Your Opinion: Do RAID 1 via Hardware or Software?

I am building a new  server to replace an aging Windows 2000 SBS server. The Lenovo TS140 came pre-loaded with Windows Essentials 2012 R2 Server on two 500Gb SATA drives set up as RAID 1 using the on-board Intel RAID controller.

I am adding two 1TB SATA data drives which will also be mirrored.  What is the preferred method to mirror these new drives?
   - A) Use the Intel RAID Controller (hardware)
   - B) Use Windows Drive Manager to build the mirror.

I would think the hardware method would be faster, but the software method lets you see the status of all disks in Drive Manager. When hardware mirroring is used, Drive Manager only sees it as 1 disk.
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In the case oulined, they are both if memory serves software raids.

The issue with the question you pose, deals with a failure of one drive (primary first sata port) in a RAID configuration will not cause issues with intel RAID setup.
However, if memory serves me right, your software based RAID, could/would require tinkering dealing with making sure that the MBR of the second drive is correctly reflecting the boot device as itself.
i.e. disk1 boots itself
     disk2 boots itself

If not mistaken, I do not believe you have an option but to use intel RAID for both, I think the setting for the SATA ports is not either or, AHCI or RAID not both.
andreasSystem AdminCommented:
Usually todays mainboard integrated RAIDs are also only soft raids, its just the Firmware making the RAID not the operating system, but it also will consume CPU power if necessary.

On a RAID1 the CPU useage is neglectable as writing is synchronous, just reading is more demanding as the data is read in parallel from 2 disks and re assembled.

So I would let it do in windows. Less fuss with BIOS raid functions, more flexibility when moving HDDs elsewhere.
BRT-TechAuthor Commented:
Arnold - Yes - The TS 140 allows two pairs of mirrored drives using the Intel controller.

Andreas - I have experience with creating and breaking mirrors using Drive Manager and have had good results each time. One time did include a boot drive failure and the mirror carried us until I could get a replacement drive installed.

 Thanks for your answers. Since it appears there is one vote for each method; I'll let this ride a while :)
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If you are comfortable and have experience with dealing with OS software raid, use the method you are comfortable with.
I would not suggest someone without prior experience who to use OS software based raid.

Controller based RAID often include tools to indicate that there is an issue.
Presumably neither drive is hot swap.
OS built-in RAID almost always beats the RAID of fake-RAID controllers. If necessary, you can use standard disks, and not enterprise class disk (although enterprise disks are always the better option). OS RAID Gives good read from both disks simultaneously, while only the most expensive hardware RAID controllers will even try to provide you with some of that performance.

The CPU is used similarly with fake-RAID and OS RAID, but with the performance of today's CPU's that is something you can forget either way, as it is irrelevant.

The only advantage of "server grade Fake-RAID controllers" is that the management of the array is usually easier, you don't need to get into the OS to manage it, and it is easier to hot-swap the disk, and the server usually provides good utilities to manage and monitor the arrays.
For this specific configuration it is a no-brainer. software raid is the only way to go.
Load balancing, more caching. Faster error recovery are some of the reasons

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BRT-TechAuthor Commented:
Thank you all for the comments. I am still in the basic configuration stage with this server so I will break the Intel Raid Controller mirror for the boot disk then re-create it with the OS.  My data disk will be set up with the OS as well.
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Windows Server 2012

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