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Author Topic: Hard earned advice against RAID...  (Read 17647 times)
amsp
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« on: October 14, 2007, 10:35:05 AM »
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Well, it's official, I just lost most of my work   About half a year ago I bought a hardware RAID solution with two hot-swappable drives, thinking that my worrying days were over. Instead the very solution that was supposed to protect my files ended up destroying them. It started when one of the drives failed, with a "bad block" error. I googled it and found it would resolve it self with a zero-out format. After formatting the drive I inserted it into the RAID casing and to my horror I see it starting to copy the empty drive to the drive with my files. I try to abort it but it was too late. Desperate I tried using data recovery software only to find that it is total bs, nothing was retrieved.

So, a word of advice, stay clear of RAID and just back up your files on two drives your self. And never completely trust any hardware, however much it's supposed to "protect" your files.

P.s. Please refrain from any hindsight advice, I'm depressed enough as it is. Thanks.
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jonstewart
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« Reply #1 on: October 14, 2007, 10:49:04 AM »
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Well, it's official, I just lost most of my work   About half a year ago I bought a hardware RAID solution with two hot-swappable drives, thinking that my worrying days were over. Instead the very solution that was supposed to protect my files ended up destroying them. It started when one of the drives failed, with a "bad block" error. I googled it and found it would resolve it self with a zero-out format. After formatting the drive I inserted it into the RAID casing and to my horror I see it starting to copy the empty drive to the drive with my files. I try to abort it but it was too late. Desperate I tried using data recovery software only to find that it is total bs, nothing was retrieved.

So, a word of advice, stay clear of RAID and just back up your files on two drives your self. And never completely trust any hardware, however much it's supposed to "protect" your files.

P.s. Please refrain from any hindsight advice, I'm depressed enough as it is. Thanks.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=145881\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

This following is not hindsight advice for you, but a suggestion to others who don't want what has happened to you, to happen to them. Otherwise, there's be no point in your post, if it's not a learning experience for all.....I would say most feel your pain and loss!

But you should also have been doing a weekly (if not daily) backup to external drive, or better, tape, ideally using software designed for the purpose. If not, then a manual copy (although this allows little of no version control).

Your real mistake was in how you handled things when the drive failed. You should have left the failed drive out, and ran on the good one with the express purpose of backing up the whole system. Then when it's backed up, you start recovering. I think your data was lost because you tried to rebuild the 'wrong way around'...sometimes the 'good' disk needs to be reset in the raid bios to be the master before recovering.

I can never understand why people (generally) are so trusting of goods that are typically now made down to a cost level, rather than up to a quality level.

As for me, I have raid on the server, and backups weekly, negs for all projects are stored on dvd for short term recovery, should something happen. Thats a total of 5 copies at any one time. (Yeah, and I'm not paranoid!)
« Last Edit: October 14, 2007, 10:50:53 AM by jonstewart » Logged

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EricWHiss
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« Reply #2 on: October 14, 2007, 11:11:05 AM »
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I am going to back up tonight!  

Sorry to hear about your data loss!  

You didn't tell us what RAID setting you had.  As far as I know RAID boxes only allow a drive to go down and swap it out with only two drives if it is set to mirror mode.  There's like 20 RAID configurations....If you have 3 or more drives then you can swap out a drive in some of the other configurations.

Even then your data is not safe. You need to keep a backup in a second physical location.
« Last Edit: October 14, 2007, 11:11:34 AM by EricWHiss » Logged

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Graham Mitchell
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« Reply #3 on: October 14, 2007, 11:13:59 AM »
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I've had a drive in my RAID go down. I just replaced the drive and rebuilt the array. Easy.

Sorry to hear you had problems but perhaps it was user error?

As someone already pointed out, all projects should be backed up onto DVD separately and preferably stored in a different location to protect you against fire, theft, etc.
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« Reply #4 on: October 14, 2007, 11:17:59 AM »
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Well, it's official, I just lost most of my work   
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=145881\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I'm signing off now to spend the rest of the day burning DVD's.
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feppe
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« Reply #5 on: October 14, 2007, 11:47:17 AM »
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So, a word of advice, stay clear of RAID and just back up your files on two drives your self. And never completely trust any hardware, however much it's supposed to "protect" your files.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=145881\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Sound advice. I'd like to point out never trust any single piece of hardware: backup up to separate devices and preferably locations (off-site backups).

