RAID-5 Array on a new motherboard?
January 21, 2008 7:09 PM   Subscribe

Can a RAID-5 array created on one computer transfer to another computer, data intact? The kicker: different SATA controllers.

OK: I had a 3 drive RAID-5 setup working fine all SATA drives connected to an MSI K8N motherboard (AMD CPU, with nVidia chipset). I think the SATA driver controller is by SIL. Something fried that computer, though the drives were still in a healthy array.

I built a new computer, new Intel chipset motherboard (Abit IP35 PRO), but when i turned it all on, the three drives are recognized, but the Intel MAtrix Storage Manager ROM says their type/status is "Non-RAID Disk"

If I create a RAID volume with these disks, I'm sure to lose all the existing data, right? Is there any path to recovering the data from this new computer? Or do I have to re-construct the old computer with the old motherboard to recover the data?
posted by cameradv to Computers & Internet (13 answers total)
Most ATA RAID host adapters turn out, upon examination, to not be real hardware RAID, but rather software/BIOS-dependent fakeraid. basically, each manufacturer is different and they're mutually incompatible. I think that attaching these drives to the same RAID controller is the best chance to recover the data. SIL does make PCI-bus RAID interfaces (e.g.) but I haven't done research to find out if there's any compatibility from add-on raid to motherboard raid.
posted by jepler at 7:45 PM on January 21, 2008

Depending on how handy you are with computers, you could learn how to use sleuthkit, which might do the trick. From there you could export the data (and undeleted data) though it would take a long time. The advantage is that it is free.
posted by about_time at 8:01 PM on January 21, 2008

If I create a RAID volume with these disks, I'm sure to lose all the existing data, right? Is there any path to recovering the data from this new computer? Or do I have to re-construct the old computer with the old motherboard to recover the data?

Unfortunately, I think the answers to those questions are yes, no, and yes. I'd be happy to be proven wrong, though.
posted by knave at 8:02 PM on January 21, 2008

Response by poster: @about_time: I'm moderately handy, but those tools look pretty low-level. Nothing that recognizes RAID, for example.

If there were a linux tool that can take 3 RAID-5 drives, and allow me to access them, I would be in seventh heaven. It would have to recognize whatever special format the SIL controller might have used for striping and parity.
posted by cameradv at 8:35 PM on January 21, 2008

Response by poster: and, I just re-built the old computer in a box next to the new one. It won't POST past the memory check, despite several combinations of memory modules. I think that was the problem: the memory sockets aren't working properly. so this motherboard is shot. I may have to see about replacing the motherboard, just to rescue my drives.

Unless Me-fites come to the rescue? Please?
posted by cameradv at 8:39 PM on January 21, 2008

1- See what the manufacturer of the motherboard says about these situations.

2- Get a motherboard or RAID controller with the exact same RAID chipset.

2b- "Real" enterprise grade RAID duplicates the logical drive information on the drives & on the controller, I would imagine that these do too. So when you plug them into the replacement controller and boot up, it should say something like "restore volume information found on drives".

2c- What you might have to do is (with the new hardware) create an identical, defunct array before plugging the drives in. Don't do this without specific instructions from ... someone.

3- [insert obligatory crap here about proper backups]

3b- RAID is not a backup solution. It provides uptime and volume size.
posted by gjc at 8:54 PM on January 21, 2008

You might not have to replace the old motherboard. Find out which RAID chipset is used by the motherboard and look for a PCI card that uses the exact same chipset. That might do the trick.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 8:56 PM on January 21, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks for the comments. (1) request into MSI to see what they suggest. (2) looking around for replacement Motherboard and/or PCI RAID controller. (3) was backing up to a network storage computer. it died a few months back, and hadn't quite gotten around to rebuilding it. Yeah, yeah, I know ... Pretty much a guarantee that I'd bring the wrath of the RNG down on me.
posted by cameradv at 9:17 PM on January 21, 2008

Hey, you're doing better than me. I haven't even built the backup computer yet... Good luck.
posted by gjc at 9:19 PM on January 21, 2008

If linux is an option then once you get your data of the old raid, build it with linux software raid next time. Any Linux with RAID support that you can hook the drives to will be able to read the array, instead of just systems with the right RAID chipset.

It doesn't help any for the disaster at hand, though.
posted by jepler at 6:05 AM on January 22, 2008

In case it hasn't been mentioned be sure to backup the data on each drive somewhere else. Best would probably be to "clone" each drive onto another. So you don't lose all the data if something goes wrong.

If you are unable to re-create the original computer to get the data off perhaps professional software recovery is an option. I know it's very expensive in the case of a failed drive but it's at least something to consider.
posted by 6550 at 7:49 AM on January 22, 2008

Definitely start by cloning your drives. You'll have to shell out for a new set of disks but you'll get the option of trying different recovery options without worrying about losing your data. Most LiveCDs have ddrescue which is, if you'll pardon the technical terminology, the shit.

And yeah, there are very, very few cases where even real hardware RAID makes sense. Most of the time you really want a Linux or Solaris box running software raid and gigabit ethernet.
posted by Skorgu at 8:11 AM on January 22, 2008

Response by poster: @6650 & Skorgu : Thanks for the excellent advice about cloning the drives. That makes a lot of sense, and it's fairly cheap security. dd_rescue looks like just the thing. I'm hoping it's on the Knoppix 5.1 LiveCD I just burned.
posted by cameradv at 10:46 AM on January 22, 2008

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