The controller and hard drives I received were the same used in the initial FastTrak testing in The Storage Review. Just to refresh your memory, the unit had a v.1.02 BIOS and the latest drivers dated 3/31/98 downloaded from the Promise FTP site. An engineer from Promise sent Eugene an e-mail suggesting that he use the 64k stripe block size in another test for better performance (lower stripe block size yields better access time
whereas larger size gives you higher sustained transfer rates), so I decided on that for my RAID 0
configuration. I decided to partition the array into a large 9.5 GB partition for the C: drive with the last 2 Gigs going to the D: drive for my personal data.
Since the system wasn't a testbed but actually one of my personal machines, I wanted to transfer my data over to the new drives from my old ones. The only way to do that other than a backup and restore was to have my WD drive hooked up at the same time as the Fasttrak. In the extremely well detailed manual it states that to run a drive on the mainboard's IDE controller along with the array the mainboard drive must be bootable. I had to temporarily run my Maxtor and WD off of the on board IDE channels while I set up the Raid array, then transfer the data currently on the Caviar to the second partition on the new storage system. During this ordeal I ran out of Molex power connectors, so I had to unhook my Zip drive and CDR to temporarily hook up all hard drives at once. Once they were hooked up I booted using my old Maxtor and tried to copy my data onto the second partition on the array using Windows Explorer. This proved unsuccessful; during every copy attempt I received a fatal exception error and I had to start over. I eventually decided to just go to a DOS prompt and use good old xcopy, finally succeeding. At this point I was growing very tired and agitated at the problems I was having but was determined to get this thing up and running to see what it could do. Now with my data on the new drives I turned the machine off and unhooked my old drives from the controller cables and stole their power adapters to get my Zip drive and CDR back online. I now booted off of my boot floppy disk that has my SCSI drivers on it and put my OSR2 CD in and installed windows. Windows, thankfully, installed fine and I was back in business. As you can see, installation was hardly a breeze though I wouldn't necessarily say that it was the FastTrak's fault. I later discovered that I had a bad memory chip which I believe was causing my problem with the windows copy, and better planning on my part may have alleviated the power problem.
Right away I noticed windows seemed to start up and shut down faster than normal. I loaded MS Office 97 and noticed that the programs loaded faster when I started them as well. File copies also appeared to be faster. I was pleased with the performance of my new configuration. Next I installed Norton Utilities 3.0. Upon attempting to run Norton Speed Disk I received an error message that my drives were configured incorrectly and that the program refused to run. Disk Doctor gave me the same error. I decided that this was due to NU not being programmed to deal with a RAID configuration or possibly because the program couldn't handle such a large partition. I looked in the readme file and found a solution that read "...you can set a key in the Registry... To force Norton Disk Doctor and Speed Disk to always skip the drive configuration check, add a DWORD Registry value named NOLBACHECK at this location: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Symantec\Norton Utilities" I reran Speed Disk and Disk doctor and both ran fine at first. Disk Doctor began to find errors every time I ran it. Eventually it "fixed" my hard drive by getting rid of the extended partition. Oh well, at least I had a backup. I later scoured Norton's web site where I found their FAQ on NU 3.0, eventually finding a section entitled "Reconfiguring the Utilities for newer drives larger than 8 GB" implying that it may have problems handling large partitions.
At this point The Storage Review needed the hard drives back so I pulled them out and turned them back in. My final conclusion is that while the FastTrak is significantly faster in real world usage than a regular ATA setup I'm not ready to go that route yet. It doesn't appear to be supported by Norton Utilities and I use that for my disk repair and maintenance. Maybe Promise will fix those problems in a future BIOS revision and send me the new product. Until then I may just get a Pentium II and new motherboard and hold off on storage.