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PCB failure on drive in a RAID 0  - Recovery option suggestions or addivce

Posted on 2008-10-17
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Last Modified: 2010-04-21
My uncle's friend has Sony Vaio MCE PC. It won't boot up or POST or anything. I narrowed the problem down to 1 of 2 identical hard drives. When I unplug both drives, it starts, when I plug 1 drive, it starts. But when I plug in the suspect hard drive, in any way, the computer turns off or it won't turn on at all.

So, being identical drives, I swapped the PCB's on the drives and the computer will start (at least) with either drive plugged in as long as it has the "good" PCB attached.

Now, upon getting either drive to spin up and not being able to boot into an OS, I realized that the drives were in a RAID 0 from Sony.

So my questions are:

1. is it likely that a bad PCB on a HD could prevent the whole machine from powering up?

2. Is there a way to recover a RAID 0 using only 1 disk at a time (the reason being that I can only get 1 drive w/ the "good" PCB  to work at a time).

3. Am I better off trying to get a replacement PCB from ebay. I only flinch at this because of the time and money vs. uncertainty of success. Are my chances good?

4. Does the RAID configuration explain why I cannot get either drive to be recognized on another PC when I connect with a SATA/USB adapter.

I thought about trying to do an image of each drive and rebuilding to new drives, but I don't think the drives or data would be recognized by Acronis, Paragon, or Drivesnapshot, or even Linux or whatever.

Any useful ideas for this science project would be appreciated.
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Question by:techpronetwork
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Accepted Solution

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DMTechGrooup earned 125 total points
ID: 22746781
You should be able to use Ghost or Acronis to do a clone of the drive.. it should not care what is on it as it does a sector by sector copy... Clone the bad drive to a new one and you should be able to bring the system back up.
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by:wingatesl
wingatesl earned 125 total points
ID: 22747099
If you are just trying to recover the drives, you should image the good drive first to a new disk, move the PCB and image the second disk. The array can be rebuilt with a software called "raid reconstructor". You can use DD to image back to a new array.

to answer your questions directly;
1. Absolutely, A failing motor controller or shorted diode can cause the powersupply to be overloaded and not allow the system to start.
2. The way I mentioned above using raid reconstructor will do what you want.
3. If the drive starts with the other PCB then put that money into a new hard drive not parts.
4. The data in the raid is striped between the disks, anything over 64k is  going to be spread between both disks.
Most of the MCE viaos will support a raid 5, and disks are cheap. I would suggest going that route to ensure the stability of his data.
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Author Comment

by:techpronetwork
ID: 22747404
Just so I understand, assuming I can use True Image to image both drives, do I have to restore the images to two separate drives first, or can I somehow merge these onto 1 large drive? These drives are only 160gb each and I would prefer just to combine them into 1 usable drive like 500gb.

I have done lots of images with Ghost and True Image, I am unclear what to do with these images if I am lucky enough to get them, I have never even used True Image outside of an OS except on restoration, I don't even know if I can get a "bootable" or "lve cd" version of my True Image. I haven't tried with BartPE or something like that. I assumed worst case, I could install the OS on a spare drive,connect the drives via USB/Sata or connect directly, make the image, but what do I do with the images if I want to merge the RAID onto a single drive. Sorry if this seems stupid, I am mentally tired of thinking through the logistics.
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Expert Comment

by:DMTechGrooup
ID: 22748661
You have to do both drives.. then if you want it on one drive then you need the entire raid 0 to be accessible to then burn to 1 drive.
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Author Comment

by:techpronetwork
ID: 22754330
I bought a 500GB and a 160GB drive (160GB being the size of the failed drive) and used the good PCB to get the failed drive running and cloned it to the 500GB during which it had reported couple of bad sectors, but I ignored them and it went through successfully. I then put the PCB back onto the other original working drive and plugged both into the original PC. I did not read anything in the RAID 0 Specs that said the drives had to be identical, and I thought I might be able to plug the drives in and have the RAID pick up where it left off.

But it didn't. Instead I got a the Intel Matrix Raid setup that saw the 500GB as a non-member. It gives me options to create a RAID volume, delete the previous RAID, or reset to non-RAID. I don't want to do anything to destroy the orginal disk. I tried 500GB first because if it worked, I would have started the system, backed up the essential data, deleted the RAID 0 B.S.,  and formatted the 500 GB drive and then installed everything all over. If I use 160GB, it would only be a one time use, and I can't return it (which would suck if it didn't work in the first place) and I am not interested in returning this PC to a Raid 0. I bought it as a last resort, but now I don't think it will matter, as the RAID controller seems to need a RAID rebuild at the sight of any different drive. Why risk being stuck with  an returnable 160GB drive.

I plugged the 500GB and the 160GB  into another PC, and tried to use RAID Reconstructor, but it doesn't work because Windows doesn't show these drives. I think I have to initialize them first, so I can't do that. So I think, If I want to save any data, I am back to the only potential solution that I stated before, which is, order a PCB to replace the orginal failed device, and maybe I can fool the PC into thinking the RAID is the same from before. I know that I have the same unreturnable drive potential risk like the 160GB above, but at least I am pretty sure I can get the two original drives working at the same time.  

I must say that I appreciate this site's serious and educated input. As I plow through lots of tech advice sites on this matter, I am constantly reading the same tired generic statements about how RAID 0 sucks and that there is no parity or redundancy followed by perfunctory explanations of all RAID configs, etc. I get it. But I didn't cofig this system, nor did the owner who knows nothing of this subject. I have this problem, either you can offer a solution or attempt or you can't. But it is very tiring to wade through a bunch of redundant wikipedia regurgitations by "experts". We need sites like EE to advance the conversation and get beyond the 101 discussions so people like me can solve specific challenges without having to become an expert in every field of computers.
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Author Closing Comment

by:techpronetwork
ID: 31507366
Thanks for the input. I believe we were on the right track, I just think there were too many variables to get the job done. I am declaring this over.
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