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 Post subject: W700ds: Enable RAID
PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2012 5:14 pm 
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Joined: Wed May 09, 2012 4:29 am
Posts: 38
Location: London, UK
Hello!

I own a ThinkPad W700ds, though I'd imagine that my question would be just as well answered if it were a W700... Please, any help would be great! :)

I purchased a 'used' W700ds with Windows Vista Business (COA and recovery partition intact, but no media supplied). The laptop was advertised with RAID0 but I was always dubious that it was set up correctly. I spent some time investigating it this afternoon and noticed that the BIOS was not configured correctly - It was set to AHCI rather than RAID.

I did the following:

1) Created Recovery Media using the facility in ThinkVantage software.
2) Enabled RAID in the BIOS
3) Entered the RAID configuration (Ctrl+I) during boot up. I configured the drives as RAID0.
4) Reinstalled Windows Vista using the recovery media created in (1) above.

After completing the installation Windows Vista would did not manage to boot - Always BSOD'ing.

I repeated step 3 & 4 above, selecting RAID1 instead. Exactly the same issue.

I have since returned the BIOS setting to AHCI and reinstalled Windows Vista using the recovery media and I am back where I started (Windows installed but in a RAID array).

I have done some research and it would seem that in the RAID drivers are not included in the recovery media and this is the reason for the BSOD. I have included some of the numerous websites that I have read, both for your perusal and, in some way, to verify that I have really spent some time considering this issue before requesting help.

The recovery media that I have created is all that I have - Is there any 'self-contained' way for me to enable RAID? I'd prefer RAID1 (I would favour redundancy over speed) but would be happy with RAID0 if this is not possible. It seems a terrible shame that Lenovo (aware - and obviously not 'intended' as using alterative installation media is considered a 'work around') offer the opportunity of creating recovery media, which cannot be used to reinstall Windows using a valid configuration.

It seems that it is not possible to maintain RAID configuration through Lenovo R&R, which probably explains why the seller listing the ThinkPad as RAID but it did not come to me as such (the seller used the recovery partition to restore the laptop to factory state for me before completing our sale - makes sense!). Still, it seems a shame to have a laptop which offers RAID functionality and has the necessary hardware (RAID controller and two drives) and hitting a brick way over software restrictions. Can anybody give any advice how I may proceed to reinstall Windows with the drives in a RAID array, considering I've only the Lenovo recovery media?

Thank you!! :)

Links:
http://support.lenovo.com/en_US/detail. ... SF08-D0154
http://support.lenovo.com/en_US/detail. ... SF08-D0109
http://forums.lenovo.com/t5/W-Series-Th ... td-p/76134
http://support.lenovo.com/en_ID/researc ... SF08-D0112
viewtopic.php?f=48&t=69559
viewtopic.php?f=48&t=86428


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 Post subject: Re: W700ds: Enable RAID
PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2012 10:30 pm 
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Senior Member

Joined: Mon Jan 25, 2010 12:17 pm
Posts: 500
Location: SFO/HNL
call Lenovo, see if they can help. If still under warranty, they should be obligated to help. Maybe they can point you to the correct additional code/drivers/etc.

Can't be that hard, as when the W700s were still in production, there were several threads floating around on how to setup RAID. So, is probably a matter of just finding out a few details to get you going.


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 Post subject: Re: W700ds: Enable RAID
PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2012 5:49 am 
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Joined: Wed May 09, 2012 4:29 am
Posts: 38
Location: London, UK
Thank you for your help :)

I will call Lenovo later - It's a public holiday in the UK so they may not be available, in which case I'll try again tomorrow. I'll update my progress here - I'm doubtful, though, as the ThinkPad is out of warranty.

I have done a significant amount of searching for help both on this forum and the internet in general and, though I'd love to be proved wrong, the best summary of the situation that I've found so far is available on this very forum:

Quote:
First I called Lenovo/IBM support. Appears this is a known problem.

In the old days, Win XP and Win2000, during the installation process on a Raid 0 config, there is a point that you can hit CNTRL-S to insert third party drivers needed for the install. This is the point where a Raid 0 driver could be inserted so the Windows would be built with it and later boot successfully.

It seems that Lenovo Recovery4 process never took this into consideration for the folks who were switching to Raid0 from an normal single drive W700.

Lenovo/IBM first said, just get the Intel/Raid 0 driver from the website and install it. Well that is impossible if you cannot get the system to boot. And there is no way to insert this driver into the recovery CD/DVD that we are suppose to create when we first get our systems. A real catch 22.

The solution. Lenovo/IBM sent me the actual Recovery CD/DVD to rebuild the system. Since my system is under warranty, the cost was zero. Slower process, but very effective. These CD/DVD have all the necessary drivers to build the system. The raid 0 was a snap to get up and running.

