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Example #37 of why RAID is NOT a "backup" solution.

Demosthenes9 2,071 May 9, 2008 at 05:35 PM
(I am sure that I will get some ribbing for this one.)


I decided to run RAID5 to protect against drive failure. 4x500gb connected to a 4 port Sil3114 card. OS is running on a separate 2.320gb RAID1 array using onboard sil3112 controller.

The other day, one of my 320s died and I strangely decided to just break the RAID1 array and will recreate a new one when the replacement drive comes in.

Somewhere along the line, my RAID5 array developed an identity complex or something and decided to identify itself as a RAID1 array. All 4 drives are in fine working order, but 2 of the drives show as "reserved" while the other 2 are shown as a RAID1 set.

Of course, this all occurred before I had gotten around to setting up and configuring any backup software. ALL of my data was sitting on that 1.5 TB array.

There were probably other ways to fix this problem but what I ended up having to do was to delete the existing array and then I created a new one using the exact same parameters. Once booted into Windows, Drive Management saw a new drive and I initialized it and assigned a drive letter WITHOUT formatting it.

I ran a quick scan with GetDataBack and it sees my data and I am hoping and praying that it will be able to restore it.

The problem here ISN'T that I decided to go with a RAID5 set. I stand by that initial decision and will keep running RAID5.

No, the REAL PROBLEM is that I let myself get complacent PRESUMING that RAID5 offered enough protection and that I could take my time setting up a REAL BACKUP SOLUTION.

It's a safe bet to say that I now have a backup solution in place and ready to go BEFORE my RAID5 set is recovered and repopulated with data.

Matter of fact, I will be running redundant backup strategies to ensure that I never have to go through the same amount of worry again.
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#2
Dude!

Props to you for telling your story.
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#3
RAID 0 ftw
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#4
I'm assuming you're running RAID with the chipset controller? Don't ever trust those things. If you get a decent RAID controller card, it'll be much more reliable. And of course, you should still backup your date to optical or tape.
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#5
Quote from flea View Post :
I'm assuming you're running RAID with the chipset controller? Don't ever trust those things. If you get a decent RAID controller card, it'll be much more reliable. And of course, you should still backup your date to optical or tape.
Yeah, it's "bargain basement" RAID as I didn't want to drop $300 on a good raid controller.


As to my backups, I still don't like optical or tape.

When all is said and done, my "live" files will be on RAID5, my full backups and incrementals will be stored on an external WD MyBook as well as mirrored to a shared folder on my network.

That should protect me against everything short of catastrophic failure due to fire, tornado, etcetera.

(and yes, I will actively check both my external drive and the network share to verify data integrity.)
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#6
what did you lose ?

I use syncback and sync my internal 500 gig to an external...then, quarterly, I switch the drive out in the external with another 500 gigger and store it offsite in a fireproof safe... waiting for blu ray burns
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#7
Quote from Demosthenes9 View Post :
Yeah, it's "bargain basement" RAID as I didn't want to drop $300 on a good raid controller.


As to my backups, I still don't like optical or tape.

When all is said and done, my "live" files will be on RAID5, my full backups and incrementals will be stored on an external WD MyBook as well as mirrored to a shared folder on my network.

That should protect me against everything short of catastrophic failure due to fire, tornado, etcetera.

(and yes, I will actively check both my external drive and the network share to verify data integrity.)
That's a very good example and I thank you for posting it. It gives us two lessons: Raid is not backup and chipset RAID is not reliable.

So many are recommending RAID setups for home users and these setups run from their motherboard chipset. You have given probably the best example of why this should not be relied upon -- first hand knowledge and experience. This is something that a regular Joe would listen to and feel your pain. This is the kind of story I take heed of and pay attention to when I set up a system of my own and I would tell this story to anyone who thinks that having a RAID setup from their home computer takes the place of backing up their data. Reviews on manufacturer sites are just not the same as hearing it first hand from someone who has experience.

Thanks again -- and I DO hope you have not lost your data!! Crossing my fingers for you!!!nod
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#8
Quote from callpocket View Post :
That's a very good example and I thank you for posting it. It gives us two lessons: Raid is not backup and chipset RAID is not reliable.

