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Server crashed one night. I rebooted, now it hangs just after the SATA RAID Controller successfully POSTs.

This unit has a RAID 5 array, but I haven't pulled a recent enough backup of the data on it to feel comfortable, so I simply can't break the array in any way.

Questions: -First off, what are my options for troubleshooting this without affecting my array?

-Second, can I replace the RAID card without losing my array informatoin?

-Third, how do I back up or transport the array to another machine / card without data loss if I need to?

Thanks for any help you can provide

EDIT:

I finally got past the hang by disabling the Boot BIOS (telling the card not to act as a boot device) and for the first time I was able to get into the RAID utility (Ctrl + A) to see the status of my array. DEGRADED. So now I'm trying to identify which drive failed in the 3 drive array.

Essentially the Boot BIOS being enabled was preventing me from accessing the RAID config BIOS while the drives were connected. I had to disconnect the drives, disable the boot BIOS, reconnect the drives, then I was finally able to get into the config BIOS to see that I had a dregraded array.

QUESTIONS:

  1. How do I identify which drive failed? The array status screen doesn't seem to indicate which drive is causing the degradation. I'm verifying each drive with the BIOS utility right now, but I'm wondering if there's an easier way that doesn't take hours and hours.
  2. I have the option to rebuild a failed array with the (Ctrl + R) Rebuild tool in the BIOS. Is this an option for a DEGRADED array as opposed to a FAILED array, as the tool was designed for? What are the risks?
  3. Why didn't my array boot with a single drive failure? RAID 5 should have kicked in and allowed the system to recover and boot on 2 drives.
  4. If it had multiple drive failures, then why is the array DEGRADED instead of FAILED?
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2 Answers 2

Dell Warranty Check: Perhaps the until is still covered under warranty?

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Agreed. This is exactly what Dell support is for! –  SimonJGreen Mar 11 '12 at 19:01
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Options for Troubleshooting:
Try to determine if the error is with the server or the Raid.
Check Bios for changes//correct boot device.
Check Raid Bios for correct information (memory, # of hdd, raid level)
Try booting to another media (cdrom, usb, network)
Remove raid card and drives from system then see if the system boots

2nd: The raid configuration information should be stored on the drives and the controller. You may have to "accept the new configuration" to continue either in the bios or during boot.

3rd: Move the drives and RAID card to the new box, provided your OS can handle the change in hardware or its another Dell 1800.

4th: Moving the array to another card typically does not work unless the new card is the same make and model of RAID controller. You may have to "accept the new configuration" to continue either in the bios or during boot.

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So I assume accepting new config binds the array information on the new card? –  Duardon Mar 29 '11 at 1:26
    
Yes, Some Dell raid cards will allow you to by-pass this with a warning. –  wrmine Mar 29 '11 at 22:42
    
So binding the array information to a new card worked, but it didn't resolve the problem. I'm looking into the default boot device, and updating the firmware on the poweredge. Problem is that I can't get into setup when the card is in because it hangs before entering setup (just after RAID card POST). –  Duardon Apr 2 '11 at 17:02
    
Applying firmware to the card did not resolve the issue. I found some documentatoin from Dell "Firmware and Driver – A mismatch of firmware and driver could result in random controller lockups, hangs or BSODs. The system should be at the current approved level. The latest firmware and driver versions can be found on support.dell.com. When performing a firmware and a driver update, it is recommended that the driver be updated before the firmware. The driver is always backward compatible with older firmware. A new firmware with an older driver will usually result in abnormal behavior." –  Duardon Apr 6 '11 at 2:30
    
The only problem is that I can't install drivers when the array won't boot. –  Duardon Apr 6 '11 at 2:30
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