RAID-0 HD Replacement After Laptop Repair?
August 23, 2013 7:08 AM   Subscribe

What do I need to know about my RAID-0 configured hard drives before removing them to send my laptop away for repair?

My laptop's DC Jack has a loose/broken connection (the battery doesn't charge when I plug it in unless I wiggle the AC Adapter plug around to just the right angle).

I plan to send the computer away for repair under my service plan. I'd like to remove the hard drives prior to sending it away, for the sake of privacy, security, etc. I have two SATA hard drives in a RAID 0 configuration. The laptop came configured this way -- I don't know much about RAID myself.

If the service company decides to replace my motherboard and/or update the BIOS, will this "break" my RAID configuration? What do I need to know in order to get my computer back to its normal state as soon as I drop the HDs back in?

(I don't expect they will have to replace the motherboard but this happened to me once when I sent another laptop for the same repair).

For reference - this is the computer: MSI GT60
And I will be sending it to (a plan I purchased through to extend beyond the now-expired manufacturer warranty).
posted by Alabaster to Computers & Internet (5 answers total)
If your BIOS has the ability to save settings to a file, do that. Otherwise, go into the BIOS and manually copy down all of the parameters in the hard drive/raid section. Also the boot section.

Also, remember the position of the drives in the machine.

And, of course, back up your data. RAID 0 should never be counted upon to work reliably.

Most notebook computers have the DC connector mounted right on the motherboard. The repair for them is to replace the board.
posted by gjc at 7:56 AM on August 23, 2013

For clarity, regarding the "position" of the drives, you need to connect each drive to the same connector when you put them back in.

The safest thing to do is to backup the contents of the RAID0 volume(s) to another drive or computer before you pull the drives containing the partitions. Given the extended warranty through NewEgg, it's conceivable that you could get a slightly different model as a replacement--with a different chipset--as motherboards get revised and discontinued on a pretty quick pace. That might prevent you from reassembling the array from the current drives.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:09 AM on August 23, 2013

Second'ing snuffleupagus. Different (brands / models) RAID controller chips are notoriously bad about not being able to deal with drives written by another brand/model. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Don't assume that any computer but that one single laptop will ever be able to read those two drives. They are not something you can just chuck in an external drive enclosure and copy off. Read: absolutely, positively, back up the entire machine to another (non-RAID, likely external) drive before sending off the chassis for repair. If you get the laptop back, plug the two drives back in (respect their original position), and it works, great. If not, nuke them and restore from your backup.
posted by introp at 8:38 AM on August 23, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks for the responses. Maybe I should ask a local shop to replace / re-solder the DC jack, rather than my PC away for the service plan.

It will cost me labor & parts but I will get my computer back quicker and I should have more control over what's actually done (and not be surprised with a new / different motherboard).

I will still back-up the drives and take the other precautions suggested here.

Is there any reason I should avoid doing it this way?
posted by Alabaster at 8:50 AM on August 23, 2013

The RAID situation isn't actually that bad, because it's not a real hardware RAID setup. It's software RAID (aka fakeraid). Ubuntu can understand how to reassemble the array. Reports on other websites indicate that it works with whatever fake raid the GT60 uses. So if your new motherboard can't figure out how to assemble it, you boot off an Ubuntu live CD/USB/whatever, which will see your array, and copy your data to a USB disk.

You'd have to reformat the drives and reinstall Windows at that point, but the data wouldn't be a problem.

That said, you should always be diligent about backups with a RAID-0 setup. If either drive fails your data goes bye bye.
posted by wierdo at 5:48 AM on August 24, 2013

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