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Converting AHCI single drive Win7 to Mirrored RAID with Dell Vostro 210s

Posted on 2013-01-18
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Last Modified: 2016-12-08
Hi there.

I have an old Dell Vostro 210s running Windows 7 32bit on a single WB hard drive config'd as AHCI in the BIOS.  Working happily.  It's my storage for my growing Adobe Lightroom photo catalog (irrelevant I guess).

To cope with the growing storage needs I've installed two 1TB WB Black drives (jumpered to SATA300) with the previous OS drive connected temporarily where the DVD-R was.  Once I've imaged the files and OS to the new RAID1, it will be removed.  

I have changed the BIOS setting for the SATA controller from AHCI to RAID, setup the two new 1TB drives in a RAID1 and attempted to boot from the previous OS drive, but it gets to about half way and resets the system and tries to boot again.  I can set the BIOS back to AHCI and boot ok, but I figure there now needs to be a RAID driver for the embedded Intel ICH10R controller, but I have no idea how to 'inject'  it while booted in AHCI mode, or is it something else?

Any help is appreciated.
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Question by:Aaronazz
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Expert Comment

by:IanTh
ID: 38792410
when its installing it gets to the hdd section thats where you can insert the driver for the raid controller are you using the motherboard built in raid then dont expect solid performance as its known as soft raid
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Author Comment

by:Aaronazz
ID: 38792417
I was trying to avoid reinstalling the OS, shares and apps etc.
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Accepted Solution

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rindi earned 275 total points
ID: 38792427
Don't use the mainboard's RAID function, as it is a mere Fake-RAID controller and HIGHLY unreliable.

Leave your controller at the AHCI setting and just clone your original drive to the new one, then make extend the partition if your cloning utility didn't already do that. Make sure you leave about 10MB unpartitioned or "unallocated".

After that remove the old drive and boot to your new cloned one to make sure it works. If that is the case, add your other new drive. Now go into diskmanagement and change your disk to dynamic. When that is done you will have the option to add the second drive as a mirror in disk management. The built-in Software RAID of Windows 7 is far more reliable, and also performs better, than any Fake-RAID controller, and will also beat many real RAID controllers.
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Assisted Solution

by:Damjan
Damjan earned 225 total points
ID: 38792437
This issue occurs if the disk driver in Windows 7 or Windows Vista is disabled. This driver must be enabled before you change the SATA/RAID mode of the boot drive.

You need to make some modifications in your registry.

Use regedit and locate the following registry subkeys:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\Msahci
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\IastorV

In the pane on the right side, right-click Start in the Name column, and then click Modify.
In the Value data box, type 0  (3 means off, 0 means on), and then click OK.
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Author Closing Comment

by:Aaronazz
ID: 38793073
Thanks for very handy advice.  I decided to go with both suggestions!  :-)

I was determined to at least get the inbuilt pseudo-RAID to work, and the mods to the registry worked a treat.  I set the registry changes, ie. turn off the MSAHCI driver and turn on the IASTORV driver, thus enabling the RAID to be usable at boot.  The Intel Matrix Storage Manager allowed me to continue configuring the RAID1 in Win7 and initialise.

I do also however consider the quality of the RAID controller to be very basic and potentially unreliable and the long-term solution for these low powered, low end machines is to stick with the Windows 7 software RAID, even if it's for slow but effective data protection and recoverability later on.

I'm using Paragon Drive Copy to perform the volume copy and scale at the moment.  1 hour to go.

Thanks again for the help.
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Expert Comment

by:rindi
ID: 38793313
Windows Software RAID should actually be faster than fake-RAID. It isn't slow at all. You won't notice any impact on the CPU speed either, as the RAID only uses a very small part of it.
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