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RAID 0 Guide: Set-up, OS installation, and Optimization

Discussion in 'Storage & Backup' started by chainbolt, Jun 6, 2002.

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  1. chainbolt

    chainbolt Member

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    Here is a collection of RAID 0 "how-to-do" from posts at OCAU:

    How to set-up a Raid 0 Array and Install the OS on the Array
    (a) After connecting the 2 (or more) disks you want to RAID to the RAID controller, power up, go into the RAID controller BIOS and set up the desired RAID type. For most ppl. this will be a RAID 0 array in order to improve performance. In the Raid controller BIOS' you also can and SHOULD set the block stripe size for the RAID 0 array: if you have the Highpoint HPT 372/374 PCI stand-alone PCI or onboard RAID controllers (for example at Abit and Epox mainboards), you can set up stripe sizes starting from 16k and going up to 1024K. Choose 16K! This is the best stripe size for usual desktop jobs like gaming, e-mailing, and web surfing or working with MS Office. In the very rare case you use the RAID 0 array for audio and video editing which means working with huge files, a bigger size stripe like 64K or even more might necessary.
    (b) In case you have a Promise LITE on-board RAID controller (for example at MSI, Asus, and Gigabyte boards) select "performance". This will set up a RAID 0 array. Then select "desktop” as RAID 0 purpose. This will automatically set a small stripe size (I think it’s 8 K), which is better for usual desktop jobs. In the Promise LITE BIOS it is NOT possible to select the array stripe size by yourself. Also: In case you later change the stripe size, all data on the array will be lost, this of course also applies for the Highpoint RAID controllers.
    (c) In case you have a stand-alone PCI Promise Fastrack TX/2 or TX/4 Raid controller follow (a).


    How to Install the OS on the Raid 0 Array
    (a) In case you install W2K/XP you MUST hit "F6" immediately after the blue welcome screen pops up. After hitting "F6" you will be asked whether you want to install a driver for a storage device not included in the W2k/XP own device driver inventory, confirm this and push the floppy with the RAID drivers in the slot. Soon afterwards you will be asked to select the RAID driver from the floppy, and then the selected drivers will be loaded. You find the necessary drivers either on the RAID controller installation floppy disk, or -in case you have an on-board controller- copy them from the mobo installation CD to a floppy. In case you have Win98/ME, it is NOT necessary to load any "outside" driver during the installation process. You have to do this AFTER the first boot into Win98/ME. AGAIN: if you have W2K/XP and if you miss "F6", means you don't load the RAID drivers from the floppy, there is no way that W2K will work: When you try to boot for the first time you will be greeted by a BSOD, because W2K cannot find the drivers for the RAID controller and cannot recognize the RAIDed HDD. In case of XP some older RAID controller drivers are already included in the OS, in that caes theoratcially it's not necessary to hit F6. But the newer ones, for example for SATA controllers are not included. You should therefore always work with the F6 key and load the dirvres during installation from a floppy.

    (b) If you use NTFS and you want to format the partition on which you intend to install the OS in a cluster size of 16K (recommended), the easiest way is with 3 disks. Install the OS first to the 3rd (single) disk, then partition and format the RAID 0 array (on the RAIDed disks 1 and 2) in 16K clusters from the installed OS on the 3rd disk, and finally install the OS on the RAID 0 array. During the installation process you HAVE to select "use existing partition".


    (c) But most ppl. don't have 3 disks. You cannot format in any other cluster size than the default 4K during the XP/W2K installation routine, also: NTFS partitions CANNOT be formatted from a DOS disk. This here is the way to out-smart the W2K/XP installation routine, which always, by default, formats NTFS in 4k clusters. As a result you get your W2K/XP OS installed on a RAID 0 array with a NTFS file cluster size as you desire (and not only the default 4K). It looks difficult at first glance, but it is not:

    (c1) After connecting the 2 (or more) disks to the RAID controller interface, power up, go into the RAID controller BIOS and set up a RAID 0 array with the desired stripe size, be it for the Highpoint controller (as we have it on Abit or Epox boards) 16K, 32K, or 64K, or in case of a Promise controller (Asus for example) 4K, 8K, 16K, 32K, 64K, 128K, 256K, 512K, and 1024K.

    (c2) Then you reboot and start installing W2K/XP. After properly loading the RAID controller driver from a prepared floppy by hitting "F6" at the beginning of the installation routine you arrive at the blue W2K/XP installation screen. It will ask you where you want to install W2K/XP. At that moment you have the choice to set up and format partitions. The problem is that you can only format in the default size of 4 K, which is not what we want. But this is what we do: you partition and format at least 2 drives: c:/ and d:/. The c:/ drive will later be used as the "real" installation drive for W2K/XP. The d:/ drive is where you install XP now as a temporary solution. Choose whatever size you wish for c:/ (it can later be changed) and give the temporary installation drive d:/ the minimum size you need for a proper XP installation, which is 2GB.

