RAID woes. A good RAID card is hard to find.
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Thread: RAID woes. A good RAID card is hard to find.

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2001
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    Unhappy RAID woes. A good RAID card is hard to find.

    Imagine this:

    You've been cruising along with your PC system for the last year or so with no major hiccups to speak of. And during that time you accumulate quite a collection of data. Shoot, well over a hundred gigabytes of data.

    You've Got:

    MEDIA
    Your entire CD collection in MP3 format neatly laid out in a directory hierarchy just like you like. Countless video clips that you have been collecting from the internet. All those home videos and pictures you have been shooting with that shinny digital camera you paid 400 dollars for.

    PROGRAMS
    Everything from XP Office, to Math Cad, Fire Fox, Instant Messaging programs, half a dozen video games, and countless other little programs that you use. And what about the stuff you can't even think of off the top of your head at the moment. You could spend a few hours probably writing down all the stuff that is on your computer. Oh, and lets not forget the settings for all those countless programs that you had to configure so that it worked just to your liking.

    * Now for some reason *hiccup*.........Hmmmmm....
    * My system is not working that well .
    * Lets reboot, that will fix it
    * Right after the nifty windows logo you get the infamous Blue Screen of Death (Its much prettier than the days of Windows 98, It has thin white writing with a dark blue...almost purple background)
    * Hmmm...reboot again....again......and again.......
    * 1 and 1/2 year old Hard drive has failed, you're hosed.

    This has happened to me 4 or 5 times in the last 3 years, and as I type this message right now from a newly installed OS, on a spare 20 gig hard drive I had lying around just so i could use the internet, I'm telling you, I don't want this to happen again.......ever again.....so long as i live.

    I figured RAID was the answer to my huge problem. Hard drives are cheap, and hell, raid controllers are even cheaper (Notice i used the words cheap, and not inexpensive).

    So right after the 2nd or 3rd time this happend to me I bought two 160 GB Maxtor Hard drives and a SYBA RAID controller card. The controller card <a href="http://www.syba.com/product/43/02/01/2/index.html">*link*</a> was very cheap. Only 15 bucks from www.newegg.com!. The price was justified when i received product. It was apparent from reading that manual that whoever wrote it had slept through most of their English as a Second Language course . I was OK with that though as long as the product worked. The windows side application for the card was horribly cryptic. It looked like a program that they used for internal testing that they decided to just go ahead and release with their product (it was really really really bad).

    But for the first month or so it looked like the card was working. Then all of a sudden it started dropping one of the hard drives out of the RAID mirror set. This i had to find out by manually polling the stupid little windows application every day . But I was happy, because it means that the hard drive could have failed, and I had successfully protected my self from reinstall doom. But it could not re-sync the other hard drive. I accessed the dropped hard drive from another machine and it seemed to work. So i began questioning the correctness of the controller card. So what I wanted to do was to remove that card and get a different one. What I've found out next just pissed me off at that point. I tried to boot from the good drive on my mother boards IDE controller and it was a no go . The card had apparently placed its own special boot code at the head of the drive so drives (even 2 mirrored drives) can not be booted from standard IDE controllers. So what the hell are you supposed to do if the RAID controller goes out???? UGGHHH.

    If anyone here has some suggestions that can help me out here that would be wonderful. Right now, what I think I want is a RAID controller that I can move a mirrored drive from a RAID set to a regular IDE connection and still boot from it. If anyone knows of a card that for sure does this or has a way better solution, please help me out. Thanks.

  2. #2
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    Since your controller was only $15, you might consider buying another one. Use it to get your array back up and transfer your data to a safe place. Then get rid of that piece of **** and set up a more reliable storage arrangement.

    t-man

    Addenda: it's unlikely that a different make/model RAID controller can read your array, even if it wasn't damaged by your attempts to boot with an IDE controller. That's why I'm suggesting to replace with the same card. After you straighten things out with your data, scrap the Syba and get a better one.
    Last edited by TurtleMan; May 21st, 2006 at 05:11 PM. Reason: Additional info
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  3. #3
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    For your immediate problem, TurtleMan's advice is spot on.

