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I need to replace my RAID SATA PCI Controller card with a non-RAID Card

4693 Views 8 Replies 2 Participants Last post by  linderman
The system is a Dell Precision Workstation 650 Desktop (circa 2003). It came with a 120GB SATA HDD that was connected to a Promise PCI SATA Controller Card. I've installed a 2nd SATA HDD to it and got it to see the 2nd HDD by creating an array. The HDD's are set up as Striped 1+0 RAID arrays. The only quirk is that after the SATA BIOS runs, I get a message telling me to press either F1 to Continue or F2 to enter Setup to proceed to WindowsXP Pro. The Bios on this machine is so basic that there aren't any options for the boot priority sequence and the Primary 0 and Primary 1 disks are listed as "unknown". I can't figure out how to fix it to remove that message.

Anyway, I've been reading about RAID setups and I hope that I just didn't mess up my HDD configurations with this. My goal on this PC is to have 2 independent HDD's - the first is primarily for the OS and the 2nd is for pure data storage, so if the OS crashes or fails for some reason (un-repairable virus infection or hardware related driver failures...) I can reinstall the OS with all my data in the other partitions remain safe. This is how I've set up all my IDE based systems. In what I have read about RAID, it sounds like the most basic RAID 0 (or the 1+0 that this Promise card uses) writes data across both drives, therefore, if one drive fails, ALL my data will be lost. Is this true? Am I reading the info correctly?

What will happen to all the data if I remove the 2nd HDD from the system?

I don't want to have anything to do with this RAID setup at all if this is the case. My goal for this thread is to find out how to replace the RAID PCI SATA card with a non-RAID SATA card that I want to install. The only way that I know how to install a SATA controller card is during a new install of the OS using the F6 key and the floppy, but I need to find out how to install the controller card without going thru Windows XP Setup. I thought that I could just install the non-RAID card into an empty PCI slot and reboot and install the drivers that way, but the system locks up after it sees the 2nd SATA card and the system BIOS appears.
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Hello you should have no problems finding a sata controller card which has two channels or more. it needs to have atleast two channels to run two sata drives. Promise makes the best controller cards for sata drives in my opinion.

Yes; your info about your current array is correct; the raid you have choosen combines two drives to act as one; thats whats appealing about that version of raid. Its kinda like two guys rowing a boat, it goes faster than one guy rowing the boat. but; if you lose one drive you lose all data, if you remove one drive from the array, then it wont work.

you should be able to run two controllers; I do with a scsi server ????

have a look at this card

4 channel card =

I would in your shoes; clone the contents of your raid set-up to a regular stand alone drive connected to another controller / add the drivers you will need to boot the card into the raid array OS first, then you should be able to remove your array and set-upo like you desire

we all liek to make this more complicated then it really is; so proceed slowly; ask alot of questions until you have a through plan, then write down the sequence of your plan

personally I would not opt for losing the raid; instead I would be looking for a single drive solution to back up the contents of the raid array; but that justs my opinion

you may look into the comination raid / sata cards they may let you have both a raid array and single operating sata drive ????

why not use your IDE channel to be your back-up drive ???? just get a bod ide drive that will hold the entire contents to your array ?

I believe you could use the freeware version of xxclone to back-up the entire contents of your raid array to a single drive. The array is often seen as one drive by such software. Have a look at acronis also, they have cloning software that makes back-ups for raid arrays ?
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I've taken a look at the SATA BIOS Configuration. The "Define Array Menu" lists the Drives in this way:

Array No. = Array 1* (Bootable) (1st HDD)
RAID Mode = Stripe
Total Drives = 1

Array No. = Array 2 (2nd HDD)
RAID Mode = Stripe
Total Drives = 1

Since it says that the Total Drives in each array is 1, does this mean that they are seen as 2 seperate HDD's in 2 different arrays? Thereby, I am achieving my goal and all the data is written only to each corresponding drive and not across two drives?

I already have a Promise SATA Controller Card that I used on another system, but with only one HDD and a 2nd storage HDD at that. I've read thru some documentation on it and it indicated that it did not support RAID.
this is it: PROMISE SATAII150 TX2plus
Can you verify for me that it is a Non-RAID Card?

