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  1. #1

    What raid card for a 1U Server?

    I was building a 1u server a month or so ago to colocate. After screwing up the purchase of the raid card (got a pci 64 or something) its been sitting next to me not doing much. I need to go ahead and find a good raid card and get this colocated, so I am hoping you guys can help.

    I have literally spent hours on Newegg, Amazon and Ebay and found nothing that really jumps out at me. When people were helping with the build before, Adaptec was recommended, but the card is now deactivated on newegg so I am looking again.

    Any help finding a good PCI Express card, capable of RAID 1, for 150-200$ price range would be excellent.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Adaptec 2405 or LSI 8704ELP come to mind. You would probably pay +$50 more than your budget for these though. But they are both great cards.

    I also make RAID decisions with host OS part of the equation. I find driver support to vary from from each manufacturer on different hosts. What OS will the machine run?

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  5. #5
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    I highly recommend 3ware cards. Can't go wrong with any of their models. Solutions for all the different types of RAID too.
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  6. #6
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    Adaptec cards typically blow 3Wares out of the water.
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  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by eger View Post
    Adaptec 2405 or LSI 8704ELP come to mind. You would probably pay +$50 more than your budget for these though. But they are both great cards.

    I also make RAID decisions with host OS part of the equation. I find driver support to vary from from each manufacturer on different hosts. What OS will the machine run?
    Yeah, the Adaptec 2405 was the one originally recommended but its no longer on Newegg. Im running Windows 2008 Server so hopefully thats not too much of a problem as far as drivers go.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16816116041

    Im probably going to go with that one unless theres anything that sticks out about it not working with 2008. It seems most of the bad comments are from people with Dell Servers, and I build mine custom using mostly Supermicro parts for the chassis, mobo, and so on, so I am assuming I shouldnt have any problems.

    My biggest worry is I am in Florida, and this is going to Chicago, so I really want everything as stable as possible, but I have really seen a RAID card in my price range with excellent reviews so I think im just going to have to suck it up.

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    The 3ware works fine in Windows 2008. I think I have a card using the 9.5.1 drivers in 2008.

    FYI, looks like newegg still carries the 2405 to me: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...92&Tpk=2260100

    It isn't a discontinued card or anything. Don't know why they wouldn't carry it.

    Both of these options don't have BBU support though (which shouldn't be much of a concern with RAID 1 though).

  9. #9
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    Adaptec runs fine under Windows 2008. We run dozens, perhaps hundreds of them across Windows 2003 / CentOS RHEL 5 / Windows 2008. Just be sure to update the driver and firmware.

    The other nice thing about the 2405 is that it's a 4 port card, so you can do 4 drives in a RAID10 and get much better IO than just regular RAID1.
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  10. #10
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    Performance wise, Adaptec > 3Ware all day long.

    Adaptec cards are also very widely supported by almost every OS out the box.
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    Quote Originally Posted by porcupine View Post
    3ware 9650SE-2LP.

    </thread>
    Raid 1 or 0? Bleh, might as well do onboard raid. If it cant do at least Raid5 it's useless.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Webdude View Post
    Raid 1 or 0? Bleh, might as well do onboard raid. If it cant do at least Raid5 it's useless.
    Call me a skeptic, but generally speaking, I'd say RAID 1/0 are your only options when you have a 2 drive system.

    Given that, if all 2 drive cards are useless, feel free to send 'em my way, the 3ware cards work fine for me, which isn't always the story when it comes to strange drive/user/system failures, and onboard units.

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    Quote Originally Posted by porcupine View Post
    Call me a skeptic, but generally speaking, I'd say RAID 1/0 are your only options when you have a 2 drive system.

    Given that, if all 2 drive cards are useless, feel free to send 'em my way, the 3ware cards work fine for me, which isn't always the story when it comes to strange drive/user/system failures, and onboard units.
    I believe he's trying to say that a card that isn't capable of running RAID 5 will have reduced speed processors and other components which are not high performance in general. You can run RAID 1 or 0 on a card capable of running RAID 5 as well.

    I, however, disagree that RAID 1/0 performance would be significantly hampered by a low end processor on-board. RAID 1, 0 and even 10 are almost completely brain-dead to implement computationally wise and don't require anything special. For RAID 1's, I've even had good luck with just using software-based RAID on whatever OS I'm using.

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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by porcupine View Post
    Call me a skeptic, but generally speaking, I'd say RAID 1/0 are your only options when you have a 2 drive system.
    Who said anything about only two drives?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Webdude View Post
    Who said anything about only two drives?
    I took it as a fairly clear implication by the OP:

    Any help finding a good PCI Express card, capable of RAID 1, for 150-200$ price range would be excellent.

