RAID 1 Setup using 2 500GB Black Caviars?

Happy New Year!

My wife’s main hard drive in her computer failed.  Someone mentioned to
me that doing a RAID 1 set up on her computer would be ideal because
whatever she writes to the C: drive would get mirrored to the D: drive.

If the C: drive fails, all I have to do is replace it with the same size or bigger
hard drive and it will rebuild itself.  I was thinking of buying 2 WD 500GB
Black Caviar’s for this purpose.

This set up sounds too good to pass up however I had some questions about
setting it up. 

Should I set this up using the bios only or getting an adapter card? And if I set it up
through the bios only, would the system run slower than if it was configured using
an adapter?  And if I use an adapter instead of bios only, do you anticipate any
possible conflicts or challenges such as hang ups or BSOD?  I am a novice and
really don’t want any complications. 

I am hoping that setting up a RAID 1 will be very beneficial as far mirroring the data
and being able to rebuild it automatically should the main hard drive fail.  However
I just don’t want it to end up being more of a hassle than it’s worth?  I am just afraid
of future possible computer hangs or blue screens of death or other conflicts that can
or may arise from a set up like this?

My wife’s computer according to the Service Tag info is a Dell XPS400 Pentium D,
4GB RAM Motherboard Intel® 945P chipset, Prescott. Windows XP Media
Center Edition 2005.  The Dell Service Tag details lists a: Card, Controller, 1394A,
PC Interface, Loop, Adaptech.   I don’t know if this a controller card for the drives? 
Computer was purchased in 1/24/2006

Thanks in advance for any help you can provide.  I would really appreciate it.

Mike in Miami

Your computer sounds a little older.  So, you might want to think about what you’re doing.  Couple things to consider:

  • Caviar Black drives are not designed for raid configurations, so there is a great possibilty that you will have them dropping out of the array every so often, if not right away.
  • If your mother board is designed to do raid, then you need to just get two raid drives, and you can set up a mirrored array. 
  • If your mother board doesn’t do raid, then you need to get a raid card and 2 raid drives. 

The only other real alternative is to buy the 2 Caviar drives, set one up for the C drive, and the other up for a secondary backup drive.   Then you will just back up the C drive’s data daily, weekly or monthly depending how critical it is to back up.  If you’re using xp or later, the os comes with a backup utility that you should be able to schedule.

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I just assembled a new PC (GigaByte GA-P55-UD3 MB, Intel i7, 2 x WD Caviar Black 1TB, Win 7)… I set the drives in RAID 1 via the MB BIOS.  All seemed to be working, but now I’ve had one of the drives drop out of RAID twice in about 4 hours of use.  I don’t really NEED the RAID configuration; I just thought it would be an easy way to have some redundancy.  Am I trying to do something which just isn’t going to work, or are there some settings I can use which will help?

Alternatively, I can just set the second drive as a D: drive and (hopefully) remember to run a backup of data files from C: (Windows drive) once in awhile.   I’d like to limit my Windows 7 installation experience to 3 times for this PC, if possible.

Thanks for your advice!


Those drives are not supported in RAID configurations, as you found out.  What you can do is use one as the system drive, and the other as a backup drive.  Windows 7 comes with a backup utility that you can configure to do weekly backups.  That way you don’t have to remember to do your backups.