    More generally, I wanted to touch on this:
    Quote Originally Posted by Ultra_Trunks
    So what the hell are you supposed to do if the RAID controller goes out????
    Restore from backup. RAID controllers do die sometimes, and sometimes they'll destroy the array on the way out. Especially when it's 7am on a Monday and said RAID controller is in the main file server at work.

    RAID is not a substitute for backups.
    Safe computing is a habit, not a toolkit.

  4. #4
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    Well what about mirror RAIDs, isn't that technically a back up. Thats my whole point of mirrors, to create a backup. Stripe and all that, yeah I can see how that can be dumped. But how does a RAID card take out 2 hardrives.

  5. #5
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    All a RAID1 array protects you from is the clean physical failure of one of the hard drives.

    If you accidentally delete a bunch of stuff: lost data.
    If the memory on the RAID controller goes bad and it starts writing corrupt stuff: lost data.
    If one of the hard drives starts peforming intermittently: Windows pauses/freezes/bluescreens.

    The list goes on -- pretty much any failure mode you can think of which isn't simply a drive failing means lost data.

    As you've noticed, you can't just pluck a drive out of a RAID controller and read it somewhere else. You need the right controller, and the controller needs to recognise the drive. If anything corrupts the RAID stuff on the drives a bit, the controller won't recognise them.


    As a real example, our main file server at work died this way. We had 6 hard drives in it, all working. 5 made up a RAID5 array, and the 6th was a hot spare so it could automatically rebuild the array and restore fault tolerance if one of the other drives failed.

    One drive failed, and the array was destroyed. The controller was fine (still is), but neither it nor another controller would recognise anything on those disks. We had to remove the failed drive, create a new array on the 5 remaining drives and restore from tape.
    Safe computing is a habit, not a toolkit.

  6. #6
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    How much are you willing to spend on a RAID card? Areca makes probably the best SATAII RAID cards available right now. But you pay for that speed. The higher end Areca's with the 800MHz Intel processor onboard can reach 600MB/s+ throughput for both read and write even on RAID5 arrays! Four Samsung F1 1terabyte drives in RAID5 on an Areca card would absolutely blow you away.
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  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 1999
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    I know this thread is quite old, but never the less I feel obligated to mention this here.

    Most SATA RAID cards are not TRUE RAID cards at all. They're fake raid! That's right fake. F-RAID as some like to call them. They DO NOT protect your data or offer any performance enhancement anymore than Windows XP/2K/2K3 Software RAID, Linux LVM etc... offer you. In fact, many times these cards offer more bottleneck than performance.

    If you want true RAID, you need SCSI or SAS. Forget about it with SATA. If your data is important to you, make sure you either back it up or spend some serious cash to ensure RAID integrity.

    If you're still skeptical, google fake raid, fakeraid, fraid...It's actually becoming quite well known at this point that SATA RAID cards are just not where you want to be positioning sensitive information.
    Last edited by Silicon Scream; March 23rd, 2008 at 11:35 AM.
    Systems Administrator

  8. #8
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    Where did THAT come from?? Total FUD. SATA drives are not like floppy disks or something. Although I agree that doing backup is essential, and not necessarily to a/another RAID, saying that only SCSI or SAS (the latter which is an evolution of SCSI) RAIDs are "unfake" is ridiculous.

    We are using older SATA RAID controllers from Areca to great effect in design workstations, and have just put a 1680ix into a staging server. We use RAID 6 in all the machines for *continuity* and performance, not backup. We have lost drives, but never production time.

  9. #9
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    Controllers that rely on the system resources are standard in the consumer market. It's been that way forever. As is the case with all consumer level hardware, you take it with both the pro's and the con's and take appropriate precautions, such as selecting reputable brands, models, etc.

    I don't see many people freaking out about their FAUDIO controllers, internal FMODEM, or their FLAN adapters

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