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    Ummm, ok.... yeah, I missed that one. However, most modern board do Raid1 as fast and reliable as the cards do. So why go the extra cost for the card? Throw a 3rd drive in, use a higher raid, and do better.

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    none of the boards do raid 1 anywhere as well as a real controller whoever told you this is clueless.

    there is nothing wrong with using the raid built into boards but it will never compete with real hardware raid.


    Quote Originally Posted by Webdude View Post
    Ummm, ok.... yeah, I missed that one. However, most modern board do Raid1 as fast and reliable as the cards do. So why go the extra cost for the card? Throw a 3rd drive in, use a higher raid, and do better.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Webdude View Post
    Ummm, ok.... yeah, I missed that one. However, most modern board do Raid1 as fast and reliable as the cards do. So why go the extra cost for the card? Throw a 3rd drive in, use a higher raid, and do better.
    Well #1:

    I've found onboard RAID setups to be far less reliable *when* something breaks, then off-board controller setups. This is my personal experience (which is reasonably well founded based on the quantity of servers I deal with on a day to day basis, dedi, and colo'd in our facility), but if you cant rely 99.9999% on your RAID, why have it?

    #2 - 3 drive RAID 5 setups are totally inefficient in most scenario's. Higher level raid is less desirable, it's more complex, more prone to failure, more likely to be problematic during rebuilds, and considerably more difficult to recover data from if something goes *very* very wrong. Toss in the fact that 3 drive RAID 5 systems rarely see significant performance gains over a 2 drive RAID1, and I'd argue there is very *real world* benefit to doing this. If you want RAID5, you better have 4+ drives, or you shouldn't even bother typically speaking (and even then, RAID 0+1/10 will often outperform, depending on task).

    [edit]If you're trying to impress customers: As an educated customer, I'd be far more impressed with RAID 1e, then I would with RAID5.[/edit]
    Last edited by porcupine; 09-08-2009 at 07:20 PM.

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    I prefer OS based software raid over onboard RAID. There is a reason most onboard/cheaper raid is referred to as fakeraid.
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyberhouse View Post
    none of the boards do raid 1 anywhere as well as a real controller whoever told you this is clueless.

    there is nothing wrong with using the raid built into boards but it will never compete with real hardware raid.
    And when is the last time you tested? Last test I heard compared two Intel SR1500 series, both exact specs. One used the onboard raid, the other used a card. The results were surprisingly close, more than the ones doing it expected. Yes the card was slightly better, but not enough to be of any significant use in a real world environment. Certainly not enough to justify the cost difference of $200. In the hosting world where everyone wants mega powerful servers for $49/mth, that $200 might as well be a million bucks. Of course, I dont know what cpu's, what card, etc, which do make a world of difference. I didnt get to be there when it was done.

    and yeah, raid5 you wanna use no less than 4 drives really. Some do it with 3 but thats a bad idea.
    Last edited by Webdude; 09-08-2009 at 07:34 PM.

  21. #21
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    For raid 1 or raid 10 you should go either lsi, areca, or adaptec. I would probably go adaptec as they have some cheap good/cards. For any parity raid I would say go adaptec or areca only.

    Do not. I repeat. Do not go 3ware. I have lost more arrays than I can count on 3ware one just being a couple days ago:

    Code:
    Unit  UnitType  Status         %RCmpl  %V/I/M  Stripe  Size(GB)  Cache 
    AVrfy
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    u1    RAID-10   INOPERABLE     -       -       64K     3725.25   OFF    OFF
    
    Port   Status           Unit   Size        Blocks        Serial
    ---------------------------------------------------------------
    p0     OK               u1     931.51 GB   1953525168    9QJ1FXXX
    p1     OK               u1     931.51 GB   1953525168    9QJ1GXXX
    p2     OK               u1     931.51 GB   1953525168    9QJ1DXXX
    p3     OK               u1     931.51 GB   1953525168    9QJ1DXXX
    p4     OK               u1     931.51 GB   1953525168    9QJ1GXXX
    p5     OK               u1     931.51 GB   1953525168    9QJ0QXXX
    p6     OK               u1     931.51 GB   1953525168    9QJ1CXXX
    p7     NOT-PRESENT      -      -           -             -
    Anyone wanna tell me why this was 'inoperable' instead of 'degraded'? It would rebuild and worked fine until the machine was rebooted and completely stopped working. I have seen anything from DCB checksome failure to random fs-corruption, to getting ECC-errors preventing the system from rebuilding. I know I have seen atleast 10-15 arrays completely fail on 3ware one taking out 55TB of arrays on two sets of disks (which I was able to recover on my own) but I stopped counting after 8 or 9 and can only give estimations now.

