Recovery: The RAID 5 Hangover Treatment

raid5Sometimes when my technology doesn’t do what I want it to do I like to pretend it’s got a hangover from being drunk and that’s why the normally obedient piece of hardware (or software for that matter) I’ve been slaving away with and saving all of my data, my digital life, on would suddenly go rogue and not want to listen to me. What other reason could there possibly be, right?

So when my RAID 5 array is just not doing its job, I know it’s been in the tequila or something and I need to expedite a recovery session fast. When it comes to RAID failures time is of grave importance. The longer you wait the more dangerous the recovery mission can become.

A RAID 5 array combines the advantages of RAID 0 and 1 by using striping but then breaking these stripes into blocks. Because RAID 5 stores the parity data the stripes reflect that. Usually this system can survive the loss of one drive which can explain why your array can go for months before you realize you’ve lost one. Having a minor RAID configuration issue can sometimes be fatal. This is why time is important because if you suddenly find yourself suffering from a multiple failure you need to act on it right away.

There are a lot of failures that you could possibly run into with a RAID 5 array. You can have multiple drive failures, like mentioned previously, you can have incorrect drive marking which can potentially force a failed drive into ‘online’ status and further damage your data, you can have automatic rebuild errors which is less than wonderful and finally you have the human issue of drive disorder. That’s when drives can be placed out of order which can cause the system to want to reject everything.

See why it seems like its drunk? Even if you are the reason for your RAID 5 to go all screwy, it can be recovered.

Looking into a recovery company is probably the best first step to make. If you aren’t comfortable trying to do this on your own, don’t worry. Professionals exist for a reason and they are usually available to help. The best companies are available 24/7 so that you can get preliminary help right from the get-go. Think of it as first-aid before you have to take it into surgery.

When looking into a company you want to make sure you pick one that has experience. RAID arrays may use a setup of hard drives but they are a lot more difficult to repair. It’s not just the hard drives themselves that need to be looked after. It’s the arrays and the controller software that needs tending as well. Using any technical support who claims they know what they are doing but can’t prove it could potentially cause more problems than it’s worth.

As well as experience you want to make sure they have great facilities. These are bragging points for many companies out there are more than willing to provide you with information about their credentials if they aren’t already plastered all over their websites. Having a certified clean room is the greatest quality anyone could ask for. This will ensure that your data doesn’t suffer additional damage. If they have great facilities they are pretty much guaranteed to have great security. It doesn’t hurt to check though. Encryption is definitely a must as well as on-site security. A lot of companies will use keypads at all doors as well as surveillance cameras. No way will your data go on a field trip without you knowing!

RAID 5 recovery isn’t impossible it just needs to be acted on sooner rather than later. Ensure you do your research and you shouldn’t have any troubles. Maybe pour yourself a glass of wine while you wait for it all to be done. After all, how much work can you possibly do without your data?

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