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Dell perc 5/i array offline with one missing disk and one foreign

Posted on 2011-09-28
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2012-05-12
Not sure what happened but I moved a server today from one office to another.  When trying to boot, the first attempt gave me a message about a file missing or corrupt and said I could replace with Original OS CD.  I thought maybe a fluke, so I restarted and tried another boot.  This time I got a message regarding the array.  I have three 500 GB SATA drives in a RAID 5 config.  In the array controller utility, it says the array VD is offline.  In the physical disk section it says one disk is missing, one is foreign, and one looks normal.  Can't boot.  One disk has orange light, must be the bad one.  The other two are green, but how do I get the foreign physical disk back online and how do I get the VD back online?  I reseated all three drives while powered off, but no change.  I opened the box, all looks normal.  Should I try booting with the failed drive removed?  Should I change the order of the drives in the cage?  Any ideas?  Thanks.
Question by:12vltmn

Expert Comment

ID: 36812981
First check the data cable connection between raid controller card between Hard disk back plain. if after that same problem remains then go into the raid controller BIOS and then go to physical disk mgmt. if there is showing any disk offiline make it forcefully online.


Author Comment

ID: 36815808
I think you may have misunderstood my original post.  In the PD Mgmt, no disks are offline.  The array itself is listed as offline.  The disks are listed as missing in the VD Mgmt, and Foreign in the PD Mgmt.  Interesting thing this morning...I unplugged and reseated the cable from the controller to the back plain.  I then re-inserted the bad drive and booted.  Now the drive is showing green, as if it is ok.  However, the array is still offline and will not boot to the OS, and below is the rundown of what I see in the array config util:

Under VD Mgmt:
PD 01:00
Missing  (these are the three physical disks in the cage)

Under PD Mgmt:
01:00 Online
01:02 Foreign (no mention of 01:01 which is the drive that was showing bad yesterday)

Under Foreign View:
VD 0 Foreign
PD 01:00 Online
PD 01:01 Foreign
PD 01:02 Foreign

This pisses me off because I just went through something very similar with another PowerEdge 840 with so-called "Enterprise Drives" where I lost two of the drives and Dell actually replaced all three drives under warranty.  But the array was toast and I had to reinstall the OS and restore the data.  

Even if the drive showing bad yesterday is now showing good, which one would I force back online first?  Choosing the wrong one means the array is toast.

This server is just out of warranty by a couple months.  :(  I read somewhere that Dell will support any server even if it is not under warranty.  Obviously they won't replace the drives but I am hoping they may offer some assistance.  What do you think?

Author Comment

ID: 36818491
Where are all the storage experts?  HELP!

I think I may just try to import the foreign configuration, but I think I know what will happen.  Since it appears that these two drives may have gone foreign at different times, the array will probably fry.  But I don't know what else to do.  Looks like I may be building a new array and reinstalling/restoring.
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LVL 14

Accepted Solution

charlestasse earned 1000 total points
ID: 36818697
First, Stop what you are doing and consider your disaster recovery plan. Anything you do from this point forward has the potential (low as it might be) of corrupting data within the array. Only if you have a vaild tested backup or can live with all the data on the array being lost should you proceed.
If you can't live without the data, then you have to consider a data recovery company like drivesavers.

if you feel prepaired to proceed, the first thing you should do is CALL DELL, They need to review the server hardware log and controller log to identify why the drives are in a foreign state, what drive when offlien or foreign first or if they both went offline at the same time.

Only with this information should you proceed with performing an import foreign, F2 on the VD management screen when you have the controller highlighted. It is possible that the import will fail and if it does you need to have a Dell Tech on the phone to guide you through your options

Author Comment

ID: 36892769
The server is out of warranty by two months and out of the kindness of their hearts, Dell has offered to support this server at a nice hefty price.  Sometimes I feel as if they build their equipment to fail after three years.  I wish I knew how to access and review the server hardware log and controller log myself.  They offered to charge us for an initial tech support call to an entry level person, then charge us more if it must be escalated to a higher lever, which I am confident will be necessary.

With that being said, I thank you for the advice, and if this machine were under warranty I would do just that.  I am currently working on a restore of data to an external drive and once I am confident that is complete I will proceed with trying to import the foreign config.  If it hoses the array I will add new drives and start from scratch.

Author Comment

ID: 36893768
QUESTION:  IF I remove the disk that originally showed failure, and the disk that is foreign, leaving only the good disk, can I then install a new disk (or two) and rebuild the array from the one good disk?  I have ordered two new hard drives.  Will the array automatically rebuild in an offline state?  Or can I force it online or force a rebuild?  And if so, where in the BIOS util do I do that?

Then afterward, how do I re-use the disk that is now foreign?  Since it contains data, if I add it, let's say as a hot spare, if it is called into service, will there be an issue if it contains data from the offline array?  Or can I place it into another machine and format it NTFS.  Or maybe DBAN the disk?

LVL 33

Expert Comment

ID: 36899871
You list your Time Zone as Mountain ... if your server is in the States/Canada, server support is always free, regardless of warranty status.

Since it has been 2 days since your last post ... where are you at with this?

Author Comment

ID: 36904416
@PowerEdge Tech:
Not according to my account manager at Dell.  They want to sell me an extended warranty for $695 for a year's worth of support.  If you are correct, can you offer me a tech support phone number at Dell to achieve this?  By the looks of your username, you must be familiar with PowerEdge servers.  Perhaps my mistake is contacting a sales person at Dell instead of Support.

I am still waiting, I haven't done anything yet in hopes of someone being able to help me determine which drive went foreign last so I can use that one only to rebuild the array.  But I'm not getting much help here, which is unusual.  I just had an issue with our Exchange server and got great advice on this site as I have in the past.
LVL 33

Assisted Solution

PowerEdgeTech earned 1000 total points
ID: 36904516
Call support directly at 800-822-8965 or the main number at 800-456-3355.  Just answer the prompts heading towards technical support.

It is much easier to resolve this over the phone, so I'd suggest calling Dell, although I would also be more than happy to help you here too.  The PERC is pretty good at handling foreign configs, so chances are, you only have to "import" the config.  Let me know how it goes.

When you get into complex situations, those who are guessing or aren't as familiar tend to avoid commenting.  Charles and I are probably the most familiar with these types of things on EE (and I'm not currently receiving notification emails, which is why I was slow getting into this thread).

Author Comment

ID: 36904583
I understand about the slow responses.  I too would not offer any suggestions unless I was very sure of myself, which most of the time I am not.  :(  Better left to the experts.  Thank you.  I will call Dell and see if they will help me determine which drive to pull.

Author Comment

ID: 36913579
I used OpenManageSA Live to access logs and saw that disk #2 was the only disk to go bad.  WIth all three disks in the cage I imported the foreign config.  The array went from failed to degraded.  I booted and it got as far as the windows splash screen, then it rebooted itself and the array went back to failed and disk #3 went to "missing"  I repeated this process once more to make sure no fluke.  So now I am replacing BOTH drives and I will recreate the array.  I spoke with someone in chat who pointed me to the OMSA Live and told me to go ahead and import the foreign config.  I knew it was a long shot.

I have everything backed up so I can restore after the new array is created.
LVL 33

Expert Comment

ID: 36914223
For two drives to die so close together is rather unusual, but possible.  MOST of the time, the import is enough to bring things back up (depending on the right circumstances of course).  Sadly, sometimes we're just unlucky :(  At least you had a backup.  I've worked with far too many people who did not.

Take care.

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