On many systems with RAID1 support built into the mobo chipset, that
system includes some RAID management software in BIOS. You won't see it
until you turn on RAID capabilities in the BIOS and add a drive. But you
might find all the details you need in manuals on the matter from Dell,
so look for those. They could have come with your machine, or you may
have to search their website and download.
On systems I've seen you create and manage RAID arrays using that
built-in software, NOT Windows tools. In fact, some RAID1 management
tools would allow you to convert a single stand-along HDD to a RAID1
array by adding a matching HDD unit and then having the system copy all
the data to the second drive. This is almost the same as the process to
repair a damaged RAID1 array by replacing one faulty drive with a new
one and rebuilding the array.
HOWEVER, Windows ALWAYS needs a RAID driver installed in it to use
any RAID array. If you are simply booting from a "normal" stand-alone
disk into Windows and then using a RAID array as a data storage system,
the RAID driver installation can be done any time after Windows is
running as you set up the new storage system. BUT Windows in ANY version
cannot BOOT from a RAID array unless the RAID driver has been installed
at the very beginning of the OS installation. This implies that, if you
want to convert your single disk into a RAID1 2-disk array and use ONLY
that as the HDD resource in the machine, you will need to re-install
Windows, this time including the required RAID driver install at the
beginning, in order to boot from that array.
I have read that there may be ways to convert a non-bootable RAID
array into bootable by some complicated editing of Windows registry and
boot files in order to force it to load the right driver at the right
time from the right spot on a HDD, etc. But I am not SURE that would
work. It's definitely for the adventurous knowledgeable techie.
So here's a quick guide to installing hardware RAID on a motherboard
that features a RAID controller. These steps assume you are performing a
clean Windows 7 install rather than an upgrade, and they might differ
depending on your system set-up, but the general principles should be
- Download the RAID drivers for your motherboard from the manufacturer's website and save them to a memory stick.
- Back up all your important data!
- Turn your PC off and unplug it.
- Install 2 hard disks preferably with identically capacity into your PC.
- Turn on your PC, press the delete key or F2 key when prompted to get to the BIOS menu.
- Find the option to select the RAID mode, save your settings and exit BIOS.
reboot you should see a new menu option to enter the RAID controller
settings. Enter the key combination when prompted to get to the RAID
- Create a new RAID array selecting either RAID 0, or RAID 1.
- Select the disks that will form the array, save the settings and exit.
- On reboot press the delete key or F2 key when prompted to get to the BIOS menu.
- Check the boot sequence of your PC and ensure your optical drive is top of the list.
- Insert your Windows 7 disk into the optical drive and exit the BIOS.
- On reboot press any key when prompted to boot from the optical drive.
- Windows 7 should start installing.
- Select your localisation settings and click next.
- Click "repair your computer" and click the "load drivers" button.
- Insert your memory stick and browse to the correct driver and install.
back to the Windows 7 install menu click "Install now" and on the next
screen click "Custom (advanced)" to perform a clean install.
you are asked where you want to install Windows 7 you should see that
the 2 RAID hard disks are now visible as just 1 drive.
- Add a partition to the new drive so Windows with be able to recognise it.
- Continue installing Windows as normal.