Never joke about Hardware problems

Filed under Hardware, Troubleshooting

A few days ago, I posted light-hearted jab about some computer problems on the ISS. Well, never one to walk away from an opportunity, karma visited yesterday with no less than a complete failure of one drive in a RAID 0 I have on my main workstation.
For those that have never run RAIDs, it stands for “redundant array of inexpensive disks” and you can run several different configurations.

  • RAID 0 – striped, 2 drives contain various pieces of files, such that you get double performance because both drives can be busy writing and reading different pieces of the same file at the same time. You get almost twice the performance and still have access to the full capacity of both drives.
  • RAID 1 – mirrored, 2 drives contain exactly the data between them. Speeds up read performance, and provided an online backup of data. You have 2 drives but the effective disk space of just 1.
  • RAID 0+1 – striped and mirrored. Best of both of the above.
  • RAID 5, 6 etc – Even better but typically requires higher end dedicated RAID cards.

I had set up a RAID 0 for performance, intending to add 2 additional drives and mirror the setup later, for fault tolerance.
Well, later didn’t come quickly enough, it seems, and one of the less than 9-month-old Western Digital WD3200KS drives (sweet drives, BTW, unbelievably quiet and cool running), went belly up way before its time.
So, I’m filling out RMAs to return the dead drive and ordering two more to complete the full RAID 0+1 setup.
A question for anyone who’s ever done this before. Can I setup a striped RAID 0 now, and add the 2 additional drives later to convert it to a mirrored/striped RAID 0+1 later, when the 2 drives come in, or do I have to have them all in place when I create the RAID initially?
Haven’t had much luck finding an answer online.


  1. Ralf says:

    My limited experience (RAID 0 here) I’d say no. You have to configure the array before you format any volumes. Changing the RAID setup causes the volume to go away, since the physical layout of sectors changes dramatically.

    When I changed from software RAID to a hardware controller, I had to rebuild the array. But after formatting it, I was able to restore from a backup image and life was good. And MUCH faster.

    You didn’t ask, but my favorite disk backup software? Acronis True Image. It da bom.

  2. Darin says:

    Depending on when I get the drives in, I may give it a shot. Some of the dedicated RAID controllers will do some +amazing+ things automatically, but this is the built in controller on a Gigabyte motherboard. It’s latest gen, but it’s still essentially a freebee.
    I’ll post how the ball bounces…

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