Howdy. This is a short cautionary tale of hardware and data loss woe, and a reuquest for advice.
CAUTIONARY TALE OF WOE
I lost two (TWO!) 1TB RAID-5 arrays this week, each one served as a back up to the other.
While I was able to pull much data from the pair before total loss, and able to salvage much data from earlier archival DVDs and external drives I'd burned, I lost nearly all photographs from the entire year of 2005
As you know, in order to lose data from a RAID-5 array, at least two of the 4 drives have to crash or become inaccessible. So I lost at least 4 of the 8 drives in these two RAID-5 arrays.
What are the odds?
While it's very cool to have real-time access to all of your data, RAID-5 is NOT an archiving nor a storage solution
. Of course, Peter Krogh has already warned us of this in his book and elsewhere. My tale of woe is meant to support such warnings toward anyone reckless enough to entrust all of their data to RAID-5 arrays, as I have been, even if they are redundant RAID-5 arrays.
A LITTLE ABOUT MY SYSTEM
Both RAID arrays I lost are software-controlled (Windows Server 2003.) One of the failed arrays does not appear to have any physically damaged disks (no clanking or nasty noises.)
For that RAID array, I think the source of the problem was a bad motherboard, as I was getting all sorts of weird readings in the disk management console in the days leading up to the complete failure (like the appearance of phantom drives that weren't physically there) and I was getting data corruption (garbled .jpgs in some folders.)
This last point leads me to my 2nd request for your advice, below.
REQUESTS FOR ADVICE
In calling around to a few Data Recovery shops I found through Google, I've been quoted $10,000-$15,000
to recover the data striped across these 4 250GB SATA drives.
1. Does anyone know of a less expensive way to recover my data? Does anyone know of a reputable data recovery shop that can handle RAID5, and that can focus in on just the data I care about, not $pending time on the data I don't care about?
2. One of the failed arrays does not appear to have any physically damaged disks. Does anyone know if I should be able to move these four 250GB drives to a different motherboard and get Windows Server 2003 to recognize them as intact? I've already tried doing that, and the other Server wanted to initialize the disks. I wonder if Server 2003 can recognize a software RAID array from another Server, only if the 4 disks are in the proper order?
3. Do you think I should just store these failed RAID drives in a safe desposit box and wait for the recovery process to get cheaper, or for me to get richer?
Thank you for any advice you can give me. And thank you for suffering through my Cautionary Tale of Woe!