Software RAID to Hardware RAID with no hassle?

Is it possible to change from a 3GB/s SATA II Intel ICH10R software RAID1 setup on my ASUS P6X58D Premium motherboard to a 6GB/s SATA III Dell PERC H310 SAS/SATA hardware RAID controller with the same RAID1 setup in the same MOBO without losing any data? MY OS is Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64-bit.

The two drives in my current software RAID array are 500GB SATA II Seagate Barracudas and I’m thinking of buying a couple of 1TB SATA III Seagate Constellation ES.3 Enterprise drives to replace the Barracudas as they’re 3-4 years old now, but re-installing everything on the new drives is something I DON’T want to do.

BTW, I believe the PERC H310 is a re-branded LSI 9240-8i board based on the LSI 2008 SAS chip.

Is this is Boot RAID? (If so, I wouldn’t count on anything working perfectly.)

There are RAID standards that assure us, in our Perfect World, that these migrations will work. I just don’t live on that Perfect World, however, so I don’t trust them anyway.

I’d make sure I had backups of everything I needed first, and then ‘give it a go’ - there is no assurance of anything except “just doing it”. And if it’s going to be flakey, well, it might be flakey days away, or even weeks. If I could copy everything to another HDD, that’s what I’d do first.

But if it’s a boot drive, there are license number address issues and some migrations work better than others. You’ll never know until you try it.

If I have a chance to migrate away from a boot RAID, I do that first (ie, a clean brand-new OS install on an SSD). Then set up my raid as subsequent drives. Of course, I tend to rely on a lot of data, not programs (like games). If your uses are more Program based than any data’s important, then Boot RAIDs might be a reasonable risk.

Yes, it boots into RAID. Since I’m installing new bare drives, I plan on first cloning the old primary drive to the new primary drive using Acronis True Image 2013. Then I’ll remove both of the old drives, set them aside with the data intact and install the new drives. Of course, I’m not exactly sure how I’m going to do this yet, as I assume that if I do it that way, the Intel software RAID will immediately start to rebuild the second new drive as a mirror.

I guess I’ll have to do a little research yet.

Actually, I was successful a year or so ago in installing AHCI/RAID on this system long after Windows 7 x64 was installed in the non-RAID SATA mode without losing anything. Some people will say that’s not possible. Took me most of a day to iron everything out and I can’t say it was fun, but it’s been working fine ever since.

Ah mirrors. I think you’ll be safe with your thougtful strategy - clone one to the larger capacity, and load in the 2nd new one and start the mirror process. Should be simple.

I was hoping it wasn’t a Striped Boot Drive but, honestly, I’ve wondered if I could ‘clone’ a Striped RAID off to a much larger single drive and start from scratch.

In effect, we’re all using Striped Drives, after all, because there aren’t too many drives that aren’t multi-plattered. Therefore “striped” from Platter 1 to 2 to 3 and so on. A :Striped RAID, therefore, across platters.

I’m missing something I think. Why don’t you just plop the SAS controller in the system, get the new RAID-1 array working on the controller and seen by Windows with the drivers loaded, etc. Then, boot from a cd/dvd or USB stick and use Clonezilla to clone the one array to the other. Remove the original RAID-1 array from the Intel controller and work from there. Your problem will likely be in the way windows enumerates the drive names / volumes and it might not see the SAS controller quite the same way. You may have to mess with the boot.ini and a few other things.

Nope. Pure RAID1 (disk mirroring) for data redundancy. I figure it saves me from needing to back up all the time. Little chance of both drives failing at the same time. Also, I have a third new drive sitting on the shelf that’s identical to the two in operation that I can swap in for a failed drive in short order.

“load in the 2nd new one and start the mirror process” - Not that simple because I think that’s what I want to avoid. I think I want to go into the system BIOS at first boot after installing the new hardware controller and disable the RAID/AHCI mode, switching it to just AHCI mode and then get into the Intel Matrix Storage Manager ROM and dis-associate the two drives from the RAID array. Hopefully, the system will boot normally from there without the software RAID active, but with the drives being recognized on the new hardware RAID controller. I think that Windows 7 (and even as far back as XP) already has the drivers integrated for the Dell PERC controller and might even install them as soon as it recognizes the hardware.

From there on, I hope that it’s just a matter of installing whatever RAID Manager Dell has for this controller, maybe updating the RAID drivers, defining the RAID Array in the RAID Manager and then sit back with a rum & coke and let the controller build the mirror drive.

I know it’s not going to be that simple and I have a lot of research yet to do, but this is what I’m thinking right this moment. Any advice?

