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Help, please!

Hardware: Dell Poweredge 2600
          PERC 4/Di
          4 SCSI Drives, 1 standalone
                         3 in a RAID 5 configuration
OS: Windows 2000 Server

In other words, a fairly old system. Anyway, we are in the process of taking over support for this site. The current tech wants out and is fading from view fast, so we need to solve this problem:

The standalone disk (where the OS was) failed. We've replaced the disk, installed the OS, but need to know exactly how to proceed from here. I've never worked with a RAID system before, so I don't want to touch anything without knowing what I'm doing.

We are not certain if the site will want us to attempt to recover the array or wait for the old tech to become available. We have replaced the server with a temporary box, and recovered MOST of the data from an online backup service. However, the other tech failed to backup a part of the data and the only copy of it is on this RAID array. Hence, our caution.

We have poked minimally around in the boot-up PERC config utility, and it seems to me that that's where we'll need to be to reclaim the array. Another possibility is that there is some Dell software for the RAID controller we need to acquire.

Can anyone provide clues as to how to proceed from here? Any help GREATLY appreciated.

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

A 2600 probably has a PERC 3 variant in it (PERC 3/Di?). Most of the PERC controllers store the configuration information for the array on the disks themselves. Assuming the controller is detecting the array (which you would see in the BIOS configuration utility for the PERC) getting at the data is a matter of booting and OS with the appropriate PERC driver and copying the data off.

If you can get a DVD-ROM drive into the machine you might try booting a Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows 7 setup DVD on the machine. I strongly suspect those OS's will have a PERC driver loaded "stock" and you will probably find the array accessible from a command prompt. (I find the W7 / W2K8R2 setup DVDs to be tremendously useful "rescue disks" for Windows.) They have USB mass storage drivers, too, so you should be able to plug in an external disk (albeit at "blazing" USB 1.1 speeds) and copy data off of the array.

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+1 Thanks! I do see the array. It appears as a big uninitialized basic disk in the disk management utility. I suppose we'll need the driver from Dell then, if we want to continue with the W2K that's already installed. – DCookie Feb 10 '11 at 5:34
If it's showing up as an uninitialized basic disk then it sounds like it's blank. I'd stop and take a sector-for-sector image of the RAID volume before going any further, since there could still be data there and you certainly don't want to damage it further by writing to that disk. re: the W2K driver for the PERC controller - You should be able to download it from Dell's site. – Evan Anderson Feb 10 '11 at 5:55
Sorry, it's showing as "unallocated". The controller is a PERC 4/Di. – DCookie Feb 10 '11 at 20:13

Well, we managed to recover the data using R-Studio. We were forced into that approach after trying to get the OS reinstalled with all of the Dell utilities, only to have the loaner SCSI replacement disk for the failed OS disk die as well.

I have used R-Studio in the past, and it really works well. The emergency recovery feature of the software was what saved us here.

When we come up with another disk for the OS, we'll try some other more aggressive attempts to get Windows to see the RAID array.

Thanks again to Evan for the help. I am accepting his answer for the recommendation to get a copy of the disk outside of what Windows might be able to provide.

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