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RAID 1 on Dell desktops, servers, workstations - how will you know when a drive fails

Posted on 2007-11-23
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In the last 3 months or so, I've been called into 3 locations that had a 'server' (all Dells, 1 was a poweredge server, 1 was a precision workstation and 1 was a dimension desktop) that WAS running RAID 1 on the motherboard but the 1st drive failed some time ago (and the system kept running) and now the 2nd drive failed and the system is dead.

I guess this is a good example of the need for managed services?

What should indicate a hard drive has failed?  I know at reboot, on the desktops, you see the Intel RAID config screen and the status might be 'degraded' as an indication there's a problem.

But other than reboots, how would / should the users or system maintainers learn of a failed hard drive in a RAID 1 configuration?

Lights on the drive tray?  Errors in the event log?

How (if there is any way) do you simulate a hard drive failure to test this process?  Just pull the power cord on one of the drives?
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Question by:babaganoosh
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rindi earned 250 total points
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Most raid controllers include utilities which you install in the OS. These utilities then show you the state of the array.
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by:RockChalk
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When you install Intel Matrix Storage Technology, it installs a console app (Shell.exe), Windows Service (IAAntMon.exe) and a system tray icon (IAAntNotif.exe).  The service and tray icon work together to give the user an asynchronous notification that something bad has happened (i.e. a drive has failed, a smart event has occured, a volume is degraded, etc.).   The conosle app (Intle Matrix Storage Console) can be used to check the status and health of al of your disks and volumes.  It also is used to perform any kind of maintenance on a RAID array or volume.  You can find the console installed by default in the start menu under "Intel Matrix Storage Manager | Intel Matrix Storage Console"

Note that when you install using the "F6" method or using "Have Disk" the user interface won't get installed-- only when running the installer itself.  If that's the case, you really should run the regular installer to get these other important RAID tools.  The OROM (the thing that comes up if you hit <ctrl-I> at boot) is a very limited tool-- the Windows console has more functionality.

If you need to find the latest version of Intel Matrix Storage Manager, look here:
http://downloadcenter.intel.com/Product_Filter.aspx?ProductID=2101
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by:RockChalk
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One last thing-- you should also see errors in the event log in the event of a failure. (I believe it's the system log).  And yes, pulling a drive on a RAID volume will cause a failure that you can see in the console and it should pop up a message in the system tray.  
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by:babaganoosh
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Rock - using the F6 method... you have to do it that way and THEN install the windows apps, right?  How would you skip the F6 method if the drivers aren't on the windows CD?
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by:rindi
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Your "servers" are installed already with the drivers, otherwise you wouldn't be able to access the disks at all. You don't need to use F6. That is only required when you install the OS to get the drivers installed. All you have to do install the utility for your raid controller within windows. Depending on the raid controller and model, that utility will be different. Intel Matrix Storage System is only for intel Matrix raid controllers. Check the dell site for the particular machine you need this on to get the proper utility, or check your Dell CD's.
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by:RockChalk
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Yes, the F6 method is only used when installing Windows.  If your system is booting, then you certainly don't need the F6 method.  Rindi is correct that Intel's utility will only work for their RAID solution.  But, since you referred to the Intel RAID config screen, this seemed a pretty safe bet.
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by:rindi
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I think he's probably got 3 different raid controllers. The poweredge server is likely to use an adaptec controller, the PC may be using the intel and the workstation probably uses something different again.
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