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  Promise FastTrak100 TX2 8/10. Date Posted 07/08/2002.

This is a RAID card with a difference. It is an IDE RAID card, which supports bog standard IDE drives (upto Ultra ATA 100). It supports RAID 0, 1 and also 0+1 (aka RAID 10). However, it does not support RAID 5, which gives you a balance of speed and reliability. At less than 100 pounds though, I would not expect it to be that fully featured. Installation is not a problem. Slip it into a vacant PCI slot, boot it up and go in the card's BIOS. From there you can specify the size of the RAID array and the type. Generally for RAID you need two or more identical hard disks (generally even numbers of disks). This card can support two channels, this equates to four drives in 0+1 or two drives in 0 or 1 modes. With a special drive case, it also supports hot swapping in 1 and 0+1 modes. This means if one drive fails you can replace it without turning off the computer or losing any data!

I choose to run my two 100GB Western Digital drives in RAID 0 mode. This is known a striping and offers no fault tolerance! You do however get double the data transfer speed, since whenever data is written or read, the job is shared by both drives. This worked well for several months until one hard disk went kaput, and the RAID array became totally corrupted! Up until that point, I was enjoying 70MB/s data transfer rates, which is very fast.

Certainly if I could afford it, I would have liked to have had four drives in a RAID 0+1, since this not only offers great performance but also mirroring (like RAID 1). Mirroring simple means that one drive has the same data as the other. Should one drive fail, there's no problem since the data can be recovered from the other drive. Certainly buying four IDE drives would still probably be cheaper than buying a pair of better SCSI drives. In all this FastTrak100 TX2 is an economical way to get RAID on to the desktop. However, make sure you backup all your data before embarking on using RAID 0. No change that, everybody, make sure you backup your data!