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Detecting RAID Failures

Randolph West has an interesting after-the-fact test to determine whether data on a RAID array which experienced major failure is recoverable:

We took a look through some random files on the disk. I was looking for evidence that the VMDK file that had been copied was taken from a RAID array in a corrupt state, namely that one of the disks had failed, and that the second disk had failed during the rebuild of the array.

The easiest way to see this is to look for a JPEG or PNG file over 256 KB in size. Most RAID block sizes are multiples of 64 KB, usually 128 KB or 256 KB. Each block is split over the individual physical disks, with a parity bit, so for a particular block of data, if the RAID array has failed, you will see a corrupt image, or the image won’t be viewable at all.

Randolph presents an interesting smoke test here.  Read the whole thing.