    3ware cards suck. We unfortunately bought a lot of them before we realized this. We then switched to LSI and our newest batch of systems are coming with areca's. LSI has some annoying issues itself but none that cause the loss of an array (at least not yet) but annoying enough that we are now going to areca.

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    I know this likely a stupid question as you have probably tried it. Have you pulled the drive and reseated it, or tried another hard drive? On the other, yeah, we stopped using 3ware due to what you describe. They can be great at times, but when they mess up, they REALLY mess up. We tend to stick with Adaptec these days. Not to say there aren't the occasional major faults with Adaptec, but its a lot less common it seems.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Webdude View Post
    I know this likely a stupid question as you have probably tried it. Have you pulled the drive and reseated it, or tried another hard drive? On the other, yeah, we stopped using 3ware due to what you describe. They can be great at times, but when they mess up, they REALLY mess up. We tend to stick with Adaptec these days. Not to say there aren't the occasional major faults with Adaptec, but its a lot less common it seems.
    I am sure I could have recovered this array but I don't work in the data center right now and we had backups <24 hours old so it made more sense just to recover from the backups. There is no problem with the drives, we even moved them to another box which was in the same situation.

    The thing is that from the above output the array should not have been in-operable. 7 of the drives were indeed part of the unit all with an 'OK' status and it was just the raid info got screwed up. I know how to dump the array info from another array and write it to a damaged one using a regular controller/HBA due to the 55TB array fiasco from before but my point is 3ware shouldn't even be doing the crap it does. Sadly I am seeing like a 15-20% (which is slowly rising) array failure rate on 3ware controllers. The couple of areca test machines we have and the LSI machines haven't lost any arrays.

    The machines using LSI controllers actually no out-number the 3ware ones too.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by houkouonchi View Post
    Anyone wanna tell me why this was 'inoperable' instead of 'degraded'?
    Did you call 3ware tech support and ask this same question? I've found they've got their stuff together every time I've called 'em.

    Quote Originally Posted by houkouonchi View Post
    3ware cards suck. We unfortunately bought a lot of them before we realized this. We then switched to LSI
    You realize LSI owns 3ware right?

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    Quote Originally Posted by porcupine View Post
    Did you call 3ware tech support and ask this same question? I've found they've got their stuff together every time I've called 'em.
    They don't have 24/7 support so it wouldn't help in this situation. Not the case here but they won't help you if you are using 1.5 TB drives (which a lot of our systems use) as their software doesn't support it.

    Last time I contacted them because of DCB corruption it took two weeks to get a solution out of them that partially worked (I had to modify the files they sent me and their script to actually get it working completely and just for our array based off 1 TB disks, I had to recover the 1.5 TB disk array completely by myself).

    Needless to say I have absolutely zero faith in 3ware support.

    Quote Originally Posted by porcupine View Post
    You realize LSI owns 3ware right?
    You realize that this is recent and all of the models of raid controllers 3ware currently sells were made before they were purchased by LSI, right?

    I am hoping they might get better but I will still never use them again.

    I think the reason why most people don't see how badly they suck is they don't use them under an enterprise environment. I work for a web-hosting company primarily dealing with shared hosting (one of the biggest ones) and thus the machines are under a very high I/O load compared to your run-of-the-mills dedicated or colo'd server.

    Both the performance (severely) and reliability seems to plummet with 3ware cards when they are under a high i/o situation.

  26. #26
    Thanks for all the replies!

    I ordered this 3ware card today...
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16816116041

    But the reviews and what some people have said about 3ware raids failing and being unrecoverable scares me (mostly since I wont have access to the server). newegg has not shipped it yet, so I am hoping I can call tommorow as soon as they open and cancel the order. Would you guys suggest this card over the 3ware card?

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16816103058

    I really cant do 250$ for the other adaptec card, but this one seems to have good reviews. It says its a low level software raid, but this servers for game servers, so speed isnt a huge issue, whereas stability is.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CrimsonGT View Post
    Thanks for all the replies!

    I ordered this 3ware card today...
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16816116041

    But the reviews and what some people have said about 3ware raids failing and being unrecoverable scares me (mostly since I wont have access to the server). newegg has not shipped it yet, so I am hoping I can call tommorow as soon as they open and cancel the order. Would you guys suggest this card over the 3ware card?

