Help with failed RAID5 partition

We have an old Dell PowerEdge 2850 server that we use in our DMZ for a FTP and Customer portal for our customers.  We had a 136GB RAID1 partition and 409GB RAID5 partition.  The server's OS was VMware ESXi 3.5 and it was hosting Server 2003 virtuals.  One for the FTP site and one for our Customer portal.  From what I gathered, one of the RAID1 drives and one of the RAID5 drives went down.  Don't know the cause.  After tinkering it for a while, I blew away the RAID1 partition and replaced the failed drive.  The only thing on it was ESXi.  The virtuals sat on the RAID5 partition.  I replaced the drive and rebuilt it within the server's BIOS.  When I reinstalled ESXi, it detected that the RAID5 partition was a vmfs partition.  I was able to log into VMware to try and add the partition to the storage array ESXi seen that it was a vmhba1:1:0 drive with 409GB capacity.  But, when I went to add it, I got the message "Unable to read partition information from this disk."  

Is there any way or any tool I can use to get the data off of this partition?  It is mission critical.  I don't know if it's a hardware issue or if VMware simply can't read it so I'm tagging both to this question.
HallsITAsked:
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
A single drive failure in RAID5, it should have rebuilt. Okay so it's not if after re-installing ESXi it does not automaticallt detect the VMFS partition, the VMFS partition has been corrupted, and so likely have your VMs.

Do you not have any backups ? if so proceed to Data Recovery specialist - Kroll Ontrack - https://www.krollontrack.co.uk/

If you want to experiment and mess, we can recommend some tools, we have used to successfully recover virtual machine disks.
HallsITAuthor Commented:
Unfortunately no.  We don't have any backups.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
We have used these products with great success..

VMFS Recovery

VMFS Recover

UFS Explorer

these are available as try before buy, so you can check if they work for you, and then pay up, otherwise I'm afraid it's a Data Recovery specialist.

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HallsITAuthor Commented:
To get that data I would need a Windows OS to install it on correct?
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
These are Windows apps - yes
HallsITAuthor Commented:
Okay, going to try them to see if I can at least see the data before purchasing.  

Thanks.
HallsITAuthor Commented:
I'm guessing I need to install Windows on the server in question or can it be done via the network?  I ask because currently I have VMware installed on this server.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
I'm guessing I need to install Windows on the server in question or can it be done via the network?  I ask because currently I have VMware installed on this server.

Your ESX installation is currently not doing anything...

pull the disks, use different disks... install ESXi later on a flash drive, SD card etc

Your priority at present is to recover virtual machine disks.
HallsITAuthor Commented:
Correct.  I'll pull the disks, pop in 2 different ones and install Windows OS.

Thanks again.
Mal OsborneAlpha GeekCommented:
I have seen Dell 2850s with failed cache memory MANY times. More often than failed drives. When this happens, disk access is erratic, often the server will boot and then throw a BSOD, or suddenly not be able to access some volumes, when data is copied. For some reason, the cache memory on these has a very high failure rate.

I don't recall the exact specs for the memory, (This is an archaic server)  however it is just a plain stick of generic ECC RAM, which should easy enough to identify.
PowerEdgeTechIT ConsultantCommented:
You can try your luck with "generic ECC RAM", but it is picky about the specs and configuration. Get Dell PN 4D554. IF that is the issue.
Mal OsborneAlpha GeekCommented:
Yeah, it has to be the right speed, capacity and ECC. IIRC it is a 256K stick. I have used generic ram in the past, but it is probably easier to just order the correct part, as suggested.

Either that or Ebay, probably dozens of cheap 2850s suitable for parts.
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