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Koutech RAID Controller PSA421 Drive Appears Corrupted

Posted on 2009-03-30
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Last Modified: 2012-05-06
I have been using a Koutech IO-PSA421 PCI-X SATA II Controller Card for about 7 months with no problem.  I have four 500GB Seagate drives attached to the device and configured as RAID 10.  Tech support tells me it's implemented as RAID0 plus RAID1, so Drive 0 and 1 are a stripe set which is mirrored to drives 2 and 3.

The motherboard is a Supermicro X5DAE and have been booting from the card.

After shutting down the computer and leaving it off all last night, I was unable to start it again: "Operating System Not Found."  In the BIOS screen for the RAID controller, I can see that the card has access to all four drives.  Drive 1, however is tagged as "Invalid raid drive."  The others show as "reserved."  Tech support tells me that "reserved" is OK and means that the drive is part of an existing set.

Things I have tried:

1) Booting with the Ultimate Boot CD.  The environment never quite comes up.  I get the desktop, but no taskbar or icons, no listing of available drives, almost as if it got stuck looking.  I did load the controller's drivers during boot.
2) Booting with the Windows XP CD.  The drive does not show up in the recovery console.  Card drivers were loaded during boot.
3) Swapping cable locations - plugging drives 0/1 into slots 2/3 and vice versa.
4) Booting with only drives 2/3 attached.
5) Booting with only drives 0/1 attached.
6) Installing an IDE drive to boot from and then installing the card drivers.  I got a clean install.  Windows recognized the raid card when it was attached and the drivers appear to have been loaded correctly.  The drive shows up in the device manager and says it is working properly.  However, there are no lettered drives corresponding to the raid set, and no drives available to be mounted from XP disk management.

Tech support is sending a new card to rule out a hardware problem.  

What is the best way to recover the use of the raid set without losing data?

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Question by:tunmer
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Assisted Solution

by:Mathiau
Mathiau earned 250 total points
ID: 24023339
replace the first drive is what should be done,the one labeled "Invalid raid drive." and the controller should then rebuild the array and you should be working fine again..
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by:Mathiau
Mathiau earned 250 total points
ID: 24023349
argh i hate no edit button


since it is raid 5 access the controller bios / settings sections and see if it can scan for drives, you can also see if you can drop that drive from the array and re-add it, assuming you have backups of your data (since raid is not a backup)
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by:RecoveryMan
RecoveryMan earned 250 total points
ID: 24032128
Raid 10 has tolerance for a single drive failure so suspect you have a serious issue on your hands. You need to ask yourself what is the importance of the data. A rebuild is the logical step, once the 'failed' drive is replaced your controller card should prompt for a rebuild.  However would never suggest performing this step on drives that have important data, because if it fails you could permanently erase the data or make it very hard to recover. Replacing the card most likely will clear the current raid settings and again advise if the data is important not to setup a new raid because that will make matters worse. Conclusion if the data is important seek a data recovery expert :-) if not replace the drive and attempt a rebuild otherwise resetup the array with the new controller card but that will not typically regain access to your data.
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Accepted Solution

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tunmer earned 0 total points
ID: 24035164
Thanks to all who responded.  I have current data backups, both locally and off-site, so recovery isn't the issue; it's more the pain of doing a complete rebuild.

Pulling the machine apart, I found a small sliver of metal (like a tiny tiny piece of aluminum cable shielding) in the SATA plug for one of the drives.  This is now my leading suspect in the actual cause of the corruption problem.  With new cables installed all drive diagnostics look OK and the controller card recognizes all drives.  I am fairly confident at this point that I can rebuild and not have this happen again.

Here's the actual solution and the way to get access to the data on the drives:

The two raid 0 pairs (drive 0 + drive 1) and (drive 2 + drive 3) can be be accessed independently.  You go into the BIOS screen and delete the raid sets.  (This does not destroy your data.)  Then you can plug in only one pair at a time to recreate two raid 0 sets.

Either of these 2 sets (drive 0//1 or drive 2/3) can be plugged into slots 0/1 on the card ad booted from, or accessed via bootable CD.  Koutech support tells me that the 2/3 set is sort of a "slave" of the 0/1 set and might not be exactly current, so using 0/1 is the best bet as long as the drives are functional.  That is what I did and was able to gain access to the system.  At that point, I grabbed a (another) complete backup.

I have now re-assembled the drives as raid 10 and am doing a complete format & reinstall to ensure that there are no corruption issues carried over.

Thanks again to all who responded. I hope this info helps someone in the future!
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Expert Comment

by:RecoveryMan
ID: 24079753
Here was your question "What is the best way to recover the use of the raid set without losing data? " However your accepted solution was doing a complete format and reinstall"...not sure your original question was accurate.
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Author Comment

by:tunmer
ID: 24080807
The bottom line of my question was how do I access my drives again.  In a situation like this, the most important thing is to be able to access the data, along with any recent changes that may not have been backed up.  That is exactly what I was able to do following the procedure outlined in the solution.  

Just to be clear: My accepted solution was the proper configuration steps with respect to physical plugs and BIOS settings.  This allowed access to my drives and data.

After implementing the solution, I reinstalled the OS, because even though I had regained access to and use of the drives, there were parts of XP that appeared corrupted.  Note also that without first solving the problem of accessing the drives, even a format and reinstall would not have been possible.
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