8-disk RAID5. Server suddenly would not boot, 1 disk is failed, and previously 1 disk was foreign, currently 3 disks are foreign. What does this mean? Is it possible to get this back online?
Insert image in post failed, here is link:
If you are in the States/Canada, I would strongly recommend calling support at 800-822-8965 ... it is free, regardless of warranty status.
If not, then you need to try to Import this Foreign config ... go to the VD MGMT screen, highlight the controller and hit F2, select Foreign Config, then Import.
If successful, see if you are able to boot to your OS.
If unsuccessfuly, check the firmware version of your PERC 5/i and post it here ... some old versions did not handle Foreign Configs very well.
It is important to understand what exactly you mean by "1 disk is failed, and previously 1 disk was foreign, currently 3 disks are foreign".
Firmware is 5.0.1.
See the screenshot linked above for explanation of failed and foreign disks. I'm just saying that when it quit working, there was 1 failed and 1 foreign disk. Now there is 1 failed disk and 3 foreign disks, as reported by configuration utility.
I saw the screenshot, which is how I knew you were working with a PERC 5/i, but it would be very helpful to know when and how it changed from 1 foreign to 3 foreign. Did this happen on its own - suddenly and magically there were 3 foreign, or did you already try or do something - anything - that may have led to two additional drives changing to foreign? They will not usually change if there is no activity on the controller/drives.
Again, I'd recommend you contact Support so as to reduce the chances of something going wrong, as forum communication is not the best suited for this type of thing. If this is critical data, I would not try anything beyond Importing the Foreign Config before contact a data recovery service.
If Importing the Foreign Config fails (which is probably will), you can flash the controller firmware to a level that can better navigate foreign configs ... 5.1.1.0040 ... using the bootable ISO below:
Bootable firmware update utility for PERC 5/i (or call Support to obtain the ISO)
Use the ISO to create a CD. Boot to it. At the R:\ prompt type:
We may have reseated the drives. Hopefully didn't swap positions that I know of.
The data is not especially critical. Support was helpful and the conclusion was that the drive that failed caused others to go down, and that this does happen occasionally. We had 8 drives in a single array and then took out the dead drive and did import or clear or something, can't remember, then it showed up as 2 arrays. It seems strange to me that a single dead drive would cause a raid5 volume to be unrecoverable. I have never heard of this.
Is the cd image above the latest perc 5/i controller firmware? Can I browse to this on Dell's webiste? I might like to update other firmware also, motherboard etc.
The firmware on your controller was horrible at managing foreign configs. With version 5.1.1.0040, the controller's ability to prevent, manage, and recover from foreign configs was greatly increased. With this version, anything is possible. Whatever caused the first drive to fail, may have caused the other drives to do the same. It is not the drive that caused the other drives to go foreign, but the cause of the first drive failure could have done the same thing to the other drives; the PERC, when recovering from a RAID 5 error will never put all drives online - one will always be marked as failed.
The CD image I provided is not available to the general public for updating the PERC 5 ... it is a special utility used by Dell tech support to upgrade a PERC 5/i to a firmware version better able to recover from certain scenarios. If you are in a position now to update your system firmware, then there are easier ways to do it. You can download the Upgrade Packages for Microsoft Windows and update individually from the OS, or you can use the Server Updates Utility (SUU) DVD ISO to update the firmware either from the OS in one fell swoop or by booting to SBUU (Systems Build and Update Utility) then inserting the SUU DVD as the repository for firmware updates.
Make sure when updating your system firmware individually that you do the BIOS first, then ESM/BMC, then the RAID, HDD, NIC, and DRAC firmware.
I have already replaced all the drives with the new 2tb drives because the Dell rep basically gave no hope of recovering. Is it worth it to put all the 250gb drives back and update the firmware to try and recover from the foreign config problem? I won't be able to put each drive back into the same slot. Does this matter?
"did import or clear or something, can't remember"
Which ever you did here limits what you can do now.
If you have already successfully done one or the other, then you can't do it again.
If it failed or is still showing foreign, then it is certainly worth a shot, unless at this point the easiest thing for you to do is simply rebuild and get on with life :)
The only other thing remaining at this point, if there is no foreign config, is something called a retag, but if you are considering data recovery services, you don't want to do this; it can work, but it can also make things worse if it doesn't work.
I figured if I don't try I'll never know. :) So I put the 250's back in and could not make anything work. Oh well, If it happens again I will know more than I did last time... Thanks for your help.