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Recovering from a degraded RAID 5 Array and Disk Error O/S Won't Load

I have a Intel ICH9R SATA controller on a PowerSpec S400, running the Intel Storage Matrix 7.9.  

After Windows Update forced  reboot the server it will no long start up, citing a Disk Error, Press Control Alt Del to restart.  Of course there is no way out of that loop.
 
I can get to the Cntrl + I Menu where I am presented with the Vol0 as Degraded, but Bootable.  I have only 3 bad options presented in the menu.  

I'm sort of in a Catch 22.  If the machine can't reboot, it can't heal the array.  Is there a way to force the array to heal while still in POST?
 
I also tried to use a Windows 2008 Server boot disk to maybe do a fixmbr, etc.  But the Windows installation cannot be found.   Do  I have to load PCI SATA drivers first?
 
This is our un-backed up mail server.  Sigh ...
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JHMarshIII
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JHMarshIII
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DavidPresidentCommented:
runtime.org RAID reconstructor will do this quite nicely.  It will reconstruct the RAID into another physical disk. (not the original drives).  Then you can use this replacement disk , test to make sure it boots OK.  then rebuild the RAID, and restore.  I recommend cloning the "reconstructed" disk, because you don't want all the eggs in a basket.

Note that this technique will completely bypass the RAID drivers, but it is a brute force technique that will get you going.  The ICH9R is just an awful controller, if you even want to call it that, so you should strongly consider getting something more than a dumb, $10 raid controller chip and get something with a battery backup, and better firmware so this won't happen again.
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JHMarshIIIAuthor Commented:
RAID Recontructer requires me to connect the three or four "patient" drives to a non-RAID controller which I don't have (immediately)  A lot of time is spent on the suggestion that create a WinPE/Bart/PE boot disk.  I assumed I could use it in the same machine and leave the drive in place on the IC9R controller.  Is that right?  I suspect not.
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DavidPresidentCommented:
Nope. The IC9R controller gets in the way.  The controller does not let software talk directly to the physical disk(s).  Get a standard non-RAID controller.  Probably $30 at a PC store.  You'll need to get a replacement drive anyway.
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JHMarshIIIAuthor Commented:
OK, I discovered I could turn off the RAID option in the BIOS,  Now all four drives are seen as IDE on SATA ports 0-4.  

I built a Bart/PE bootable CD Rom with RAID Reconstructer on it.

I've run RAID Reconstructer and it suggested the first choice (I only opened the first three drives).  Then I pointed the output to the fourth drive not part of the array and wrote the output there.

I have not yet copied the reconstructed drive, but will shortly.

When you restore, should I reset the controller back to RAID and park  the 'reconstructed' container drive in Port 0 and the remaining three in Ports 1-3 before booting?



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DavidPresidentCommented:
Well you did it in a way so you have some risk that it won't work.
What you were supposed to do is reconstruct the logical disk into a larger physical drive. i.e, if you have 4 x 500 GB disks, then let it reconstruct the 1.5 usable LUN into a single 1.5TB image.  

What you did do WILL work if there is no metadata on the HDD.   Otherwise all bets are off. If, for example, the RAID controller reserves 16K at beginning of disk and puts things like the serial number, then Runtime might try to reconstruct the XOR.  Then it would strip off metadata, and start giving you a backup where the filesystem started.  You took a reasonable shortcut, but it will not work for all controllers.

But some controllers even use the XOR for metadata. I don't know what this one does.   So I say you have a 50-50 shot.  It should not have written anything to the other disks, so I do think you have better than 50% chance of this working anyway.   And if it doesn't look t the runtime logs and see if the filesystem begins at physical block #0, then try to reconstruct the correct way by creating a full logical disk as output, instead of corrected physical disk.  Crossing fingers


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JHMarshIIIAuthor Commented:
I now have a physical disk (1TB) with the data on it.  I ran CHKDSK on this new physical disk and it ran for 15 hours.  It found errors in the FAT and fixed them.  I can now see the file structure, but I can' t boot off of it.  I get missing operating system.  A Win2008 boot cd doesn't show any Windows installations to repair, but the directories are there.  I've tried Bootrec /fixboot, but get an Element not Found.  Also tried DiskPart marking the new drive as active.  Missing BootMgr.  Sigh.

When you say creat a full logical disk as output what does that mean?  

I can't go back on that box with RAID Reconstructer because now whenever I boot into WinPE or BartPE I get a BOS with a stop error 0x7b.  I'm givng up on that box.  

There were three options, I choose the physical disk.  
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