How to Setup Software RAID?

RAID is a technology that allows a volume (partition) uses together the space on the multiple disks, in this way, disk's utilization and system performance can be improved. There are a variety of different types and implementations of RAID, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. In the IT world, hardware failure does not occur often, but in the event, you run the server may lose large amounts of data and important information. How to protect server data? Many users choose to use RAID to deal with the risk of hardware failures. Usually RAID 1 and RAID 5 are widely used to solve the risk problem of server data storage.

Hardware RAID can be implemented by requiring high hardware requirements, in the form of special disk controllers, but also need the support of computer motherboards. This means that it takes a high cost to set up hardware RAID. Software RAID is well supported by operating system, which is implemented by OS kernel module, and no required extraordinary hardware. It is a best choice for common personal users and server users. Usually, Windows Professional Edition and Windows Server Edition systems can support it. It is a trend, and you can flexible configure it by using Windows Disk Manger.

Software RAID 1:

RAID 1 is usually implemented as mirroring, is a fault-tolerant volume that duplicates data on two different physical disks. Software RAID 1 is supported on dynamic disks, and provides data redundancy by using two identical copies (mirrors) of the volume. If either drive fails, the other continues to work as a single drive until the failed drive is replaced. Conceptually simple, RAID 1 is popular for those who require fault tolerance and don't need top-notch read performance.

You can accomplish RAID 1 on Server 2000/2003/2008/2011/2012 and Windows 7/8 Ultimate Edition, except for Windows 2000 Professional, XP and Vista. However, you can use a computer that is running XP Professional to setup mirrored volumes on remote computers that are running Windows 2000 Server, Windows 2000 Advanced Server, or Windows 2008 Datacenter Server, or the equivalent versions of Windows Server 2003.

At the same time, the implementation of software RAID1 is based on two dynamic disks. One stores the data which is being used, and another keep a copy of previous one.

You can see the two dynamic disks as follows. One disk contains Volume C: that is system volume, and another is empty. If your disk is not dynamic, please see "Regarding Basic Disk convert to Dynamic Disk" for more information.

Both Dynamic Disks

The above graph, The Drive C is a simple volume. How to add a mirror volume to it? Please right click C:, and select the menu "Add Mirror" option as follows:

Add Mirror...

Then, open a window. Please check the Disk1 item, and click "Add Mirror" button:

Click Add Button

After completing, you will see the following screen.

Software RAID 1

In software RAID 1, due to some reasons, you may need to convert dynamic disk back to basic disk, how do the conversion without losing data? you can see the relevant knowledge about Dynamic Disk Converter.

Software RAID 5:

A RAID 5 requires three disks at least; it not only can enhance the efficiency of the disk but also provide the best fault-tolerant. A RAID 5 is a fault-tolerant volume whose data is striped across an array of three or more disks. Parity (a calculated value that can be used to reconstruct data after a failure) is also striped across the disk array. If a physical disk fails, the portion of the RAID 5 that was on that failed disk can be recreated from the remaining data and the parity. The following is a screenshot of software RAID5.

Software RAID 5

The following table describes the support case of software RAID in each Windows.

Operating System RAID 0 RAID 1 RAID 5
Windows 9x/Me, DOS
Windows 2000 Professional
Windows 2000 Server
Windows 2000 Advanced Server
Windows XP Home
Windows XP Professional
Windows Server 2003 Standard
Windows Server 2003 Enterprise
Windows Vista Ultimate
Windows 2008 Server
Windows 2008 Web Server
Windows 7/8 Ultimate

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