Asus bios flash killed RAIDs, is recovery possible?

Posted on 2004-09-16
Last Modified: 2010-04-03
I have an ASUS P4C800-E Deluxe, and I just reflashed the bios to 1017.  It was supposed to fix a problem with the boot order in the bios getting changed whenever you remove a PATA drive.

Now the machine won't boot because it no longer sees the RAID-0 array on the motherboard's Promise controller.  I am going to reflash tonight.  I am hoping that the flashing didn't make it so the only choice it to re-establish the arrays from scratch.  The purpose of the RAID-1 PATA array for data was redundency & safety.  If the array is that fragile, what a joke RAID-1 is!  I can restore the C drive to an image I have and not lose too much, but the RAID-1 data I would lose a lot.

I have two Maxtor 250GB drives that were in this RAID-1 array.  If reflashing doesn't bring back the arrays, what are options to recover data from the arrays?  I have Stellar Phoenix drive recovery software.  I never tried it on a RAID 1 mirror drive.  That would be super-slow, I hope it doesn't come to that.

ASUS support just says it was a bad flash, no clues why.  Must have been a bad download cuz everything went perfect by the book.
Question by:mark876543
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Expert Comment

ID: 12076374
If you get an identical motherboard with the same controller, you can probably hook up the drives and see all the data on them.  The important thing is using the same controller as the original.

Author Comment

ID: 12077278
Hmm.  Suppose I have a problem with my RAID-1, like say one of the drives fails.  The array is now going to have to be rebuilt.  I think the Promise Fasttrack software has some provision for this.  You have to be very careful to select the source and destination drive correctly.

I am wishing there was a utility to let me take one of my mirrored RAID-1 PATA drives and transfer the data to another single drive.  I haven't tried hooking it up as a plain single drive to see if I can see the data in windows.  With RAID-1 it should be duplicated on both drives.  But it may be not accessible because of any odd RAID structure, I don't know.

I'm wishing for a less extreme remedy than having to buy another board etc.  Why wouldn't just flashing the bios with an original version do the same thing?  Do some other chips on the board get flashed during the bios reflash proceedure too?  Is that why you think a whole other board would be needed?

Any discussion of RAID-1 drive recovery to a single drive would be helpful.
LVL 69

Expert Comment

ID: 12078373
The RAID controller is a separate chip from the BIOS, which is why flashing the BIOS won't work.  For the same reason, you can't just take a drive and install it anywhere - the information on the drive is specific to the controller, although using a controller in the same "family" might work (ie, the controllers are not exactly the same, but recognize the formatting of the drive).
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Author Comment

ID: 12078744
Do you have reason to suspect that the RAID controller is ruined on my motherboard?  I mean could the faulty bios flash alone be the cause of not seeing the array?   Since the bios-flash caused the problem I still am having trouble understanding why flashing again couldn't fix the problem.  So you're saying the m/b is ruined?  I think it should be still under warranty if that's the case.

Is RAID-1 as big of a joke as it seems to me right now, I mean the so-called data security is a joke, if there's no practical way to recover the data from problems.  Well, some lessons are expensive...
LVL 69

Accepted Solution

Callandor earned 500 total points
ID: 12079103
No, I was just thinking along the lines of what to do in response to your question:
"If reflashing doesn't bring back the arrays, what are options to recover data from the arrays?"

I didn't mean to scare you, just wanted to tell you what your options were.  By all means, try to recover by reflashing - I thought the motherboard was no good at this point.

Author Comment

ID: 12079577
Oh lucky me, reflashing did fix everything!  I think I may have got a hold of the wrong (older) version of afudos flashing utility.  I think that because when I re-downloaded everything again, it was a little bigger in size.  It did more stuff too, a lot of verifying after flashing.  It wasn't just you that scared me Callandor, one of the Asus guys said it was possible to wreck your arrays by a flash gone wrong.  Seems like even when you're pretty good at backing up and think you have a plan for everything, something can always happen to make you go .... if only I had a more recent ....  
Thanks for your assistance.  

This does make me want to understand better how to recover the RAID-1 array in case of drive failure.  I know that if you so much as unplug a drive then boot, making it think a drive has failed, it makes you go through this restore-array thing, that takes a very long time to rebuild.  I think the trick there would be to make real sure you were restoring the good drive onto the empty new drive, not the reverse by mistake.

I think I'm going to image my data too for a second way of recovering to at least a somewhat recent point.  Outpost has Maxtor 250GB/7200/8 for $119 it'd be worth it maybe.

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