How To Install a RAID Configuration on Windows XP

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to install a RAID configuration on Windows XP. I would encourage anyone contemplating this to read as many tech forums on this subject as is reasonable.

Read Steps 1-6 BEFORE PROCEEDING:

1. Build your computer with all the components installed including the drives for RAID configuration. If you have a card reader, unplug this from the MOBO port for now. Start the computer and make sure that all fans are running and you can boot into BIOS. If you already have a prebuilt computer, do the same. Sorry, you WILL have to reinstall Windows XP. BACK UP YOUR DATA FIRST. ONCE THE OS IS INSTALLED, YOU CANNOT GO BACK AND INSTALL RAID DRIVES. THE RAID INSTALL MUST OCCUR PRIOR TO AND DURING OS INSTALLATION. You will also need a REGULAR (NO USB) FLOPPY DRIVE hooked into your MOBO. If necessary just scavenge one from an older computer and hook it up temporarily. Vista users can use USB. It would be best to flash your BIOS to the most current stable version.

2. Boot into your BIOS. The go to Main – SATA Configuration and change the setting from IDE to RAID. Hit Enter. Go to Boot Sequence and make sure that the CD/DVD drive is the first boot device. Hit Enter then F10 to Save and Exit. Reboot.

3. At the POST, watch for the RAID Screen, it will only be there for 3 seconds. Hit <CTRL I> to enter the RAID configuration screen. From there select “Create RAID volume”, name it with no spaces. Select RAID type (0, 1, 5 or 10), Select drives to be included (don’t include your main drive (C:) for RAID 5), Select striping rate (64 or 128) Hit Enter. Create RAID volume. ENTER and exit.

4. On another computer, that has a floppy drive. Go to Intel’s website and search for Intel® Matrix Storage Manager. Find the 32-bit Floppy Configuration Utility and create a RAID driver floppy with this utility.

5. On your new computer, insert Windows XP installation disk. Have the RAID floppy disc ready but do not put in drive yet. Reboot your computer and watch for “Press any key to boot from CD…” Hit the space bar or any key. BE READY TO PRESS F6. Watch the bottom of the screen just as the OS disc loads, you will see the message to press F6 to load third party RAID drivers. PRESS F6 NOW. A different screen will come up. Press ‘S”, put floppy in drive and hit Enter. This will load the RAID drivers for the OS installation. Once completed, hit Enter to continue the installation.

6. You will see the screen to install Windows XP on a drive. Select C: drive and follow the prompts. You will need to format your drive for NTFS, do not use QUICK format. This will take 30-60 minutes. Leave the floppy in the drive. Be there just before the system finishes formatting the drive. The system will then load the SETUP files and will reboot. REMOVE THE FLOPPY BEFORE THE REBOOT and hit Enter. Let the system run and on the new screen DO NOT “Press any key to boot from CD” — just let the system run. It will go into the “Installing Windows” screen. Follow the few prompts and let the system complete the installation and reboot. Finish the remaining prompts and you are set.

NOTE: IF YOU GET A BSOD AT ANY TIME DOING THE ABOVE, TAKE OUT THE OS INSTALLATION DISC AND REBOOT INTO BIOS. BE READY TO HIT <CTRL> I AND ENTER RAID CONFIGURATOR. DELETE THE RAID VOLUME YOU HAD CREATED AND THEN EXIT BACK INTO BIOS. GO INTO THE SATA CONFIGURATION AND CHANGE IT FROM “RAID” BACK TO “IDE”, INSERT WINDOWS DISC BACK INTO DRIVE AND HIT F10. REBOOT AND THEN START AT STEP 4.

ONCE THE SYSTEM FORMATS THE C: DRIVE AND INSTALLS THE SETUP FILES AND REBOOTS, BE READY TO ENTER BIOS BEFORE CONTINUING INSTALL. GO INTO SATA CONFIGURATION AND NOW CHANGE SETTING FROM ‘IDE’ TO ‘RAID’, HIT F10 AND LET THE SYSTEM CONTINUE INSTALLING OS.

