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Rebuilding a PERC S300 RAID-1 Set

So the terrifying moment has come: Your server won’t boot suddenly and the Dell PERC S300 is reporting a degraded RAID-1 set. Now what!

Solution

Well, first, let’s keep in mind that the PERC S300 has some limitations, so really you should not be using it. The biggest problem is that it’s not hardware RAID, meaning your Windows OS needs drivers to support it. But, clearly you ARE using it, so let’s fix this problem.

If a S300 RAID-1 set degrades, you may find you can’t boot Windows. You’ll get a F1 prompt to “Retry Booting”.

Here is what is going on:

  1. The Dell server boots.
  2. The PERC S300 notices a degraded RAID-1 set.
  3. The server appears to try and boot but fails.
  4. You get an error prompt.

If you look hard enough, you’ll notice you also get an option to hit the F11 key for the BIOS Boot Manager. Do this:

  1. Hit F11 instead of F1.
  2. Choose the C:
  3. Choose the PERC S300.

You should now boot from the remaining physical disk in the RAID-1 set.

If you see Windows come up, great! Your second disk is working. Before proceeding: Ensure you have a good backup! Do it now! If this doesn’t work and Windows won’t boot, you may have a real problem. Remember that with RAID-1, both disks are identical. You may want to try something like DiskInternals NTFS Recovery to grab the data off the good disk. (I’ve done it, it works.)

Next, let’s fix the RAID-1 set.

  1. Go buy another disk the same size or larger that the disks in your RAID-1 set.
  2. Turn off your server.
  3. Remove the bad disk.
  4. Insert the new disk.
  5. Enter the PERC BIOS configuration screen.
  6. Initialize the new disk.
  7. Set the new disk as a Global Hot Spare.
  8. Reboot and use the F11 trick to get into Windows.

The PERC S300 will grab the Global Hot Spare and begin rebuilding your RAID-1 set using that disk as the new second disk in the set.

 

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