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In my case I have been using Raid 1 Mirroring with two disks on an onboard controller of a motherboard that recently dropped dead.

Now I'm looking for a replacement motherboard, but I'm a bit worried about the data on the disks which I really want to recover. Since it was mirroring I half expect any SATA controller to just recognize the partitions and work automatically, but on the other half I guess it might not work that way. I don't have a 2nd system on which I can quickly test this and besides I'm concerned that it could be potentially dangerous to just plug it into any system. Some BIOS might just try to automatically initialize it and destroy some data?

Can I just go ahead and purchase a new board without worries or should I figure out exactly what make / type and version of controller the board was using and try to find a new board with the same make / type / version RAID controller?

For the record, my particular motherboard was a dual Xeon Tyan S2696. It was rendering some footage overnight and in the morning I found it dead. It does not even beep anymore, no fans, no leds, when powered on. The USB ports do get powered with 5V but it looks like there's a swollen capacitor between two PCI-x slots.

EDIT: For example, if I purchase a SuperMicro X7DB8+ as a replacement for the Tyan S2696, would I be able to hook up the old drives and read from them? They both use the Intel ESB2 Chipset, though I don't see and mention of "zero channel RAID" in the Tyan manual.

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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it belongs on SuperUser. – Mark Sep 12 '15 at 4:21
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    This is about hardware usage, not hardware recommendation. – Mark Sep 12 '15 at 4:21
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    @Mark I'm voting to reopen this question because the fact that it's on-topic on some other site is irrelevant. This question is about what hardware to buy, so it's on-topic here. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Sep 12 '15 at 18:51
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    I agree substantially with Gilles that it doesn't matter whether or not the question's on-topic somewhere else, but I don't see how it's asking for a specific recommendation. – HDE 226868 Sep 12 '15 at 21:08
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    Consider this logically, RAID controller has to record your config somewhere, if you had RAID-0 or RAID-1 for example. Some do that in own flash memory, others do that on the disk. In the latter case an area on each disk must be allocated to store configuration. There's no guarantee that different manufactures would pick same format. Same goes for checksums for higher-level RAID schemes. Good news is that RAID-1 is easy to recover in either case -- try whole disk, or if that doesn't work, find an offset and use data starting from that offset. – user281 Sep 13 '15 at 7:19
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Consider this logically, RAID controller has to record your config somewhere, if you had RAID-0 or RAID-1 for example. Some do that in own flash memory, others do that on the disk. In the latter case an area on each disk must be allocated to store configuration. There's no guarantee that different manufactures would pick same format. Same goes for checksums for higher-level RAID schemes.

Good news is that RAID-1 is easy to recover in either case -- try whole disk, or if that doesn't work, find an offset and use data starting from that offset.

Your old setup could be:

  • no raid metadata -- you can simply plug one disk into regular motherboard and boot; This is most likely for onboard RAID controllers, as they can store metadata in BIOS config.
  • disks first partitioned and then partitions are raided with metadata -- you'll have to adjust start of partition in the partition table
  • disks first raided with metadata and then volume is partitioned -- you may have to create new partition table (bios) or may be ok (gpt)

Trying the first costs you nothing.

Wrt. the other two, you can try disk cloning software, your layout may be recognized ;-)

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