July 21, 2012, 7:30 AM — It seemed like a simple, relatively safe task: I needed to undo the RAID array on my PC.
As its primary boot drive, my production system used a RAID 0 array consisting of a pair of Corsair Force GT 240GB drives paired to create a single 480GB volume. All of the valuable data lived on a single 2TB, 7200RPM Western Digital RE drive. The system is based on a Gigabyte GA-X79-UD3 motherboard running a Core i7 3930K CPU. Intel's RapidStore storage software manages the array in Windows.
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One day, RapidStore presented me with a "SMART event" notice, indicating that the drive had generated an error from the SMART monitor built into the drive controller. SMART (Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology) constantly monitors the drive for potential failure conditions, and generates an error when it detects such a condition. Unfortunately, SMART rarely provides specifics about the source of the problem; a single SMART event may turn out to be nothing at all, or it may be a crucial harbinger of imminent drive failure.
The first thing I did was fire up Acronis Backup and Restore and made a full backup image of the array. Then I went online to search for a replacement drive. I found a Crucial 512GB M4 SSD for under $400. I had to double-check the price--$399 for 512GB seemed pretty low--but it turned out to be the real deal; even on Crucial's website you can pick up this model for just $412. The drive sports full SATA 6-gbps support, and reviews show it to be a reasonable (albeit not fabulous) performer. Since my main system's input/output needs aren't especially heavy, it sounded perfect, offering slightly more storage and substantially reduced risk. I figured that, after installing the Crucial SSD, I would no longer need to run RAID.
So I ordered one, and waited nervously for a couple of days until the drive arrived.
My main system is based around an LGA 2011 system, which uses a fairly recent version of Intel's ICH RAID controller. The Acronis software made backing up an image of the boot array in Windows to a secondary drive easy.
I unpacked the Crucial M4, which looked fairly unassuming.