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Server 2003 hangs at Windows splash screen after drive in RAID 5 array fails.

Posted on 2007-03-20
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Last Modified: 2008-01-09
I have Windows server 2003 standard on a Dell PE 4400 with five drives RAID 5. One drive failed and the system locked up. I tried to reboot. The system got to the Windows splash screen and stayed there. I left it for 30 minutes with no change. I rebooted to an installation CD to attempt a repair, the system got to Searching for existing Windows installation and locked up. Again, I left it for several minutes that way. I ran verifications on all disks and with the exception of the original failure all passed. I feel certain that I have some corruption on the array. Any ideas? I would really like to salvage this data without restoring from backup.
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Question by:jwstock
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by:AnthonyP9618
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I've had this problem before ,albeit a little different setup.  We lost complete connection to the SAN drives which held all of our Exchange data.  On reboots, the server would hang at the loading screen and any amount of time at that screen would let it boot past it.  If we disconnected the fiber connections to the SAN it comes up without a problem.  Once the server was back into Windows we could reconnect the fiber and attempt to access the drives.  This problem came down to a bad SAN backplane.  Replaced and all was well :)

Among the other things going on during that loading screen, Windows is also trying to enumerate your disk drives and get those setup correctly before applying its computer and user settings.  My feeling is that there is some sort of disk corruption or Windows is having a hell of a time reading from your disk array.  You never mentioned this in your question, but did you replace the bad drive yet?  I would replace the drive and attempt to see if Windows can rebuild the disk.  
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AnthonyP9618 earned 500 total points
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Or rather, since you can't get into Windows, you should be able to automatically kick off a rebuild through the BIOS.  I am not that familiar with Dell servers (I'm more HP-based), but there should be something to let you start the rebuild while not in Windows.
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by:jwstock
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I have not replaced the drive yet. The drives marked as spares for this server are not the same as what is in it, so I will need to run out to PU a drive. I am going to try your suggestion, but fear that I may end up restoring from backup.
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by:Zenith63
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Is the failed drive still in the server?  At the very least I'd try pulling it out and trying to boot the server then.  Other then that I can't help unfortunately, I'm HP like Anthony.  The few times I've run into Dell's RAID setups/controllers they really have scared me, I'd have no faith in them at all...
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by:jwstock
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I pulled the drive and tried from there, no luck. I just got the new drive and am going to initialize and try for a rebuild.
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by:jwstock
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Thanks for the assist, I installed the new drive and it began rebuild after initialization. Unfortunately I have corruption on the array so I am having to reinstall the OS.
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