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I have a set of 3 disks in RAID 5 originally created with a Silicon Image SiI3114 on-board RAID controller. The old motherboard is dead. The new motherboard (which has a different raid controller) won't boot from the array. I have no reason to believe that the drives are damaged or corrupted. I'm 99% sure that the problem is that the new controller isn't compatible or I'm not setting it up properly.

Is it possible to recover data from the drives using a different controller?

Would a PCI card like this one allow me to read from the array again?

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unless you are in an environment that demands high performance (which you probably are not since you were using the motherboard raid to begin with) i would humbly suggest changing to a software based RAID solution as you can more easily back up controlling software for furture use and compatibility, rather than banking on a specific chipset being available in case of a failure. – Xantec Dec 22 '10 at 21:36
@Xantec - Absolutely agree. If I had known then what I know now, I would not have used the hardware RAID. I'm honestly a little surprised that these things are so grotesquely non-standard. – Isaac Truett Jan 3 '11 at 21:54

It's hard to say, but the specs for that card say that it has the right chip, but it depends on whether the manufacturer has done anything fancy with their specific logic.

I expect you'll only find out if it will work by trying it.

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As far as I can tell, it isn't possible to read from the SiI3114 RAID without a SiI3114 chip. I bought the expansion card linked in the question, installed it, hooked up the three drives, and it booted immediately.

Since this array is in RAID 5 and the total volume of data I want to preserve is small enough to fit on a single disk from the array, I plan to remove one disk, reformat it, and copy the contents of the array from the remaining two disks. I'll then reformat the other two drives individually and use them to make backups going forward. It's not as good a solution as I had hoped for when I setup the RAID, but it should be much easier to maintain moving forward.


I've had reasonable success with the approach outlined here. I have dual boot WinXP/Ubuntu running now on one disk from the old RAID. One problem I ran into was that Ubuntu got confused because, even after repartitioning and installing Windows, the drive still had RAID meta data on it. I could boot with a Live CD, repartition with GParted, mount and read the existing partitions, but the Ubuntu installer failed to recognize that the drive existed. I finally found a reference to the meta data problem and fixed it using dmraid. No idea why the Ubuntu installer is pickier than GParted, Disk Utility, and Windows Disk Management about the meta data.

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Thanks for the update - it's always good to get some follow-up and many posters don't bother. – Linker3000 Jan 3 '11 at 22:36

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