IF YOU STILL GET A BSOD, SHUT THE SYSTEM DOWN WITH THE POWER SWITCH AND UNPLUG. WALK AWAY FOR 5 MINUTES. NOW GO BACK AND BOOT UP SYSTEM AND GO INTO THE RAID CONFIGURATION (<CTRL I>). YOU SHOULD SEE THE C: DRIVE LISTED AS A NON-RAID DRIVE AND THE OTHERS DRIVES AS MEMBERS OF THE RAID VOLUME (FOR RAID 5.) GO TO HARDWARE CONFIGURATION. YOU SHOULD SEE ONLY 2 DRIVES (FOR A RAID 5 CONFIG), THE C: DRIVE AND THE RAID VOLUME. IF SO, JUST HIT F10 AND REBOOT. START AT STEP 5.

7. Once the OS loads, reboot into BIOS and go to Hardware Configuration to verify there are only 2 drives: C: and RAID volume. Boot into RAID configuration screen (<CTRL I>) and make sure that the C: drive is a ‘Non-member Drive’ and the RAID drives are all Members of the RAID volume. Exit and reboot into Windows.

Now here’s the trick that nobody tells you about. If you open “My Computer” you will see only the C: drive. The RAID drive will not show up. That’s because there is ONE MORE STEP…

8. Right click one My Computer. Select “˜Manage” then ‘Disk Management.’ In the right screen, you will see the C: Drive listed as ‘Healthy.” You will also see you optical drive(s). The RAID drive is an unallocated drive without a drive letter.

9. Right click on the Unallocated drive and assign it a drive letter, usually D: but watch your optical drives. If they are D:, first right click on them and change to E: and F: (if you have 2 drives.) The alternative is to list the RAID volume as F:. Then you will need to format the RAID volume. Use the default NTFS format. Click “OK”. The formatting may take over an hour depending on your setup. Once completed you will see the RAID volume with the letter you assigned to it and it will be listed as “Healthy”.

10. Go to “My Computer” and now you will see your RAID drive with the letter you assigned to it.

Congratulations, you have successfully installed a RAID drive. Install MOBO setup drivers and graphic card driver. Run Windows Update and get all critical updates. MAKE A BACKUP IMAGE of the C: drive. Keep this image FOR AS LONG AS YOU HAVE YOUR COMPUTER. If anything gets corrupted, you can go back and reimage the drive, saving you hours of time starting from scratch.


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This is a question I hear many times in my daily routine from individuals wanting to buy a laptop computer. Many times people think that they want a laptop because they are “cool” or “neat.” While laptop computerss can be very useful in certain situations, they are not necessarily the best option for many people. I generally suggest that if you need the portability or if room is a major consideration, then consider a laptop. This is particularly true if you are on the road or travel a great deal. Laptops in these situations can be helpful, if you are going to take them with you. If you are not and generally use them at home, I would suggest that a PC be considered. The advantages of a PC over a laptop is that they can be configured much easier, are generally less expensive and if something breaks it is easy to fix. Additionally, it you want to add more features through putting in different computer cards, it is just a matter of opening the case and putting the new card in.

Laptops on the other hand are not easy to modify once you have one. Many of the components are built right onto the mother board. Although some items such as the hard drive or memory strips (RAM) can be switched out, most of the other components are fixed. If you have trouble with your laptop malfunctioning, it all most always needs to be serviced by a trained technician. In other words, it a particular part of the laptop fails, you will need to get it serviced under warranty or take it to a computer shop. Either option is time consuming and/or expensive. A desktop PC on the other hand can frequently be serviced by your self, with a little knowledge and help from your computer manufacturer technical support team, as long as you computer is under warranty. This is why I strongly suggest that you purchase as long of a warranty as is available, for any computer, including and particularly laptops. Additionally, desktops a functionally easier to use, being able to hook printers and scanners into them with ease. The array of custom PC cards with specialized function is also much more readily available for your PC than your laptop.