But most importantly: RAID is not meant or suitable for backup; it's meant for maximum uptime.
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« Reply #6 on: October 14, 2007, 12:01:30 PM »
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I'm signing off now to spend the rest of the day burning DVD's. [a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=145895\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Right idea, wrong approach.  You are right, burning DVDs is labor intensive.

Copy your whole disk to an external disk with Acronis or similar disk imaging software, then turn it off and keep it off almost all the time (to extend life).  Then copy it again to a second external disk and put that in your safety deposit box or offsite somewhere, in case of fire or burglary.  I read a report that Francis Ford Coppola's main drive with 15 years work and his backup drive sitting beside it were stolen recently.  If you like you can additionally copy key files like password lists, addresses and your 200 best Raw files to a DVD.
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Steve Kerman
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« Reply #7 on: October 14, 2007, 12:11:23 PM »
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Copy your whole disk to an external disk with Acronis or similar disk imaging software,...
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=145900\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I very strongly recommend EMC Retrospect backup software.  I've had many backup systems over the years, and this is the only package I've ever used that makes incremental backups that are reasonable to use if you every need to restore.
« Last Edit: October 14, 2007, 12:12:05 PM by Steve Kerman » Logged
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« Reply #8 on: October 14, 2007, 12:14:45 PM »
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Copy your whole disk to an external disk with Acronis or similar disk imaging software, then turn it off and keep it off almost all the time (to extend life).  Then copy it again to a second external disk and put that in your safety deposit box or offsite somewhere, in case of fire or burglary.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=145900\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

HDDs are meant and designed to be used, not idled, and having them idle is not a good idea. Studies suggest that HDDs usually fail in the first few months of use. If you idle your backup HDDs you will always use it within this failure-prone period, thus reducing the reliability of your backups. Anecdotally, I have HDDs in my box right now which have been on 24/365 in constant, hard swapping use for years. I've read and heard several stories about people going back to their offsite HDDs after months of disuse, only for them to never wake up again.

While offsite backups is an advisable strategy, keep the above in mind.
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jonstewart
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« Reply #9 on: October 14, 2007, 12:15:47 PM »
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Right idea, wrong approach.  You are right, burning DVDs is labor intensive.

Copy your whole disk to an external disk with Acronis or similar disk imaging software, then turn it off and keep it off almost all the time (to extend life).  Then copy it again to a second external disk and put that in your safety deposit box or offsite somewhere, in case of fire or burglary.  I read a report that Francis Ford Coppola's main drive with 15 years work and his backup drive sitting beside it were stolen recently.  If you like you can additionally copy key files like password lists, addresses and your 200 best Raw files to a DVD.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=145900\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Turning on and off a drive is not going to extend it's life. It's more likely to cause a problem, since the maximum load on the motor is when it's spinning up.

Agree with offsite (or secure) backup, but I failed to mention that DVD's should ONLY be used for short term storage and not long term. For long term, tape is arguable the best, and most reliable solution.

When you consider the value of the work that is stored and the cost of the equipment we use, I cannot understand why professional photographers do not have a file server separate from their workstation / laptop. Have raid in the server, and if you really want, create a local synced copy of all or specific work. You then have automatically 3 copies, on two different computers. Add tape / external hard drive as 4th copy, and dvd for short term backup as 5th copy (...and I always write two copies of the dvd...thus 6 copies in total).

Do it this way, and you have the maximum backup for the minimum investment in time... Your time is worth something isn't it? Don't spend any more of it doing stuff that doesn't (directly) make money.
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mattlap2
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« Reply #10 on: October 14, 2007, 12:34:05 PM »
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Well, it's official, I just lost most of my work   About half a year ago I bought a hardware RAID solution with two hot-swappable drives, thinking that my worrying days were over. Instead the very solution that was supposed to protect my files ended up destroying them. It started when one of the drives failed, with a "bad block" error. I googled it and found it would resolve it self with a zero-out format. After formatting the drive I inserted it into the RAID casing and to my horror I see it starting to copy the empty drive to the drive with my files. I try to abort it but it was too late. Desperate I tried using data recovery software only to find that it is total bs, nothing was retrieved.

