When a RAID comes in handy

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image I was having a nice, uneventful Thanksgiving, got up, brewed up a pot of joe, (no, my coffee maker isn’t set up to grind it and brew it all 30 minutes before I wake up like in those commercials, I guess I’m a Luddite that way), and sat down to do a little TIVO HME API research when I get this:


I crack open the case, and start looking around when I realize:

  1. The hard drives in the system are so hot, I can’t even touch them for more than a second or so
  2. The fan that draws air through the HD rack is stopped, because the cables apparently shifted and are now touching it.

Which leads me to two conclusions (and topics for future blogs, I suppose).

  1. Be sure to cable tie cables together and down so you know that won’t go where they aren’t welcome.
  2. Get some kind of system temp/harddrive temp/fan monitoring alarm program that goes all obnoxious on you if something like this happens

So, I powered off everything, let it all cool down and tried to bring it back up.

No dice. The RAID controller just won’t recognize the one HD that failed.

So I disconnect it from the RAID and hook it up to a spare SATA port (this Intel D975XBX2 mobo has 8 freakin’ SATA ports).

Good news! It’s visible, but of course it’s not readable.

So I fire up SpinRite and let it churn on the drive to validate it. Everything appears OK.

But I load up Partition Magic to repartition and reformat the drive as just one big NTFS volume and I get “Invalid Boot Signature” errors.

Hmm. I tried Partition Commander. It seemed like it worked, but when it finished and I rebooted, the drive hadn’t changed at all. The format didn’t take. Chuck Partition Commander.

Then I tried the free Ranesh Partition Manager (from the Ultimate Boot CD). No joy either. I even tried several boot sector editor/restore utilities, but to no avail.

In the end, I ordered a replacement from Newegg.com for 70$, and I’m still fully operational, even though I quite literally toasted a drive.

I’m still wondering why I only lost one drive. I’m guessing it was a little weak to begin with and this just put it over the edge.

But the real question is, by how much has the life of the other 3 drives been shortened by this little escapade?

With Western Digital now shipping a 1TB drive for ~250$ (yeah, that’s 1 terabyte), I may end up replacing them all in less than a year anyway.

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