Part One: Enable the RAID controller in Bios

This is the first catch that got me, whilst the HP Microserver does include a hardware RAID controller capable of supporting RAID 0 (two disks, acting as one for speed) or RAID 1 (two disks, acting as a mirror of one another for reliability), you need to change the IDE config from AHCI to RAID in order to see the RAID controls in the first place…

1. Power up the server. If the server is already powered, save all data, exit all open applications, and restart.

2. During POST, press the F10 key to launch RBSU. If you fail to press F10 before POST, you will need to restart the server.

3. In the Advanced menu screen, select IDE Configuration.

4. Set the SATA Controller Mode field to RAID.

5. Press F10, then select Yes to save the changes and close.

Part Two: Creating a RAID volume

Next you will want to configure your drives, when you reboot you will see an additional step the server goes through, flashing up a RAID controller bios screen, from this you can enter a series of menus to setup your new RAID array.

1. After the system reboots, press Ctrl+F to activate the RAID Configuration Utility.

2. From the Option menu, select RAID Option ROM Utility.

3. Verify that two SATA drives are installed.

4. In the Main menu screen, select Create Array from the main menu. The system prompts a selection of RAID 0 and RAID 1.

6. Select a RAID level.

7. Move down and move over assignment, his space to change to Y

8. Press Control and Y, then again to continue to name the array (this is just a label, for internal use only).

9. Next is a confirmation screen that the fast format is sufficient, Press Control and Y.

10. Then give the array a capacity, obviously I would suggest the maximum, which in my case as I’m using a mirroring array, it would be the size of a single disk, or 2000gb.

CAUTION:  Back up any data stored on the hard drives before proceeding. The configuration process erases all data on the hard drives.

8. After configuration is complete, press Esc to exit the utility.

Part Three: Installing Windows Home Server

With quite a bit of fortune I found that I didn’t to do anything else during installation, the server just saw the RAID array as one 2tb disk, and installed as normal. If you’re using a controller that doesn’t have drivers included in Windows, you have a chance to load them if your disk array doesn’t appear in the drive list.

This has happened to before are whilst slightly annoying, is pretty painless. If you’re using an older OS, like Windows Home Server v1, then you can download the drivers from the AMD or HP websites.

Part Four: Managing the array from Windows Home Server

You will need to install some software called ‘AMD SB8xx SATA RAID Configuration Utility for Windows® Server 2008 and Windows® Server 2008 R2 (RAIDXpert)‘ which is a very long way of saying it adds a web administration service that will allow you to view the state of your arrays, add new arrays and generally manage all the controls available.

Obviously use extreme caution with all of these controls, if you do anything incorrectly you will end up with some very blank hard disks, so backup, backup and backup before you start to play.

AMD and HP in their divine wisdom have made finding the software very difficult, there’s almost a total disconnection when it comes to drivers that HP recommends that live on the AMD site. Fortunately knowing the name of the software you’re after is half the battle, then a simple google search will lead you to their software page (link) and more specifically this page with the application and manually handily hidden away (link).

Although I dare say they will have moved it again by the time I come to look for it again!

The admin screen is a simple web site, and whilst I’m sure its possible to access this beyond your servers desktop on a remote machine or via the internet, I would strongly suggest you keep it tied to just the home server’s desktop, this is administration over your RAID array after all.

From this service you can setup further arrays if you wish to use the other two drives as a secondary array, something I’m planning to do once the final version has come out and I can stop having to move data around so frequently!

» Read the full review of the HP Microserver

» Check out my comparison of performance between the HP Microserver and Acer h340 Atom home servers