So many are recommending RAID setups for home users and these setups run from their motherboard chipset. You have given probably the best example of why this should not be relied upon -- first hand knowledge and experience. This is something that a regular Joe would listen to and feel your pain. This is the kind of story I take heed of and pay attention to when I set up a system of my own and I would tell this story to anyone who thinks that having a RAID setup from their home computer takes the place of backing up their data. Reviews on manufacturer sites are just not the same as hearing it first hand from someone who has experience.

Thanks again -- and I DO hope you have not lost your data!! Crossing my fingers for you!!!nod

Callpocket,

Thanks! I hope I get it all back too !!

I'm a "shutterbug" so to speak and have at least 20K photos on that drive from different trips I have taken. Yes, I take LOTS AND LOTS of photos. I came back from a 2 week Hawaiian cruise with over 3500 photos. Hell, I would take 50 - 100 photos of a single sunrise or sunset.)



One of the things that I found out while researching this "problem" of mine is that both chipset raid and regular expensive "hardware" raid cards can indeed have issues. Buying a $300 card doesn't mean that things like this won't be a problem. At best, one could argue that the expensive card poses less potential dangers, but the dangers are indeed still there.
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#9
Quote from Demosthenes9 View Post :
Callpocket,

Thanks! I hope I get it all back too !!

I'm a "shutterbug" so to speak and have at least 20K photos on that drive from different trips I have taken. Yes, I take LOTS AND LOTS of photos. I came back from a 2 week Hawaiian cruise with over 3500 photos. Hell, I would take 50 - 100 photos of a single sunrise or sunset.)



One of the things that I found out while researching this "problem" of mine is that both chipset raid and regular expensive "hardware" raid cards can indeed have issues. Buying a $300 card doesn't mean that things like this won't be a problem. At best, one could argue that the expensive card poses less potential dangers, but the dangers are indeed still there.

Yes, that is just another step or degree in the process of setting up the system, and recommendations from techs to home users and advertisements/support never really seem to address the step-down or degree of reliability. Most server systems use the expensive raid controllers, but also server boards and server memory. Server systems usually include high end tape drive backup as well - so if drives fail, there is a daily backup tape to restore from (stored offsite and in a secure place).

The manufacturer advertisements of the home user motherboards that include the capability of RAID made into the board are enticing to the techs that administer to home users -- more so to the sales staff that "just want to sell the products". No real information is given to the users -- it's just "this is new, bigger, badder, more convenient, and better", and gives the impression backup to cd/dvd, tape, etc is not needed at all -- when in reality, backups just cannot be replaced when it comes to keeping data safe.

Having a RAID array -- as you well know -- may give you faster speed when accessing that data and there is some parity involved and saves can be made if only one hard drive fails (with a good controller), but the home user boards just don't provide the safety and redundancy that a real server system would have. They go wonky with a failed drive and do stupid stuff like your array "deciding" it was a different thing than what it was set up to be in the first place. And even that "real" server system would not be operated without a backup solution -- for a business that relied on that data to operate day to day.

We just went through some server upgrades at work for our imaging system and everyone is on pins and needles because our provider has not been able to get our backups running to tape for 5 days due to a bad motherboard in a brand new server. We are in storm season in Oklahoma and tornadoes have been all around us for the last few nights. If a storm takes out the building and drives fail in the RAID arrays, we have nothing to restore from and the business could go down the tubes.
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#10
Quote from callpocket View Post :
And even that "real" server system would not be operated without a backup solution -- for a business that relied on that data to operate day to day.

That statement is the key. Even "hardware" raid can run into serious troubles which is why "raid ISN'T a backup solution"

Stick Out Tongue
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#11
onboard chipset RAID controllers are no different and no less reliable than the controllers built into RAID cards.

In fact, they can be EASIER to recover from a controller failure as they are more likely to NOT change substantially from implementation to implementation.

As an example, The Intel 975 Boards that have both the Intel RAID 4 SATA port raid controlled by the ICH9R southbridge and a Marvell 4 port SATA controller (which isnt bootable) are very easy to migrate from motherboard to motherboard.
All you need is motherboard that uses the ICH9R southbridge and supports 4 SATA ports to migrate the Intel RAID, and the Marvell RAID can migrate to either an onboard OR an add-in card which has a Marvell Chipset and 4 SATA ports.

