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System will boot with no errors, but will only get so far into Windows (safe mode, normal) before it locks up (but still accepts mouse input).

Tried a live disk to boot from, and I can copy just shy of a GB before the copy stops, and accessing anything on the filesystem takes 5-10 minutes to process.

This leads me to believe that my array is bad. I need to copy a 53gb file (mailstore that wasn't backed up (don't ask)) from this disk, but I can't find any errors anywhere to diagnose.

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What kind of RAID mode are your running? –  George Tasioulis Sep 28 '11 at 10:49
    
It was RAID 5. I think the controller is dead. Even new arrays fail after small amounts of data transfer –  derjur Sep 28 '11 at 17:17

3 Answers 3

Our solution was to buy a new server.

RAID controller went bad on the Dell. Might have been able to rescue by swapping disks out to another machine, but didn't have a spare machine.

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Backups would have saved your bacon here, but I'm assuming that since you need a file locked in there behind some weird hardware error, you don't have them. So step one is to write a sticky note to yourself to get the rest of your environment backed up once you've finished ironing this problem out :)

As to the problem itself- it really does sound like a storage problem, however could even be the motherboard or some sort other component in the storage path. If you're running raid with redundancy (raid 5, 6, 10, or 1), you would be able to swap out a disk if it's not working. That said, when disks go bad, they tend to make a lot of noise about it and have helpful error messages, so I'm more inclined to think you're looking at a controller problem. If this is the case, replacing it or updating the firmware should fix your problem.

Before you consider any firmware updates or raid controller changes, have you opened a ticket with Dell? It's their gear, and they know it better than any of us.

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Backups failed due to a non-related issue. Long story :S –  derjur Sep 28 '11 at 13:33
    
That's the worst :\ So what about the vendor? Have you involved Dell yet? –  Basil Sep 28 '11 at 14:10
    
No, this thing is way out of warranty. Recreated the array, same problem. Assuming it's the controller or motherboard. arg –  derjur Sep 28 '11 at 17:18
    
When you say you recreated the array, what do you mean? Did you see a failed disk on PERC, exchanged it and allowed time to rebuild? Or wasn't there a failed disk at all? –  George Tasioulis Sep 28 '11 at 17:47

Usually at this point I'd boot to the PERC tools (it's running RAID?) and use the onboard diagnostics on the array to see if there's a bad spot or spots. If the damage is to one drive, you can replace it and see if the array can be rebuilt, or at least remove the bad drive from the array and see if that makes the access issue stop.

Does Windows boot in command line mode only safe mode, and able to run a chkdsk?

I don't know if a Linux RIP disc could see the volume or not; if it did, I'd suggest using NTFSClone to try copying files. If you Google for NTFSClone you should find example command lines to run for retrieving files with that utility. Or dd-rescue.

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