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How best to take down intel's RAID 1 on dell machines work

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#1
AnnieMS

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Dell 380 w/ winxp sp2; RAID 1, intel's 955x chipset w/ 82801 GR/GH Sata Raid Controller

My dell was configured w/ a RAID 1 [I currently have 1 hdd out of the case so the RAID is in a degraded state.]
Options in the RAID utility are 1. create raid. 2. delete raid. and 3. reset disks to non-RAID. I want to get rid of the raid and save the data on one hdd. I checked the hdd that I took out via a sata to usb adapter and the data is accessible.

Dell's support page only says that deleting the raid will make any data files inaccessible and the disk unbootable. They don't say what happens when you reset the disks to non-RAID.

I want to reformat/reinstall on the single hdd still in the chassis. Since this raid is described as "BIOS controlled" I figured I needed to either delete the raid or reset the disks and change the setting in BIOS. Dell's support says the BIOS setting for the 380 is "raid on", but the setting in my BIOS is "Raid Autodetect/AHCI - Raid if signed drives, otherwise AHCI".

I haven't been able to find out what "signed drives" are, but since my other BIOS choices are "Raid on", "Raid Autodetect/ATA", and "Combination: sata/pata mode" I think I need to leave it set as it is. The signing must happen when you use to the raid utility to create a raid.

So currently I'm planning on resetting to non RAID, then booting from the installation cd and reformatting/reinstalling winxp on the one drive currently in the case. Does anyone have any experience w/ resetting or deleting intel's firmware RAID? Should I delete rather than reset?
WinXP Pro SP2 on Dell 380 Precision Workstation; 512 RAM
WinXP Tablet ed SP3 on Thinkpad X41; 1.5 GHz RAM
Win2K SP 4 on Sony VAIO GXR600; 512 RAM

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#2
Tripredacus

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Deleting the RAID will lose the data. If you want to keep the data then you don't want that option. Because you plan on making Windows switch from RAID to IDE mode, you are in effect changing its mass storage controller. You are correct in thinking that the Reset Disks to Non-RAID will take the RAID off and not lose the data. However, once you boot into Windows, you will get a STOP Error 0x0000007B because the Mass Storage Controller driver will have changed.

You did not mention if you can currently boot into the system. If you keep only 1 drive in the system, you can boot into Windows and it shouldn't be slow because it won't be rebuilding or reinitializing the array. Once you get in there, you can remove all SCSI, RAID or IDE Controllers from Device Manager. Then reboot into the RAID BIOS and set the disk to non-RAID.

Alternatively, if you can't get into Windows atm, you can do a repair install which should save your settings but will use the correct Mass Storage Controller driver. I've done it this way, not from RAID to IDE, but from one controller to another.

EDIT: you can get into the RAID BIOS by pressing CTRL+I at the RAID BIOS POST screen.
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#3
AnnieMS

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Thanks Tripredacus

I could boot into windows after I took the secondary sata drive out. The first screen told me the RAID was degraded and said to press F1 to continue [booting into windows] or F2 to enter setup [BIOS]. But when I booted into windows my front usb ports didn't work, then none of the usb ports worked. Today I got a blue screen.

The dell needs a reformat/reinstall badly - or it's got hardware problems. I would try a repair first, but I also want to partition the hdd into an os partition and a user data partition. My plan was to take out one drive, confirm the data was accessible on that drive, delete the RAID and then re-install the OS from the dell winxp OS installation cd onto the remaining drive. If I can just reset to non-RAID I was going to do that just 'cause I prefer not to burn my bridges until necessary.

After I'd got reinstalled I was going to see how stable the system was and continue running hardware tests. If everything checked out I'd put back in the second drive, transfer the data over and use the secondary drive to store the clone backup I'm going to figure out how to do.

I do currently have two ide dvd burner "drives" as well as the two sata drives so maybe I do want the "Combination: sata/pata mode" option in BIOS rather than the "RAID autodetect/AHCI". These options really ought to be explained in the dell "manual". My other 2 choices are "RAID on" and "RAID autodetect/ATA".

Since I plan on doing a reformat/reinstall anyway, I don't need to try to boot into safe mode to delete scsi, raid, and ide controllers. If I did, wouldn't I also delete the sata controllers?
WinXP Pro SP2 on Dell 380 Precision Workstation; 512 RAM
WinXP Tablet ed SP3 on Thinkpad X41; 1.5 GHz RAM
Win2K SP 4 on Sony VAIO GXR600; 512 RAM

This forum needs lots more emoticons - including old geezer/old lady, paranoid, shoulder shrug, I'm really an alien, them's fightin' words, duh [hitting head w/ hand] , Eureka and Epiphany. AND we [I] need a "Bow to your wonderfulness". Thumbs up isn't enough when one's computer's life has been saved.

#4
Tripredacus

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Well you might have a SATA controller in there, but typically if you are using RAID it shouldn't show the SATA controller. You never know, since this Dell BIOS doesn't seem to give you standard RAID terminology in it either.
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#5
AnnieMS

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Tripredacus,

What do you mean by SATA controller? SATA's have controllers on the drive itself, like IDE's, don't they? Does the term also refer to a chipset?

I've been assuming I have "normal" SATA drives with "normal" SATA controllers on them and that the RAID array is established by the intel chipset and then by winxp raid software drivers. Right now I'm guessing that when the "build RAID 1" option is chosen in the ctrl + i raid utility that "signs" the drive. Maybe all I have to do is choose "reset to non-raid", that will unsign the drives and the BIOS will then choose AHCI.

I thought the "combination sata/pata" was used if you had both sata and pata hdd's. I was thinking it would not be used for sata hdds + atapi dvd drives or there would have been some BIOS setting for "Combination sata raid/pata".
WinXP Pro SP2 on Dell 380 Precision Workstation; 512 RAM
WinXP Tablet ed SP3 on Thinkpad X41; 1.5 GHz RAM
Win2K SP 4 on Sony VAIO GXR600; 512 RAM

This forum needs lots more emoticons - including old geezer/old lady, paranoid, shoulder shrug, I'm really an alien, them's fightin' words, duh [hitting head w/ hand] , Eureka and Epiphany. AND we [I] need a "Bow to your wonderfulness". Thumbs up isn't enough when one's computer's life has been saved.

#6
Tripredacus

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The SATA controller is on the motherboard. Yes, each drive has their own "controller" card on them, but it does not relate to the SATA controller. The SATA/PATA option would (or should) not allow you to create a RAID array and mix SATA and PATA drives. This is because the PATA data rate is so much slower than SATA, your array (if you managed to create one) would likely break an instant after creating it. The SATA Controller is not related to the chipset on the board, although some controllers would require certain chipsets. You can have 2 boards with the same chipset but with two different SATA controllers. The SATA controller would manage both the SATA and PATA devices.

Changing a setting in the Intel RAID BIOS will not automatically change any setting in the motherboard BIOS. If you set the drives to NON-RAID, the BIOS will probably be set for RAID. You can go and change this to IDE or AHCI (if you have those options) but Windows will still have the RAID driver in the OS.
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