    (c3) Then you install W2K/XP on the d:/ drive. After the installation is completed, run W2K/XP and go to "My Computer", right click "Manage", call for "Disk Management" and RE-PARTITION and REFORMAT the empty c:/ drive (which was previously formatted with the default 4K cluster size) with the desired NTFS cluster size, be it 8K, 16K, 32K, or as maximum 64K. Make SURE to format c:/ as PRIMARY partition and set it ACTIVE afterwards. Then you reboot and re-peat the W2K/XP installation process. But this time, when arriving at the partition screen, you will tell W2K/XP to delete the d:/ drive with the temporary W2K/XP installation. Then you install W2K/XP fresh on the already existing c:/ drive, which you previously formatted in the desired cluster size.


    This works 100%. It is, as far as I know, the only way for ppl. with only 2 disks to format a RAID 0 array in NTFS in another than the default 4k-cluster size. And 4K is NO good for RAID 0 performance.


    Raid 0 Optimization:
    (a) PCI Latency
    Already a while ago it was discovered that VIA chipsets have a problem handling the increased burst speed of high-end ATA disks. The issue was discovered by the German PC magazine "techchannel" HERE shortly after boards with the KT266A chipset started retailing. In particular for optimal RAID performance with VIA chipset it is necessary to lower PCI latency. Patches lowering the PCI latency for the devices attached to the PCI bus can achieve this. VIA is offering a "Raid Performance Patch". There is also a non-VIA PCI latency patch, named after the author, "Breeze patch". Both patches increase the disk transfer rate by approximately 10 MB/sec. It seems the Breeze patch is performing slightly better than the VIA "RAID Performance Patch".
    The Via "Raid Performance" patch is HERE
    The Breeze 1.9d "PCI Latency" patch is HERE
    (b) RAID 0 Block Stripe Size
    Users report generally best results with a 16K or 32K stripe size. Anything above 32K seems to reduce performance and is not recommended unless the array is used for working with exceptionally large files such as in audio and video editing. My own benchmarks show that 16K is preferable for usual desktop functions.
    (c) File Cluster Size
    In general a file cluster size of 16K seems to return the best results. It seems that for desktop tasks the Maxtor D740X performs slightly better with 32K clusters. The Western Digital JB series seem to prefer 16K or even 8 K. The IBM 120 GXP works best with 16K. I have tested these 3 disks with various benchmarks and at the end the differences between 8K, 16K, and 32K were extremly small. It seems therefore that for RAID 0 an array stripe size of 16K and a file cluster size of 16K is the best overall compromise. An in-depth discussion about the RAID 0 stripe size/cluster size issue can be found HERE
    (d) FAT 32 versus NTFS
    In general FAT 32 returns slightly, around 5% better scores in various HDD benchmarks than NTFS, for example in the Winbench 99 "High-end Disk Marks". This difference can be observed with single disks as well, but seems to be bigger in RAID 0. Nevertheless, the greater stability and data safety makes NTFS the better choice for RAID 0 than FAT 32.
    (e) RAID 0 Performance versus Single HDD
    A single disk versus RAID 0 performance comparison for the following HDDs can be found HERE
    - Maxtor D740X ATA 133
    - Western Digital WD400B ATA 100
    - Western Digital WD1000JB ATA 100
    - IBM 120 GXP ATA 100
    (f) Optimizing certain Windows caches will help to improve HDD performance in general and of course also RAID 0. These caches are:
    - Disk Cache: the number of pages the system will read/write at one time to the disk
    - System Cache:this is the OS virtual memory
    - NTFS Last Access Time:disabling speeds up performance
    Editing or creating registry entries can optimize these parameters. www.tweaktown.com (look for the guide section) has a guide. Easier, faster, and safer is "Customizer XP". This is an OS optimizing utility that let you changes these and other performance related parameters from a GUI. A trial version of Customizer XP can be downloaded HERE
    Last but not least it should be mentioned that many users report that DISABLING the NTFS Indexing Service is improving HDD performance. This service can be disabled in "disk properties".


    EDIT: Important information about the selection of a cluster size other than the XP default of 4K when SP2 is installed:

    http://forum.abit-usa.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=63931&pagenumber=2
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2005
  2. Chronos

    Chronos Member

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    awsome work chainy :D

    does someone want to make this sticky? this is just what everyone keeps asking

    perfect! :)
     
  3. Mal

    Mal Elitist Custom Title

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    Excellent, Sticky.

    Cheers,
    Mal
     
  4. slayer

    slayer Member

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    Heya Guys

    Hoping you can help me out with a raid issue I've been working on for a while and can't crack

    Basically I installed my system on 32/32 settings i then installed everything tweaked OS etc and really happy with how its running. Unfortunately being the tweaker I am I want to give 16/16 a shot but on the other hand I don't want to have to reinstall/retweak everything.

    I thought I could get around this by ghosting my array which worked fine. I then changed the stripe size to 16 in the bios and reformatted the drives (ntfs) using 16k clusters. I then put the ghost image back onto my drives and it was all up and running sweet. Except for when I rechecked the cluster size which had returned to 32k of my previous installation.

