Using RAID drives for storage can provide you with some measure of redundancy – but that does not mean that your data is completely protected and cannot be lost. The fact of the matter is while RAID drives provide safeguards against data loss, it is still a risk.
By understanding the common causes of data loss on RAID drives, you can take measures to avoid them. In some cases simply being aware of the risk can help you to preempt any data loss, or at very least take steps to make it possible to recover data afterwards.
Although there are quite a few different potential causes of data loss on RAID drives, the most common tend to be:
Damage to the hard drives
Essentially RAID drives are made up of individual hard drives – each of which could potentially be damaged at some point. In most cases this damage tends to be a simple case of regular wear and tear, typically when the drive head is damaged and it begins to affect the storage platter. Because of this is it important to keep tabs on the condition of the hard drives in the RAID, and replace any that are old or show early warning signs.
All too often data isn’t lost because of an issue with the RAID drive itself, but due to simple human error (i.e. accidentally deleting a file). Fortunately this is the often the easiest problem to correct if it is caught early, and simple recovery tools can help to restore the data if it hasn’t been overwritten.
Improper rebuild of RAID drive
Another common problem that leads to data loss is if a RAID rebuild is attempted improperly. Before a rebuild can be carried out, all the hard drives need to be present, in the right sequence, and working properly – but if they aren’t then carrying a rebuild could overwrite important data and cause it to be lost permanently.
RAID controller issues
One of the worst possible things that could happen is if your RAID controller itself fails, as you will be unable to access any data contained on your RAID drives if it does. The most common reason why RAID controllers sometimes fail is due to power surges, which is why you should have some form of surge protector (or possibly a UPS) that can help to shield it.
Make no mistake there are several other causes you should be aware of, including viruses, circuit board malfunctions, or corrupted RAID configuration settings. Although these tend to be less common – they may affect the data on your RAID drives.
As you may have noticed, as much as you can take measures to reduce the risk of data loss from the common causes listed above – there is no way to absolutely guarantee it. That is why it is important that you backup the DATA that is on your raid drives regularly, so that even if issues arise you can restore it from the last backup.
Additionally in the event that you do lose important data you may want to consult a RAID recovery expert sooner rather than later. Acting slowly or taking the wrong steps will increase the risk that the data is permanently lost – and that is something that you would undoubtedly want to avoid.