Just the Basics
Despite continuous technological development, no data-storage system can deliver complete protection — especially against unpredictable mishaps.
While the implementation of RAID, or the Redundant Array of Independent Disks, does offer a greater level of protection, it cannot prevent mechanical failure and certainly isn’t a replacement for regular backups.
What RAID delivers is “fault tolerance,” which means that it enables a system to continue functioning properly even in the event that one or more hard drives have crashed or failed. There are various levels of RAID protection and, ranging from RAID 1 to RAID 10, the level of system complexity and recovery rises in accordance with the number.
When data-storage emergencies strike, RAID server recovery can be quite complicated, as the configuration of RAID systems varies greatly from server to server, and because no two failure modes are identical.
The recovery of data from poorly performing, damaged, or completely failed RAID servers is both a science and an art, as there is no one-size-fits-all solution for all systems. While performance, volume and failsafe are critical elements that all RAID servers share, this is where the similarities end.
Because RAID servers are as unique as fingerprints, RAID server recovery is best performed by recovery specialists, who are experienced in techniques and technologies that yield the best results for each system.
The Science and Art of Recovering a RAID Server
RAID server failure can be caused by a number of factors, including a combination of multiple simultaneous malfunctions.
The corruption of a RAID configuration could be the root of the problem, though the malfunction of several hard drives or a RAID controller could also be at the heart of the snafu.
Damaged or malfunctioning hardware components are also a common culprit, as are software and operating-system malfunctions.
A significant portion of RAID server failures are the result of mechanical damage and, when mechanical damage is the culprit, there isn’t much that software can do to resolve the issue.
On the other hand, when a virus has caused the failure of a RAID system, that virus can spread to infect redundant copies, effectively destroying the entire system. In this case, data may have to be recovered from each disk and then reassembled by RAID server recovery experts.
Further complicating matters, recovery attempts by users can significantly compound the problem, regardless of the cause of RAID server failure. Simply making changes to any RAID disk from its original “failed” state can actually increase the severity of the threat by causing further damage and, ultimately, permanent data loss.
Even when lost data can be regenerated, it can take months or even years to recreate. Oftentimes, data in the form of client databases, financial records, and source code can be recreated only at a significant cost in effort, time and inconvenience. On the other hand, data like once-in-a-lifetime video clips and images may simply be permanently lost.
Whatever the cause of RAID server failure, recovery is best left to specialists with hands-on experience in solving complex data-recovery challenges.