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Raid 1 Drive Failure -- How Do I Swap New Drive In?

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Raid 1 Drive Failure -- How Do I Swap New Drive In?

  • In March 2004 I purchased a new Dimension XPS system that featured a Raid 1 configuration consisting of two 120GB Maxtor Hard Drives.

    Everything worked fine till a week ago, then the Intel Application Accelerator, Rad Edition (IAARE) started telling me that the drive on port #0 is no missing and that the integrity of the Raid volume is now "degraded".

    I did not feel like bugging Dell, as I have this aversion to wasting hours and even days trying to get ahold of and perhaps even manage to talk to ignorant technical help types. So I just purchased on the Internet an exact replacement of the type of Maxtor hard drive that had failed. I didn't even wiggle the Serial ATA HD cables inside the case. I figured "hey, so what -- I need a spare drive for the inevitable anyhow."

    When the new HD arrived things started getting strange. I started searching on the Internet for tips on replacing failed Raid drives and just kept getting links to people talking about the virtues of Raid. Even the Intel side had next to zero no real information. I even tried to download the IAARE user guide and Intel just had bad links to the PDF document. Pathetic. So I decided I would just go ahead and switch the drive myself without reading any tips.

    I opened the case and checked the cables. All was fine. I unplugged the old HD and swapped in the new. I did all this with the power off because I have never hot-swapped before and wanted to read about that in a context specific to my hardware -- boo hoo. After power up the system recognized the new HD as a non-raid HD and did not add it to the current raid volume. I literally could not get pass the Bios setup; it wants me to do something. With pressing ctrl-Q upon startup I can go to the Raid configuration menu, but I think I would be a fool to destroy my raid volumne, since I would lose the data.

    So I have one option: swap back in my old HD, power up the computer and see if the IAARE software recognizes when I start unplugging the old failed HD and swap in the new. It did not.

    Looking at the device manager settings, I see nothing for me to do. Perhaps a BIOS change for hot-swapping needs to be made, but I do not recognize what.

    Yeah, I need some help -- before the one remaining HD in my volume dies on me. By the way, I hear about "generation numbers". Is my March 2004 Dimension XPS generation #3?
  • I had a similar problem and did not know the proper procedure either or wanted to work with dell to find out.   In my case I had a SATA cable go bad.    After I got the new cable I made sure the drive with the good data was plugged in to SATA port 0.    Booted up and broke the RAID Array.   I think I did this from the RAID screen that you see just after booting up and pressed CTL I.

    I broke the raid array.   Connected the new cable to port 1 and drive that was not in sync.  After boot up I went to the Intel Accelerator and selected the option to migrate to RAID 1 array and choose to ADD SATA Drive port 1 to the array.   After about 30 minutes for a 120 GB drive I was back on RAID 1.   I think I had to boot after the migrtation and maybe one more time after it came up on RAID 1.  

    Everything has been working fine since replacing the cable.   



  • Message Edited by TomXPS on 09-15-2004 12:29 PM

  • There is this link to a relevant discussion at:

    and in it they are saying that to rebuild:

    "...turn off the system, replace the defective hard disk (note which SATA port it is connected to, PORT 0 or PORT 1), then you can then boot into Windows, open the Intel Application Accelerator RAID Edition interface (located under Programs menu) and rebuild the mirror to the new hard disk."

    Well, it seems like I already did all that. Am I to understand there is no hot-swap function with this chipset? I will perform my fixes with the power off, then. The Bios wants me to do something before I can boot up my computer with the new HD in port #0, though.

    I had a typo in my original message. I was trying to say that Port #0 is a failed HD, and that Port #1 is ok. I need to fix the HD in port #0. I also understand that there is no reason for me to manually transfer the good HD to port #0 to accomplish this.

    If I delete the raid volume from the bios does it really destroy all the data? Or just the raid structure information? It would be so easy now to just destroy the mirror, and recreate a new one from the good HD.

  • The Intel RAID bios utility gives this warning if I want to reset the disks to non-raid: "Warning: selecting "yes" will cause all data on any RAID disk to be lost."

    And it says this if I wish to delete a RAID volume: "Warning: Existing data within this volume will be lost and non-recoverable."

    I assume this literally means all the data is going to be lost, not just the RAID volume structure information.

    So I cannot delete the old volume and recreate a new one with two working drives.

    Yet when I replace the non-working HD with a working one, the system will not let me get past the BIOS configuration utility. What is it that I have to do there?
  • IAARE is now rebuilding my HD even as I type this.

    As usual, the problem was simple: when I would power-down and replace the HD with the functioning equivelant HD, the system would not like it. Rather than grumbling, like I had in the past, I instead put my brain in gear, and realized the reason was that it wanted to boot off the new HD, which was on port #0. Hey, I did not want to move the failed HD to a different port. It survived on #1, so it stays on #1, okay? In the Bios I simply arranged the boot order of the drives so that the RAID array was now higher than the new HD, which was currently non-RAID.

    Once inside Windows I started IAARE, right-clicked on the new drive, found that finally a action was available to me: "Rebuild to this disk". I gleefully clicked on that option, received the message "Rebuild has started successfully", and the rebuild is taking place right now -- zero downtime.

    I have nothing to complain about. Am glad this whole thing happened, really. If this had been a single HD system and that one HD had failed I would be reinstalling a lot of applications right now. I wish the Intel Application Accelerater Raid Edition (IAARE) had let me hot-swap the drive and fix it without powering down, but once I know the routine it is simplicity itself.

    In all my Internet searching I found out that Intel's newer technology, just recently released, does allow the hot-swapping. Read this:

    Life is good. Hey, one last question: Since I already have two SATA HD's, one CD drive, and a DVD drive -- a total of four devices -- is it possible to still add more SATA drives to the RAID array, to increase reliability?
  • Thanks for the update.   The warning does look kind of bad the way I did it, but I was not too concerned because I figured on a RAID 1 break I would end up with two drives with the same image.   It worked for me.   But the procedure you documented seems to be better.   Have to keep that in mind if I ever have to do that.

    I think Dell could do a better job of documenting the procedure.   I am not that confident If I called Dell Support and waited the 30 minutes on hold I would get the right answer.


  • The documentation problem is not Dell's. The problem lies with Intel. The IAARE help file is the first thing I read, and all I can say is "pretty skimpy". It could be that really, there is good documentation produced by Intel, just I never read it. I downloaded some docs by Dell specific to my computer, but I never unzipped them. I Got tired of reading everything but doing nothing. My instinct tells me that those downloaded docs don't say spit.
  • Anyone know the answer to whether we can add extra HDs to an existing 2-disk RAID?
  • My *guess* is that this could only be done with some type of card added to the machine -- if we are lucky. The motherboard handles two cables that each support two drives that can be either EIDE or SATA type drives. 2*2=4, so only 4 drives total can be handled. I have a CD RW drive and a DVD RW drive in addition to the two RAID drives, so I am out of luck.

    Hope I am wrong -- somebody please denounce this theory.

    Also, I am still too lazy to wait on the phone to ask any tech if I should just call them up and request a replacement drive for the one that failed so early on in my computer's life. I would never waste time to take this computer to a service center, but if a simple call would get me a replacement drive then I would certainly do that. How does Dell support work in an instance such as this?
  • Hi, my 8400 arrives today - are there rails included already for a 2nd HD? I'm planning to purchase a non-retail kit Seagate from the Dell SB site.
  • I bought my replacement drive directly, so it came with no installation hardware. I never even talked to Dell. Unscrew the rails from the failed drive onto the new drive.