RAID has come a long way in convenience

After completing a operating system and hyper-v install last week, when I realized that I forgot to configure the hardware RAID in my new computer, I had a chill down my spine telling me I just wasted a bunch of time and will have to do it all over again after creating the RAID configuration from scratch. The Dell Precision T7600 manual gave me a glimmer of hope as it eluded to a data-loss free migration of RAID levels, which I had a hard time to believe into. On Friday I struggled with the BIOS / boot time LSI RAID configuration tool as it would not let me perform changes to the ‘logical drive group’ (the tool’s name for the RAID). However today with the “MegaRAID Storage Manager”, I am able within Windows to reconfigure my configuration from a single disk (ironically called RAID 0 by the tool although no stripping is actually occurring) to a 4 x 1 TB physical drives RAID 5. The operation will apparently take the whole day (OS still up and running the whole time), but that’s a small price to pay compared to restart all software installation from scratch.

And yes I did backup my entire OS imagine prior to proceeding. I was a bit confused by online articles claiming that OS backup is gone with Windows 8.1. Not true, it’s still there and even its UI is still there. Although a search for the keyword backup in start will return you “File History”, which isn’t a full OS backup, once you open File History in the Control Panel, you will see on the lower left hand corner “System Image Backup” which is the gold all full image backup. Btw, File History isn’t including the Hyper-V VM images from the ‘Public’ documents, so pretty much missing the most important and time-consuming part of my data.

Now RAID is bond to flare some emotional responses from some. So a few clarifications:

  • Yes I know I increased several folds the chances of hardware failures having now 4 times the hard disk drive devices. That’s fine, with a couple extra drives I am not concerned having a drive fail and to wait a few days for a spare to arrive.
  • Yes I do need the extra performance boost. I noticed in performance monitoring that doing operations in all of my host and two guest VMs at the same time, the disk sub-system was a bottleneck.
  • No, I did not want to bother with multiple volumes and managing dedicating a volume for this, a volume for that. Too much human management overhead.
  • No, I don’t have an SSD of sufficient capacity handy to satisfy my scenario. Yes, SSDs are great for hosting VMs. If (my ability to purchase) hardware wasn’t a limiting factor here, I’d definitively go for and recommend using SSD.
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