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RAID 5 replace a disk


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#1
alexpanda

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Hello,
Thanks for taking the time to look at this.

I have a SATA RAID 5 set up in my main computer because I was sick of losing data.
The Array is 4 drives, each a 500GB affair from WD. Model #WD5000AAKS.

Anyway, I lost a drive about a year back and just switched the wires to a spare and rebuilt and kept running. That's exactly how I had hoped it would happen.

Now I have lost another drive and have no spare!

The drives that failed both show error state in the pre-boot raid controls.

Finally to the questions part...

Can I somehow keep the (now 3 disk) array intact, format one of the "error" drives and put it back in the array bringing it back to 4 disk array?

If not, can I use a drive other than the WD5000AAKS ?

In my pre-boot raid tool, the error drive shows seperately from the degraded array.
Can I use the delete option to sever the connection between the error drive and the degraded array? How does all that work? I hate to throw out two drives that may have some use.

How do I know there's an error and not just something that got corrupted? I got error state one day, next 3 days, no error and again today error.

I don't want to blindly throw out hundreds of dollars of gear because the system is having a bad day or some virus zapped me.

Thanks for reading and please point me somewhere that will help me to understand how these RAID 5 arrays work.

Channel Sanderson

Edited by alexpanda, 25 May 2009 - 11:58 AM.

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#2
Kemasa

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You should be able to use any disk which is the same size or larger than the current disks that you have, depending on the hardware/software that you are using.

You should be able to download the diagnostics program from the Western Digital web site and test the drives in order to make sure that there is not a problem with the disks (the link is too strange to post here). If you ensure that the disk is ok, the diag program should also allow you to wipe out the disk so that you can reuse it. Just be careful that you don't get the wrong disk.

Have you read:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raid5
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#3
alexpanda

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Thanks for the direction.
I went to the wiki site but it was unavailable. I'll look into it later.
Regarding the diagnostic tool,
Western Digital has such a tool and I downloaded and ran it.
Unfortunately, it recognized the raid and not individual drives.
It shows as a logical drive and the diagnostic tool can only diagnose physical drives. :-(

There is a DOS version of the utility that I can DL. I was thinking of disconnecting all of the drives I'm not trying to diagnose and booting dos from a CD to run the diagnose program.
What do you think?
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#4
Kemasa

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Having only the drives that you want to test is a good idea. You could also test the drive on another computer.
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#5
alexpanda

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Ok. how do I go about doing that?
Scratch that I found a way.
Western Digital actually has a DOS bootable version of their utilities. It worked fine.
Thanks again.

There seem to be a lot of people looking at this topic so I'll put a bit more detail about what I did.
One of my drives got an error state. It's a 4 disk raid 5 array.
When this happens, nVidia has a screen pop up during POST that shows one drive in error and one degraded.
If you press F10, it will bring you into an nVidia utility for managing the raid.
you can see a drive in error state and if you click it it's only one drive.
You can also see a drive in degraded state and if you click it you see 3 drives.
To figure out which actual physical device was in error state with my tangled mess of wires, I shut down the system, unplugged a drive and booted to see if it only showed the degraded drive.
Fortunately for me I guess, this occured on the first attempt. since the degraded drive showed and not the error one I knew i had unplugged the error drive.

Given the instructions I received here, I went to the western digital site and downloaded the windows diagnostic tool. Unfortunately, it sees drives thru the prism of the raid so you can't do much with it.
I had much better luck with the dos bootable version of the utility.
It's an iso image so I used some free burnware to burn it to a disk and boot from there.
I shut down, unplugged all the good drives that are in the degraded array and plugged in only the "error" drive. These are SATA drives and I unplugged only the skinny cable. I don't have a clue what the two cables do but the effect was the desired one. When I restarted, the diag program came up.
It's very straightforward.
select the drive,
Do a quick scan,
do an extended scan.
Write zeroes.
remove the disk and exit the app.
You'll want to shut down and reattach the cables to all your drives.
I started it up and when the screen for nVidia raid util came up it showed just the degraded drive.
I entered the util and did rebuild and it found the drive that I had done the diag on. It was fine. Rebuild went fine too.
I played Wow while it rebuilt and got some nice gear for my mage.
:-)
I will run diag on another disk that got an error state about a year ago and see if it's now a good spare. I got my new drive from newegg today too so now it's possible I've got two good spares lol
I should be good for another 6 months or so.

Feel free to close this topic unless you have some other suggestions for me.
I'm done with it

Edited by alexpanda, 27 May 2009 - 10:50 PM.

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