I had an idea last night in regards to my F1/F2 System BIOS boot message issue. What if I unplug the 2nd HDD from the card? Do I need to go into the Promise BIOS and Delete Array 2 (the one I created after I installed the 2nd HDD in order to see it in Windows) or can I just unplug it?
I figure that the machine was booting up perfectly before I installed the 2nd HDD and maybe I can install the 2nd Promise Card and get thru into Windows without the F1/F2 lockup. Would this be a viable procedure?
What would happen if one of the HDD's (the 2nd) were unplugged from the array and the system booted up?

I already have Acronis True Image 9 and I've done a backup of my C Drive only yesterday - 23GB. Currently, I have each HDD partitioned into 4 partitions.
I guess I'm not sure how to go about the cloning yet.

Thanks for the help,
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This is what I found in the troubleshooting section of the manual:

Drive-Related Issues

Drives cannot be formed into an array?

The SATAII150 Controller supports Serial ATA disk drives but it does not
support RAID. Therefore you cannot build a RAID array with this product.

I guess this card is ok for my purpose :)

What would happen if I did a "Delete Array" and dumped Array 2 (the 2nd HDD)?
When I created the 2nd Array, it never asked me to expand the image like it did when I selected a Single>Stripe Array type. When I got that question, I just aborted that type of Array setup and stayed with the 1 Drive Stripe Array (1+0) In everything that I did to install the 2nd HDD, I never proceeded with any options to combine data on the 2 HDD's.
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I've found a utility and the manual on the Promise site and this is what I've discovered. The GUI based Utility is more user-friendly and easier to understand.
I currently have two RAID 0 (Performance) Arrays with 1 HDD in each array.
Even though 2 HDD's is usually the number of HDD's in a RAID 0 array, one HDD is allowed and the performance is as good as a 1 HDD array gets. I can delete the array, but it tells me that deleting the array will cause the read/write requests from the OS to fail. That is ok as long as the data isn't lost - I hope.
I don't have another HDD big enough to clone my 2 SATA HDD's, so I backed up the data on the 2nd HDD onto an external and the C Drive on the 1st HDD was backed up with Acronis True Image onto DVD-R's. I hope these are restorable if I lose the drives. I've done it on my laptop, but who knows with this machine.
My goal now is still to only replace the SATA Controller Card with the non-RAID one since I am still getting the F1/F2 system BIOS message.

My plan is to:
1. delete Array 2 (the 2nd HDD) and try to boot the system straight thru into Windows with only the original SATA HDD.
2. If it goes thru, I'll install the non-RAID PCI controller card into the machine and reboot and hopefully install the controller card.
3. Shutdown and move the SATA cables from the old card to the new one and remove the RAID card.
4. If all that goes well, My system should be ok to reinstall the 2nd SATA HDD as a non-RAID.
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sounds like a feasible plan keep us posted

I am skeptical about the deleting of drive 2 but you say it was not part of the original OS install so that leaves a glimer of hope for the deletion of it without the collapse of the OS

Firstly, thanks for all your assistance - your comments kept me thinking thru the problem until I solved it!

1. I used the PAM (Promise Array Management) Utility to delete Array 2 (2nd HDD). As a result, I was unable to access the 2nd HDD - Expected.

2. For some unknown reason, I kept going back into the system BIOS to figure out that F1/F2 issue. Turns out that Primary Drive 0 and Primary Drive 1 needed to be set to OFF. I don't know why, but Primary Drive 0 was set to UNKNOWN and that was causing the message since I had no IDE HDD;s installed.

3. I shutdown and installed the 2nd non-RAID SATA card. Upon Boot, I kept getting a BIOS not installed for the second card and it would go any further. Again, for no reason, I plugged in the 2nd SATA HDD cable into the 2nd SATA card and rebooted. It read the Maxtor HDD and went right into Windows.

4. Once in, it proceeded with the "New Hardware Wizard" and I downloaded and installed the latest drivers off the Promise site. Once the drivers installed, it immediately accessed the contents of the 2nd HDD.

5. I shutdown and removed the RAID card. It had a tiny cable that the manual states as some LED connector. The cord was too short to connect to the newly installed card, so I took it out of the motherboard.

6. Rebooted and it read both HDD's and booted right into Windows.

7. Uninstalled the PAM for the 1st SATA Card. I guess that the drivers for the 1st card are still in the machine somewhere, but I'm not going to hunt them down to uninstall. They shouldn't cause any problems.

This thread is solved!
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impressive job! I enjoyed this thread learned plenty of info along the way too! thanks for sharing :wave:
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