Raid.IT – Adaptec Raid Controller ASR-5405 sees 1TB disks as 32MB, what?

Ok, what is this about? Oh yes, you probably have read previously that I do some data recovery from disk drives. Just recently I received a laptop to do some recovery of deleted photos. Usually the first thing that I do is to make a raw image of the disk. I do this on a Ubuntu linux machine onto my network storage, however in this case – my network storage was a little full, and could not handle another 500GB. So I then used another machine that is set up with an Adaptec Array Controller – the ASR-5405, with four 1TB disk drives configured as Raid-5, which gives me a usable 3TB or so.

I connected up the laptop disk and duly made a copy of the disk. It was getting late, so the machine was turned off. When I turned it on again, the array controller started beeping, very loudly – which generally signifies a failed disk, so it didn’t make sense to continue with it until the disk failure is resolved. Once powered off, I removed the disks one by one and connected it to my other test machine. I run ‘smartctl -a’ commands on each disk drive and eventually found that the last one had SMART errors that indicated that it was failing. I replaced this disk drive with another 1TB disk that I had on hand.

To my surprise, when I powered on, and let it boot up – I could find my Data disk which should be 2TB. Neither was my Temp disk visible which was the remaining 1TB or so. No beeps on powering up, so what gives?  I powered down, then this time I watched it boot up – this is what I saw…


This doesn’t make sense, my 1TB disks are now seen as 31MB. That is why my logical drive was missing – it thought it did not have capacity for my array. Now what? I did a Google search of the internet but did not find anything like this happening – so why did it happen to me? Don’t know, then I decided to contact Adaptec, which by this time had been bought out by Microsemi. I opened a ticket with Microsemi, in which I needed to supply my Tsid number, which is some number that shows that you are a valid owner of this controller.

Later I got an automated reply saying that I need to create a support archive and upload it. For Ubuntu, I managed to run the Storage Manager GUI but when I tried to connect to the controller, I got a Java exception error which crashed the GUI – bummer. Back to Google then and Adaptec’s support page and found out how to get the support archive by running the command line utility ‘Arcconf’.  For my version of the software, the command

arcconf savesupportarchive

would generate the support archive, then I could zip it up and upload it to them. That is where I am now, so I will wait and see what happens because it is a public holiday in the US right now.

P.S. I could recover the data from the disks, since the disks are still intact – I have three of them which is the minimum needed, but I don’t quite have enough storage. How would I do this, firstly by making a raw image of each disk. The beginning of each disk should contain information that Adaptec uses to determine the disk and array configuration, since it will know the position of each disk in the array. Then the data will be striped across the four disks (of which I have three) with a block size that I would have to determine, and the striping factor, which is the way the parity block is distributed. Once that is determined, it is a simple matter of running a little perl script that I had written once before, to generate the array as a single file.

With this array, which is like a raw 3TB disk – I could copy this to a 3TB disk which could possibly be usable straight away and recognized by Ubuntu. Hence, in order to do this I need a minimum of 3TB for the raw data, and 3TB for the final array – 6TB in total, or two 3TB drives – which I do happen to have on hand. I might have to do this, but let’s give Microsemi a chance to come back because maybe they can tell me to run some magical command that will let the controller recognize the disks for the size that they actually are, and then I can continue my work.


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