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P4C800E-Dlx SATA?RAID?IDE?Intel?Promise?Efficient partition organization;Basic stuff?

This is a discussion on P4C800E-Dlx SATA?RAID?IDE?Intel?Promise?Efficient partition organization;Basic stuff? within the Motherboards, Bios & CPU forums, part of the Tech Support Forum category. Hi, I've arrived at this forum, & it seems like shangri-la, about a week after exhausting the MS knowledgebase &

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Old 05-06-2005, 09:48 PM   #1
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Join Date: May 2005
Location: Bristol, UK
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I've arrived at this forum, & it seems like shangri-la, about a week after exhausting the MS knowledgebase & Asus website, becoming increasingly confused trying to figure out the best way to arrange my drives; going on the level of the correspondence I've witnessed on this site I'd have to classify myself as a noobie. As a result of buying a new expensive graphics card a year ago which my feeble oem microatx system wasn't built to handle I'm in the later stages of building what amounts to my second full system;but everything I've learned about RAID & SATA has been within the last couple of days & none of it so far has been from direct experience. It's a pretty steep learning curve & this is one of those times where I wonder if I haven't got a bit out of my depth. Please excuse me if it all seems incoherent, I'll try to be as methodical as I can, but it's all ceased to be linear & my head's just going round in circles with this.
At the moment I'm running a P4 3.2 GHz on a P4P800E-Dlx Mobo under WinXP Home but I'm planning to move into a P4C800E-Dlx Mobo with another 3.2GHz & install XP Pro (SP2) & hand on the P4P system to my sister, along with a spare 200 Gig Maxtor Dmax 9 IDE HDD. Currently I have accumulated 2x300GB P-ATA (uDMA) Maxtor DMax10s (6B300ROs) which contain my O/S, other partitions & loads of data files, & these are running as master & slave on the primary IDE. I've just got a new SATA drive, again Maxtor DMax10 (6B300SO), same size, currently initialized but otherwise unformatted. I bought it with the idea of speeding up the performance of the PC & I was then initially looking to install my new O/S into a Promise 20378 RAID0 array, but after reading a lot of the posts I'm no longer sure what the best thing to do would be.

