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RAID Failed, can I initialize?

Hi Experts,
               OK I hate RAID and I've been meaning to learn more about it but haven't had time; I guess I should have made time as one of the servers has failed with a RAID problem.

We have a Dell Poweredge 2500SC with PERC 3DI Raid

Two 8GB Seagate drives in an array (This contains the OS)

One 20 gb Drive with Data on it.

It looks like one of the 8gb OS drives has failed. I won't be able to get a replacement for weeks (long story)

Can I run this server on the one OS drive?

they were set up as a mirror

If I access PERC (CTRL A) at start-up the only option available seems to be:

Containers: Initialize drive.

Otherwise the raid doesn't seem to want to use the disk
If I initialize the disk in the PERC management will it wipe the disk?      (I need the data and the OS settings)



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51501984
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51501984
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3 Solutions
 
jhanceCommented:
What level of RAID is this?  If it's RAID 0, then NO, your array with the two 8GB drives is lost.  There is no data redundancy with RAID 0.

If it's RAID 1 then you can continue to run it, in fact it should keep running, but be aware that if the 2nd drive fails, the whole thing is lost.  Of course this is no worse than a non-RAID situation.
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johanvz1Commented:
If its raid 0 where one 1 mirror you should still be ok. But go into the BIOS and se ewhat type of RAID level you are running and how your disk arry is spread. Unfortunately I cant give more detail Im an IBM guy dont know DELL
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thur6165Commented:
Don't initialize, you will lose all the data on that drive.  When you get the new drive just try to rebuild it, you don't need to initialize anything.  You can download a disk check utility from seagate to test that bad drive, but generally if you can't rebuild it the drive is toast.  
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johanvz1Commented:
Also not rebuilding takes a while and slows down ur system so if it is a live system see if u can start the process at nigth and make sure U know what RAID level ur running its VERY NB
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51501984Author Commented:
The drive had been removed by the time I got there and the array manager had lost it's settings (All our Dell do this when you remove the drives)

Can I run the one good disk by itself?

If so what do I do with PERC?

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thur6165Commented:
The configuration is stored on the HDD and the NVRAM on the RAID controller.  Say for example a RAID card goes bad you can copy the config to the new card and still proceed and vice versa you can copy the config from the RAID controller onto the disks.  Can you run with one disk, yes.  I understand your not an expert so let me explain, the reason for having a mirrored array or RAID 1 is if one drive fails you can continue to run until you replace it.  
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51501984Author Commented:
Thanks Thur, I get the Mirrored RAID or RAID 1 thing; but in my experience, unfortunately, whenever I've seen a RAID go bad the data has completely gone. Perhaps this is due to the general lack of knowledge of RAID.
If I set one up I'll try to make sure it's either RAID 1 or Mirrored.

OK:

So the Raid controller is only showing a container for the other, stand-alone drive; not for the boot array.

Here's what I'm considering doing:

Removing all drives except for the one good boot drive (hoping that it is mirrored or RAID 1)

Setting up a new container (creating a new array)  on the Array manager for the single drive.

Do you think this will work?

If so how can it be done (is anyone familiar with the PERC 3D/I array manager) whilst still keeping the data on the drive?





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x86fixCommented:
dont do THAT.....You can't setup a one drive mirror.  Initialize will almost always hose your data.  There is no need for it.  Th whole purpose of the mirror is to have a fully functional drive when one goes bad.  You have that now, but you can't make a 1 drive mirror.  Don't destroy your data.  Make a copy of the drive somehow, now.  Get a usb2.0 disk at the store while you wait ( unless your data is not worth $150 to you)  Make a backup now.

When you get the new drive you can create a new mirror just be sure you know which drive is which.
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arthurjbCommented:
IMPORTANT DO NOT REMOVE THE DRIVES without marking them so that you know where they go.

You are making this a lot more of a problem then it really is.  If the os drives were mirrored, then it should just boot with an error message that the raid has a problem.

If they were setup as raid 0, then just don't worry about it since there is nothing you can do now...

