Posts tagged ‘RAID’

Hard Drives in Windows 7 Randomly Appear and Disappear

Long-time readers will understand immediately that this is not a post for regular readers but is meant to be found on Google by people with similar problems.

I installed Windows 7 home premium 64-bit on a new Asus motherboard with an Intel Z97 chipset.  I have a couple of hard drives and a couple of RAID's connected by eSATA.  Once the installation was complete, I noticed one of the hard drives was missing from the drive listing.  Not only was it not recognized by Windows, it was not recognized by the Windows disk management utility or even by the BIOS.  So I rebooted, and found that this drive now appeared but another disappeared.  This kept happening over and over.  Some reboots I had them all, and some I did not.

I did all the usual stuff.  I swapped cables, swapped drives, etc.  I even RMA'd the motherboard when I got desperate, thinking there was an issue with the drive controller.  But it kept occurring on the new board.  I considered switching the drives from AHCI to IDE in the BIOS, as some people reported this fixed the problem for them, but I really wanted to avoid that**.  I updated the chipset drivers and all the other drivers (sound, graphics, etc) in case there was some IRQ conflict, as some people have reported that this fixed their problem.

I finally found a fix, and thought I would share it.

  • Check your power plan in Windows control panel.  Even if the computer is set never to sleep, your hard drives may be set to sleep (this is in fact the default in windows 7).  Go to the power plan advanced settings, look for hard drives, and set the time to sleep to 0 which causes them never to sleep.  I am not sure this is necessary but others report some success with this.   I may go back later to see if I can change it back -- I don't necessarily need my hard drives spinning all day.
  • It turns out that installing the Intel chipset driver is not enough.  I had thought that since the SATA controller is part of the chipset, the chipset driver would cover it.  However, once I installed the Intel chipset driver, when I checked the SATA / AHCI controller in device manager, it still showed the driver to still be a Microsoft driver.  Turns out this is the problem.  You need this to be an Intel driver
  • The drivers I wanted for the Z97 were right there on my motherboard support site and were called:
    • Intel AHCI/RAID Driver Path for Windows Win7 32bit & Win7 64bit & Win8 32bit & Win8 64bit & Win8.1 32bit & Win8.1 64bit.
    • Intel Rapid Storage Technology Driver software V13.1.0.1058 for Windows Win7 64bit & Win8 64bit & Win8.1 64bit---(WHQL).
  • I had originally thought these were some sort of utility (and a utility is included) but these are essentially the eSATA drivers I needed.  Once installed, checking device manager now showed an Intel rather than a Microsoft driver.

And that fixed it.  Ugh.  Hours and hours of frustration.  My apologies to Asus who got a returned board that was probably just fine.


** By the way, the reason switching to IDE probably fixed the problem is that it is a different driver.  But one gives up capabilities and a bit of performance going AHCI back to IDE.  Also, the switch is not entirely straightfoward and the switch back, if one ever wants to make it, is complicated.

Using XBMC For A Home Movie System

Because this is a topic that will only be interesting to some, and because it has gotten so long that it fills most of the home page, I am putting the article on how I ripped my home movies and created a video streaming system around XBMC below the fold.  For those who are not sure if they want to bother clicking through, here are some teaser photos of the media center I ended up with:

By the way, I know that in 10 5 years, this will all likely be superseded by streaming accounts.  For the time being, I have fun with this.

Continue reading ‘Using XBMC For A Home Movie System’ »

Productive Weekend

  • Migrated about 20 web sites to my new server (actual a virtual private server rather than a dedicated server, but it seems to have most of the functionality of dedicated at a lower price -- performance remains to be tested).  This was sort of a death march as it was incredibly dull and repetitive, especially since many of the sites use WordPress as the content management system so they required database setup and migration as well.  Basically got almost everything done except this site.  I am sure after 20 smooth moves Murphy's Law will cut in on the largest and most complicated.
  • Created our Christmas / Holiday card.  Some 20 years ago I set the unfortunate precedent of trying to do something unique for our cards, so I have made this a double extra more time consuming process than it has to be.  (past examples here, here, here)
  • Made a lot of progress laying track on my model railroad.  All my track is scratch built (from rails and ties) and so it takes a while, but I have nearly all the major switches in place, which are the real time consumers when hand laying track
  • Created a second RAID for my home theater system.  Incredibly, the original 8Tb raid (5x2 TB drives in a RAID 5) is almost full.  Chalk this up in part to Blu Ray rips (which can be 30Gb each) but also to my finally ripping TV series I have on disk (Sopranos, Mad Men, Firefly, etc).  These involve a lot of disks.

At some point soon I want to write a review of my experience with the new SageTV version 7.0 software, which is an ENORMOUS improvement over their old versions.  The Sage system is still for advanced users, but the process for managing plugins and extensions (the whole point of Sage is its customizability) is greatly improved.  The new HD300 set top box is also improved, though with a flaw or two.  You are welcome to email me if you are considering Sage (or if you want something more capable than most media streaming boxes) and I can give you the pros and cons.

Now all I need is a few Christmas present ideas for my wife.

I Have Ripped All My DVD's to a Video Server

The first thing I do when I buy a DVD is rip it to my video server.  I have a 10TB RAID and I don't even try to compress the disks, just copy them over in video_ts format using DVDfab6.    I run SageTV on the server with the absolutely essential SageMC mod.  I then can watch the video at every TV that has a Sage HD200 box.  The whole system works for Bluray as well.

I built the system to try to duplicate a $60,000+ Kaleidoscape system for less than $2000, and the functionality, with some tweaking, comes pretty dang close.  The real work was the drudgery for ripping hundreds of DVD's, but I had already performed this death march with a much larger CD collection so I knew what I was getting into.   SageTV, by the way, is very rewarding if you want to get your hands dirty messing around in the innards but it is not for those who want plug and play.

Anyway, one of the reasons I did all this, beyond the coolness factor, was this.  I can rip just the main movie out of the DVD, leaving behind menus, trailers, FBI warmings, special features, etc.

Computer-Building Lament

At the risk of being way to geeky here, I would like to ask the computer world if they could find some way for me to have a RAID disk drive array on my custom built PC's without having to also buy and install a floppy disk drive that I only use once.  For those who don't know, a RAID is an array of multiple, usually identical, hard drives that can be combined together for redundancy.  For example, two 250GB hard drives can be combined in a RAID such that they appear to be one 250GB drive to the system, but all data is mirrored on both drives, so if one fails, you still have everything, even without making backups.  I usually build RAIDs into my computers, either for redundancy or, if that is not needed, at least to combine multiple drives into one drive letter.  You can even build a raid where all files are split between the two drives, which is a reliability problem but makes for wicked fast drive access (kind of like splitting calculations between two CPUs)

Unfortunately, on most motherboards, the only way to install the RAID drivers if I want to install Windows onto the RAID is to load them with an old 3-1/2 inch floppy.  Which means I usually install a floppy drive on every build -- OK, its only $20 or so, but it still seems like a waste.   On my own computers, I just have one redundant floppy I pass around, but when I build for others, I don't want to leave them hanging if they have to reinstall the OS. 

I would think that this should be doable via a USB key, but I have never tried it.  Anyone out there know a better way?

</geekiness>  OK, I will now return to economics and business.