Reconfigure Dell DataSafe Raid setup?

By kar_mc1 ·
I bought a WinVista Dell system with the DataSafe Raid set-up ( and have since wondered why I did that. With the Vista OS taking up such a huge chunk of disk space (54gigs of the 60 gig partition, and I don't even yet have many of the programs I usually have, ie PhotoShop, Dreamweaver, etc. installed!) I've been thinking I might rather have the two 320gig disks available to me and take my chances with disk failure. (I've got a new 500GB external hard drive to back up the backups to!)

Assuming this is possible, can anyone point me to step-by-step instructions on how I'd go about this? Or can you suggest a forum where I might find folks willing to steer me through this? I'd normally be more self-reliant and perhaps locate this myself, but all four of my home computers seem to have fallen into in various states of disrepair at once, my wireless network is suddenly finicky, and I'm worn out trying to keep up.

Thanks for any help,

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Not exactly sure what you want but if it is to remove

by OH Smeg In reply to Reconfigure Dell DataSafe ...

The RAID and have 2 HDD's available you need to reinstall the OS and not insert a RAID Driver. With a Dell Recovery Disc I don't think that this is possible either because the Dell Recovery Disc returns the System to the Factory Default Condition.

You will need a M$ Supplied Vista Disc to use your Product Key on and even then Vista may not accept your Product Key because placed like Dell buy a License and Codes from M$ and what you use to install may not accept the Dell Codes.

Anyway depending on your actual system you need to do a clean install of the OS and maybe add a SATA Driver if Vista doesn't natively support your Hardware.


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Odds of Disaster Ensuing?

by kar_mc1 In reply to Not exactly sure what you ...

Thanks for the reply. Yeah, I want the HDD space. I'm convinced that'll be more useful to me than the redundancy.

From the reading I've done, I'm also thinking I may be taking a performance hit as is and wondering if another RAID config might give me more HDD space as well as a performance boost (though, no, I didn't bring that up in my initial question.)

I've often accomplished tech tasks despite them being a bit above my total comprehension, but have found that a bit of expert input at the beginning can save me a lot of time and frustration.

From your expert input, I take it I'll need to get a Vista disk that isn't branded Dell "Reinstallation DVD". So, do I call Dell for that? I wish I'd been paying more attention when I bought this system and noticed that the OS disk was neutered.

Is there no chance there'll be the options I need during the reinstall using the disk I have? (Please excuse if that's a "duh" question!) I don't mind going through reinstalling the OS (actually, I want to so I can try to set the user data and special folders locations how I want them from the get-go this time), but I'd like to be aware of any caveats as to predictable mistakes I might make that would leave me unsuccessful with no way to get back to where I started.

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OK I'll start at the beginning

by OH Smeg In reply to Odds of Disaster Ensuing?

Yes you are taking a Performance Hit for this configuration but you get Redundancy which in most cases is the best option to save Data in the event of a Failure. The systems that I build & Maintain always have things set this way rather than running the risk of loosing Data.

One Doctors Surgery actually uses 160 GIG Drives to replace a 80 GIG Drive and isn't willing to risk using something like Partition Magic to enlarge the Partitions of their RAID in case of OS loss. Long story but the last time I was there being Blackmailed to fix this up well actually install a new Server Application I spent 5 days there between Christmas & New Year figuring out what had been done to make it work. I was really beginning to question my own sanity by the end of that lot but it was working fine when I eventually crawled out exhausted.

To improve Performance use a Stripped Array not a Mirrored Array as that has 2 HDD sharing the one data stream so it's much faster than having the 2 drives mirror each other. The down side is that maybe you will be unable to rebuild the RAID Array when a HDD fails.

For reading on RAID Arrays look here

From your expert input, I take it I'll need to get a Vista disk that isn't branded Dell "Reinstallation DVD". So, do I call Dell for that? I wish I'd been paying more attention when I bought this system and noticed that the OS disk was neutered.

Well I'm not too sure about the Expert bit but I have had a bit of practice though very little with Vista as it's not useful to business yet if ever. Depends on what M$ ends up doing with Windows 7 that one.

Yes you'll need a M$ Branded Vista DVD as it has all the Windows Drivers and other bits and pieces which the Dell Slipstreamed Disc doesn't. But if you have the time and inclination you could try a Install from the Dell Disc and see if you have any options on setting up the RAID. I don't think you will but it's worth a try maybe.

Before starting anything you need to make a Backup of all your Data and Settings. Well the Settings bit is a Maybe depending on what the Computer has configured but the Data is a Must Do. Loosing a few settings that take a few more minutes to configure isn't a big deal but loosing the Data is completely different. But you should be doing this before doing anything regardless.

As one other Peer has said this week there are 2 types of Computer User those that have lost their Data and those that are going to. While a Backup is no complete Guarantee it's a lot cheaper than requiring a HDD Recovery from a Data Recovery House. At present a HDD Backup is about $100.00 + depending on HDD size and a Data Recovery From a HDD costs 1 new HDD to replace the one removed at the very least + The cost of the Data Recovery. That's about $900.00 for the guesstimating and several thousand $ for the actual recovery from a working Drive and much more from a dead drive with no guarantee that all the data will be recoverable. Last time cost one company 46 K but the drive there was dead and they needed it urgently so it was pushed through in 24 hours.

As for Predictable Mistakes my first suggestion would be don't install Vista again but that's not always an option depending on the hardware and you may need Vista anyway. On the up side with Vista though any Vista Install Disc from M$ will do as they are all the same with the Product Key activating the different versions so you don't have to hunt around for the right Install Disc.

The only off the shelf systems that I deal with are the IBM 2,000 CPU Blade Servers and even those are not really Off the Shelf type things. So I'm not exactly sure what Dell put on this Recovery Disc but if past experience is any guide it will only be the bare minimum needed and it also has all the software that loads in the one hit so it's not really a Windows Install Disc.

Hope that is of some use to you.

Post back or Peer Mail me if you want to know any more.


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I do actually need Vista

by kar_mc1 In reply to OK I'll start at the begi ...

Since I do regularly back up my data, and since Vista is slow, the redundancy and performance hit never should have been my choice. I admit that I misunderstood RAID and how Data Safe worked. I don't feel too stupid, though, as it took hours on the phone, moving up the chain with Dell tech support to find anyone there who understood those two little details, either.

Of course, it would have been much smarter for me to have put in that level of research before I impulsively bought the thing. But I was impatient to get a Vista-installed system because I need to learn the OS. I work with home users, many of whom are now stuck with Vista.

Well, thanks again for the input and the offer of more. I'll likely PM you with at least one other question once I get started on this reinstall sometime in the next week!


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OK as you need Vista

by OH Smeg In reply to I do actually need Vista

Here's a hint Use at least 2 GIG of RAM for Memory and a Dedicated Video Card. If you do this the system will almost work right.

If you don't have 2 GIG of RAM the System will perform poorly and appear very slow.

If you don't have a Dedicated Video Card the CPU and System Memory will be performing the job of a GPU and Video Memory both of which are much faster than the System CPU and RAM.

So if you don't have at least 2 GIG of RAM and a Video Card they system will perform like a Pig and be extremely slow and painful to use. From Testing Vista I've found that the 2 GIG is a Minimum Limit and if you can fit more it's better but never run Vista with any less than 2 GIG of RAM.


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