Windows Backup Critic
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Windows XP Disk Mirroring

Disk mirroring (aka RAID 1) is an arrangement in which the operating system writes the same data to two separate disks at the same time. Although this requires double the amount of space, it can provide hardware redundancy: if one of the hard drives dies, absolutely no data is lost. The fact that you can suffer a single hard drive failure with virtually no downtime makes disk mirroring attractive for people who use computers for critical work.

Most any PC can achieve disk mirroring by adding on a special RAID controller card that handles all or most of the work of disk mirroring "under the covers". But some operating systems provide full software support for disk mirroring, without requiring any special hardware. This lets you tell the operating system to treat two separate disks as mirrors of each other, and it handles all the work of making sure that any data written to one disk is also written to the other.

Microsoft put software support for disk mirroring into Windows -- but only in the more expensive "server" versions of their operating systems. Thus, you cannot tell Windows to create a disk mirror on a machine running Windows XP Home Edition, Windows XP Professional, Windows 2000 Professional or Windows XP 64-Bit Edition. However, you can tell Windows to create a disk mirror on a machine running Windows 2000/2003 Server, Windows 2000/2003 Advanced Server, or Windows 2000/2003 Datacenter Server.

Motherboard Support for SATA RAID

As more and more motherboards offer built-in RAID controllers, it's more common for people to run a disk mirror on their Windows PC. Although low-end motherboards eschew this (and other) option(s), many moderately priced motherboards provide SATA RAID controllers that can work fine with modern versions of Windows (Windows XP Home/Profesional, Vista).


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