Source

It does seem like a major oversight - that their own recovery media is unable to successfully restore onto a RAID array. Especially seeing as I followed their own instructions, here I followed these instructions exactly (creating the recovery media prior to making any changes to the RAID settings, as advised) but it was not until I ran into problems that my searches suggested the problem I've outlined above. It is slightly disappointing that Lenovo, aware of the situation, do not even mention it in that support document. Indeed, the support document is specifically for people in positions such as mine - Owners of a W700ds who wish to create a RAID volume.

In summary; I fear my options are twofold - (1) Find a way, if it is even possible, to somehow add the RAID driver to the recovery media or some alternative way to restore using my recovery media or (2) Obtain Lenovo's recovery media directly which, if the above quote is to be believed, has no such problem. I would be incredibly grateful for any help in resolving this, using any of my suggestions above or any alternatives.

For now, I will contact Lenovo and shortly make a request in the 'For Sale' section here... Fingers crossed!

Thank you.

EDIT: Lenovo support closed today. I'll try again when possible. In the meantime, any advice? Please? :)

EDIT 2: Called Lenovo today and they were not able to offer support as the ThinkPad is not in warranty. The best they could do was direct me to LenovoRecovery.com to purchase recovery media. They were not able to confirm that the media would differ in any way from the media I created using the ThinkVantage tool - E.g., whether it would include the 'missing' RAID driver or not. For the moment I'll keep an eye out incase there is an alternative available, but if it comes to it I may have to purchase and see. Will keep you updated, but any other ideas would be great! :) Thanks.


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 Post subject: Re: W700ds: Enable RAID
PostPosted: Sat Jun 16, 2012 2:28 pm 
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Joined: Wed Mar 03, 2010 3:36 pm
Posts: 62
Location: Rockdale, Texas
Not sure I know or remember enough to be helpful and also I run Windows 7 on my W700ds and do not know the differences in the configuration of the W700ds between Windows 7 and Vista BUT does your Vista W700ds have an Intel Raid chipset and the Intel Matrix Storage Manager installed on it?

If so you may be able to install Vista in the ACHI mode and then reboot and while rebooting set your bios to Raid and if it does finish the reboot then use the Intel Matrix Storage Manager to build the desired raid configuration within Windows. Of course I would asume that you must have the second drive installed during the reboot to do this.

When my Raid1 degrades, on average about every two to three months, I just go into the Intel manager and set the "Bad" drive to "Good" and it automatically starts to rebuild the Raid1.

Here is another little tidbit which doesn't seem to be your problem but just in case - When they shipped my W700ds they shipped the latest and greatest DVD player/recorder but the problem was it would only pick up and build a system in the AHCI setting. If the bios was set to a raid it would not budge. I had to borrow the previous version dvd player in order to build my system and shortly thereafter bought my own. Before I tried the older drive they even sent me another drive but would only replace im-kind so it did not work either. The only reason I discovered the real problem was a person on the Lenovo Forum in Germany had the same problem and had switched out his drive for an older one and was kind enough to share his experience. Lenovo never acknowledged there was a problem.

_________________
Regards,

Geophyte1
Thinkpad W700ds 2757-CTO, T-400 2767AT6


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 Post subject: Re: W700ds: Enable RAID
PostPosted: Sun Jun 17, 2012 11:16 am 
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Joined: Wed May 09, 2012 4:29 am
Posts: 38
Location: London, UK
Thank you for your comments.

I have now solved my problem (and will detail the solution below) however for the benefit for anybody who may be searching the forum with a similar problem I will cover some of the points you discuss first:

My W700ds does have Intel Raid chipset and the Intel Matrix Storage Manager installed and, to my knowledge, the implementation of the hardware RAID should have no requirement on operating system support beyond ensuring the required driver is present (actual reads/writes are then taken care of by the RAID controller). To this end I believe Windows Vista and 7 do not differ.

I am unable to confirm whether your suggested 'solution' would work or not. I did try something similar however during the 'reboot' phase not only did I enable RAID (rather than AHCI) in the BIOS but I also configured the drives into a RAID volume (Ctrl+I). This process corrupts anything that was previously on the drive and hence it would not boot into the 'old' installation. Instead, it required a reinstallation (and both the prompts and Lenovo support documents warn you of this fact). Having said this, setting only to RAID mode without creating the RAID volume may have enabled Windows to boot and install the RAID controller driver. The next stage worries me slightly as you'd have to (on a subsequent reboot) configure the drives into a RAID volume (Ctrl+I) and it is during this stage I am not sure if the 'first' drive would become corrupt. An interesting idea and something I may experiment with in future but as I have a solution (requiring the separate recovery media - so not a solution for all!) I am in no rush to 'start again'. But well worth posting for anything else that may stumble across this thread.