My confusion started getting serious when I was trying to research how to configure a RAID set & install Win XP Home into it. There was no response to any emails from MS nor Asus but I gathered from the MS KB that XP Home couldn't deal with RAID & that I'd have to use XP Pro at least. So I got a copy of XP Pro SP2 OEM instead & continued to try & research the business of installing XP Pro onto a RAID set, but got bogged down by their information that says it can only be installed onto a dynamic volume if that volume has previously been formatted as a dynamic volume using another version of windows so that it contains MFT information, which was confusing when put together with the Asus/Promise installation instructions which want to start with new drives & essentially describe a complete reformatting & loss of data during the initial establishment of RAID in the fast build programme.
I didn't want to have to install the O/S onto a single enormous partition of 900 Gigs without knowing that I'd be able to somehow format & partition the drives to reasonable sizes beforehand & I didn't want to have to install XP Pro twice; first just so that I could convert the simple partitions to dynamic ones so that I could install XP Pro onto a dynamic volume. Then it occurred to me that I've been assuming that the fastbuild process makes the disks dynamic, but that maybe that's not the case at all & that the hardware RAID is significantly different to the software RAID MS KB talks about & that actually it's not a problem to install XP Pro onto a striped volume. If there's anyone there that can enlighten me about this I'd be very grateful. I'm even wondering now whether actually XP Home is fine with this hardware RAID & that getting XP Pro was a red herring.
Currently I have a lot of inertia about installing the XP Pro & experimenting with the RAID settings, installation, set-up partitioning & formatting options, so I realise I'm not really helping myself here, but one of my basic problems is dealing with the information that's currently on the drives; essentially there's too much of it to back it all up onto removable storage, without an enormous amount of hassle, but I can probably get it juggled backwards & forwards between the drives so that it all fits onto any one of them, so that would leave the other 2 able to be completely reformatted & partitioned. The point is I'm reluctant to see what's possible without first having a definite idea of what I'm going to do with my data; the fundamental reason for the big hard drives is so that I can essentially use them for data storage since it's now so much more cost- & time-efficient than burning up removable media. So I really need a way of retaining the data, yet setting up a RAID0 set & making everything as fast as possible performancewise. At some point down the line I'm going to have to do a fresh install of XP Pro (it hasn't even left its cellophane yet, so while I'm at it I'm wondering what would be the best way to optimise the use of the 2x 300 Gig IDE drives & single 300 Gig SATA with the Intel or Promise RAID, would I actually be better off using non-RAID (& other issues like would there be any point in having RAID on such large drives & can it handle them).
Basically I'm stuck with the 2 IDE drives & in the future I'll probably now only buy SATA drives, but I think basically it's them that limit my options. It may well be that going for RAID0 with 2 IDEs & 1 SATA just isn't a possibility or at least isn't of any value. First off I don't want to have to buy any more drives just to get a functional RAID set, though I don't think it would do any harm to follow the clintfan green RAID-ready south bridge IAAR install for the SATA drive using SATA1 just in case I do get another SATA drive (http://www.techsupportforum.com/show...88&forumid=87). From what I've gathered so far it looks as if there are a few superordinate issues here, such as there's no point at all in having the o/s operating through the promise controller, RAID or not, so essentially the boot partition & system partition are going either on the SATA drive on the south bridge or they are going onto one of the Primary IDE drives.
I did have this idea that it would be best to have the 2 IDEs set up as RAID0, essentially as data & back-up drives to the o/s, but if they're on the promise pri-raid controller (which I'm assuming they have to be to constitute the raid set) then the sata also has to be attached to the promise sata raid controller (no good having it attached to the south bridge in that case?) or am I wrong there?
Ideally, from what I can gather it seems to me the O/s should go on the south bridge, which presumably means the IDEs have to go as non-RAID & would therefore be best attached to the primary ide controller rather than the pri-raid. All of which tends to make me think there's no benefit to having raid in this system at all if it has to go through the promise controller & that slows everything down (relative to using the south bridge for the o/s). I'm sure it talks about theoretical speeds of 480 MB per second somewhere with regard to the promise raid performance, so that's also had me confused. Probably my problem is having only 1 sata drive, but until I can afford another one I'm stuck with looking at this as my long term set up & one I get my system running on. At the moment I get the idea the best option is to install the o/s onto the sata drive attached to the south bridge in iaaraid mode, without any other drives attached but at this point I have to admit I've started to lose all powers of discrimination & any suggestions would be much appreciated.

