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RAIDing Windows XP:
How to Install Windows XP
on a RAID Array of Hard Disk Drives

Last updated: 1/18/2004

EXAMPLE SYSTEM

Our example system for this article has a Abit KX7-333R DDR Athlon Motherboard and was built using the instructions in How to Build a Computer with an AMD Socket A Athlon or Duron Processor and augmented How to Install the Abit KX7-333/KX7-333R Motherboard.

The KX7-333R motherboard has a built-in Highpoint HPT372 RAID controller chip. The HPT37x series of RAID controllers are covered in more detail in our guide to the Highpoint HPT370 ATA/100 RAID Controller Chip. Two 80 Mbyte Western Digital Special Edition Caviar ATA/100 hard disk drives were used for the RAID configurations. In general, the procedures used in this article are applicable to other hard disk drives and to many other motherboards with RAID controllers, as well as to RAID controller expansion boards.

Windows XP Professional was installed. Other versions of Windows XP, including the upgrade version, will work fine. The upgrade version can be installed on a bare RAID configuration if you have a CD from and older version of Windows 98, etc. available for it to check during the installation.

HARDWARE CONFIGURATION

Please use care when handling hard disk drives.

Both drives used in this article were left at their factory jumper configurations, chip select (CSEL) for this installation. Setting one drive as a Master and the other as a Slave (use dual drive settings) will also work.

The drives were installed in an Antec SX840 case and connected to the two motherboard RAID IDE interface connectors (the yellow ones) with two 80-conductor ATA/66/100 IDE hard disk cables. See Install the Drives for the basic procedures used for installing hard disk drives. The red stripe on the cables goes to pin 1 of the RAID connectors on the motherboard and on drives. The stripe is blue on some cables I've seen. On this mother board Pin 1 is towards the front of the board. On the drives Pin 1 is adjacent to the power connector. The connector at the very end of the end of the cable with two connectors plugs into the drive. It is usually black and may be marked Master. The connector at the other end of the cable plugs into the motherboard. It is usually blue and may be marked System. The unused connector is usually gray and may be marked Slave. The gray connectors would be used for the two additional drives used in a RAID 0/1 configuration. Only the two bottom drives in the above picture were connected for this article. It is important that the drives are kept cool to the touch. The Antec SX840 case does that even with three drives stacked one above the other as shown.

1. BACKUP AND PROTECT YOUR DATA. If you have anything valuable on any drives in the computer, please take the time to back them up or make absolutely sure the drives with data are not connected.

2. DOWNLOAD THE RAID CONTROLLER DRIVER. Windows XP may already have a driver for your particular RAID controller and it may or may not work. Windows XP does have a driver for the Highpoint HPT372 RAID controller, but after installing windows XP the first time, we ran into problems with it. So, we downloaded and installed vesion 2.34 of the driver from Abit's web site and it works fine.

Highpoint's web site states: The BIOS updates posted on this site are only suitable for use with PCI card Host Adapters, not motherboard/HPT3xx chipset combinations. Please visit the motherboard manufacturer's website for the proper download.

3. Expand the drv234.exe file by double-clicking it and copy the resulting driver folders and files to a floppy disk.

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Copyright, Disclaimer, and Trademark Information Copyright © 1996-2006 Larry F. Byard.  All rights reserved. This material or parts thereof may not be copied, published, put on the Internet, rewritten, or redistributed without explicit, written permission from the author.