SATA RAID 1. Windows Corrupted. Need to fix one drive while keeping redundancy

This is sort of a VERY important question as it's for the OWNER OF THE COMPANY'S computer... so all help would be appreciated :D

It's a Dell Precision workstation with 2 150GB SATA HDD running on RAID1
The computer will not boot to windows (safe mode, last known or normal)
It gets to the windows progress screen, but the progress bar just keeps moving (even after an overnighter)

My goal:
Get the computer back into windows without losing ANY data.

My first idea was to disconnect one of the SATA drives and start working at that point.

Also, when I went into the Windows Recovery Console, it hung as well...
jskewesAsked:
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burrcmConnect With a Mentor Commented:
This would suggest that the mirror was corrupt (not identical). Save off all data. Try the other drive. Probably will not boot. No matter. Now redo the raid if you wish, or just set it up as a jbod, and use a backup prog to copy off required data regularly. Software raid is patchy at best. Prone to such issues. A proper hardware controller card is the way to go for genuine redundancy (in my opinion).

Chris B
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jskewesAuthor Commented:
when I go through the Windows XP Setup, it hangs at 'Searching for Previous versions of Windows'
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rhutzelCommented:
You may need the Sata Raid controller diskette for this method, but try this.

Using the windows xp setup cd, eventually you can goto recovery console and do a reinstall of windows over your current windows.  This will repair the state.  I strongly suggest you back up his data file before you do all this just in case the matter gets worse.

Here is a link to do all this.

http://www.michaelstevenstech.com/XPrepairinstall.htm


Ryan
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jskewesAuthor Commented:
Is it possible for me to take the RAID 1 down to nothing and just have a mirrored drive and rebuilding the unit with 1 disk and retreiving the data off the other?
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rhutzelCommented:
As far as I know, if you per say, have a working raid 1 hard drive and the other crashes it will immediatly begin rebuilding the newly installed drive.  I don't think it will allow what you want to do.  Unfortunately I have not attempted what you are describing.  I have always had a spare hard drive to move data to while repairing a raid configuration.

Ryan
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jskewesAuthor Commented:
I thought the raid array was ALWAYS building the Mirror.
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rhutzelCommented:
Raid 1 is nothing more than when the data is written to drive 1 it is also written to drive 2 transparently.  So yes, you are right, but if there is no drive 2 where is it going to write?  It would consider it to be a failed drive and will want you to replace it.  When you replace the drive it will begin copying drive 1 to drive 2.

Ryan
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jskewesAuthor Commented:
well, I could fail one of the drives...
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rhutzelCommented:
I don't understand why you would do that?  Why don't you try to repair windows first?
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jskewesAuthor Commented:
it hangs...
at the recovery console and when it goes for 'searching for previous installations of windows'
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rhutzelCommented:
Maybe we are leaving out a thought, maybe the drive is going bad and the boot sector is affected.  If you know the brand  of the drive, goto the manufacturers website and get the diagnostic software to do a drive test.  

Ryan
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jskewesAuthor Commented:
running the onboard dell diagnostics
runs a LONG drive test (read, seek, SMART, etc...)
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rhutzelCommented:
If it is a bad drive, you will be better off getting another drive, seperate from the raid setup and copy the files over.  Then install a new sata drive raid 1 configured then install a fresh copy of windows and copy data files back over later from the temporary drive.  

Ryan
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jskewesAuthor Commented:
drive came back good
audibly it sounds fine
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rhutzelCommented:
If you can not get to the recovery console then, you will need to proceed with a format.  Of course you will need to back up data some how.  Since you are doing a raid 1  you will need another hard drive to do that.

Ryan
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burrcmCommented:
Before breaking the raid - Once you remove one drive and boot, you will not be able to plug it back in and have the mirror come back on line, it will rebuild the replaced drive, so if the one left in has the problem, you will write it to the second drive. Firstly, boot it to a knoppix cd/dvd. If knoppix can see the data, copy it off. If this is not successful, remove one drive and boot. If it starts up OK, add the second drive and rebuild. If the boot is unnsuccessful, remove that drive, install the other (in its original location) and boot. If this succeeds, add the other drive and rebuild and all should be OK. If both drives on their own exhibit similar issues, then the problem is likely with Windows. Try booting to knoppix with just one drive of the mirror installed. I have done this successfully a couple of times. It can take a very lon time to recover data, but it will. Most versions of knoppix can read ntfs, but only write Fat(32), so you may need to install a FAT(32) drive in the IDE slot to recover the files.

Chris B
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jskewesAuthor Commented:
ok, how about this:

Is it possible for me to take one of the drives out, put it in an external enclosure and get data off it?
then break the raid, run two separate drives (C and D). Rebuild one drive and use the other to get files off of?
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jskewesAuthor Commented:
Ok
I deconstructed the RAID and turned RAID off
now the computer boots with the one drive...
any idea why?
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jskewesAuthor Commented:
well, upon setting the RAID to OFF and deconstructing the RAID array, I was given two identical drives, C and F.
now it works...
any reason that would happen (the RAID keeping the unit from completing boot)
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burrcmCommented:
This type of issue is common with older SATA boards using an controller chip on the board, rather than being part of the bios, typically using a Silicon Image driver. Essentially when shutting down, because the bios is not controlling the drives it will switch the power off before the write cache was properly written to disk. On such boards the matter can be improved by disabling write caching, but it still happens. A sudden power failure often caused the same issue. If this is what you have I would consider new board.

Chris B
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