I don’t use Boot-Mirrors for data-protection because I think we (the Vast We, computer users, etc.) are facing more virus-attacks than HDD failures. So mirroring a Virus Attack doesn’t prevent it or the hassles. It just multiplies it .

That said - what are your user-habits like? Have you lost more drives to mechanical failure, or spent more time hassling with viruses (especially those hijacker types - grrr)?

Signed, Idly Curious…


I doubt you’ve missed anything, unless it’s the fact that I know little or nothing about RAID setups, particularly hardware RAID. All I’ve ever done is install software AHCI/RAID on my system after Windows 7 x64 was installed. I’m going to have to give some thought to what you said. Thanks for the input. It’s all appreciated.


You’re absolutely right! All RAID does is protect the user from hard drive mechanical failures, while it preserves any kind of software problems. Just one side of the problem and two different issues, in my opinion. On the other hand, my current Barracuda 7200.12 drives are 3-4 years old. I originally had to get five drives in order to get three good ones, so I’m not sure how long these will last.

I’m hoping to get a little better performance out of the new SATA III ES.3 Enterprise drives if I get them on a 6GB/s controller, rather than the 3GB/s RAID controller built into my MOBO. And, if these SATA hardware controllers are as smart as the Adaptec SCSI controllers controllers I used years ago, they’ll also increase overall system performance by relieving the CPU of virtually all of the drive I/O demands that software RAID puts on it.

OK, enough rationalization, I confess I just feel the urge again to tinker with the system.

Ah HA!! THE URGE!! Oh lordy… ain’t that the truth, though?

We’ve been experimenting with new Tosh 3Tbs in RAID5s and 10s, and we’ve moved from 14 originally into 32 drives so far on various MB raids and LSI cards. I wouldn’t use them in NAS setups because I don’t think they support off-line-back-on-line modes, but I WANT Tosh drives to be great competitors against SeaG and WD - we NEED more competitors, not fewer.

Those cheapo SeaG 4Tb 5900s have been solid, too, so far. SO FAR. Let’s see what a year does and, of course, by then, SeaG’s merry go round will have spun out too many variations to re-locate any tried-and-tested models.

I wanted to find something other than Seagates. Looked at WD Blacks because of the 5-year warranty, but too many people said they experienced constant drop-outs in a RAID environment. Sure enough, on WD’s website the recommendation for RAID use for the Black series was conspicuously absent. Thought that the WD Red series (recommended for RAID) might be the answer until I found out that the Red was basically a 5900 RPM drive. Seemed like a step backwards from my Seagate 7200 RPM drives.

My Barracuda 7200.12’s have been great, so far, aside from the fact that it was hard to get two or three that didn’t have (in my opinion) excessive noise and/or vibration. Once I got several that met my expectations, they’ve been as smooth, quiet and dependable as I could ask for. That tells me that it’s probably manufacturing and assembly, rather than design problems with the Seagates.

I’ll have to pay $25.-$30. each more for the Enterprise class Seagates, but they’ll have a 5-year warranty and hopefully better quality control than the consumer-class drives. Don’t wish success on the Toshiba’s - their Storage Division will just get bought out by Seagate or WD.

I don’t use “warranty period” as a sign of quality because, these years, I believe it’s a sign of Maintained Inventory.

A 2-year warranty means “We plan on new factories, new robotics, and therefore new models to be in production and we and our distributors won’t be holding these 2-Year Models on our shelves - we’ll sell those and fill our shelves with new models.”

The 5-year models are saying, “Our distributors have signed an agreement to maintain shelf-space filled with this product for that time period OR they’ll replace the product with a newest model at no additional cost.”

And this is usually what they do. This means “finding an exact replacement” is pretty tough. Not impossible. A 2-year warranty replacement in Year 4 would probably qualify as “impossible”.

For a reseller-distrib like CDW, for example, we’re a big enough customer so that, in Year 4 of a 5-year-warranty, they’ll say, “Sorry - that model’s long gone.”

WHAT?!! We need that EXACT model for this RAID!

And they’ll offer to trade us - old drive for new - for that entire RAID. This way, they get working Old Models for their inventory, and we get all new drives. They only have to do that for a few customers, and now they have Old Models back in inventory.

I’ve used Samsung 5400 RPM drives, Seagate 7200 RPM drives, and Hitachi 7200RPM drives in RAID without issue. I stopped buying Seagate drives when 1TB was the largest size HD available and moved to Samsung drives. Those are 1.5 and 2.0TB drives. The Hitachi drives have been 2.0TB and 3.0TB.