These boards are also well known to be used in very high end desktops and to have functioning RAID arrays for many many years.

I personally run three in my home and have both RAID's populated in all three and have actually moved drives from one board to another and had them work perfectly.


Now this does not mean that RAID is a backup solution, it merely means that as I started with, onboard controllers are no more or no less reliable than add in card controllers and in some cases are actually more portable and more easily recovered from controller failure.

RAID is a reliability solution, not a backup solution.
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#12
Quote from Demosthenes9 View Post :
That statement is the key. Even "hardware" raid can run into serious troubles which is why "raid ISN'T a backup solution"

Stick Out Tongue

Oh, believe me -- I've SEEN hardware RAID run into some serious problems. Had it not been for backup tapes that we restored from after fighting a system for 36 hours, well -- I wouldn't have a job now. There would be no business left to work for had that data been lost.
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#13
Quote from R1Budha View Post :
onboard chipset RAID controllers are no different and no less reliable than the controllers built into RAID cards.

In fact, they can be EASIER to recover from a controller failure as they are more likely to NOT change substantially from implementation to implementation.

As an example, The Intel 975 Boards that have both the Intel RAID 4 SATA port raid controlled by the ICH9R southbridge and a Marvell 4 port SATA controller (which isnt bootable) are very easy to migrate from motherboard to motherboard.
All you need is motherboard that uses the ICH9R southbridge and supports 4 SATA ports to migrate the Intel RAID, and the Marvell RAID can migrate to either an onboard OR an add-in card which has a Marvell Chipset and 4 SATA ports.

These boards are also well known to be used in very high end desktops and to have functioning RAID arrays for many many years.

I personally run three in my home and have both RAID's populated in all three and have actually moved drives from one board to another and had them work perfectly.


Now this does not mean that RAID is a backup solution, it merely means that as I started with, onboard controllers are no more or no less reliable than add in card controllers and in some cases are actually more portable and more easily recovered from controller failure.

RAID is a reliability solution, not a backup solution.
Okay. Maybe not your particular board, but for the most part, the boards advertised out there that would be affordable to an average user would not be in the same category. You have laid out some specific specs and I don't believe most boards out there that support RAID will comply.

And, unfortunately, since I've heard more bad than good on this subject by users who have learned the hard way -- I'd almost have to say you are just one of the lucky few who haven't experienced the problems of failed drives and controllers that don't stay with the program on a home user board.

I live in an area that seems to have a lot of bad weather and my users are poor and don't use UPS's. Most use surge protectors, but when the power fails at random times for a minute or two, their computes are going up and down like yo-yo's. It's just not pretty for those who have RAID arrays on home boards.
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#14
Quote from callpocket View Post :
Okay. Maybe not your particular board, but for the most part, the boards advertised out there that would be affordable to an average user would not be in the same category. You have laid out some specific specs and I don't believe most boards out there that support RAID will comply.

And, unfortunately, since I've heard more bad than good on this subject by users who have learned the hard way -- I'd almost have to say you are just one of the lucky few who haven't experienced the problems of failed drives and controllers that don't stay with the program on a home user board.

I live in an area that seems to have a lot of bad weather and my users are poor and don't use UPS's. Most use surge protectors, but when the power fails at random times for a minute or two, their computes are going up and down like yo-yo's. It's just not pretty for those who have RAID arrays on home boards.

CP,

Remember that there are "server class" boards out there that have true "hardware raid" built right into the motherboard.

In a way, this is kind of like comparing a Linksys home router/switch with a Cisco Catalyst switch. Both are switches of course and do the same things basically, but even with that, there are tons of differences between the two in terms of performance, capability and reliability.
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#15
Quote from Demosthenes9 View Post :
CP,

Remember that there are "server class" boards out there that have true "hardware raid" built right into the motherboard.

In a way, this is kind of like comparing a Linksys home router/switch with a Cisco Catalyst switch. Both are switches of course and do the same things basically, but even with that, there are tons of differences between the two in terms of performance, capability and reliability.
If you read my post in the other thread about our Exchange server mess with RAID 5, that was also a good example. We used a VERY expensive RAID card, and it still failed.
The problem most people do not seem to realize is ALL hardware can and does fail, if it never failed, most of us in this forum would be out of jobs.
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