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16816103058

    I really cant do 250$ for the other adaptec card, but this one seems to have good reviews. It says its a low level software raid, but this servers for game servers, so speed isnt a huge issue, whereas stability is.
    That adaptec card is not a real raid controller and thus probably won't work correctly for raid in linux (as its most likely fakeraid). I would highly suggest spending the extra money for the 2405. Ewiz (which I have bought tons of crap off of) has it for a pretty good price as its around what that 3ware card was going to cost you ($183.60). You can get a couple dollars off by doing a search on froogle and clicking the link from there...

    http://www.google.com/products?q=adaptec+2405&scoring=p

  28. Quote Originally Posted by CrimsonGT View Post
    Thanks for all the replies!

    I ordered this 3ware card today...
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16816116041

    But the reviews and what some people have said about 3ware raids failing and being unrecoverable scares me (mostly since I wont have access to the server). newegg has not shipped it yet, so I am hoping I can call tommorow as soon as they open and cancel the order. Would you guys suggest this card over the 3ware card?

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16816103058

    I really cant do 250$ for the other adaptec card, but this one seems to have good reviews. It says its a low level software raid, but this servers for game servers, so speed isnt a huge issue, whereas stability is.
    Adaptec 1430 is just a "HostRAID" adapter based on a SATA IO chip which gives you nothing more than the on-board Intel ICHx or nVidia SATA controller in terms of "RAID" function and performance.

    if you opt for 'software' RAID route, then just use on-board SATA ports and install Linux OS software RAID1 (md.ko). there is really no point to spend even $100 to buy a RAID card such as 1430 HostRAID adapter.

  29. #29
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    my vote goes to LSI in general.
    if its a dell system PERC based system is your best choise.
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    1u server? I would go software raid with linux if you are using linux that is...for raid 1 0

    my opinion...saves money, card not needed, easy recovery.

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    Quote Originally Posted by programguy View Post
    1u server? I would go software raid with linux if you are using linux that is...for raid 1 0

    my opinion...saves money, card not needed, easy recovery.
    I would only suggest this if as you say it is linux and if the guy is experienced in linux software raid. Getting a sytem up and running on a block device using mdadm can be quite a chore for the novice linux user especially if the raid level has any striping (like raid10).

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    If installing linux from scratch it's fairly easy (at least with Centos/anaconda). In Windows it's very easy to do software RAID.

    Converting an existing system from no-RAID to software RAID in linux is no joke though.
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    Typically on a 1u that only allows two drives, I dont do raid. I install on one drive and then use the other drive as a local backup. I have never failed to be able to fully restore a machine under this configuration, and never have the raid issues that sometimes cause total loss. I use true hardware raid (adaptec) on 2U-4U's where I can put at least 5 drives. Even then I have had two drives fail and the swap drive not be picked up. Raid can be an unpredictable beast.

  34. #34
    I wish I knew all this a month ago, I figured I had to run raid hehe. So would you guys recommend just running raid 1 using the motherboard or just not running it at all and scheduling backups of critical files every 24 hours to the secondary HDD?

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by CrimsonGT View Post
    I wish I knew all this a month ago, I figured I had to run raid hehe. So would you guys recommend just running raid 1 using the motherboard or just not running it at all and scheduling backups of critical files every 24 hours to the secondary HDD?
    The thing is, we dont know the specs of the server, drives, etc. I personally play it safe with 1U servers w/two drives. That doesnt mean it's the best way for you. Others here use software/onboard/card raids with them, and I dont. If your server can use 3 drives, my actual suggestion would be to use Raid1 of some sort for your two main drives, then a large 3rd drive for local backups.

    The local backup is by no means fool proof. However, it allows for a variety of things such as extremely fast restore of lost data as well as full restore if something happens to your raid and you lose everything. On a Raid one with two drives, if you have a serious corruption or a hack, the raid does nothing for you. A local backup is the cheapest and fastest way. Create a backup system that mounts the 3rd drive, backs up, then unmounts the drive. Hacks usually wont bother looking for that because they are in/out as fast as possible. If you can only have two drives, then one main and one backup.

    Others will differ with me on that, and thats ok. We all recommend based on past experiences. It doesnt mean anyone is wrong versus another, it's just different ways of getting to the same end.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FastServ View Post
    If installing linux from scratch it's fairly easy (at least with Centos/anaconda). In Windows it's very easy to do software RAID.

