Post Wed Jun 11, 2008 2:02 pm

Need Help - Over 2TB Raid array in forensic workstation

Recently we acquired funding to purchase a new fileserver/forensics workstation. Here is what we have:

ASUS M3N-HD/HDMI motherboard
AMD Phenom 9550 2.2 GHz Quad-Core processor
4 GB DDR2 1066 RAM
6 - Seagate Barracuda 1 TB hard drives
Western Digital 120 GB IDE drive (for operating system)
other hardware as needed

Here is what we want to do:
120 GB drive is the main operating system drive
6x1TB drives in RAID 5 array (approx. 4.5 TB when finished) is storage for current / recent cases.

Currently all of our forensic workstations run Win XP Pro SP2 (32-bit).
I would like to keep it that way, however, XP (32-bit) doesn't support a single drive over 2TB because of the way MBR works and of course, the raid array shows up in Windows as a single 4.54 TB drive.

So here are the options I've come up with:

1. Temporarily install Vista and get the raid array set up as GPT with a single NTFS partition, then reinstall Win XP SP2 and use GPT Mounter by Mediafour to mount the drive.

2. Realize that the world moves on and just switch to Vista Enterprise as the OS for the new system. Should have drivers for all the hardware, but question how software will like this.

3. Switch to Windows Server 2003 SP1 (or greater). Not sure about drivers, will have to look. Also unsure about software.

So, my question is - what would you recommend? Does anyone have experience with a Vista or Server 2003 forensics workstation? We primarily use EnCase v5.05j for our forensics work with
NetAnalysis 1.36,
FTK Imager 2.3,
SnagIt 7.1,
CaseNotes 1.0.2007.7
Paraben Email Examiner 5.0
BitPim 0.9.12
Flint Software's Case Manager 1.2.6
QuickView Plus 6.0.1
and other miscellaneous tools which are rarely used.

If you have any experience with any of the above software working or not working in either Vista Enterprise or Server 2003 SP1 (or later), I would appreciate it. Also if you have experience with the 64-bit versions of these operating systems and whether they would be beneficial or not, I'd like to hear it. I know that for Vista, 64-bit is needed to take full advantage of the 4 GB of RAM.
Daniel Harkness
MS - CprE and InfAs
BS - CprE
BS - ComS