Windows 7/RAID 1


QUESTION: Greetings from Manila,

I would greatly appreciate if you would provide step-by-step instructions on how to change the RAID configuration and then partition my dual hard-drive computer.

I have a Dell Alienware M17XR3 laptop computer featuring:
 Windows 7 Professional 64-bit operating system
 Intel 2.3GHz Core i7-2820QM Processor with 8M cache
 Dual 750Gb 7,200RPM stiped-array hard-disk drives
 16Gb DDR3 Random Access Memory
 2Gb GDDR5 AMD Radeon HD 6990M graphics card

When I ordered the computer over one year ago I asked for the hard-drives to be independent of each other (not stripped) but Dell told me that they were unable (or unwilling, I would say) to do that. As far as I know, it is RAID 0.

I have yet to turn the computer on and I wish to set it up WITHOUT striping (RAID 1, I believe).

I intend to use the computer for high-level music production and prefer to have the programmes and Windows operating system on one HDD and the music files on the other. Therefore, after changing the RAID configuration i would like to partition each hard-drive into three sections if possible.

Thank you in advance for your kind assistance,
Reverend Eslam,
God's Prophet to the Philippines.

ANSWER: Hi Reverend,

RAID configurations are not recommended for desktop workstations.  This is a very common question that I receive and while this is possible to do, I want to make sure that you understand the risks involved before performing such actions.

RAID does not protect you from accidental deletions, viruses and malware, user error or data corruption due to power outages or failed hardware.

Just to be clear...

Striped Drives.  Creates one large logical disk out of two or more physical disks.  This means that that a set of two disks is roughly half as reliable as a single disk.  (Double failure rate)

Mirror Drives.  This is commonly used for read performance is more important than storage capacity.  This RAID configuration is impossible to setup with independent disk setup that you are wanting .  With this configuration, if one drive were to fail, you would swap the failed drive and the remaining drive will mirror itself to the new drive.  The reliability of the overall system is dependent on the amount of time it takes to discover the failed drive, swap and repopulate the new drive.  If you were to replace the drive within 2 hour and it takes 10 hours to repopulate, then the failure rate is seen as the probability that the original remaining drive will operate for the additional 12 hours without failing.

RAID 0 striping at the bit level with error correction based on Hamming(7,4).  For instance, there are seven total disks, four of which are data storage and three that are used for error correction.  RAID 2 is the only level that can recover data from data corruption at the single-bit level.

Disk striping (refer to RAID 0) at the byte-level with a dedicated parity disk.

Disk striping (Refer to RAID 0) at the block-level with a dedicated parity disk.

Disk striping (Refer to RAID 0) at the block-level with parity data distributed across all drives.

Block-level striping with parity data distributed across all drives (refer to RAID 5) with an additional presence of Parity blocks.  I.e. two parity blocks across all drives whereas RAID 5 is one parity block across all drives.

If you do choose to proceed to go the RAID route, you will need to purchase a Quality RAID controller such as the Dell PowerEdge RAID Controllers (PERC) [$100 USD to $1000+ USD]; however, per your above statement, "...Windows operating system on one HDD and the music files on the other." that you will not want to go the RAID route.

In my opinion, what you should actually be looking for is a storage array.  Your machine with it's current configuration will handle your OS and programs (utilizing the standard partitioning arrangements C:\ and D:\) which helps out in the event of a machine failure, while all of your essential data is stored on the storage array in a RAID 1 configuration.

RAID 1 applicable storage arrays can range from the basic Western Digital MyBook (2x500GB) Mirrored HDD Array [~$140 USD] to the intermediate G-Tech G-SAFE Hard drive array - 2 x 2 TB & Promise Pegasus R4 Hard drive array - 4 x 1 TB, to the advanced multi-thousand dollar storage arrays and/or file servers.


Please note that since your machine already has Win 7 pre-installed, there is no harm in booting up your machine.  It was booted up and configured at the factory to factory settings, although the initial OS "setup" will rely on your input.  To change RAID configurations would also require booting with an applicable RAID Controller.

I know this is a lot of information and not what you were expecting.  I hope you will look this over and If you have any additional questions, please let me know.

Kind Regards,

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------


Thanks for your prompt response, which as you rightly implied in your closing paragraph, was rather overwhelming to my technically-challenged mind.

Please note that my machine is a laptop (not a desktop computer as you seem to believe) and is ALREADY factory-configured in a RAID 0 configuration.

I am not willing to purchase any further hardware or software to make the desired changes since I went bankrupt at the time I bought the computer, and according to my limit knowledge, I shouldn't need to buy a RAID controller (and certainly no more hard-drives).

I think I should do more research online on this matter and perhaps get back to you.

The first thing I shall attempt to discover is exactly what kind of RAID controller the machine has (either hardware or  software - I suspect the latter).

Your fellow Expert (in the Religion category).

Hi Reverend,

Sorry if I confused you in any way, I tried to make the information as straightforward as possible.

One thing you can check is if you have "Disk Management" option when you right-click on your Hard Drives from the Computer.

Kind Regards,

Windows 7

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