So, a word of advice, stay clear of RAID and just back up your files on two drives your self. And never completely trust any hardware, however much it's supposed to "protect" your files.

P.s. Please refrain from any hindsight advice, I'm depressed enough as it is. Thanks.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=145881\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I would also urge you to quickly search out a professional recovery service.   There are many companies that specialize in this sort of work and have the ability to do many things you do not.

It will probably cost you quite a bit ... bit put a value on how much that lost work is worth to you.
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jing q
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« Reply #11 on: October 14, 2007, 12:50:42 PM »
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I had a 1tb external hard drive that was on RAID 0...and one drive had problems and to my horror the data on the 2nd drive disappeared too. since then I've gone back to simply having single drives and having backups of those single drives.

I'll stay with being simple in such situations.
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feppe
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« Reply #12 on: October 14, 2007, 01:11:55 PM »
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I had a 1tb external hard drive that was on RAID 0...and one drive had problems and to my horror the data on the 2nd drive disappeared too. since then I've gone back to simply having single drives and having backups of those single drives.

I'll stay with being simple in such situations.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=145915\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

That's a perfect example of applying a totally incorrect tool for backup, and/or not understanding the tool you're using. RAID 0 is striped, ie. there's no redundancy whatsoever. This means the RAIDed drive is twice as likely to fail than a "normal" drive - not exactly a backup-worthy choice. The data on the 2nd drive didn't disappear, it was still there, but due to striping it's next to impossible to recover in any meaningful way. It should only be used for swapping, as you will lose all your data if only one of the drives fail - unless you want to shell big euros for data recovery services.

--

I'm quite surprised to hear these RAID horror stories pop up every month or so. Don't salespeople educate their customers as to what RAID is supposed to be used - again, NOT for backup -, or don't people read up on the products they use for backup? I bet most of us spend hours and hours reading reviews about our next lens selection. If people spent even a fraction of that time learning about proper backup technologies, we'd have less of these unfortunate stories.
« Last Edit: October 14, 2007, 01:13:13 PM by feppe » Logged

jing q
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« Reply #13 on: October 14, 2007, 01:15:11 PM »
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That's a perfect example of applying a totally incorrect tool for backup, and/or not understanding the tool you're using. RAID 0 is striped, ie. there's no redundancy whatsoever. This means the RAIDed drive is twice as likely to fail than a "normal" drive - not exactly a backup-worthy choice. The data on the 2nd drive didn't disappear, it was still there, but due to striping it's next to impossible to recover in any meaningful way. It should only be used for swapping, as you will lose all your data if only one of the drives fail - unless you want to shell big euros for data recovery services.

--

I'm quite surprised to hear these RAID horror stories pop up every month or so. Don't salespeople educate their customers as to what RAID is supposed to be used - again, NOT for backup -, or don't people read up on the products they use for backup? I bet most of us spend hours and hours reading reviews about our next lens selection. If people spent even a fraction of that time learning about proper backup technologies, we'd have less of these unfortunate stories.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=145923\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

yup of course I understand now.
But tell that to me when all I was looking for was another external backup hard drive and ended up being given a RAID device.
Yes salesmen don't give good advice alot of times.
Yes unfortunately I rather read about photography then backup technology...heh
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digitaldog
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« Reply #14 on: October 14, 2007, 01:58:24 PM »
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Right now I'm using a Raid 1 (mirror) for my LR libraries, but have 2 clones on 'standard' external FireWire drives. One I use on location, then back that up to the Raid when I return. Can someone alert me to why this system isn't pretty safe? At any one time, I have at last 3 clones (counting the Mirror as two) and a forth that is a clone plus the new stuff. Seems pretty rock solid.
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« Reply #15 on: October 14, 2007, 02:27:42 PM »
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Right now I'm using a Raid 1 (mirror) for my LR libraries, but have 2 clones on 'standard' external FireWire drives. One I use on location, then back that up to the Raid when I return. Can someone alert me to why this system isn't pretty safe? At any one time, I have at last 3 clones (counting the Mirror as two) and a forth that is a clone plus the new stuff. Seems pretty rock solid.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=145936\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I'm no expert, but sounds pretty good to me. One thing I'd do is to actually do a test recovery of all your data. This is especially true if you use backup software or hardware, or zip them up, instead of plain old mirroring.

