RAID 1 or no?

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RAID 1 or no?

Postposted on Sat Jul 12, 2014 1:55 pm

I'm getting a decommissioned HP Compaq 7900 SFF desktop (C2D) from a school district donated to a nonprofit. This has an 80GB SATA HDD, and I will be putting a second identical drive in, pulled from another 7900 that is going to ewaste anyway. (Yes, this public CA school has too much money in the tech department, according to plenty of the techs, me included.)

Do you guys recommend putting the drives in RAID 1, or not using RAID at all? My thoughts:
Pros:
If one drive dies, the machine still boots. This is all from ~2009 and I don't want failure issues.

Cons:
If the mobo fails, can I recover data if I place one drive in another machine without the RAID controller?
Depending on how many machines they get, I may want to build a Windows image, sysprep it, and deploy it to make my life a little easier. Will this work with RAID? We've also got laptops that only have a single drive and hence will not be using RAID. Same age, pretty much the same chipset, similar specs.
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Re: RAID 1 or no?

Postposted on Sat Jul 12, 2014 5:21 pm

RAID 1 will increase your uptime (since you likely won't have to reimage in the event of a drive failure). You also get the benefit of the Intel RAID driver doing some caching and read-striping.

I'd go for it on the desktop and have a decent backup/image saved somewhere else.
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Re: RAID 1 or no?

Postposted on Sat Jul 12, 2014 9:57 pm

If I build an image, it will only be for my own use initially setting these up. This is a pretty small organization, no IT department, and the machines I'm getting donated will be the first ones they have that aren't their personal ones. Very low budget.

My main concern though, will using RAID make imaging the machine any trickier (particularly seeing as this image will also be used on non-RAID machines)? If the motherboard fails, can I simply pop the drive into another PC and recover data from it? I'm not entirely sure I trust them to keep backups, considering they don't have an external drive or anything for this. (Though copying the same files to other PCs here is a lot better than nothing.)


Just to be clear: we're talking HP Compaq 7900 desktops and HP Compaq 6530b laptops being donated, not sure how many of each. Same age, same/nearly the same chipset. I am not their IT person - they help with local schools and I'm a student at one of those, and thus I (probably/hopefully/maybe) won't be providing long-term support here (I'll be leaving in the fall for college anyway). They'll be running either Vista x64 (because of the COAs - these are barely pre-win7) or 8.1 x64 (if they can apply for the Microsoft program to get donated copies) most likely, as I doubt the win7 site license from the old district transfers over.


Edit: Now that I think about it, there's always the option of telling them to keep backups as well as setting up RAID 1, but barely mentioning RAID (so they don't rely on it as a backup).
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Re: RAID 1 or no?

Postposted on Sat Jul 12, 2014 11:13 pm

For imaging you just need to make sure you include the RAID controller drivers...which you'll need to get the install done initially any way. That's the only "complexity" it'll add.

And yes, if it's the onboard Intel RAID controller, you can put one of the single drives in a USB enclosure or attach it to another SATA port on a working machine and access the data.
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Re: RAID 1 or no?

Postposted on Sun Jul 13, 2014 12:24 am

OK - so set it to RAID in the BIOS and set up the RAID 1 partition by pressing the right keys after POST, then deploy the image. Somehow I thought sysprep'ing removes the drivers (well, the machine specifics anyway), but I'll have to test this. I'm guessing that building the image on the desktop and then deploying it to everything (including the laptops) is my best bet then?

At any rate, it looks like I will be doing RAID 1 on here then. Thanks for the advice!

Oh, and one last thing - will I get issues if I don't sysprep an image before deploying to multiple machines, if only because of unique IDs and such that sysprep removes? I seem to recall that my school didn't sysprep all of the images. Then again, I'm putting this on desktops and laptops (albeit with similar hardware).
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Re: RAID 1 or no?

Postposted on Mon Jul 14, 2014 8:47 am

localhostrulez wrote:Do you guys recommend putting the drives in RAID 1, or not using RAID at all? My thoughts:
Pros:
If one drive dies, the machine still boots. This is all from ~2009 and I don't want failure issues.


I would say no to RAID for a donation. Just make the thing as plain vanilla as possible. Don't do anything fancy; just do the basics.

There is nothing worse then having to deal with equipment that people were trying to be clever with.

localhostrulez wrote:Oh, and one last thing - will I get issues if I don't sysprep an image before deploying to multiple machines, if only because of unique IDs and such that sysprep removes? I seem to recall that my school didn't sysprep all of the images. Then again, I'm putting this on desktops and laptops (albeit with similar hardware).


Yes, you should sysprep Windows if you're going to be ghosting it to a lot of machines. The unique IDs, and such, need to be regenerated for each machine, and sysprep is the way to do that.
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Re: RAID 1 or no?

Postposted on Mon Jul 14, 2014 10:33 am

Flatland_Spider wrote:I would say no to RAID for a donation. Just make the thing as plain vanilla as possible. Don't do anything fancy; just do the basics.

There is nothing worse then having to deal with equipment that people were trying to be clever with.

Yeah, don't do that to those guys. It's only going to confuse them and cause problems.
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Re: RAID 1 or no?

Postposted on Fri Jul 18, 2014 10:38 am

Whoops, I didn't realize I hadn't checked this for a few days.

