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 Post subject: Raid 5 with hot spare.
PostPosted: August 11th, 2017, 7:15 

Joined: August 9th, 2017, 3:59
Posts: 1
Location: Australia... all of it
Ok, so settle in for a tale of woe and misery... also tie a tea towel around your head to avoid knocking yourself out as you face palm, repeatedly... Hard. But please stick it out as i have some questions at the end.

Several years ago i started designing my new PC.
I finally decided that i would use an onboard raid to free up PCI-E slots for up to 4 GFX cards. This would allow me to run multiple cheaper cards, able to be purchased over time and upgraded as needed, rather than splurging all of my savings all at once on a hyper wonderful card that was going to become old technology in 3 years anyway.

So i spent the rest of the money on 6x 4tb WD red drives and set them up in a 5x 4tb + hot spare RAID5 run directly from a Sabertooth 990fx R1.0. Thought it was a good idea at the time.

MOBO: Sabertooth 990fx
CPU: AMD AM3+ 6100 3.3GHz currently overclocked to 4Ghz
RAM: 2x 4gb Kinston HYPERX 1333
5x 4tb WD Red 5700 RPM
1x 4tb Seagate 7200 RPM (Yes i know this will be slowed to 5700 to stay in line with the rest of the raid, but after issues with WD drives as you'll hear i'm looking to slowly rebuilt with Seagate drives as the WD fail, someone please tell me if this wont work.)
1x OCZ Vertex2 SSD used to run primarily eve-online and World of Warships.
1x OCZ Agility3 256GB SSD used solely as my OS drive to run Windows 7.
TT Toughpower 875W PSU.

Remember, i was building on a budget and it all seemed like a good idea at the time...

One fine Sunday afternoon coming home from a LAN i booted up the computer, only to find the raid had gone offline, i'd managed to knock one of the SATA cables out of my 5th drive during transportation. Needless to say, as soon as i found my raid which had been built up to just shy of 15TB wasn't visible, i shut down and fixed the issue.

I rebooted and checked the raid in pre-bios, it showed the 5th drive, but upon further inspection i noticed the 1st drive was missing... Uh Oh.
Sure enough it was buzzing quite noticeably until i did a forced shutdown. on an independent power up it continued to buzz and i knew that death cry.

Being pretty poor and having just inherited the other half of the rent of an expensive house from a breakup, i was content to just let the hot spare do it's job, step in and take over and i didn't bother to replace the dead drive.

I operated like this for many months, being very selective on when i would actually completely restart my PC as windows would seem to hang, every time, for exactly 7.3 mins on the windows load up screen after the drive died.
I attributed this after a while to windows detecting there was an issue with the raid and having to do a full scan on something before it would boot. All i would see would be the windows logo hanging on screen for several minutes.
The first few days after booting up the computer the hanging windows logo threw me, i restarted several times after a few minutes thinking that the machine had completely frozen and wasn't going to start. It wasn't until i decided, out of complete frustration, and as a last resort before a full reinstall, to leave it on all day to see what would happen. Getting home i found it was booted! \o/ (thank god, cause i was starting to go mad after a few days of no pc gaming).

Over the months i did sparing research into the boot issue, and finally came to the decision that it was raid related, but i couldn't find any help on how to fix it. And what did it matter anyway? i still had access to all my data it was just a long reboot process.

Then one day disaster struck. - The raid disappeared, no amount of rebooting was fixing this. It was completely visible in the pre-bios, and was running minus the 1 dead drive, but windows would not recognize it, boot times even returned to normal.
Suddenly a fire was lit under my rear and i got to researching, 15TB was a lot to loose, over 10 years of collection. Some of it original video or content no longer available. But the vast majority of it was retro game installs and my movie collection backups which was all i was left with when the hard copies were destroyed during the breakup while i was at a LAN, thankfully i had my computer and it's archives safe with me at the time.

I contacted various help sites, and even contacted Microsoft help accusing their operating system of not being able to recognize my raid and asking that they help fix it, they had one answer every time, "Because you are not running a genuine and activated product, no support would be given." also "My issue may actually be due to me not getting important windows updates because of the non genuine version of windows i was running and that upgrading to windows 10 should fix the problem."

So i decided to deal with that problem first.

I own a copy of Windows 7 Home Premium but the CD is too badly scratched to install from, so instead of spending money on a USB drive to install from, i downloaded a pirated pre-release version of windows and ran on that for many years, but needed to upgrade.
Many contacts with MS support later, i was able to have one of their techs pull out the product code on the version of windows i was running in order to install windows genuine so that i could use my genuine code to register to upgrade to windows 10.

