The 5 Most Common Causes of RAID System Failures and What to do About Them

RAID systems are a configuration of multiple disk drives that present themselves to an operating system as a single data storage medium. The technique was invented in the late 1980s and continues to be used extensively today.

While RAID arrays are a generally stable and reliable way to manage and access data, like all mechanical devices, they can and do break down from time to time. When they do, the consequences can be significant, causing you to lose valuable files and information.

This problem can be especially damaging if your data hasn’t been properly backed up. RAID array users can often be lulled into a false sense of security regarding data loss since RAID systems are more reliable than single disk systems, but unfortunately even the most secure RAID configurations can fail.

If this happens to you, there is a good chance that you can recover your data with the help of a professional data recovery specialist, provided you take the right steps to protect your computer and safeguard your data.

Let’s take a look at the five most common causes of RAID failure, and find out what you can do to maximize the chance of recovering your data.

The 5 Most Common Causes of RAID Failure

  1. A Failure of the RAID controller.
    Most RAID servers rely on a single controller to direct the array’s options. Occasionally, the controller can fail, due to power surges or other problems. This can cause booting problems and other difficulties.
  2. Missing RAID Partitions.
    The partition disks can be corrupted and stop working, causing missing or unusable partitions.
  3. Failed Rebuild of RAID Volume.
    If a RAID volume is not rebuilt correctly, it can cause problems in accessing data or may even cause a complete system breakdown.
  4. Multiple Disk Failure.
    The purpose of a RAID system is to allow the server to survive the failure of a single system disk. However, having a failed disk in the system makes the array much more vulnerable to further disk failures and can result in a complete system breakdown. Continuing to run your system in degraded mode significantly increases the chances that the array will fail, taking your important files data with it.
  5. Server Crash.
    Failure of the host server for any reason can render an array inaccessible.

What to do when you Experience a RAID Array Failure

When you experience a RAID array failure, it’s important that you take the right steps to protect your data. The first thing you should do is turn off the array immediately. The more you run an array in degraded mode, the more likely you are to do further damage.

It’s very important not to attempt any physical repairs of the system yourself. Repairing a failed disk requires a clean room environment, otherwise the dust in normal atmospheric air can do irreparable damage to the affected disk, and possibly erase your data permanently.

Contact a data recovery specialist who has the tools and facilities to properly repair the system in order to retrieve your files. The sooner you do this, the sooner your data can be recovered. The likelihood of recovering your data varies depending on the cause and severity of the problem, but in most cases, data can be recovered from RAID array failures with professional assistance.

If possible, make notes of the events that led to the array failure, including any unusual noises, reductions in processing speed, and any power surges or other physical events that could have damaged the array. Any information you can give your data recovery technician will help improve and expedite the repair process.