It just occurred to me that I might have issues getting imaging software to see the RAID partition to begin with. Would it still be a good idea to put a second drive in then? I do want them to keep backups, though chances are that if they backup to a second internal drive and the primary fails, they won't know how to get the data off it. So, I guess I won't be doing RAID then?

Note: Last I heard, they were talking 1 desktop and 3 laptops. Half the reason I want to do sysprep and imaging is for the sake of playing with it, to be honest. That, and it might start to make sense at this point.
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Re: RAID 1 or no?

Postposted on Fri Jul 18, 2014 2:43 pm

localhostrulez wrote:Would it still be a good idea to put a second drive in then? I do want them to keep backups, though chances are that if they backup to a second internal drive and the primary fails, they won't know how to get the data off it.


If you need to get rid of stuff, sure go for it. 80GB drives are on the low end when it comes to modern Windows.

What are the requirements for computer donations to the non-profit? Wipe the computer to get any sensitive information off of it, and do the bare minimum for them to take it. Sure, stuff it full of hardware you want to get rid of, but let their IT support staff set it up however they wish.
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Re: RAID 1 or no?

Postposted on Fri Jul 18, 2014 6:54 pm

Flatland_Spider wrote:
localhostrulez wrote:Would it still be a good idea to put a second drive in then? I do want them to keep backups, though chances are that if they backup to a second internal drive and the primary fails, they won't know how to get the data off it.


If you need to get rid of stuff, sure go for it. 80GB drives are on the low end when it comes to modern Windows.

What are the requirements for computer donations to the non-profit? Wipe the computer to get any sensitive information off of it, and do the bare minimum for them to take it. Sure, stuff it full of hardware you want to get rid of, but let their IT support staff set it up however they wish.



"This is a pretty small organization, no IT department". As in, 4 employees total. And it looks like I'm becoming their unofficial IT person to call. (They help out with a program at the local schools, and I'm a student at one of those. I don't mind helping them out.)

At any rate, this equipment is getting sent to e-waste otherwise, so I may as well take advantage of it if I can.
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Re: RAID 1 or no?

Postposted on Fri Jul 18, 2014 10:24 pm

For what it's worth, it did occur to me that we're also tossing out early 2009 20" iMacs (C2D, 4GB RAM) and white 2009 Macbooks (C2D, 2x1GB RAM). The iMacs seem like perfectly viable machines, but I don't think the Macbooks will run anything past 10.7 smoothly with 2GB RAM. And unfortunately, I can't just pull RAM from some of the HP machines - those are DDR2, while the Macs are DDR3 (the first ones to do so). I trust the macbooks to hold their battery capacity better, though those have had a high failure rate around here (the iMacs have been reliable though). And there's the usual serviceability factor as well, should the iMac have a drive failure.
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Re: RAID 1 or no?

Postposted on Sat Jul 19, 2014 2:08 pm

localhostrulez wrote:And it looks like I'm becoming their unofficial IT person to call.


In that case, go nuts. I thought you were on the other side.

Just remember, someone is going to have to service the PCs when you're gone.

I'd suggest something like Cobian backup to NAS device to cloud storage versus trying to backup the machine to itself.
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Re: RAID 1 or no?

Postposted on Sat Jul 19, 2014 6:32 pm

Flatland_Spider wrote:
localhostrulez wrote:And it looks like I'm becoming their unofficial IT person to call.


In that case, go nuts. I thought you were on the other side.

Just remember, someone is going to have to service the PCs when you're gone.

I'd suggest something like Cobian backup to NAS device to cloud storage versus trying to backup the machine to itself.

Yeah, one of my friends said he'd be up for doing this once I leave for college - he's at the local community college and plans to be here for another year or two. I don't have a plan beyond that though, so sticking to a more standard config may be better. Then again, RAID 1 doesn't seem all that odd, and if drives from an Intel controller array can in fact be read on their own, I don't see much of a problem with it.

Here's the thing about a NAS - they don't have any work equipment yet, and the solution needs to be cheap. Low budget people. :) Getting them to sign up for Dropbox should be easy enough, though I'm not sure that 2GB is enough if you're including pictures of students that'll be used in ad brochures, etc. Maybe have them put copies of things on flash drives and the other machines?
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Re: RAID 1 or no?

Postposted on Sat Jul 19, 2014 11:22 pm

As it turns out, I asked them and they'd rather have the aforementioned Macs.
"early 2009 20" iMacs (C2D, 4GB RAM) and white 2009 Macbooks (C2D, 2x1GB RAM)."

The iMac will be running 10.9. Done. Those run 10.8 nicely, and I see no reason for that model to stumble with 10.9.

The Macbooks, however... 10.7 is the latest OS that seems to run decently with 2GB. I tried 10.9 on one of those, and it was pretty darned slow. A shame, since 10.8 runs quite smoothly on a similarly spec'd MBP 2010 with 4GB RAM. Think an upgrade to 3GB or 4GB is worth it, or should I just go to 10.7? I'm mostly concerned about 3rd party application support over the long haul, but I'm also trying to find the cheapest solution I can. Across 3 Macbooks, that's $60-100, depending on if I go to 3GB or 4GB. (They come with 2x1GB DDR3 1066.)
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