    Converting an existing system from no-RAID to software RAID in linux is no joke though.
    I actually did this and wrote a tutorial on it. If the machine was originally setup with LVM you can actually convert it to RAID 1 on the fly while the services are still running! Just needs a couple reboots to confirm the bootloader works correct at a couple steps. http://community.spiceworks.com/how_to/show/340

    I would agree, if the machine is Linux, and you only need RAID 1, go with the software RAID. Easy to setup. Never had any issues with it. If your aliases are setup correctly on the machine, distros such as CentOS will send mdadm alerts in email by default.

    What good would your RAID 1 with a fakeraid card be if the driver doesn't work correctly and you can't get alerts for the integrity? In the case of Windows, a real card with a good supported driver to send alerts, would probably be best. 3ware seems to do this well with the driver web interface. I imagine Adaptec and LSI drivers would too. But only used those on ESX / Linux platforms.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CrimsonGT View Post
    I wish I knew all this a month ago, I figured I had to run raid hehe. So would you guys recommend just running raid 1 using the motherboard or just not running it at all and scheduling backups of critical files every 24 hours to the secondary HDD?
    actually, I was saying run raid through the software (linux) and NOT the motherboard.. their is a difference.

    If you want to go with the board, I would follow all these guys advice and buy a good card instead and ignore the board. IN my opinion, the board raid is the least desirable option.

  38. #38
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    Issue with onboard RAID is that migrating the RAID to another motherboard can be problematic, even impossible. By using a proper RAID controller, you can take your controller and your data with you, if you have any sort of motherboard issue.

    FWIW, we went from 3Ware -> Areca -> Adaptec. Eventually, you will get sick of Areca's poor support / disorganized driver downloads, etc, etc. Very unprofessional. Adaptec's have been great, aside from an issue where an online migration blew up for no reason and we ended up having to revert to backup. They also have 24x7 support; yes, you have to pay for it but at least it's there if needed.
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  39. #39
    Okay, I see a lot of you guys mentioning linux. I am running server 2008 so the linux stuff doesnt really apply. I am a complete RAID newbie, so I really want to figure out what I should do. I am on Server 08, 2 HDDs, and using this motherboard...

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16813182190

    So what should I do? I cancelled the 3ware card. As I said before I really just need as much assurance as I can get with 2 harddrives that im not going to completely lose all the data. If I really need to I can get that adaptec card and run Raid 1, or I can run the motherboard RAID in raid 1, or I can just run the hard drives and do a backup every 24 hours.

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    534
    Quote Originally Posted by CrimsonGT View Post
    Okay, I see a lot of you guys mentioning linux. I am running server 2008 so the linux stuff doesnt really apply. I am a complete RAID newbie, so I really want to figure out what I should do. I am on Server 08, 2 HDDs, and using this motherboard...

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16813182190

    So what should I do? I cancelled the 3ware card. As I said before I really just need as much assurance as I can get with 2 harddrives that im not going to completely lose all the data. If I really need to I can get that adaptec card and run Raid 1, or I can run the motherboard RAID in raid 1, or I can just run the hard drives and do a backup every 24 hours.
    Really, the same applies for Windows as Linux. If you're only going to run 2 drives, and have no intensions of adding additional drives/storage into the same array, then there's no reason not to just use Windows' built-in RAID mirroring function provided for by Dynamic disks and Mirrored volumes. RAID controllers are generally for people who either need capability to grow quickly and have flexibility in terms of migrating data across more disks later, as well as portability between machines as was mentioned earlier. There are tons of options available when you have a high quality hardware-based RAID solution.

    From what I *hear* of your situation, it sounds to me like the Windows mirror would be perfectly sufficient and have plenty of performance at the same time. However, I need to point out that your statement above "I really just need as much assurance as I can get with 2 harddrives that im not going to completely lose all the data." This kind of "assurance" cannot be provided only by a RAID controller alone - period. Your server could be hacked and pillaged for all of it's data, and everything burned in a matter of hours and your RAID controller won't help you one bit. It would happily blast all of the data as fast as the program can tell it to. You need an off-server backup solution that's preferrably "pull" based in order to prevent such a type of hack attack to leave you with nothing more than a blank server. Make sure you're completely aware of exactly what a RAID controller is - it's not a substitute for off-server backups. Search through THIS forum's announcements section for details on a hack that happened a while back where two backup copies and the master copy were all corrupted because the operators ran "push" backups and the hacker gained access to all online copies of the forum data.

    Staying in business in light of a hacking is serious business and is not cheap. Plan for it soon, if not up front.

    --Chris
    The Object Zone - Your Windows Server Specialists for more than twelve years - http://www.object-zone.net/
    Services: Contract Server Management, Desktop Support Services, IT/VoIP Consulting, Cloud Migration, and Custom ASP.net and Mobile Application Development

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