Failed Mirrored Hard Drive on an HP Server

For one reason or another, we made the decision to stand up a HP ProLiant DL380 G5 server with two 72 GB 10K SAS drives.  This limited us to a mirrored RAID Array.  While this seemed to a sufficient option at the time, in hind sight, it was a bad choice.

This past week one of the two drives began blinking an amber light.  I immediately called our parts vendor to get a replacement as soon as possible.  My past experience with mirrored drives quickly caused dread to set in.  Fortunately, this time was not as bad as I thought and the drive was replaced without any issues.

What I learned…

On HP ProLiant Servers, an amber light on a Hard Drive can mean one of two things:

Solid Amber Light – means the drive has failed.

Blinking Amber Light – means the drive is degraded, and on its way to failure.

With a mirrored drive on and HP Server, you do not want to just remove the drive if it is blinking amber since it is technically only hot swappable when it is a failed drive (solid amber).  To properly replace the drive:

1. Shutdown the server

2. Boot the server.

3. During POST, Press F9 for ROM Setup when prompted

4. During the Array Scan, the drive should now be detected as a failed drive (solid amber), giving you two options:

  • F1 = Disable the drives in the failed logical drive
  • F2 = Replace the failed drive and repair the array.

5. Choose F2.  You will be taken into the ROM Setup where the drives will begin blinking green.  This is okay.

6. Physically swap out the failed drive.  After a few moments it should start blinking green.

7. Wait approximately 5-10 minutes for the drive to configured for rebuild.

8. Reboot the server.

The logical drive should now be recognized and a note will appear that the Automated RAID Repair is taking place.  The server should boot up and all is right with the world once again.

While it is possible that the HP Array Configuration Utility that runs in Windows could have changed the drive from it’s degraded state to a failed state so it could be hot swapped, we decided to go with this approach to make sure we did not cause any harm to the system.

This anxiety producing experience taught me an important lesson…ALWAYS configure a server as RAID 5, no matter what.

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2 Responses to Failed Mirrored Hard Drive on an HP Server

  1. ynot says:

    RAID 5 will not help in this situation. RAID 5 is also only tolerant of 1 drive failure. It is used in place of RAID 1 only because it saves usable space (and doesn’t require an even number of drives). It does though require at least 3 drives.
    If you did have that 3rd drive though you could instead use it as a hot spare for your current RAID 1 array which would make your setup a lot more resiliant than setting up RAID 5.

  2. Hi,
    Do you mean to say instead of replacing the failed disk with a new one, just by swapping the drives between bays will fix the predictive/failed drive?

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