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Copying files from RAID 0 arrayed drives

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August 3, 2010 7:53:49 PM

My Dell XPS died recently. An inspection of the motherboard revealed bad capacitors, so I suspect this is the cause.

The 2 500GB WD SATA hard drives were set up by Dell in a RAID 0 array of unknown specifications.

I am trying to copy files from these drives. Most of the guidance online is based on one of two assumptions: (1) that I want to set the old drives up again in another computer, or (2) that the computer housing the drives will boot. Neither of these is true in this case. I have replaced the computer and want to see if I can salvage any of the documents and other files that were on the original computer.

I initially tried the easiest approach - remove the drives and connect them one at a time to the new XPS using a SATA to USB converter. The computer recognizes that something is attached, but is not able to install drivers and, thus, nothing on the drive can be viewed.

My questions:

Does this mean that there is: a) something wrong with the drives, or b) something wrong with my approach?

Is there a way to get the files off the old drives without trying to set up the same RAID array in the new computer (and screwing with the new computer's settings)? I am willing to buy software, but I can't identify what I need the software to do. The new computer uses Win 7.

Thanks for any guidance,
Kristen

a c 349 G Storage
August 4, 2010 9:21:39 PM

Option b) - something wrong with your approach.

In any RAID0 array, each of the two drives has only HALF of each file's data - basically, every second block. So even if you could read data off one drive, it would be meaningless. Moreover, the exact way the data on those two drives is organized is NOT a RAID standard - every RAID controller system has its own way. So to read the old files off that array, you need to be able to connect BOTH of them to a RAID controller that uses / understands the same system of organization. PLUS you need to connect them so the the one that WAS the #1 unit in the array is again the #1 unit on the new controller.

As you say, you don't have a good outlook for using the old mobo with its RAID controllers to re-attach the two drives. (Well, replacing all the bulged capacitors MIGHT be one route.) Even just connecting them up to a RAID controller in a new computer probably would not work, because the new controller would be a different design. BUT Dell may be able to tell you whether certain other Dell computers use the same RAID system and could read those drives OK. Or even, ask them if there is an add-on RAID controller card you could buy (from them, maybe) and install in a PCI slot in any new computer that could deal with the Dell-written RAID disks properly?

The third option, as you anticipate, may be some third-party software that can actually simulate any of several RAID controller systems and read all the data from your old drive pair so you can copy the files to a new drive. I suspect that exists, but I don't know one to recommend. Hopefully others around here have some good info for you there.
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August 6, 2010 4:52:01 AM

Paperdoc - thank you for your response. I figured option b would win. I am tossing around some options, looking for software options, and will definitely contact Dell for whatever info they can give.

You describe things very well. Thank you for helping out strangers!
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August 23, 2010 4:32:35 PM

Problem solved. I bought a dual hard drive docking station (http://www.thermaltakeusa.com/Product.aspx?C=1346&ID=18...) to hold the two drives from the PC with the dead motherboard. I used RAID Reconstructor from Runtime Software (www.runtime.org), which analyzed the drives to identify the structure of the array. The software correctly identified the structure, then created an image of the drive. I then used Runtime's CaptainNemo to mount the image and view files. All files were present, exactly as I left them.
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a c 349 G Storage
August 23, 2010 7:29:51 PM

Great! A success story recovering a RAID0 array!
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!