Installing RAID 1 on XP machines or use server software?

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Tags:
Backup & recovery
Disk drives
Mirroring
RAID
RAID 1
RAID controllers
Storage products and equipment
Windows Server 2003
Windows XP
We have a mission critical robot on the production line that is run by 3 pc quality machines running NT4 workstation. They are referred to as A B and C It has crashed 2 times in the last year. Both times it was the motherboard on PC B. This machine runs 24x7. The IT department has not had much input into this machine until now. This is what we would like to do. Replace all three motherboards (They are currenly Pentium 2). The industrial motherboards only come in pentium 3. Replace the operating system with a current one. Mirror the harddrives for disaster recovery. My question is: Because these machines do run 24x7, would it be better to use Windows 2003 and mirror the drives through the software. (Will 2003 standard run on pentium 3?) Or would it be OK to use XP and use a RAID controller. And if I do use a hardware solution, what is a good controller and harddrives to buy.
ASKED: May 13, 2005  9:32 AM
UPDATED: August 28, 2008  7:16 PM

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NEVER use software RAID on a mission critical machine. Recovery (I do that for a living) is difficult. A decent RAID contrioller will also monitor disk health. If you are going as far as using a real RAID controller, why not also buy a server-class system? Dell and HP both sell lower-end servers that are not much more cost than a PC. Then get the higher-end support for them – four hour turn around is usually the best support contract available. If its mission-critical, and you have already experienced crashes, you should be able to justify the cost to the bean counters. You IS will appreciate a server with a good hardware contract too.

Dave

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  • Poppaman2
    I agree that for mission critical machines (24x7 operation with "five 9's uptime" if achievable) a low end server class machine is the way to go. I don't see any issue with running WinXP, but as previously stated, stay away from software RAID if at all possible. If you want the most reliable setup available, use SCSI RAID (low end SCSI RAID controllers run about $350.00; some server motherboards have built in SCSI controllers and the ability to use a "zero channel" RAID controller; check with the motherboard vendor/system vendor for more details) as it is more reliable than SATA or ATA at the current time. A more economical alternative would be to use a SATA controller (available for $50 - 100.00 for a 2 port controller), but you might sacrifice a bit in MTBF ratings for the hard drives... Stay away from ATA drives for this mission critical use; yes I realize that just about every desktop out there uses ATA or SATA drives, but there is good reason why most server or workstation class systems use SCSI...
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  • Jtennyson
    Thank you for your responses. I agree low end servers would be better. Unfortunately this is a custom buit machine and the pc equipment is custom so I have to work with what I have. I do not know if the motherboard will handle a SCSI controller. I will check with the manufacturer. The motherboards are IB745 Full-Size Socket 370 Intel 815E(b) CPU Card.
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  • Dcsys99
    Bummer....the IB745 is a "single board computer". You may find an SBC with RAID. I've seen them with SATA or IDE RAID. You should check with your vendor. The IB745 comes with a "MicroPCI" slot that will accomodate a RAID controller. Unfortunately, I've only seen IDE based RAID controllers for MicroPCI. Low end RAID1 is better that software (or no)RAID. Good Luck! Dave
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  • Poppaman
    You might want to check on the Processor website (www.processor.com). I seem to remember several different brands of SBC computers advertised in their hard copy tabloid, but I find it difficult to search their website from "scratch" so to speak.
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