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Can a simple mirrored raid drive be used with a standard controller ?

Posted on 2012-04-05
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Last Modified: 2012-04-11
Hi,

I'd like to know if a simple mirrored raid drive ( Raid #?) be used with a standard controller?  So say I'm using Raid, and there's a failure that takes out the controller, but not the drives, can I move the drive over to a standard controller?  Otherwise I'll have to keep a spare Raid controller around as a backup.

I'd appreciate an answer that involves refernce to a specific controller model with which the writer has his/her own personal experience.

Thanks.
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Question by:lewiso
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Darius Ghassem earned 250 total points
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No you can not take a RAID enabled drive then move the drive to a standard controller. The RAID controller holds the RAID configuration so, if you move the drive the drive is not part of the same RAID configuration which means the data on the RAID virtual drive is not available. Even if you have a RAID controller go back you can't just plug in a new RAID controller can everything will start working since the RAID configuration is stored on the RAID card itself that has the metadata information for the drives. Potentially on some RAID controllers you can move the chip with RAID configuration on it to a identical RAID card.

This is why backup of your data is critical.
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by:dlethe
dlethe earned 200 total points
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It is implementation dependent.  For example, you can mirror 2 USB pen drives with some RAID configs and even add a 3rd as a hot spare, yank one in the middle of I/O and it all works w/o a hitch.  Conversely, do the same with 2 SATA disks with the wrong controller and or right controller and wrong drives, and you risk losing data.

Now if you just care about accessing the data, then it is also implementation specific. Metadata enters into the equation. If metadata is at the end of the disk then you are just fine (maybe). If it is at the beginning, you are screwed unless you run some code to move things around.   If the RAID controller requires 520byte sectoring, then you are screwed no matter what.

so everything is vendor/product specific.  Job security, if you wish, for people like me ;)

I have non-disclosures with multiple controller vendors, so I am under constraints about what I can and can not say, but it is public knowledge that the Dell PERC family controllers put metadata at the beginning, so no way can you take a disk out of one and get it to just work in a  non-RAID controller.
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by:noxcho
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Yes you can move it to standard controller and even use it with it. As long as you are working with RAID1 this is possible. The question is - will the OS boot from such drive if your move it from RAID to single controller? Most possibly it won't because the system is set to boot from RAID. But if you change in BIOS the SATA mode to IDE compatible then it must boot from this changed configuration too.
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by:lewiso
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Thanks to all of you for your insights.  I raised the point total to the max but would like to have given more if possible.
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