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I recently bought a GIGABYTE S3 SERIES motherboard which supports Raid 5 for SATA drives. I plan on installing Windows 2003 Enterprise server which supports software Raid 5. How should I configure it, use the on motherboard raid controller or the software raid functionality of Windows 2003?
 

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As a System Administrator I NEVER suggest using a software RAID, even the one that comes with Windows. I always recommend BUYING a hardware RAID controller. I just dont like the hoops you have to jump through with the software RAID and I don't like the performance hit associated with it.


Since you already have a hardware RAID controller there is no reason to NOT use it over the software solution as the biggest distractor of the hardware RAID is it's cost.


OTHERs will recommend the software RAID solution but I for one dislike it.
 

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hardware raid 5. There are many controllers to chose from starting below $250.


Itai
 

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The only reliable software RAID is for Linux - I run a home NAS based on a linux system with SATA drives in RAID5 and it is very robust. But windows software RAID is terrible, and should ALWAYS be avoided.


Thanks,

Mike
 

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just a note.


I don't know which chipset Gigabyte S3 m/b uses but there are some limitation on "h/w" raid on m/b


Intel ICH8R chipset (and probably all other intel chipset) are limited to 4 drive arrays. They might also be limited to 2TB size but I can't confirm this one.


nForce chipset are limited to 2TB array size. I was unable to create a striped set of 3 x 750GB hard drives.


If those limitations aren't a problem to you then you should definitely use the m/b raid
 

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Keep in mind that almost none of the onboard chipsets and add in controllers that are less than ~$100 are real hardware RAID. It may appear to be a "hardware" solution, but the driver is actually just doing the RAID operations on the main CPU, not a dedicated controller.


If you want true hardware RAID, look for one with an onboard processor (usually an Xscale or other RISC chip), like a 3ware, Areca, and the high-end Promise cards. They cost more, but you do get better performance, and usually higher reliability.


On the other hand, if you use a Linux box as a big file server, software RAID is great, and very efficient on the cpu, don't really need anything powerful.
 
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