The question then becomes at what point do I get to partition the drive & how to organise the partitions. I haven't tried experimenting with it yet so I don't know but can anyone suggest what options you get in the Xp Pro set-up partition dialogue. I only want the one o/s & I can probably use the application compatibility stuff to run anything I'd want any of the other win o/ses for.
When I was setting up XP home I just set up the partitions on another xp home machine first, so I got to determine the drive letters & names etc first & got it to install where I wanted it. This was essentially a bit of vanity but I wanted my o/s to be on a volume labelled J, which took a bit of messing about & I wouldn't want to have to do it within the dos programme fdisk or diskpart or whatever applies in this case. It meant I had to set up a little system partition which is obligatory at the start of the drive & has to be called c, followed by an extended partition containing 6 x around 1 gig logical drives, (which windows calls d,e,f,g,h & i, then a bigger drive for the boot or o/s (for some reason the windows classification of boot & system drives always seems counter-intuitive; I'd expect the boot drive to be the first one needed at the boot up & the system to be the one with the o/s on it; I'm sure they do that sort of thing on purpose), which I wanted to be called J, followed by a load of free space. During set-up I had to delete all the intervening drives until I just had c & J with free space in between.
Then once it had installed I could use mmc to turn the intervening space into a pagefile partition to hold the pagefile & temp folders for ripping & burning apps etc, memory stuff. The far end of the drive I then turned into an extended partition & stuck a couple of big logical drives in there for data backup & media files. Again this is another issue I could use some advice on; I'm not sure what's possible with the XP pro set-up & I'm not sufficiently confident with the syntax in the diskpart programme to know what I'm doing there; this way seemed a good idea at the time but I'm not sure that's the best way to do it. The c-system drive only being 512 mb I thought would be ok if all that went on there was the start-up stuff for windows, & I had the idea that it was a good idea to have the system drive all on its own primary partition away from the rest of the mess, I think I read somewhere it was supposed to make booting quicker & more impervious to destabilisation, but I think it needs to be bigger; windows keeps trying to put pagefiles there to dumprep stuff into & there seem to be loads of programmes that just automatically try to install stuff into the c-drive assuming that's where you want it to go, so I'm not even convinced any longer about whether it's a good idea to have the o/s on any partition other than one called c; in other words to just have the one single combined boot/system partition. Any advice on that one? I assumed the best place for the pagefile drive was up the near end of the drive (low offset) rather than the other end, but that's also something I could use some advice on, & I'm also assuming it needs to go on a primary partition rather than a logical drive, but I'd be happy if I was wrong there. Are there any such restrictions on the sort of drive the pagefile needs to go on, MS KB says something about pagefiles not being able to go onto dynamic drives; does that mean they can't go onto drives that are configured as raid? Also, does the pagefile work best if it's situated in a particular space relative to where the o/s partition is & / or relative to a partition where there are lots of read/write operations? Next thing, how big does the o/s partition need to be? My plan is essentially to use the o/s partition to run apps & have current document activities running. Aside from games I can't see it needing to be much bigger than 20-30 gigs so it's easy to keep optimised; thing is, assuming it all finally actually gets done, in my ideal set up I have about 40-50 potentially sizeable games continually installed & I'm assuming (though I've never tried to do otherwise) that the games all have to install to wherever the programme files are, and I realise this may sound really naive, but does this have to be the case or is it possible to install games onto a completely different partition from all the drivers & stuff that is involved in interfacing with them? If games have to follow the o/s then I'm looking at doubling or trebling the size of the o/s partition, which, after the system drive or boot/system drive & pagefile drive (assuming it's best up that end) still leaves me with a couple of hundred gigs on the same 300 g sata drive, to presumably go into extended partitions; question is what sort of thing would go best there & what would go best on partitions on the ide drives? Essentially, the way I have it set up now on my ide drive I have an extended partition there which has my sounds on it, currently stands at about 80 Gigs & part of the great plan is to transfer everything I've accumulated over the aeons on vinyl onto mp3s & use it as an archive, but no matter how high the ripping quality I seriously can't see that occupying much more space than that. Thing is I want this partition to be ghostable so I can back it up but also speedily accessible to my media palying & ripping apps. Next to that & completing the first drive there was another big 100 gig reserve drive where I keep archive of all old documents, programme, software & driver archives, various backups & ghost images from the other drives.
The other ide disk starts off with its own 6 gig pagefile drive. I don't know whether it's a good or bad idea to have more than one pagefile drive, but I had the idea it was good to have one on each disk. At the moment I have a gig of memory & there's room for another pair of ddr sticks, so theoretically another 2 Gigs; but at the moment the combined pf size on all drives is set at 1536-3072. Then there's a 35 Gig downloads drive I use for filesharing; lots of reads & writes. I like the idea that it isn't on the same disk as my o/s just in case I download something dodgy or some worm tries to get in there or something. It could be completely skewed thinking & is probably complete nonsense but for some reason it seems like it's good not to have that stuff adjacent to the o/s partition. Again this is a primary partition, but I don't know if that's necessary, nor that it should be at that end of the drive. Next comes an extended partition of 200 gigs containing 3 media drives with films, videos & images, things that take up lots of space, that are primarily archives but also need to be rapidly accessed by scanner & printer drivers & media manipulation apps. Again part of the great plan is to transfer a lifetime's silver emulsion onto digital format so these partitions also need to be big & ghostable & probably represent the fundamental need for all the drive space. Then at the far end occupying the last 30 gig, another archive drive, basically used as a mirror of the last partition on the first drive, plus having some more obscure, possibly obsolete programme archives & the most critical ghost images, but on a different disk to the other reserve drive & the o/s. Again I assume that the near end is better for the dynamic stuff & the higher offset end is better for the archival stuff but I could have this completely the wrong way round; I'm not sure which end the fast outside tracks are & which end represents the slower inner tracks or even whether hard drives are actually organized like that at all or whether they have a spiral pattern or what.

