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This is my first venture in to setting up RAID on my home system. After installing 3 x 1TB drives in RAID 5, everything was running well for about 10 days. Then, the Intel Rapid Storage Technology software that monitors the disks and RAID on my system, told me that I had a failed drive. I marked the drive as good, and the array rebuilt. Then a day or so later I got a notification again, that the drive failed. I'm just wondering if this drive really is no good or if there is something I can do to get it working again? Or, do I just need to return it to the store where I bought it and get a replacement?

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Is there anything in the Event Log or in the Intel software that provides any details about the failure? With hardware RAID, usually it's something small like a failed checksum or a write failure. If you can mark it as good and rebuild parity without problems, the problem probably isn't too serious yet, but may be an indication of things to come.

Have you checked some of the simpler things?

  • I'm guessing this is SATA. Is the cable properly seated RAID controller (or mainboard) and on the disk?
  • Have you tried a different cable?
  • Do your disks have proper ventilation? The disk man be warm to the touch, but not so hot that you can't touch it.
  • Do you have adequate power in your system for three (or more?) disks?

Do you know if this is real hardware RAID, or is it OS-assisted "fake" RAID? It isn't always obvious, even if you have an add-in RAID card, and fake RAID seems to be pretty common with SATA. Onboard Intel ICH5/6/7 chipsets fall into this category. It's worth at least checking with Intel (or Windows Update) to be sure you have the latest driver.

Something else to check is the disk's SMART data. I'm not sure what sort of facilities the Intel software provides to check this data. If nothing else, you could use a Linux live CD (e.g. Knoppix), which includes the smartctl program (part of the smartmontools package). You can use this to get the actual status and error counters from the disk itself. This should tell you whether the failure really is in the disk. You may need to enable SMART in your BIOS for any of this to work. There actually is a Windows port of smartmontools as well, but it may not work in your case since the RAID driver probably masks the individual disks and only presents the aggregate RAID device.

If the RAID controller is repeatedly failing the disk, and it isn't anything else obvious, it probably needs to be replaced. If you can get the store you purchased it at to exchange it, that's probably the quickest route. Just make sure the replacement is the same model. However, they may require you to RMA it with the manufacturer, since it's a warranty issue. This will take longer (probably a couple weeks), but the replacement will definitely be the same model. It may be a refurbished unit instead of a new one, though.

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