Once again, my dining room floor looks like this:
Which can mean only one thing: Someone’s having computer problems.
I’m generally pretty open to helping just about anyone with their computer problems and this particular client only comes to me when something is VERY wrong and not often at that. In this case, her PC simply failed to boot. It told her that it couldn’t find an OS to load.
The setup: she has two identical SATA drives in RAID-1 using the onboard SATA-RAID controller. The controller BIOS detected only one drive but refused to boot from a “degraded” array. No matter how I plugged in the assumed good drive, BIOS refused to detect it as a SATA device.
So I took the machine home, got out a brand new SATA cable, and attached it to the only SATA-capable PC in the house that (a) didn’t cost $2600 and (b) wasn’t 100% mission critical.
The silver case with the side panel propped up in the left of the shot is the machine I’m using to test the drives. The drive leaning against it with the SATA signal cable attached is the assumed good drive. The drive cage and black case in the right of the shot is the machine that has the problems. The first is that a retarded monkey superglued the SATA connectors into their sockets on the motherboard. Oh, wait, I was that retarded monkey. Four years ago, when I built this machine for her, I got tired to the SATA cables falling out of the mobo connectors, so I superglued them.
The black not-currently-rackmounted rackmount case is my server, dustpuppy. The clamshell packaging on top of it is a brand new 160GB SATA drive for the server in case I lose a disk. It might also come in handy to test the SATA controller on the malfunctioning PC’s motherboard. The drive to the immediate right of the server is the assumed dead hard drive that came out of the bad PC. When I connected that drive to the test PC, it wouldn’t even POST – the BIOS init locked up at the IDE probing.
The first order of business was to salvage the data on the assumed good drive before anything else happens to it. Since I don’t have 500GB of offline dedicated storage laying around, I’m using the 3TB RAID array on the server to store a backup image of the filesystem on the drive. I’m doing the tried-and-true brute force backup method: cat /dev/sdc1 | gzip > /net/dustpuppy/export/home/homelan/tmp/auntsueNTFS.gz
When all is said and done, I’ll be able to report the following:
- One drive is dead.
- Both SATA cables are dead (I had to cut the connectors out of the motherboard sockets).
And also whether or not the SATA controller (or the sockets) on the motherboard is dead, too. The good news is that one disk is good so to get back up and running in the worst case would take a $25 PCI SATA HBA.