• Configuring RAID 1 for Opal

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    HARDWARE DIY By Will Fastie The last stumbling block in my quest to bring Opal, my new desktop PC, online has been resolved. Back when I was building
    [See the full post at: Configuring RAID 1 for Opal]

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    • #2555693

      Have you tried using the Windows built-in “mirror” layout?  If not, why not?  If so, were there any issues or concerns?

    • #2555700

      I agree about the assessment of CMR vs. SMR for consumer or small office HDDs. SMR is generally used by larger data centers, and when they fail, it’s easy enough to swap them out if you have all the redundancy of the arrays used in Enterprise grade servers. But in a home user PC with a RAID Array, it’s best to stick with CMR drives, even though for the size they tend to be more expensive.

      -- rc primak

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    • #2555709

      I have not used RAID in a residential or small business setting in quite some time.

      a) I found UNRAID (and freeNAS style options)

      b) I changed my “definition” of a backup.

      the second was the more important decision. Backups should include ‘compression’ and ‘encryption’ as part of any routine.

      The reason for this was simple.  a non-profit I volunteer with had significant “fear” off dataloss. They make so many of copy/paste style “backups”, some on the same volume with. almost exact filenames, others on USB sticks. When we eventually DID have an equipment failure. Trying to determine the most “recent” version of random copy/paste ‘backups’ became a whole thing.

      ‘backups’ cannot be ‘usable’ alternatives; they must be encrypted so as not to be usable to good guys or bad guys. I added compression as a logical option to reduce the size of offload/transfer.

      RAID is for resiliance ; not at all for backups.  the word backup should not be in the same paragraph as RAID (IMHO).


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    • #2555738

      Have you tried using the Windows built-in “mirror” layout?

      No. How about you?

      If not, why not?

      Sloth? Seriously, it has more to do with having used the Intel built-in solution for so long; I haven’t explored alternatives.


      • #2555861

        I’ve been using Windows Storage Spaces in a RAID 1 (mirrored) mode since mid-2016 about the time I built my first Win 10 machine. It has performed reliably all that time. I currently have it operational on both a Win 10 and a Win 11 machine. Each has 2 (Seagate Iron Wolf Pro) drives. Early on I tested removing a single drive and attaching it via a USB enclosure to see if it was readable. It was. That was an important recovery item for me. Part of the reason for the Storage Space is to improve read access for large files since it is supposed to split the access across devices. That is hard to actually discern but I am pleased with the read performance.

        The only issue that I encountered was when I was dual booting one machine between 10 and 11. While on 11, I “upgraded” the storage space and it was no longer accessible as a storage space to 10. Not an issue really since I could recover in a number of ways if I wished. That was about the time I just went to 11 on that machine.

        The mirror is not a backup plan. It is, as Will Fastie uses it, a way to keep the machine running even if a disk fails and give me a but of a read performance boost. The two machines have most of their data kept in sync with Resilio and are both backed up nightly with Macrium differentials. One is backed up monthly for a longer term. I use Backblaze for off-site backup (but, of course, not for a bare metal recovery).


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    • #2555739

      Your articles didn’t mention one issue with RAID devices – what if it is the RAID hardware (and not the drives) that fail? I have owned two WD RAID devices and each had a RAID hardware failure. The drives were fine. That was enough for me to stop using RAID. I was really interested in Backup anyway – and now have several layers of backup drives.


    • #2555740

      The word backup should not be in the same paragraph as RAID …

      A point I made repeatedly in today’s issue, and one Fred made long ago. We’re on the same page.

    • #2555741

      What if it is the RAID hardware … that fails?

      Intel’s RAID system is all software and firmware. The drives don’t connect through a RAID controller, just through ordinary SATA ports. So if it’s a hardware fail, it’s the motherboard that died.

      Still, your question is valid. What do you do with RAID systems like this? With a hardware-based solution, you can replace the RAID controller board.

      • #2555753

        WD replaced one enclosure under warranty.  The second was out of warranty, so I just removed the drives and donated the hardware for recycling.  I use Macs (not PCs) and macOS includes a RAID option (which is all software) – and would have probably been more reliable!  But I no longer see any value in RAID for my home use.


    • #2555744

      Thank you for the article.

      Question – What about a NAS using Raid 1 in the same failure scenario? Other than a file error, will drive failure still show on a computer using the NAS? Maybe need to run a background process on the desktop that monitors the NAS?

    • #2555745

      There seems to be one case in which RAID, in the original Intel RST you showed for Onyx in Figure 2 of your article, CAN theoretically be used for backup purposes.

      That is the “Recovery Volume Options,” No. 4 in the Figure.

      To my understanding, it is possible to configure those so that a clone (mirror) copy of the primary drive can be created ON DEMAND, rather than continuously, thus avoiding the “mirroring of an already infected drive” problem associated with RAID 1.