The nice thing about raids is that this is a simple problem, providing that you have not moved the drives.  All you have to do is identify the bad drive, and replace it, and tell the software that it has been replaced.

Not being able to get a drive for "Weeks" is a major problem, since drives often fail by age which means that your only good drive could fail. Your boss needs to know that the lack of buying a drive is likely to lead to the loss of all data on the machine.

Your first priority should be to determine for sure if the os was mirrored, since if it wasn't nothing else matters, although you may be able to get the data off the other disk.

Your second priority, if the drives were mirrored is to get 2 replacement drives asap, so that you are ready when the other fails.
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51501984Author Commented:
I've been asking for a new server for months now; I was afraid that something like this might have to happen before we get anywhere.

Unfortunately our support company arrived at the scene first and they had already removed the drives.

*New Info* the support company seem to think that the drives were set-up as RAID1
But if they were then surely it would have kept running albeit with an error message on 1 drive?

If it wa RAID 1 why is the PERC Array manager offerring only INITIALIZE as an option for the remaining good drive?

Also I've tried the good drive in another server and it appears to be empty (I haven't made any physical changes to the drive, such as initialize etc.)
So I think it must have been RAID 0 and that there isn't anything I can do.

What do you all think?

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51501984Author Commented:
Also in addition to the above information I have tried to access the other drive (the 3rd drive, 20gb Data only) on a different, but similar server.
I've set the drive up in the Array manager and can see it in Computer Management, Disk Management after I boot but am unable to access the data on it.

This is the same as the good OS disk; I can see it on the other server but cannot access it.

I'm offered the options of adding a write signature and the Upgrade Disk Wizard offers to upgrade the disk to a dynamic disk.

What should I do to try to access either of these disks? (I need to be sure whether or not they are useless)





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johanvz1Commented:
To determine that you have to download testing application from HDD manufacturer this will rule out any unsure thoughts.

Rgds,

JOhan
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51501984Author Commented:
The other drive (3rd drive) isn't the same make so the testing application won't help me at this stage.

To put it another way: How do I add a 3rd SCSI drive to a server?
(I can test my drives on the other server if I can add them to it)
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arthurjbCommented:
One of the things I would do is post a sign, "Do not remove drives without sys-admin present." So that this doesn't happen again.

I feel bad for you since you got into this in the middle of things and now have to try and make good out of a bad situation.

Before you give up, I would google for (drive recovery software) there are several programs with free demos, that will show you if there is any readable data on the drives...

The suggestion for a testing application is ok, but testing is different from recovery, and testing software often trashes the data on a drive...
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arthurjbCommented:
SCSI  That adds a twist to the mix.

What operating system?
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x86fixCommented:
This could not be a Raid0 with one bad disk.  If your array were raid0 and a disk went bad, your server would stop working.  Raid 0 is not a logical option for a server, as reliabilty is more important than speed.  You really need a support company that can make all of these determinations and get thsi fixed for you.  You should not be the one doing this work.  If they are not trusted to do it you shoul find a better vendor.  I happen to do this sort of thing for a living and  I would not suggest to any of my customers to fix this over the phone or via email with my advise.  I would insist on doing it for them or that they use another company.  This needs to be done right and frankly if you don't trust them to do this you don't need them.  

Having a drive go bad is not an indication of a need for a new server.  Hard drives typically last 3-5 years but can go bad at any time.  That is why we use raids 1, and 5 primarily for redundency and continuation of service in the event of a disk failure.  This event needs to be rectified quickly 1-3 days.  If a server has 3 or more hard drives there is a higher chance of a drive failing than a failure of another component.  The drives have moving parts and sometimes fail within days or weeks.  Most components last for years if they get through the initial burn in.  The hard disk is not like this, they can fail on any day and that is normal.  So th failure of a single hard disk is not a good reason to buy a new server.  Waiting to replace a failed drive is a good way to turn a simple failure into a disaster.  This is not a big deal to competent computer people.  Your current approach appears well intentioned and somtimes logical but it is completely unfocused and contrary to industry standards for repair of this sort of problem.  I would walk away from a customer who did this because I know that data loss is likely.  Hoever it does not need to be that way.

