When it Rains, it Pours

It started with no video output, and ended with a non-booting computer with an unreadable external hard drive and potentially unusable RAID array.   Yeah that’s not good.

Yesterday evening my monitors went blank.  An hour of troubleshooting left me with the determination that my “good” video card had failed.  I removed it and was able to boot into Vista using the lesser of the video cards. I started the RMA process and figured that was the end of it. 

HA!  Today I was remoted in and noticed I couldn’t access the external USB hard drive (Western Digital MyBook).  The eventlog was showing NTFS errors saying it was corrupt and needed to be scanned, but I couldn’t do anything with the drive; so I rebooted.  And it never came back up! 

All signs indicate the motherboard is toast.

The external drive has all of my videos on it (raw footage and edits), and that is copied nightly to the mirrored RAID array where the first copies of photos live. No biggie, right?  Well I had a little scare when I started reading about moving RAID arrays to new machines – as in, most of the time you have to have the same brand (or compatible) RAID controller or you’re screwed.  I’m using the onboard nvidia NVRaid on a board that is no longer sold, and couldn’t quite find documentation on compatibility between versions.

So, I pulled one of my mirrored drives out and put into my SATA dock attached to my laptop. Big relief –  all of the data is readable as a standalone drive!  Wooo!

Now back to the external MyBook – I plugged it into my Windows 7 laptop and was promptly asked if I wanted to fix it.  30 seconds later, the filesystem was checked/fixed and my data was available.  Wooo Wooo!

If my RAID array would have been unusable, I have backups of the important stuff across my network and across town.  But I definitely didn’t count on my external drive AND the array being down at the same time, so that freaked me out a little bit and I’m thankful that the drives are all fine.   Thinking about it more, I probably would have ended up paying a pretty penny for the out-of-production motherboard or some of the RAID recovery packages out there.

Anyway, when I get my desktop rebuilt I’m going to have to find room for another copy of 100GB of video somewhere.

And finally, the hardware I ordered tonight is as follows:

  • Intel Core 2 Quad Q9400
  • ASUS P5Q motherboard
  • 4 more GB of RAM
  • NVidia 9800GT

You know what they say, a file doesn’t exist unless there are at least 3 copies of it.