      This would be no different than just initiating a backup manually to a second drive when one is sure it’s not infected, other than it uses the built-in RAID technology to accomplish it to an internal drive.  If the main drive fails, and the backup is recent enough, operations can be restored from the BIOS.

      Haven’t seen this option discussed much, but any comments from experience would be welcome.

      — AWRon

    • #2555751

      …will drive failure still show on a computer using the NAS?

      In this scenario, the RAID system is entirely contained within the NAS box. It would indicate the failure. I can only assume the admin app for the NAS on an attached PC would also see the error and provide the means to take action.

    • #2555755

      But I no longer see any value in RAID for my home use.

      One of the reasons I have a RAID array on my home PC is to give me a leg up in securing my personal media assets, such as photos and videos.

    • #2555777

      My opinion of Toshiba drives changed long ago, like you, after several failures, I did some research.  As a repair manager for a large computer/airframe mfg, I started looking into MTBF data for spinning drives.  What I found was Western Digital was the leader in longevity and I have swapped out my Toshiba drives for WD spinners and Samsung SSD’s.  No regrets.

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    • #2555887

      Early on I tested removing a single drive and attaching it via a USB enclosure to see if it was readable. It was.

      Yes, that’s an important point.

      I am pleased with the read performance.

      Do you have any data that compares the performance of Storage Spaces vs. the Intel RAID solution?

      While on 11, I “upgraded” the storage space and it was no longer accessible as a storage space to 10.

      If a single drive is accessible independently, why would 10 or 11 make a difference?

      Now that you and DLivesinDallas have mentioned this, and given that I’m not ready to commit data to Opal’s array just yet, perhaps I should explore Storage Spaces and write about it.

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    • #2555910

      I don’t have any performance data nor have I ever used RST. In 2016 I read all I could about Storage Spaces and decided to try it with a new build. I have never personally used RST or other hardware based RAID being somewhat leery of hardware or UEFI solutions. There are other commercial software products that do this too.

      As for what happened when I upgraded the Storage Space under Win 11: I had the Space running fine with either OS booting (dual boot). Wandering around in the Win 11 Storage Space control panel I came across an item that said something like “click here to upgrade this space for better something.” Knowing full well that I had backups, I clicked. Something happened and all worked fine until I booted back to 10. The space wasn’t there. I could read a disk that had been in the Space but no Storage Space. I know that Storage Spaces writes some data on the individual disks in the pool so I suspect that the format of some of that changed when I upgraded the Space.

      Some intelligent writing about using it in a workstation would be nice. Mostly it is seen as something for a Win Server OS and Win Pro isn’t quite the same.


    • #2555889

      I didn’t understand at first why setting up RAID seemed so complicated, then I realised that you are using RAID on the actual PCs. It’s much simpler to use NAS, I have 2 Synology NASs, each with 2 bays, and RAID1 is there by default. My wife and I have several PCs around the house, and most of our data is on the NASs – one for media files, mostly copies of about 400 CDs and a large number of podcasts from BBC, and photos, the other our personal and “business” files (we are involved with a number of charities and similar organisations). The Synology apps include media servers and backup functions, though I’ve mostly given up on backups since there’s a cloud sync app on the NASs and I’ve got a Microsoft 365 family account, which gives me 6x1TB storage. I’ve turned off OneDrive sync on the PCs, each NAS uploads all changes to it’s own user on OneDrive, but doesn’t remove files from OneDrive when they are deleted locally. It’s worked to the extent that I’ve been able to easily recover folders and files which I’ve accidentally deleted.

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    • #2555974

      It’s much simpler to use NAS.

      There are three reasons I’ve avoided NAS so far.

      • Cost – a 2-bay unit starts at around $190, without storage, of course.
      • Speed – Because it sits on the network instead of the PC’s bus, a NAS is six times slower.
      • Security – A NAS device is another computer on the network, but it’s not running Windows. That means a different system to keep safe.

      Speed isn’t a critical factor if the goal is archival storage. But I work directly from my array, such as when editing video.

      This is not a condemnation of NAS or any other external storage system. There may come a time when my primary PC is a tiny box into which drives won’t fit. I hope 10Gpbs Ethernet is ubiquitous should that time come.

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    • #2556005

      I could read a disk that had been in the Space but no Storage Space.

      I disabled the Intel RAID in Opal (one tweak in UEFI) and reconfigured the drives as a Storage Space under Windows 11. That all went smoothly. Then I copied a small chunk of data (~40GB) to the drive. After that stablized, I removed the drives and attempted to access them on a Windows 10 PC using a USB 3 device. I was able to see the drive in Windows Disk Management, but I was not able to assign a drive letter and was thus not able to see the data.

      I returned the drives to Opal; no harm done there.

      There is more to learn here.

    • #2556105

      memory half-life is measured in days

      Exactly. That’s why we need these bulletproof “memory” solutions.

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