Why are you waiting for a drive?  There are many vendors that can sell any drive you need and they will ship within a day.  Are you waiting for a waranty part?  You need to take control of this situatuion and get a the drive or backup your system to another drive.  If your support company didn't inist on this you need to find a new one.  If they did insist, you need to start listening to them instead of posting to here.
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thur6165Commented:
When you start the Disk Management snap-in, all disks on the system are enumerated to see if any disks have changed or if any new disks have been added to the system. If Disk Management finds any disks that are unknown, that are not initialized, or that do not have a disk signature in the MBR, Disk Management starts a wizard. The wizard prompts you to select the disks that you want to write disk signatures to. By default, no disks are selected. Click the check boxes next to the disk numbers to select the disks to be enumerated. You are then prompted to select the disks that you want to upgrade to dynamic disks.

You don't need to upgrade to a dynamic disk.  If for some reason this was a dynamic disk, then it would ask you to import it.  Here is some info on disk status:

http://technet2.microsoft.com/WindowsServer/en/Library/4b6d9afa-0e0d-4afb-a42f-00c1154cb3791033.mspx?mfr=true

What is the status of the disk?
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51501984Author Commented:
x86fix: Thanks for your input but you don't have all the information required to qualify this statement "Your current approach appears well intentioned and somtimes logical but it is completely unfocused and contrary to industry standards for repair of this sort of problem.  I would walk away from a customer who did this because I know that data loss is likely."
My first post includes "(long story)" but in my defence here is why this is difficult:

I live and work on the second most remote Island in the world.
We are 4000miles away from our Dell depot or pretty much any good IT parts supplier.
I am the foremost IT expert in the country and I don't know much about RAID.
There is only one support company in the country and they know less about RAID than I do.

This post is full of my comments that are based on the little information/knowledge I have about this situation and have been written in a panicked state.

I can only assume that I'm not making much sense because most of my questions have been un-answered, people seem to be advising me about the general situation rather than answering my questions that are specific to my unique circumstances.


thur6165 : I like what you are saying, I'll get back to you.


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51501984Author Commented:
thur6165, it says:

Name:  Array Disk 0:2         Status:  online

I haven't written a disk signature to this disk yet either, will writing a disk signature put the data in danger?


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thur6165Commented:
Don't write the disk signature.  The disk is online, thats good, if there was a problem it would say so right there. You mentioned earlier that you cannot access the data, please describe in more detail.  Does it show up in my computer with a drive letter?  If so does it give you an error when you try to open it.  If you can get to the drive and there is no data check out these utilities to try to recover the missing data.

http://www.pcworld.com/downloads/collection/0,collid,1295,00.asp

If you cant get that far we will talk some more.
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51501984Author Commented:
It does not show it up in my computer.
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thur6165Commented:
Ohh, i see, you gave me the status from the raid controller.  Thats fine,  what does it say when you go to disk management in windows?
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x86fixCommented:
I didnt know they had computers in Tonga
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51501984Author Commented:
x86fix: It's not Tonga, they don't always release figures for this country.
and anyway Tonga is very civilised even if they cross-dress ;o)


thur6165: I'm away from the computer right now but I think it said either Healthy or Active, maybe both.


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x86fixCommented:
I sympathise with your difficulties but The advise is still true.  You can ignore it if it hurts your feelings.  You may want to consider a spare drive to protect your data in the future.  As for now you can't repair a raid unless you have the proper number of drives.  1 is not enough to do anything but keep it running in the degraded state.  This is not a good time to feel compelled to do SOMETHING, unless that something is to make a backup of your data.
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51501984Author Commented:
OK x86fix

You say that your advise *sic* is true and I'm sure it would be to most people, but it isn't in my situation and I didn't ask for that advice I asked different questions.
Yes it does hurt my feelings, you are slandering me when you know nothing of the facts.
I asked questions relating to a problem of mine, you have answered none of them. If you read my questions properly you will see that you have answered none of them.
You chastise me on a public forum, which is the height of rudeness IMO.
I asked for help, not punishment. I didn't cause any of the problems but it is my task to try to put them right and I have limited resources with which to do this.

