When Your RAID Fails: Essential Survival Guide

For all their advantages and cool features, RAID arrays aren’t perfect. Every now and again, they fail, and if you find yourself in such a situation, your response is essential. What you do from here on out might determine whether you ever see your data again.

Luckily, the experts here at TTR Data Recovery have compiled a brief guide to getting through these kinds of disasters. Here are some critical do’s and don’ts to follow after a RAID breakdown.

RAID Failed?

What to Do When Your RAID Fails

Damage control should be your top priority following any kind of serious RAID error. No matter which particular failure mode you’re experiencing or how severe the problem seems, remember that things can always get worse. If you continue using your array in a compromised or degraded state, you might cause irreparable damage.

The best thing you can do for your RAID array is immediately quit using it. In addition to unmounting the device on any networked computers or workstations that were previously accessing it, you need to shut down the RAID server. It may also be wise to disconnect the power so that the server doesn’t start up in response to a wake-on-LAN signal. This step is essential, and the longer you delay, the greater chances you run of making things worse.

Next, document the failure as thoroughly as possible. Take note of the circumstances and events immediately preceding when you noticed the error, and record how you discovered there was a problem. For instance, if you saw a BIOS error message right after booting the RAID server, it probably indicates a different kind of deficiency than if you observed that a partition mysteriously went missing during normal use without seeming to affect other performance factors.

What Not to Do When Your RAID Fails

The redundancy-enabled nature of certain RAID levels makes it possible to install clean hardware and rebuild if a single drive is lost. Real-life situations don’t always pan out so smoothly, however.

In dire situations, it may seem necessary to perform your own rebuild. If you lack a better option, make sure you don’t embark on such a project without already having a complete, current backup or performing a sector-level clone of all of the remaining working drives. If your RAID failure was so severe that the array or server automatically went offline, never try to force it back online. Doing so could cause massive corruption.

Finally, don’t assume that the manufacturer’s restoration instructions will work as advertised. Tech support personnel can only advise you based on ideal scenarios that may not suit your custom setup.

Starting the Journey to Recovery

Shutting down and documenting your problem makes it easy to work with a recovery professional. At TTR Data Recovery, we specialize in getting RAID data back, and even if you decide to do things in-house, we’re always happy to advise. To discover more, get in touch with one of our experts today.


We will provide a Free Diagnostic to accurately determine the failure of any RAID level.


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