    I presume this is because when I made the ghost image it was cloned in 32k clusters and whenever I put it back on it overwrites the 16k format I'd just made.

    Is there a way to make ghost ignore the cluster size it had been cloned in? basically I need to know how to keep 16k clusters with the 32k image i've made

    on another note I'm using the new raid compatible seagate barracuda IV's. If anyone is interested in results give me a yell

    thanks in advance
    regards Slayer
     
  5. OP
    OP
    chainbolt

    chainbolt Member

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    There is no way :) Ghost will always clone the original cluster size. If you want to have the target parition in 16K, you MUST have formatted the original partition in 16K before.
     
  6. StillSouth

    StillSouth Member

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    You can change the cluster size if you are using FAT32 but not if you are using NTFS.

    Try this.
     
  7. OP
    OP
    chainbolt

    chainbolt Member

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    His question was NTFS. The FAT32 cluster size can be also changed also by Partition Magic.

    But again: in case you ghost a NTFS partition, there is NO way to change the cluster size of the cloned partition. The target partion will have the SAME cluster size as the origin.
     
  8. StillSouth

    StillSouth Member

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    Sorry, missed the little "(ntfs)" bit. Wasn't sure.
     
  9. slayer

    slayer Member

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    thanks chainbolt thats exactly what I needed to know means I can stop wasting my time trying to get it working :)

    regards Slayer
     
  10. Gnuthad

    Gnuthad Member

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    Have you thought about hooking up a second (third?) hard drive to your onboard IDE (not the RAID ones) and copying the whole RAID setup directly to that drive, then changing the RAID config before copying the original files back?

    I'm not sure how well this would work for you, but I use it whenever I upgrade to a new hard drive and it works a charm for me.
     
  11. Marvster

    Marvster (Banned or Deleted)

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    Great work chainbolt!
     
  12. Mickatroid

    Mickatroid Member

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    In light of the discussion on norton ghost, is using ghost on an NTFS raid array one way you can make your cluster size whatever you want?

    1. Format and partition a non-raid partition to the size of the system partition you want on your raid array (NTFS of course).

    2. Ghost the empty formatted NTFS partition

    3. Restore the ghost image to the raid array (anywhere anytime) a 5 minute job from whoa to goa

    4. install xp, win2k or nt

    Waddya think Chainbolt? ;) If I had a raid array to test it on I would tell you if it works. I tell myself "soon Padwan, soon..."
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2002
  13. SpaceJunk

    SpaceJunk Member

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    Concise and to the point............ excellent work Chainy and thanx for ya help, I buggerised 'round for ages working stuff out for myself as I went, and now you've given me all the info I need to do it all again this weekend with "optimised" cluster & stripe sizes :D thanx mate your help is much appreciated.
     
  14. MeltDown

    MeltDown Member

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    I have tried to do this but with no luck.

    i have only 2 x Maxtor 40g 133Mhz in a raid 0 on a Asus p4b533-e and when i sent the partitions up, it configures the c drive i am unable to format the drive at all. D Drive is the Boot drive and c is the system drive.

    I have also been unable to change the partition size once i have created the partition in Disk manager and the copy of Partition magic i have doesn't support XP nore Raid sets (PM6)

    Can anyone help me asap

    MeltDown
     
  15. Mickatroid

    Mickatroid Member

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    Mabe ghost would do it (nonone seems to have dissed the idea) praps a friend could lend you a setup disk and an image file?
     
  16. MeltDown

    MeltDown Member

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    I have tried the to install the OS from a Ghost file which has only been formated at 16k clusters. But i am not sure if it has worked. The sys is running fine but not sure if you can find out what size the clusters are set to.

    If someone can advise me on how to fine out what my cluster size is set at i will be able to tell you if it works from a just ghosting the a partition in NTFS 16k Clusters.


    MeltDown
     
  17. OP
    OP
    chainbolt

    chainbolt Member

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    There seems to be no way to check it with Windows, but certain utilities show the NTFS cluster size, for example Partition Magic or Sandra Pro - "Drives Information" Module. I don't know whether this module is available in the free version. It looks like this: you see a partition formatted in the 4K W2K/XP default custer size.

    [​IMG]
     
    Nobunaga likes this.
  18. MeltDown

    MeltDown Member

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    OK

    To answer the question about creating a ghost partition with nothing on it and if being formated, to a set cluster size of 16k.

    WORKS

    I have the maxtor D740X Drives and i have created my clusters at 32k and after looking at the Sandra Software it displays just that

    Great idea Mickatroid

    MeltDown
     
  19. Mickatroid

    Mickatroid Member

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    Woohoo! Glad I could help Meltdown. I have not been a member long but have learned heaps of useful stuff - its good to give a little back :D (man i love that smiley face)
     
  20. iNeLuKi

    iNeLuKi (Banned or Deleted)

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    Sweet work, thanks for that write up. :)
     

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