User error is quite common - probably more common than hardware failure -, so knowing how to recover in case of such failure is worthwhile. Backing up the wrong data, overwriting to an incorrect drive, overwriting old backups with corrupted files while backing up, or recovering the wrong data is just as catastrophic as a failed HDD.
« Last Edit: October 14, 2007, 02:28:53 PM by feppe » Logged

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« Reply #16 on: October 14, 2007, 02:32:39 PM »
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I'm no expert, but sounds pretty good to me. One thing I'd do is to actually do a test recovery of all your data. This is especially true if you use backup software or hardware, or zip them up, instead of plain old mirroring.

If I'm cloning, I use SuperDuper. It only backs up changes so its pretty fast. Its been a life saver in the past when I've had to reclone say an entire boot drive so I'm pretty confident in the product.

If I want to sync folders (not clone the entire enchilada) I use Chronosync which seems to do the job.

I'd agree however that user error is probably the biggest issue here (cloning the wrong drive).
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Andrew Rodney
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« Reply #17 on: October 14, 2007, 02:33:38 PM »
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Right now I'm using a Raid 1 (mirror) for my LR libraries, but have 2 clones on 'standard' external FireWire drives. One I use on location, then back that up to the Raid when I return. Can someone alert me to why this system isn't pretty safe? At any one time, I have at last 3 clones (counting the Mirror as two) and a forth that is a clone plus the new stuff. Seems pretty rock solid.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=145936\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
I see two big holes: 1) The house (or studio) burns down, taking everything with it.  2) Burglers take the computer and all the backups.

An off-site backup is generally considered essential for a really secure backup plan.
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digitaldog
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« Reply #18 on: October 14, 2007, 02:36:56 PM »
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I see two big holes: 1) The house (or studio) burns down, taking everything with it.  2) Burglers take the computer and all the backups.

An off-site backup is generally considered essential for a really secure backup plan.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=145949\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I keep one drive in a Fire Proof safe (in the home). Its actually unlocked! I'd rather have the bad guys take the stuff inside that they think is valuable (the wife's jewelry which ain't that valuable) and hopefully leave the media alone. But then with three dogs, they have to GET to the safe.

In the end, the images have no value to anyone but me. I don't make them any more for money. But I'm still paranoid about keeping them safe and sound.

I'd agree however, an off site copy would be advisable.
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Monito
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« Reply #19 on: October 14, 2007, 03:01:33 PM »
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HDDs are meant and designed to be used, not idled, and having them idle is not a good idea. Studies suggest that HDDs usually fail in the first few months of use. If you idle your backup HDDs you will always use it within this failure-prone period, thus reducing the reliability of your backups. Anecdotally, I have HDDs in my box right now which have been on 24/365 in constant, hard swapping use for years. I've read and heard several stories about people going back to their offsite HDDs after months of disuse, only for them to never wake up again. [a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=145905\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
There is some truth to what you say, but external drives are a different issue from internal drives.  Internal drives are cooled by the computer systems cooling system (fans).  External drives have only passive cooling, are mounted vertically, and experience has shown that they are not as durable as internal drives when kept on 24/7.

Note that I advised double backups (two external drives, one of them offsite), and a third backup (DVD) for only the most valuable data and images.

I keep my internal drives on 24/7, my main external drive goes on only when I download photos from the memory card (automatically backing up via Alan Light's DIM program).  My secondary backup disk is turned on even less often to copy disk images.
« Last Edit: October 14, 2007, 03:06:04 PM by Monito » Logged

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