Raid Controller Failure

Posted on 2014-10-27
Last Modified: 2016-12-08
Hello everyone,

We have a raid 5 using a highpoint rockeraid 1820a controller card. Several days ago it started to broadcast a message out that the array is failing and when we started to notify a failure we immediately backing up as much data as we can and the raid finally failed on us that we won't be able to swap a replacement drive in to have the raid rebuild. Our server vendor was kind enough to send a technician out to our facility to troubleshoot further where exactly the failure point is. As he dug down further, the technician claimed the raid controller card was the primary failing point. long story short, he recommended to purchase a same or similar raid controller to get the raid rebuilt. So he brought in a similar card to start the rebuild process and the rebuild process took over three days to complete and today we noticed the drive has been rebuild but no data in the drive. At this point, we are very concern about the data within the drives if it's retrievable or not. We want to know your expert opinions if the technician had done his job or would there be a better option if he replace the exact same model of the controller would that make a diff?  

To all of the experts in raid and data recovery out there, please let us know your expert opinions and recommendations on this issue. We are truly appreciate and looking forward to your expert opinions...
Question by:lappladmin
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Expert Comment

ID: 40407014
Reading your story im afraid your data are definately lost forever :(
If you have lost 2 disks your data are lost forever to me except if one failure is mechanical.
How many drives were in the RAID5 ?
When you say the array was "failing" was it really unusable ? or was it just degraded because one disk was lost ?
How many failed drivers did you see ?

Author Comment

ID: 40407027
we have 7 drives in the raid 5.

Assisted Solution

Stampel earned 250 total points
ID: 40407038
Oh my god :(
I have updated my previous answer many times, can you tell me if you noticed failed drives ?
I am afraid raid configuration was lost when they switched the card, after installing the new card do you know if they imported the RAID configuration from the drives ?
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LVL 88

Expert Comment

ID: 40407071
You said you backed up. So why don't you just create a fresh array then restore from your backups? That is faster and more reliable anyway.
LVL 16

Expert Comment

ID: 40407089
Twice, I've sent data to Ontrack in this similar situation.  They were able to pull some small files that fit within block sizes, but anything larger than 512KB (or whatever block size you wrote) will be scrambled.  If it's a database file, kiss it goodbye.  If you did not have a 100% working and tested backup, that technician was insane for proceeding past anything other than imaging each disk individually and then sending them off to a professional data recovery team...

Always important to have good backups and EDP in your biz insurance.

Author Comment

ID: 40407093
Stampel - there was one drive failed and I believe the raid configuration should be within those drives.

Expert Comment

ID: 40407308
lappladmin, i am sorry but with a RAID5 you have each file splitted out on 6 drives and parity on the 7th drive.
The RAID configuration stands at two places :
- on the board
- on (each) disk
when you replace a RAID controller you have to select option "Import configuration from drive" if the board would not ask automatically.
If you create a new (same) RAID5, your data will be wiped forever.

Since you say you have a RAID5 rebuilt showing no data, i would assume this is a new created RAID5, in this case i think your data are not recoverable, even Ontrack or similar will not be able to recover enough data.

Im sorry.
LVL 16

Accepted Solution

choward16980 earned 250 total points
ID: 40407331
Several issues probably occurred.  

When he brought the foreign card in, he should have plugged it in without any disks and verified it had been reset back to factory, validating the EEPROM config from any existing RAID configuration had been erased.  Then, he should have plugged all respective working drives into their corresponding SATA ID numbers.  Then, he should have booted the computer, been prompted to import a foreign RAID array, accepted configuration and then booted to the RAID BIOS.  Any new disks added to the configuration should be completely zero'd out before being plugged in!!!!  NO EXCEPTIONS.  From here, inside the BIOS RAID, he should have then rebuilt the volume.
LVL 16

Expert Comment

ID: 40407348
PS.  Look into 

This software lets you image each disk with a boot CD and then play around with a recovery feature-set that is extremely robust.

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