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  1. #1
    Lounger
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    RAID loses drives

    I wanted a mirrored RAID array for my brand-new XP machine but thought I'd better leave installation up to the experts - the computer vendor - who used an ST Lab PCI ATA 133 RAID IDE card with the Silicon Image Sil0680 controller chip and a tiny instruction sheet.

    When working, every now and then I would get this sort of message from Silicon Image's Medley software:
    "Error - device remove - The secondary slave on adapter 0, ST340014A, was removed",
    followed by
    "Warning - UltraDMA mode changed - The primary master on adapter 0 UltraDMA mode changed from 5 to 4"
    then, after rebooting,
    "Set 0 started a rebuild for member 1 on adapter 0"
    and eventually the rebuild would be complete.

    The very first time this happened, I powered down the computer when I saw the first message - I seem to recall I had left the computer to test-defrag the hard drive - and I was no longer able to reboot. After that, I reformatted, reinstalled from scratch, got back to working speed. Then I managed to survive for a couple of weeks, every time these error messages would come up my heart would leap but I'd close the session, start another session as the same or a different user (with admin rights, just in case), wait for the rebuild to complete, and everything was fine. Once I didn't wait for the rebuild, but it was still fine.

    Then once again I couldn't boot up after defragging. The machine's at the shop but I'm worried.

    Does anyone know whether the frequent dropping of drives is normal RAID behaviour? Should I suspect the card or the drive or both? Is this manufacturer reliable? Perhaps the software? The IDE connectors were firmly in place when I checked the first time around. If this forum is not the best place for this sort of question, can you recommend another?

    The RAID mirrored array was supposed to be about automatic backup and getting back to work with 0 turnaround (well, nearly) in case of disk failure, and so far it's only caused trouble. Maybe one physical drive for the OS, another for my files, and images of each drive's partitions on the other drive would be a better option, and provide better performance to boot, assuming the imaging software will work properly. Also, if my Maxtor USB drive only had a cable that was easier to plug in every time - or a simple, stupid on-off switch! - I probably would have been synching it every day.

    Suggestions welcome.

    MFF

  2. #2
    Uranium Lounger
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    Re: RAID loses drives

    Frequent dropping of drives isn't normal in my experience. It could be a faulty controller, a flaky cable, a faulty drive....or software anomalies. It's hard to say without looking at the problem firsthand. I don't have any relevant experience with this particular manufacturer, but if you see error messages, they're for a reason (usually <img src=/S/grin.gif border=0 alt=grin width=15 height=15>). Since the machine's in the shop getting a look-see, wait until you get a report back, and don't be afraid to ask questions. If something doesn't seem clear to you, say so, and make the tech explain it - or have him/her find someone who can.
    -Mark

  3. #3
    Lounger
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    Re: RAID loses drives

    Thanks. Got the computer back, including all the files I was originally told would be wiped out (it seems they had to reformat member 0 in the set but member 1 was still there). Naturally, in the meantime I had started working with my most recent backup, which wouldn't be a problem for individual documents but now means some time-consuming work to keep Eudora synchronized.

    Since there was no other RAID set, they changed the setup from Channel 1 - Master / Channel 2 - Slave to having both drives as Master on the separate channels. They say it's more stable that way, though the manual seems to advocate the opposite (separate channels, one Master, one Slave). They ran lots of tests on hardware and software, and came up with nothing.

    I want to avoid overkill, but I'm wondering whether I should add an IDE drive directly on an IDE channel and periodically image my partitions there. I already own a Maxtor USB drive which is where I had my backup, though.

    Anyway, thanks for the advice so far.

    MF

  4. #4
    Uranium Lounger
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    Re: RAID loses drives

    <hr>I'm wondering whether I should add an IDE drive directly on an IDE channel and periodically image my partitions there<hr>
    It can't hurt, it's one more place to have your data safe. You could also burn copies onto CD periodically for off-site storage....it really depends on the trouble you want to go to. Glad to hear that it's working better now!
    -Mark

  5. #5
    Lounger
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    Re: RAID loses drives

    I thought it was working better! But as it turns out, the system's still pretty unstable, it's already done a couple of spontaneous reboots out of the blue and the RAID keeps dropping drive 1 and then updating it. I feel very insecure about the machine at this point, but can't spare it for long. Next time, if I don't build my own, I will definitely get someone who can service the computer right in my (home) office.

    What system utilities can I switch on to monitor the computer's behavior and see if any events seem to match, next time this happens?

    Thanks for the advice so far.

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