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Old March 21, 2009, 06:12 AM
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Default Short Stroking and RAID Questions

I've never set up a RAID array before...so forgive me for any stupid questions

Ok, so I've got what I think to be a pretty decent computer....
BUT, I think that my hard drives are a major weak link.

So, to remedy that I'm going to pick up a third WD640AAKS today (they're on sale at CC for $75) and set up a RAID array using three identical drives...

I'm going to be using my Gigabyte Extreme motherboard for this which has 4 RAID SATA ports. Is this the best way to go?

Also, I assume (from what I've heard) RAID 0 is the fastest right? I'm not really that worried about the "reliablity" factor because all my important data is backed up elsewhere.

Is there anything I should know about setting up this RAID array?

Next question...Short Stroking...I've read about it, but let's assume that I'm about to format my RAID array, and there's no info on any of the drives (fresh install), how do I short stroke my drives from the Vista install screen? Is this something that's done after a format? I've googled it and can't seem to find any good info on HOW to do it.

I know I can create partitions when I'm installing vista, but simply creating a small partition isn't short stroking...HELP!!! LOL

Thanks everyone!
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Old March 21, 2009, 07:43 AM
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Not to be an ass and reply to your question without an answer but after googling what "short stroking" is I don't think I would bother with it. IT guys will short stroke up to 300 drives from what I read in order to keep one certain application for an entire business running fast. I'm betting for your use it wouldn't be that noticable, especially with only 2 drives. All that being said, if you're hell bent on doing it, you're probably going to have to use WD's low level formatting software in order to do something like that. I've never found anything like that in Windows XP/Vista.
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Old March 21, 2009, 09:58 AM
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To get the benefits of shorts stroking all you really need to do is format and make your first partition a small chunk of your hdds size. This will give you the benefit of improved latency, write and speed performance....but don't expect miracles. Easy way to think about it is to run hdtune and run the read and then write benchmarks. Look at the first 10-15% of the test ans that is the "new" speed your partition will do....of course if you only USE the first 10% of your drive for your OS (use a good defrag to place all the important info here) you will get all the benefits of short stroking without the hassle. Manufacturers do it sometime to make usable drives out of platters which have to many bad sectors (e.g. think of a latest gen 250GB 1platter hdd vs latest gen 320gb 1 platter....both have the same platter but the 250 is a short stroked 320. this is not always the case but.... ;) )

To do this on a RAID all you need to do is once again create a small array than the actual size of your drives. The befits will be moderate at best and you will be better off using more hdds than doing this. My rule of thumb is you need 4 hdds for RAID to really start being worth it. YMMV...but I wouldn`t worry too much about short stroking....regardless of what toms hardware has to say on the matter.

I personally wouldn't use a raid 0 as it has no fault tolerance! Raid 1 will be as fast for reads, but slower for writes (assuming 2 or 4 or 6 or 8 or etc drives). raid 5 is a good blend of both worlds and I usualy use this. Also most onboard fake raid cntrllers are suboptimal at best....better than nothing but not by much in some cases. Haven't used your mobo so I can not comment ;)

"best way to go" is a dediacted raid controller with a onboard cpu and memory. Look at fleabay and you can get some decent deals sometimes.
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Last edited by AkG; March 21, 2009 at 10:15 AM.
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Old March 21, 2009, 10:37 AM
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Ok, so short stroking is more hype than anything else....I won't worry about it, but I will make a 50gb partition for my OS....

From what I know about the Gigabyte board, it has a hardware RAID controller. I'll give it a shot and see what happens.

My end result (I hope) is that my OS will boot faster, and that games and programs will load faster too.

We'll see I guess...
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Old March 21, 2009, 10:44 AM
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I got a fantastic result out of a RAID 0 from my 2 SE16 320GB drives.

You MIGHT have to use nlite (or vlite) to put your RAID drivers into your own custom install disc of windows, I had to, even the load off floppy method failed.. just a heads up.

Mine works good, hopefully yours turns out similar.

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Old March 21, 2009, 12:46 PM
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You might find THIS interesting, Toronto. Long story short, stick to the six-pack of SATA slots on your board if possible. If not, maybe send the optical drives and lower-priority SATA stuff to the four-pack, and let the Intel chip handle the RAID duties. Regardless, that's no more 'hardware' RAID than the standard Intel chipset.
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Old March 21, 2009, 02:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Toronto122 View Post
From what I know about the Gigabyte board, it has a hardware RAID controller.
Yeah.... Nope.

Considering a hardware RAID starts at $200, you'd be looking at a $400 board...

That said, unless you're doing parity based RAID (3 and up) you don't need hardware.
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Old March 22, 2009, 01:20 AM
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I noticed a decent performance increase when I went from no short stroked to short stroked on my 640 black, its not huge but its there. as for
Quote:
Not to be an ass and reply to your question without an answer but after googling what "short stroking" is I don't think I would bother with it. IT guys will short stroke up to 300 drives from what I read in order to keep one certain application for an entire business running fast. I'm betting for your use it wouldn't be that noticable, especially with only 2 drives. All that being said, if you're hell bent on doing it, you're probably going to have to use WD's low level formatting software in order to do something like that. I've never found anything like that in Windows XP/Vista.
Google a little harder man, theres TONS of stuff on the net about short stroking and its benefits to desktop users. And check out vistas storage manager or the format manager when you install vista.. makes it pretty damn easy to short stroke as you can even do it on the fly.. and its included in vista so no WD software needed. The biggest benefit I found to short stroking my vista and important utilities was that I could defrag faster and only those files. also by having all my games/programs on another partition I could reformat windows without having to reinstall all my stuff or bother backing everything up if i dont feel like it. doesnt matter if its raid or single hard drive its worth the small amount of effort it takes to do it.
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Old March 22, 2009, 10:50 AM
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Well, here's what I've done...

I ran the three drives in RAID 0 by way of the 6 non RAID SATA ports on my mobo and used Intel's raid config. It was a complete breeze to setup!

This is the end result...
But why are those two partitions different colors? I know the large one at the end isn't allocated yet, but why the green

I'll do a couple of benchmarks in a bit and post them up...
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Old March 22, 2009, 12:58 PM
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Its just showing you that theres 831gbs of unused unpartitioned space on your drives, id just extend that misc files partition to take up the rest of it. I believe the way you have it set up means that 800gbs is inaccessible to windows to use as hard drive space, it needs to be partitioned for windows to be able to use it.
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