Foreign Disc's in RAID 5 Array

Posted on 2012-09-01
Last Modified: 2012-09-09
The Hardware:
The RAID controller is a PERC 6/i controller. The raid array is made up of 3 x 500GB drives.

The Problem:
We recently had a power outage which resulted in our Windows server failing to boot.

The customer has not made any backups of the data.

Upon boot we receive a message stating Foreign configurations found on array. Press F to import configurations. Or press c to load the configuration menu. The server will not boot passed this point.

When I press F to load them it opens the configuration menu Where it shows drives 2 & 3 as missing under VD MGMT. Under PD MGMT it shows drive 1 online, drives 2 & 3 show foreign. Under Foreign View, Drive 2 shows a state of Rebuilding and Drive 3 shows Online.

How can I re-join the drives to the current RAID 5 array? Note that they were never removed and no configuration changes were recently made, last change made approx 2 years ago. The only thing that happened between it working and it failing was a power outage.

The only experience I have had with this was when I had to migrate an array from 1 failed server to a server with identical hardware in which we had to delete the array and re-create the array without initializing. This allowed us to boot the server without problem, just had to re-activate windows. In that situation however the customer had a backup of all data.

Am I looking at the same scenario, or are there other options?
Question by:CPS_TECH_DTAFT
    LVL 46

    Assisted Solution

    What happened is that it started to rebuild, then had a multiple fault scenario like another drive failure, AND metadata loss.  This is bad.  

    Unless you are 100% sure it is not doing a rebuild and there is no disk I/O, then you should either take it to a pro, and expect to pay somewhere around $5000, or
     1. Take binary image of each disk, using a non-RAID controller.  Get 3 disk drives >= 500GB to put the data on.

     2. Use those binary images as input to a product called raid reconstructor at and attempt to reconstruct.  If you are lucky, rebuild was never started.  If the rebuild did start, and failed, then you are going to have to pay big money for a recovery.  Going rate if hardware is healthy is $1000 - $1500/disk.  If a recovery started then more like $5000+

    Note that there is no consumer software that you can buy which will deal with a partially rebuilt array.  Such software is developed in-house by professionals, and we're always improving upon it, so even if you could get your hands on it, you wouldn't be able to afford it.

    Author Comment

    Well since we never put a new drive in and all drives last checked on the 27th were healthy. I would assume the drive was not in a rebuild state prior to the power loss and the machine has never booted since meaning a rebuild process would never have occurred.

    On a side note, even if the 2nd drive had failed that would still leave 2 drives healthy and active despite being separated at the moment. Once rejoined if possible the 2nd drive whether damaged or healthy should not be a problem.. correct?

    Will look into taking a sector by sector backup of each drive and attempting use of the software suggested while waiting for other options.

    Accepted Solution

    Well after attempting a sector by sector copy of the only non-foreign drive in the array HDD0, I placed the drive back into the server where that drive was now also identified as being a Foreign Disc in the array... Oddly this completed the foreign array as a foreign VD configuration which then allowed the server to boot as there were no other PD's in the array outside of the foreign ones.

    We now have a full image backup and a windows backup of the entire server and will be doing a complete dump of the raid configurations and re-initializing the drives bringing everything back to normal after a re-install/configuration of the server.

    Hope this somehow helps someone in a similar situation.

    Author Closing Comment

    Not sure if the resolution was a fluke or not, the drives still show as being foreign disc's even after successfully booting the OS. The RAID array will need to be reinitialized where then the image backup can then be restored to the volume.

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