

Assisted Solution

nobus earned 200 total points
ID: 38771373
i agree that an SSd is more than enough for you -  no raid needed
>>  Does it matter what bay\drive I put the ssd drive and wd hdd in <<   no, but i tend to put the ssd lowest, since it produces less heat
you can connect the SSD best to Sata port 0 or 1 (lowest number) on the mobo

Accepted Solution

Levi Gwyn earned 500 total points
ID: 38774974
I believe that a respectful discussion goes a lot further than calling folks names.  It does not make one more credible.  Enough said there.  

It is true that all hardware at some point will fail but not 100% of the time.  SSDs are more reliable and have faster read/write times than HDDs but do slow down over time as they wear out.  Even an older SSD will be faster than a 7200 RPM HDD.

If we go back to the author's original post, upobDaPlaya's requirements are data protection and reasonable speed and I think that there are options.  From the original post, I assume the goal is to protect data from loss and to provide some speed (the occasional game play).

Here are the options I think the author has:

1. If you have a good processor like a Core i7 with 6M or more cache, you probably won't notice the impact of software RAID too much.  It's an inexpensive solution.  There are strong opinions on hardware vs. software RAID and it may be a dead end argument.  I like hardware RAID based on a dedicated hardware controller because your computer's processor does less work - this is not an opinion, this is a fact.
2. If speed is of the utmost priority go with this adapter  $230 from CDW.
3. If protecting your data takes priority over speed then either a software or hardware RAID solution will be fine.

Here's a good article with background on how to set up RAID with Windows 7 (software RAID).

Author Closing Comment

ID: 38791857
Good primer on RAID..thanks all as this pints me in the right direction...
LVL 32

Expert Comment

ID: 38793769
Thank you much.     : )

Expert Comment

by:Levi Gwyn
ID: 38793779
Glad we could help - good luck.
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