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Dead Server...Data Recovery options

Posted on 2013-05-23
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Last Modified: 2013-05-28
My church has 1 central server.  It is an old IBM server running Windows 2003 R2 and was not being backed up.  Last Friday there was a power outage and now the server will not boot all the way up.  It gets past the "Loading Network locations", then goes to a blank gray background and sits there.  The cursor is still movable, but CTRL/ALT/DEL does nothing.  If you insert a CDROM, you get the CDROM icon on your prompt so it would seem the system sees the CDROM.  Even though I've changed the boot order to CDROM first, it skips right over it and goes straight to the RAID.  I've tried booting to a several type boot/recovery disks, but it will not recognize the CDROM.  I've also brought a known good CDROM in in case it was the actual drive.  

There is a RAID 5 across 3 disks that presumably still contains all their financial data.

Can anyone suggest some other methods to accessing the data on this RAID 5 partition to pull their data off?

Any help would be GREATLY appreciated.
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Question by:SPIRAXADMIN
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13 Comments
 
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Accepted Solution

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Scott C earned 500 total points
ID: 39190753
In case you try a recovery service, contact several, and ask for their policy and fee; many have a “No recovery - no fee”policy
Here are a few links links:
http://www.lowcostrecovery.com/index.html                         
http://www.gillware.com/                                 
http://www.drivesavers.com/services/estimates.html                     

As you don't know exactly what the issue is this would be your safest route.
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Expert Comment

by:PaulD77
ID: 39190847
Are the CD's you're trying to boot from actual Windows Server install disks?
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by:Thomas Grassi
ID: 39190861
Sounds like your cdrom is bad.

If you are sure the cd you are using is good and the boot process skips over the cd then the system does not recognize the cdrom.

Try replacing the cdrom

Your windows 2003 server must have a corrupt OS

Once you fix the cdrom issue then you can do a windows 2003 install repair

Is the Windows 2003 OS on the raid drive also.?

We normally place the OS on a small drive and then use the raid for data

I had a similar problem with a server not too long ago where the system would not boot the cdrom after I replaced the cdrom all was good.

cdrom drives if not used for a long time have a tendency to fail.

Change the cdrom and you should be on your way.
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Author Comment

by:SPIRAXADMIN
ID: 39190883
Thanks for your replies:
ScottCha- I'll certainly look into that option if it gets to it.  Thx

PaulD77 - I've tried a 2003 R2 ISO I downloaded from MS and tested on a server here @ work before taking to church. I've tried a shrink wrap copy of MS Server 2000 and a "Ultimate Recovery Boot disk.

trgrassjr55 - I've tried 2 separate drives other than the one that was in the chassis already.  I'd try an old boot floppy, but I can't find one to see if it will read from A:\
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by:Scott C
ID: 39190884
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Author Comment

by:SPIRAXADMIN
ID: 39190891
trgrassjr55 - Sorry, forgot one...Whomever built this server for them raided all the disks and partitioned a C and D drive, so everything is on the RAID.
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Author Comment

by:SPIRAXADMIN
ID: 39190894
ScottCha - Thanks...I'll try that next.  I won't be able to get there until tonight, so I'll update this tomorrow.
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by:Thomas Grassi
ID: 39190912
Well that means your data should be ok then.

A install repair will help.

When you go there tonight bring a cdrom drive with you.

That cdrom in the server is bad or the connection it is not your media.
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by:The_Sassoon
ID: 39190930
how many disk slots do you have in the server? if you have 4 or more slots you can rebuild the server using an additional slot for the OS and the other 3 for the raid 5.

an additional option may be to run an OS off USB like Linux. and read the data from the drives.
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Expert Comment

by:CompProbSolv
ID: 39191335
It seems very odd that you cannot boot from the CD-ROM drive.  That is a big obstacle to getting to your data.

If you disconnect all RAID drives you can do a test of booting from the CD-ROM without the RAID drives getting in the way.  If that works, double/triple check how the BIOS settings are with regard to booting.
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by:noxcho
ID: 39193800
Boot the server from Parted Magic CD and copy out your important data. Then do repair install of Windows 2003 R2.
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Author Comment

by:SPIRAXADMIN
ID: 39202304
That's just it.  It will not boot from any external device...CDROM, USB, even an old floppy.  I've brought in several known goods of each and the boot process skips right over them and goes directly to the HDs.  My guess is there is something wrong with the BIOS or something.  Anyway, I've given up on this device.  Thank you for all your suggestions!!
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by:CompProbSolv
ID: 39202316
What sort of messages do you get when trying to boot from a CD when all of the hard drives are disconnected?
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