When planning my new system over the summer, I was determined to utilize a RAID 5 setup. Having 3 750 GB drives, I figured that a RAID 5 setup would yield me plenty of storage space (approximately 1396 GB) and also provide me with parity, to protect my data in case of one drive failing. In addition, the RAID 5 array would provide me with faster reading speeds, due tot he data being split between multiple drives. This setup worked flawlessly and was quite simple to use.
All was well until I decided to upgrade my storage capacity by purchasing an addition 750 GB drive (thus making a total of 4 drives). Utilizing 4 drives in the same RAID 5 setup would provide me with approximately 2095 GB of storage space. However, this is where nForce’s RAID begins to turn on me.
Attempting to utilize the nVidia Control Panel’s RAID functionality, I figured I would be able to expand my RAID 5 array, to simply add the new drive and allow my RAID to rebuild itself over the period of a day or so. This, however, was unable to be done – the only option I was provided was to convert my RAID array from a RAID 5 to a RAID 0+1 – not really what I was going for.
I contacted nVidia Technical Support to ask them about this issue; their response was that I should contact MSI in that my nVidia nForce BIOS were too old (version 6) while their newest version is version 9. In turn, I contacted MSI pertaining to the nVidia nForce BIOS. I was then told by MSI that no newer versions have been provided for nForce. I was caught between two companies in a never-ending customer support referral.
In the end, I ended up throwing caution to the wind, backing up my plethora of data and simply recreating my RAID array. However, this also caused additional problems as nForce’s RAID setup only allows one to create a 2 TB RAID at maximum – lovely. I however, figured I’d give it a random shot and booted into Windows (thankfully installed on a separate drive). Amazingly, Windows saw all 2095 glorious GB of space and all was almost well.
After rebooting, I have come to discover that every few reboots I have to recreate my RAID array by simply deleting the array and recreating it in the MediaShield BIOS (thus not clearing any data stored on the array); this somehow allows the MediaShield BIOS to shrug off the 2 TB limit and allows Windows to utilize all available space on the RAID array.
In the end, my solution is definitely not perfect and is highly limited by nForce’s limited support for modern RAID arrays. My best judgment, for now, is to simply not reboot unless I am within the vicinity of my computer and am able to recreate the RAID array “just in case”. I do severely hope that nVidia releases new patches to the nForce chipsets to hopefully solve this issue in the near future.