Thanks also for your other pieces of advice - The RAID degradation is useful as I am too using RAID1 and did not know to expect this sort of problem. Is this normal or just a consequence of a genuine faulty drive? My (Dell) work computer is RAID1 and a number of years since purchase I have still not had any RAID degradation. Regarding the drive; I have a DVD-RW and it has not been the cause of any problem throughout this. I, too, noticed some messages to that effect over at the Lenovo forums, though.

As for my solution; it was to simply purchase the Lenovo recovery media.

Summary:
The disks that Lenovo ThinkVantage creates are not the same as media supplied by Lenovo. The Lenovo disks contain more data, part of which is the RAID driver.

Full:
The Lenovo recovery media include an 'Operating System' disk. This is a full Windows installation. This is scripted to complete an unattended installation after which a number of scripts install various pieces of software including Windows updates, Lenovo software and third-party software. These are full installations from installers but unattended. After this installation has finished a script completes an image backup of the (clean install) drive. It creates the backup as per that Windows version (XP has a hidden recovery partition, Vista has two visible recovery partitions and 7 has one visible recovery partition). At this point Windows is entirely usable.

If you *now* create recovery media using ThinkVantage it essentially writes the disk images to DVD.

In the event that you now wish to recover you have two options; you can restore using the blue ThinkVantage button. This assumes that the recovery partitions are still intact. This process simply extracts the images from the recovery partitions. Alternatively, you can restore using the recovery media created with ThinkVantage. The result is identical but rather than extracting from an image on a recovery partition you are extracting from an image on a recovery media. This is useful if, for example, your drive is corrupt. Either way, the images are the same and the end result of the restoration is the same.

This is good because it is quick and simple. The disadvantage of this is that if the hardware state of the device has changed since the images were originally taken (at the time of the Lenovo recovery media - usually in the factory) then extracting the image is no good because it is assuming the hardware state has remained the same. In my case changing from AHCI to RAID between creating the recovery media meant that the image did not contain what was necessary for the new hardware configuration.

In my case, I have modified the hardware configuration to use RAID1 and completed the unattended installation using the Lenovo recovery media. The installation was flawless and everything is entirely operational. The recovery partition has been rebuilt and can be used, still in a RAID array. At this point I could create the recovery media using ThinkVantage and this would work. However, I do not intend to for a number of reasons (a) I'm happy to leave the ThinkVantage recovery partition intact, (b) hard drive failures should be non-catastrophic to RAID1 and (c) in the event I cannot use the ThinkVantage recovery partition I can simply reinstall using the Lenovo disks. The only disadvantage to using these is that installation takes almost three hours rather than thirty minutes. But considering the time it'd take me to burn off some ThinkVantage recovery disks I'm happy to just invest that time at a later date should the need arise.

My apologies for the long post however I hope my findings can be useful for somebody in the future. In short, get some Lenovo recovery disks and it's a piece of cake. Well worth investing in even if you do not have an issue at the moment as I'd much rather put my faith in a full installation rather than an image, should the need arise.


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 Post subject: Re: W700ds: Enable RAID
PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2012 11:23 am 
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Joined: Wed Mar 03, 2010 3:36 pm
Posts: 62
Location: Rockdale, Texas
I'm glad you got your problem handled.

To answer the question about the raid1 degrading - I don't know if it is the norm or not but I can tell you that I have been running this raid1 on the W700ds since the spring of 2010 and the raid1 has degraded many times. The first time it happened was in December of 2010 and I had been running flawlessly since March or April 2010 up to that point. When it happens the raid will indicate it is degraded with an icon on the lower right of the taskbar and on bootup you'll see one of the drives indicating it is "Bad" or some such. The first time it happened I was totally unfamiliar with the Intel Matrix Manager and so I called Lenovo and they were going to change out the motherboard. Because I bought an onsite warranty they sent a person out. He called before he came and I told him the only thing showing bad when I did a hardware diagnostic was the harddrive so he brought both a harddrive and a motherboard and when he put the harddrive in it began to rebuild and he watched it a little while and left. I'm sure some of this is in another post on this site but I think the only thing showing the drive as bad was the Matrix manager. I don't think the Lenovo hardware check showed anything wrong but I can't strictly remember. In hindsight I wish I had let him replace the motherboard but..... It worked for maybe two weeks and degraded again and through this forum and the Lenovo forum and searching the web I learned about the Intel Matrix Manager and downloaded the manual for it from Intel and that is when I learned to rebuild the raid within Windows using the Matrix Manager.

When the degradation started and after the one HD was replaced, the degrading was fairly often. Sometimes in less than a week and I could hear one of the harddrives clicking. Lenovo replaced that HD and the degradations started to be less frequent. Now they are probably happening maybe 5 times a year.

_________________
Regards,

Geophyte1
Thinkpad W700ds 2757-CTO, T-400 2767AT6


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