In summary, a desktop PC is much more practical, generally more powerful and less expensive than a laptop. Adding better or more sophisticated computer components (including sound systems) is much easier. Still, it you need the portability, there is nothing better than a laptop for this. The smaller screen laptops are great for traveling. If you are not going to be moving the laptop around that much, I would suggest getting a 15 or 17 inch LCD screen. Your eyes will much appreciate this. If you need portability then I would recommend the smaller laptops with 12 inch screens. General computer configurations should include Windows XP (Pro if you want to network other computers), 200-300 GB hard drive space, 1-2 GB RAM memory, DVD burner, 19-20 inch LCD screen and good video and audio card. Don’t forget to have both antivirus and spyware protection software installed and kept up to date. For reviews on various systems, try going to PC World computer reviews for desktops or laptops. PC World also has reviews on video and sound cards as well as printers. Good luck.


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Having an office that is completely electronic and computerized is a great thing…..when all the pieces in the puzzle fit together and work. The problem comes up when one or more of the pieces are not working properly. I get asked about this a great deal by individuals whose home (or office) computers are behaving badly. Having said that, I thought that I would write a short blog on computer maintenance and security. This is not intended to be comprehensive and I would refer the reader to the proper tech support or local computer store. While the following is accurate at this writing, doing anything to you computer system or its components mentioned on this blog is done so at your own choosing.

First is computer security. It you do not have antiviral software, get it now! If you do have it, make sure that the license definitions are up to date (click Update button.) In this day and age, getting on the Internet, even for a minute, without antivirus software is like walking down a dark alley by yourself – something bad is going to happen. For reviews on different antiviral products, there are several websites that do a very nice job. I prefer PC World as they give a nice overview of many products. Different individuals will find that different security products work better for them. Ask friends and family members who have used some of these products. The second security measure is to make sure that your Windows Update is current. Open Internet Explorer, click on the “Tools” tab at the top and then click “Windows Update.” Two tabs will come up, click “Express” then download and install all the security updates. You can click the option to turn on “Automatic Updates” on the right of the screen. This would be a good idea for most computer users. Windows will then automatically keep your Windows Updates current.

The third level of security is antispyware software. There are two very good products available at no charge: Ad Aware and Spy Bot. It is wise to run at least two different antispyware programs as no one product is 100% effective. You can purchase the licensed version of these products and then the updates will be automatic. For the free versions, you will need to run the updates manually and this should be done weekly. You should also scan your computer for spyware and viruses a minimum of once a week. While Ad Aware and Spy Bot are effective, I like a third product, Spyware Blaster, for additional security against spyware, malware, trojans, worms and other bad things that can take control of your computer. Like the other two products, the free version of Spyware Blaster needs to be manually updated weekly. The good thing about this product, as compared to the others, is that Spyware Blaster actively blocks spyware from installing on your computer.

The last line of defense is a firewall. This can be either a piece of software or a hardware device. Simply put, firewalls protect access to your computer through the Internet. An excellent, free firewall is Zone Alarm. This is a piece of software that installs on your computer and works continuously in the back ground, similar to Spyware Blaster. This program installs easily but requires a little bit of configuration. Once configured, it requires few if any changes. Updates can be set to automatic. Most of the newer routers used for hooking up multiple computers to a single Internet line have built-in firewalls. It is a good idea to purchase a router that has a firewall built in. You can use both this and a software firewall for extra protection against computer infections. The only piece of software that you should only run one of is the antiviral software as more than one will cause conflicts. It is also important to turn off Windows Firewall if you are using Zone Alarm or another software firewall.

Hopefully these few hints will help to keep your computer free of virus and other “bad actor” infections, allowing smoother operations.


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