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RAID Controller Replacement

Posted on 2013-01-03
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RAID ConfigurationI have a LSI Hardware RAID Controller (Model: LSI MegaRAID SAS 9260-8i)  in my SBS2011 Server. It has Six 600GB SAS HDs - Two (RAID 1) for OS and Four (RAID 10) for Data.
About two weeks ago, it created currption on a data partition. Having run diagnoistics, LSI technical support engineer determined that the RAID card has faulty memory chip on it; therefore it needs to be replaced. So I have the replacement card with me.
On the phone LSI engineer explained to me that I need to backup current RAID configuration first, replace the RAID card, and restore or import RAID configuration into the new card.

Since I have not replaced the RAID controller card before and can't afford to screw up (possibly destroying RAID and loosing the OS & Data),  I have decided to have an experienced technician do the replacement.

However I just like to get a little bit educated about this process. I have installed RAID card and configured them for RAID1 & 5, but never actually replaced the working card.

What does it actually involve in replacing the RAID controller card?
Was it a good idea to hire an experienced technician or is this something I can do easily with LSI engineer on the phone?
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Question by:sglee
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als315 earned 135 total points
ID: 38740131
At the end of this document you can find sequence of restoring raid after controller replacement:
http://www.cisco.com/en/US/docs/unified_computing/ucs/c/sw/raid/configuration/guide/MegaRAID.html
I think in 95-97% cases you should have no problems. If you have some empty SAS or SATA HDDs you can model backup, restore and even create raid and try to import it after replacement. Good backup should be on the first place.
In other cases (3-5%) you should be able to restore raid from backup. Are you ready? If shutdown time is critical, may be better to ask for help from qualified personnel.
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by:dlethe
dlethe earned 135 total points
ID: 38740242
1) Since your current card has problems, it is *possible* you have metadata corruption.  An LSI engineer familiar with your card and firmware is the ONLY way to go.  Nobody you hire will have access to the documentation the LSI engineer has.  If I was in your situation, I would trust the LSI engineer on the phone over any contractor.

(Besides, unless the contractor has a NDA relationship with LSI as a firmware expert, they are nothing more than a disk monkey who adds nothing).

Before attempting this, you need to take a full backup.  Since READs don't corrupt data, and WRITES do, then safest thing to do is get a USB stick, load linux on it, and then get an external USB drive (a cheap 3TB SATA disk if you must).  Then you can do a read-only mount of the RAID10 and use some freebie linux-based cloning software.

You have no backup.  Obviously. So your priority is to plan for the worst and hope for the best.  only a image backup with a read-only mount of the data insures that you have a full backup w/o placing anything at risk.
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by:sglee
ID: 38740377
I just spoke to LSI engineer. Basically here are the steps:
1. Take the old card out. No need to backup current raid configuration because hard drives have the configuration on themselves.
2. Put the new card in and start the server.
3. When you go into RAID BIOS screen by pressing Control-H, it will show a message about "Foreign Configuration Found" with two choices (1) To import (2) To View
4. At this point, you view the configuration to make sure that you are importing correct RAID configuration.
5. choose Import if the configuration looks correct and reboot the server.
6. When the server OS comes back up, go to MegaRaid Management program and update firmware and reboot the server at least twice to make sure the lastest firmware works fine.

Based on the steps above, there is really nothing special. But I am still going to have a contractor do the job so that I do not get sued should something goes wrong. I called the computer manufacturer since this server is still under the warranty.They called their sub-contractor in the region to perform the job. I actually spoke to the guy who is coming out this afternoon and asked him if he has done similiar jobs in terms of replacing RAID controllers. His answer was YES.

Since I know the procedure now and I heard from the technician that he had done this job before, I am more comfortable.

Yes I do Windows Server Backup everyday and when I checked the backup history and it has been done every day except Exchange data (which was corrupted due to the faulty chip on current controller and repaired later. That is the reason I am replacing the card)
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by:dlethe
ID: 38741275
Hey, if you have the budget and somebody else is willing to put their neck on the line, and you don't have to???  

Sounds like a plan. As you are worried about risk of a lawsuit, then your due diligence needs to be weighted towards verifying the transfer of liability to the contractor you hire in the paperwork that they sign.
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Author Comment

by:sglee
ID: 38741295
@dlethe

Thanks for the advise.

We spoke last April and it's been a while. I like to call you to chat, but lost your number. Once I find it, I will call you to say hi in the next couple of days.
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by:dlethe
ID: 38741309
I've updated my profile to provide contact info. Just click on my name and you will see it.  Like many experts, we're open to doing things on the side after the question has been answered.
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