So that's essentially it; 10-15 gigs paging/temp virtual memory, assuming it's best to have one per disk, 100 gigs system/boot/apps/games or system & boot/apps/games or system & boot/apps & games if that's possible (but somehow I doubt it), 30-50 gigs for dynamic downloads & file transfers, 300-400+ gig accessible media archive, 100-200+ gigs across different disks of archive & backup material, at least one level of which must be on a disk that can ideally be read by xp home, which I guess means non-raid ide. And then there's still more space left over than I could ever imagine using.

I'm getting the impression that the southbridge sata drive with the o/s would also be the best place for the file transfer stuff, & conversely the ide drives configured as non-raid & on the primary ide controllers are best for the archives, back-ups & ghost images, but which is the best place for the media & is there any difference between image, video & sound file format that makes one better suited to life on a sata drive as opposed to an ide drive?
I think that about covers it for now & I think in writing this I've sort of crystallized what I actually think I should do, but it looks as if I won't be needing the promise stuff at all, except to stop the device manager showing yellow hazard signs, but not the raid anyway, which wasn't what I'd imagined when I set out to try to improve my performance; somehow that doesn't seem right! And even if I got another sata drive (& it would have to be another 300 gig one, which would give me 1200 gigs, which is utterly ludicrous) I still wouldn't be using the promise raid stuff. I feel as though I must be missing something truly fundamental here, so please tell me if I'm wrong, but as far as I can see the only reason to use it would be to get 6 drives into the system, but my case doesn't have space for that anyway, unless I start sticking them in the FDD or ODD bays.

Other specs; It's a superflower rhythmic case, the psu is 500W dual 80mmfan Magna, cpu has Speeze coolgate 2 Pipe cooler, there are 2 x 120mm fans (mounted rear & side), 2 x front 80mm case fans in front of the hard drive bays, XFX GeForce6800, LG8163 DVD ROM & a 4163 DVD RAM, which can't be used for ghost images I gather, Mitsumi 7inone FDD/Card Reader (needs one of the internal usb headers but just a floppy power dongle); there are also bubble lights on the case, a few cold cathode sticks & an exhaust fan blower, which all need molex piggybacks. 2 of the fans also need molex piggybacks, while the 2 others can go to the 3-pin chassis & power fan connectors on the mobo. In addition to the 4-pin cpu lead, the 20-pin atx lead, my psu gives off 2 identical leads with 3 molexes & a floppy dongle on each pigtail, plus a lead of 6 pretty thick looking wires, 3 red, 3 black which terminate in a thin 6-pin rectangular connector but whose function remains a complete mystery to me - I have no idea what sort of a thing this is designed to plug into.
Because of the physical set up of the drives in the case, if one piggyback serves the one of the ODDs its other molexes can't reach the HDDs & vice-versa, although either can serve the AGP card or the 7inone drive (just). At the moment it's set up with one pigtail going to the 2 ODDs, the floppy dongle to the card drive, & the last molex connecting to a splitter which goes one end directly to the AGP card & the other to a string of 4 piggybacks for lights & fans. The other pigtail goes to the 2 IDE drives & the last molex goes to a splitter & then one end directly to the molex sata edge connector splitter & the SATA drive, the other to a piggybacking blower & fan. Again, because of the physical size of the cables the ODDs have to be a master & slave pair, which I use on c/s jumper setting & as the secondary IDE. On the the HDDs, although I could use 2 more cables & have one IDE master drive going to the primary IDE & the other going as a master to the promise pri-raid controller, would that be any more useful than just having them both set up as master & slave on the primary IDE controller? The thing I'm concerned about in this is at what point 500W stops being enough for all the drives plus the graphics card & all the parasitic fans & lights & whether it makes any difference which 2 of the 3 HDDs get their power direct from a molex on the pigtail & which of them gets it at the same time as the splitter (whether that splitter should then have anything else attached to it) or whether the actual order of the devices along the pigtail actually makes any difference to their access to power.
Sorry about the length;I'll stop now. Any suggestions gratefully welcomed. Thanks,
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