An unknown number of EMC Storage arrays could be a ticking time bomb in the event the data on them is not backed up elsewhere.
An obscure bug in an EMC RAID controller is a rare discovery for any data recovery engineer but the team approach by R3 achieved a recovery that very few data recovery labs in the world have ever seen let alone recovered successfully.
This is of interest and notable because most Dell / EMC technical / disaster recovery support engineers would just declare the data corrupt and unrecoverable, restore from a backup and not realise it is possible it will happen again.
A problem with a cloud backup meant that the only chance of saving months of work from being lost was to call a data recovery company.
R3 initially lost the job to a substantially cheaper / high risk data recovery / computer forensics investigators. The client did subsequent investigations and elected to retrieve the server from the competitors HQ in Wales and drive it direct to Security House in Sheffield.
The 15 Disk RAID 5 configuration included 1 hot swap disc, but 2 of the Seagate FC series fibre channel discs had failed.
The recovery was complicated at a number of levels but in summary:
The discs were formatted 520bytes per sector which was common for enterprise class SAN but data recovery algorithms / software are most stable working with 512byte per sector formatting.
The client contacted a British / Global data recovery company who were unable to diagnose the problem or propose a solution and R3 were called to take over the case.
But as the tasks progressed something was wrong and it just did not make sense.
During any disaster / failure there are a number of factors - each year I manage several of the larger disasters in UK and dozens of relatively routine for the R3 team recoveries with disc arrays in pools from as little as 4, 6 12, and others with 24, 55, 180 and recently a pair of 240x 4TB SAN with varying RAID combinations and Tables.
But this EMC RAID 5 was different, it not only had a very seriously degraded disk which had sustained a head crash but the resync had written as data not parity and prevented the data from the RAID being accessible.
In fact it prevented a RAID recovery being possible. R3 engineers were initially stumped because the last disc to fail was proving difficult to get a full image from and took a few days in itself to be recovered and its image converted to 512bytes per sector.
The first to fail disc initially was ruled out as one of the discs being needed because it was out of sync by several weeks.
But on rebuilding the RAID5 volume the VMs were showing as corrupt and all involved including the developers of RAID recovery software and hardware could not help and hit a dead end.
Later we realised just how unique this EMC failure was and that no one had identified a similar case ever.
EMC now part of Dell is "fairly good gear" R3 have worked on a number EMC data recovery cases where multiple disc failures have caused the data to be inaccessible but non that effectively wrote back to a RAID5 disc member in RAID0.
All involved had never seen anything like this on an EMC or on any hardware for that matter.
After solving this a bespoke system configuration was built and a script developed. All VMs were extracted in order of priority and the contained data extracted and tested by the client.
Apart from the normal server dirty shutdown problems needing some database file repairs it was a full recovery.
One of our main RAID Servers went down. We needed the data urgent. R3 organised a courier, within 1 hour it was collected and soon back with them. They worked throughout the night, keeping me consistently up to date. The whole issue was resolved within 24 hours, ensuring we were back up and running. I cannot thank and Praise these guys enough!!
Aaron Roach - Andrew Wommack Ministries - Europe
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