PowerEdge 2500 died - BSOD followed by 'NTdetect failed'

On Sunday afternoon, I popped into the office to change a few email settings on our Dell PowerEdge 2500 running Windows SBS 2000 and Exchange 2000.

I switched on the monitor to be greeted with the blue screen of death.

I powered it down and started it booting back up, which it did, although one of the RAID 5 drives is flashing the 'X' LED, suggesting that drive has had it.

After booting, the Exchange mail stores were all offline and wouldn't come back online.

After a lot of messing around and a restore of the mail stores, I got them back online with no loss of data.  However, the routing tables weren't working and as such, no email could be sent or received.  I followed an article on Microsoft's support site which said to reinstall Exchange which would repair the routing tables.

I did this and it asked for a reboot to replace the files that were in use.  I hit OK and after running through the BIOS and RAID settings, instead of booting into Windows, it came up with 'NTdetect failed' and nothing else.  It just sat there.

I searched the net, which turned up results suggesting the boot files were corrupted and that I should boot using the Win2K CD and use the repair option to replace them.  I tried this, but although the LED flashed on the CD-ROM drive when a CD is inserted, the disk isn't actually recognised and it won't boot from it, so I assume the drive has also had it.

I built a bunch of boot floppies and booted into Win2K setup from those.  When I chose R to repair, it told me there was no hard drives available with a Win2K installation and quit.

This was at 2am yesterday morning, 2 hours before I had to leave to go to Holland, so I had to leave the office with webmail only and no historical email.

I'm now in Holland and have managed to get net access, so I thought I'd do some digging and see if I could formulate a plan of action before I get back - I'm back on Friday night and need to spend the weekend getting the email back up and running before Monday!

Thinking about it, I think the late hour and stress had made me forget to load any RAID drivers when booting into Windows setup, which is why it couldn't find the installation.  So, my first plan is to download the drivers and stick them on a floppy to load in during the boot process.  Hopefully that will allow me to do the repair and get back into the server.

I'm hoping it's then just a case of replacing the hard drive and allowing the RAID to work it's rebuilding magic!

The C: drive is a partition on the RAID array, so I assume that the hard drive failing has somehow buggered that?  If so, I guess it's a partition error?  Is there any way of recovering from that?

Has anybody got any good advice on recovering from this NTdetect error?

I desperately need to recover this server - not just because of the email (which is backed up and, worst case, would only lose a few days worth of email); but because there is a very important database on there - this should also be backed up, but I'm not sure how recent the last back up of it is.

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This is typical of a PERC failure as the PERC Controllers that Dell uses are not exactly robust.  First thing to try is to flash the PERC with an updated version. Check the DELL DRAC to see if there are any errors.  You can try replacing the disk and letting the PERC Controller do it's magic as well, but check the PERC first, even if you see it reporting a faulty drive.  If the RAID rebuild fails or does not work I would certainly go with replacing the PERC Controller next.  Be sure that when you replace the PERC controller that you dis-engage the drives and slide them out of their bays just a bit BEFORE you power them on -- DELL TECHS OFTEN MISS THIS -- because the default configuration for the PERC is not raid and it will wipe all your drives on power up.  Go in and re-enable raid, and them connect your drives and power back up.  Good luck.
You have two separated issues: HD failed and Windows ntdetect is corrupted. In RAID 5, if you lose 1 drive, your system and OS should be running OK with degraded status. Your windows does not come up because its system file is corrupted. Here is what you should do.

Do not power your server down when replacing a failed drive. The Dell drives should be hot swappable so all you have to do is replace the drive when your server power is on with equal or bigger capacity, but make sure it has the same speed. RAID 5 will rebuild itself in a few hours.

After the drive replacement, you need to run repair install again. Repair install is a bit tricky so follow this instruction step by step:


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adfieldAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the replies.

lnkevin, how can I replace the drive without it booting into Windows?  Should I use the configuration utility accessible when the server loads the BIOS?  And then once the rebuild is finished, use the repair function?  That link you posted references Win XP, I assume SBS 2000 is the same process?

Again, thanks!
how can I replace the drive without it booting into Windows?

If your drives are already in RAID 5, you don't have to to much. First you need to get in the Perc Bios by hitting ctrl - M when it appears.  Follow the following instruction from Dell to rebuild a failed drive. Find the key word: Rebuilding Failed Hard Drives in this document for quick access


Repair install should be the same on Windows all version.

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