So you just bought a couple of brand new hard drives and want to set up a Raid Array. Conventional wisdom says you’re going to have to do a fresh install of your OS. Your current single HDD has a copy of Windows that has all your programs and files, and your thinking “Man, what a PITA it is to reload the Operating system, programs, and files, there has to be a better way”. Fear not, there is a way to clone your existing Windows installation to a Raid Array, read on!
The age old problem when trying to do this is that your current HDD does not have the raid drivers installed on it. So, if you simply go in to BIOS and change the controller from IDE to Raid, what happens?? Well, you will undoubtedly be greeted with a blue screen during the boot process as there are no Raid drivers installed……. BUMMER!!
The goal here is to take perfectly functional Windows install and clone it to a new Raid Array. In order for this method to work, you will need to have a secondary SATA controller on your motherboard, such as the Jmicron SATA controller. If your motherboard does not have a secondary SATA controller, stop now as this guide WILL NOT work for you. Here is what you will need to accomplish this task:
- The HDD's you want to Raid With.
- A secondary controller on the motherboard, such as a Jmicron controller.
- Free 15 day trial version of Acronis True Image Home 2009
- Raid drivers for the controller you want to use for Raid
- About an hour of time.
Once you have the program installed make a disk image of your current HDD just in case all hell breaks loose. If need be you can restore it back to its original state using this disk image. Also, while you in the program, make a rescue disk to just to be on the safe side.
Once you have all the above accomplished, turn off your computer and follow these steps:
- Move the HDD that houses your current installation of Windows and move it to one of the SATA ports on the secondary controller. (Jmicron??)
- Install the drives that you intend to use for Raid to the other controller (Intel??)
- Start the computer and enter BIOS.
- Once in BIOS you need to make sure the controller that now has you operating system’s HDD attached is enabled and set to IDE mode, usually found in the onboard peripherals section. You also need to go to the controller that has your Raid HDD’s attached and make sure it is enabled and set to raid mode, again usually found in the onboard peripherals section of BIOS.
- Once #4 is completed, then save your BIOS settings, reboot and enter BIOS again. Once back in BIOS check the Hard Disk Boot Priority and make sure the HDD that has your operating system is at the top of the list.
- Now, next we have to set the raid array up in the controller’s raid utility. Go ahead and save your bios changes again and reboot the system. During the boot up sequence you should see an option to enter a raid controller utility. The keystroke needed to enter this utility will depend on the controller you are using for Raid. If you’re trying to enter the Intel raid controller, then keep hitting “CNTL I” during the boot process. If your using a different controller, then check the documentation of that controller for the correct key stroke to enter that raid controller. Follow the onscreen instructions for setting up your raid array once inside the Raid utility.
- At this point we should have one SATA controller set to IDE (This is where your operating system’s HDD should be attached), and the other controller set to Raid (Where the HDD’s you intend to raid are attached). If your set up correctly, and your HDD Boot Priority is correct you should be able to boot right in to windows again.
- Once at the desktop, you should see Windows attempting to load the drivers for the new raid array we created. If you’re using XP you will probably have to feed it drivers, Vista should have them already and they will load with no involvement by you. I do suggest that if you’re running Vista that you upgrade to the latest Raid drivers after it loads its default ones.
At this point you need to open the Acronis program. On the main screen you will see a section called “Utilities”. Click on that and you will see an option to clone a drive. Start the cloning process and make sure to pay attention to the wizard closely. There are several options you want to get right, such as partition sizes, and source and destination. It’s all explained as you go along, so just take your time!
Once the cloning procedure is finished, turn off the computer. Now you can disconnect the HDD that has your original Windows install on it. Once removed, start the computer and enter BIOS to make sure the Raid array is at the top of the HDD boot order. You can also disable the controller you’re not using now, as long as there are no other devices attached to it. Save your BIOS changes and hopefully if everything was done correctly you should be able to boot into Windows with your new Raid array!
**NOTES: When I performed this method I used the Intel controller for the raid array, and a Jmicron controller as the secondary controller.