You said "This is not a good time to feel compelled to do SOMETHING, unless that something is to make a backup of your data." AND "Get a usb2.0 disk at the store while you wait ( unless your data is not worth $150 to you)  Make a backup now."

x86fix, I am an IT professional, I have a USB disk, OK, but tell me, how do I use a USB disk to back up data from a drive I cannot access?  Also there is no store.

Also you said "I happen to do this sort of thing for a living" AND "This is not a big deal to competent computer people"

OK x86fix put your money where you mouth is and prove it; if you really do this sort of thing for a living and consider it not a big deal; prove it, come up with a solution and earn your points.

As for the other contributors: jhance, johanvz1, thur6165, arthurjb. I appreciate you all taking time to actually read my questions and to offer sensible, practical suggestions.
I hope you are able to offer further help as your advice has moved things forward even if I don't have a solution yet.






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x86fixCommented:
If you read my suggestions you have the answer.  Good Luck.  
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thur6165Commented:
Actually the reason why it is not showing in windows is because the disk is online but not joined to an array, so the disk will just sit there and windows will never see it.  The good thing is the drive is recognized and therfore usable.  The bad news is that I have no idea how to setup one disk on a raid controller.  I have never had a reason to do this because RAID controllers are meant to setup multiple disks per array.  I dont' even know if it is possible.  Maybe someone can chime in on this.  You could go into the perc bois and play around a little and see if you setup an array with one disk so that windows will see it.  Other than that if you have a standard SCSI port on the mobo that is not raid you can hook it up to that and then windows will see it.
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51501984Author Commented:
So, now I think that with RAID you can only set up 1 array and therefore 1 logical disk regardless of how many drives you install into the PC.
Just 1 disk?

I know that with an array you only get the disk space of the smallest drive even if you have 3 at for example these sizes:
10GB 15GB 20GB
You would only end up with one 10GB disk.

But lets say that's how you have your machine setup and you wanted to add another disk to it, lets say a 40GB.
Does this mean that it isn't possible to add it as an extra drive? that it will only go to the other array and just add speed or reliability to the array, but not extra space?

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arthurjbCommented:
If you use raid 5, you need at least 3 disks, and all three should be the same size.

The size ends up being n*size - 1n  meaning that if you have 3 20gb drives you get 40 gb of space (3x20 - 20)  with 4 drives you get 60 gb of space (4*20 - 20).

So, you really don't gain much untill you get 4 or more drives. since a 3 drive raid 5  gives you the same size as a 2 drive raid 1...

To answer your direct question, if you made a raid with the 10 15 and 20, you could get a 20g since it would be like using 3 10g drives.

Increasing the size of a raid by adding drives depends totally on the software used to create the raid, some do not let you increase the size of an existing raid, only allowing you to replace an existing drive.

The Sun disksuite program is one of the most versitile that I have used, since it allows you to use disk partitions.  So using your three drive example 10, 15, 20  with scisi drives on a sun sparc, I could end up with 30g of useable space, but using the 10g drive, and a 10g partition on each of the others so it would be a 10+10+10 raid 5 = 20g space  then I would use a 5g partition on the 15, and a 5g partition on the 20 and have a 5g mirrored raid 1 then I would have a 5g raw partition which could be used for swap or tmp...

Good Luck
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51501984Author Commented:
Based on the question in the title: "RAID Failed, can I initialize" it's fair to say that this has been answered, but seeing as that wwasn't really my question, I have to say that a solution to my main RAID problem wasn't reached, however: most of the people who posted on here were very helpful.
My knowledge of RAID was advanced to a point that I could deal with the problem.

Inorder to make this a complete post and therefore make it more useful for other people here's what happened in the end.

The RAID turned out to be RAID 0, and not mirrored so with the failure of one of the disks we lost the set-up.

We have now bought some new disks and set-up a RAID 1 system with redundancy.

Thanks for your help guys


PS don't suffer the trolls ;o)
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