Unfortunately even after activating and fully updating windows 10, i was still not able to see my raid... MS techs just shrugged and wished me luck at this point. So i demanded to return me to a legit version of windows 7 and that's where i intend to stay until i'm forced out of it.

Staring sadly at the corner of my room at the stack of 4x 2TB Seagate Barracudas that my archive started as, i slowly succumb to the realization that i would have to rebuild from scratch and loose nearly 8TB of movies, game installs, and original footage that i had collected after upgrading, i go to a lot of garage sales.

So i wiped the raid pre-bios, i swear i stared at that confirm button for hours before i hit it trying to think of a magical way i'd suddenly be able to access my data again. And finally rebuilt the raid as a 5x disk RAID5 with no hot spare.
I plugged in one of the old disks and booted it up to get ready for the long laborious task of copying everything back onto the raid... one... disk... at... a... time... (i only have 8 SATA ports on the MOBO)

Upon opening windows explorer i found to my horror that the disk was empty.
I checked disk after disk and found they were all empty.
I then remembered in a distinct moment of clarity that i had used a cut paste method to help sort and keep track of any double ups. No backups... yes you can face palm again, i am.
15TB of archive, gone.

So i'm slowly rebuilding, up to 1.74TB so far. *whimper*

I've been put onto RAIDXpert recently, and have managed to figure some of it out. I have however run into a slight roadblock for the moment.
I bought a new Seagate drive to replace the dead one as a hot spare. I was able to see it in RAIDXpert when i plugged it in, and i set it to be a hot spare for the raid, all good.
Once set as a hot spare the drive was removed from the list of available drives.
Is this now all i have to do? Am i now protected by a hot spare the next time a drive fails?
Also, will my plan of slowly replacing WD drives with Seagate ones actually work? and if so if i do manage to replace all 6 drives with 7200 RPM drives, will the raid spin up to that once the last slow drive has been replaced?

Also i have been eyeing off the rebuild button.
As a RAIDing newb, when would that actually be needed?

 Post subject: Re: Raid 5 with hot spare.
PostPosted: March 18th, 2018, 12:58 

Joined: November 22nd, 2017, 21:47
Posts: 309
Location: France
I read it all – that was... detailed ! :) I see that your post got no reply at the time... Have you been able to recover something out of that mess ? And why did you post in the “Fun stuff” section ? (I guess that it's not the best place to post in order to elicit serious answers...)
A few notes :
– The “gurus” here seem to be offended whenever someone pronunces that word, which must sound like some kind of witch spell or Lovecraftian incantation : Seagate.
– Generally speaking, you can't use your very limited experience with particular brands / models of HDDs to determine which are the most or the least reliable ; it's not statistically significant, and the trend may be reversed for you neighbour, or yourself in another dimension.
– You have (or had?) way too much data for your own good. (I have the same issue, I know what I'm talking about ! O_O)
– I'm wondering how you could rebuild 1.74TB of data out of empty drives. Did you scan them with a data recovery software, or did I miss something ?
– I don't know much about RAID, except that it's a recipe for disaster if you rely on it for data safety (I only used RAID 1 at some point, and even with that I got more trouble than it is worth, so I ended up using the second drive as a proper external backup). You are never really “protected” with RAID – and you should know it since your computer with all your precious archives could have been irrevocably destroyed during that very litteral breakup of yours if it had been home at that fateful moment : that should have been a warning. If your data is really precious, you have to prepare for the worst (fire, robbery, thunder, angry lady...), and secure the important files in more than one physical place. If you can't afford to secure everything, sort out the really important stuff (you'll knock your head on the wall until it bleeds if you lose it), the somewhat important stuff (you'll be really pissed if you lose it but your forehead won't be harmed), and the expendable stuff (which you keep just for the sake of keeping it and won't make you bat your eyelid if you lose it).

Also, will my plan of slowly replacing WD drives with Seagate ones actually work? and if so if i do manage to replace all 6 drives with 7200 RPM drives, will the raid spin up to that once the last slow drive has been replaced?

Most knowledgeable people here would say, as dear old Mr. T : I pity the foo' ! I have no informed opinion on the matter, but theirs seems to be unanimous and substantiated : one particular Seagate HDD could last years with no hiccup, but on average, recent Seagate HDDs (especially the “DM” ones from what I read here) have a very bad reputation among DR professionals.

Also i have been eyeing off the rebuild button.
As a RAIDing newb, when would that actually be needed?

Well, I'd say that if you seem so clueless about what it does, even after the kind of failure you exposed and the thorough research that it entailed, then maybe you're not RAIDy yet for a peaceful RAIDing...

How much is 2 cents from Australia in Euros ? O_o

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