The RAID in your computer is a wonderful thing. When working properly, it increases the speed of your computer, while at the same time helping provide you with redundancies in case of a failure. For the past 25 years, it has been growing in importance in computers to the point where Windows software allows for the functionality of RAID arrays automatically.
Of course, as with anything computerized and designed or used by a human, there is the risk of failure. When that happens, you will probably need to rebuild the RAID solution. It isn’t an easy thing to do, but thankfully, RAID arrays are quite reliable and you shouldn’t have to go through a RAID repair too often.
Steps to perform RAID repair
If you are going to be doing a RAID repair, follow these steps:
- First, you need to determine and secure the current array state of the RAID. Label the disks, cables, ports and all the configuration. Ideally, you should know exactly how everything is connected and set up because you made a detailed list when you did the initial setup of the array. By doing an initial list when you do that first setup, you can make your life a lot easier.
- Disconnect the member disks of that array and connect them to a controller that can work with separate disks. This controller can either be a single drive mode RAID controller, or a non-RAID controller.
- Once you have done that, you can use data recovery software that will be able to find the parameters of the RAID array. There are several types of software out there to choose from, but always do your research so that you get software that will do the job properly. Sometimes, especially in this case, freeware is not always the best choice.
- Some software solutions will allow you to rebuild the array without having to initialize it first, but if it does not, then you can use the parameters determined by the software to build the array. You must be very careful when you do this because if you end up rebuilding the RAID in the wrong order, you can not only cause a failure, but also lose any data you still have on your array. For example, if you rebuild a RAID 5 with the wrong disk order, you could end up with a controller that will just initialize in a series of zeroes.
Hardware or software RAID repair
- If you are using a hardware RAID, you can use software to write the array to the disk and then mount the disk with the operating system you are using. If you do not have a disk that is large enough for that though, you can build an array that is only temporary and write the data onto it.
- If you have a software RAID, you will need data recovery software. You can create an array image file and load it into the recovery software, or you can load the recovered array parameters into the data recovery software. This bypasses the need to have an array image file.
- Once you have saved the data and checked everything, you can begin to rebuild the original RAID and copy your data back to it.
Going through a RAID repair is not something that you really want to do, but it may happen depending on how your RAID was set up, any software problems, or actual hardware problems with the drive. Remember, make sure that you label everything and know how it all fits together because an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, especially when dealing with a RAID repair.