Degraded NVidia Mirror

The following article will illustrate how to rebuild a degraded NVidia MediaShield RAID array. 


After BIOS, MediaShield launches and shows:

Detecting arrays ...


Press F10 to enter RAID setup utility ...


these entries flash in orange (or red)


NOTE: all of the instructions found elsewhere online, and even in the manual are simply wrong, conflicting, or confusing. The following procedure will set you straight.


First, some definitions. A Degraded RAID array does not mean that a single SMART error has been detected, as some (including myself) would think. It means that your RAID array is now NON-FUNCTIONING. You are now running on only one of the hard drives.

Which hard drive failed, and why? With crappy consumer-level RAID (as opposed to a dedicated RAID card or a server), you will not be informed of this. Your computer no longer threats the two hard drives as an array. They are now visible to Windows (or BIOS) as two separate hard drives with (hopefully) identical contents.

With consumer-level RAID, you are not alerted that RAID failed, and a disk is not taken offline (as it is with professional RAID). If you do not press F10, then the computer will proceed to booting Windows from one of the drives. Which one? Usually, this is only due to the order in which SATA cables were plugged in to the motherboard. Or, if one hard drive carries the "boot" flag and the other doesn't then that would determine the selection. Note, however, that the hard drive from which Windows will attempt to boot may be the hard drive which caused the array crash due to physical problems with the hard drive. How can you know?

You can either run a quick SMART check in BIOS before booting the computer, or you can take out the hard drives, connect them as a secondary (external) hard drive to another computer, and run extensive SMART or other diagnostic tests. If you are patient, I recommend a SMART scan to determine which hard drive has more sector relocates and other errors, following with a chkdsk /R, and then followed with a comparison of the two hard drives filestructure.

A professional, when seeing a faulty hard drive, would swap out the fault drive and preserve it for backup. Then, a new hard drive will be placed in the array. You need to have spare drives on hand if you have a RAID array set up.

Note: the second hard drive may be not visible to you from Windows. Right-click My Computer and click on Manage. Choose Storage>Disk Management. The second drive may say Offline with an exclamation mark. Mouse over the alert to read the details. If Windows complains about signature collision with another hard drive, then this simply means that it is complaining that two hard drives in your system are identical in the manufacturer's ID tag. Yes, this IS the most idiotic Windows error message. If you simply dismiss the alert, then Windows will make the drive available to the system.

Windows - hard drive is offline because of a signature conflict or collision


If you have replaced a faulty drive, or found that both SMART and chkdsk do not report any significant problems with each of the drives, you can now rebuilt the array. 

NOTE: NVidia Control Panel must be set up, and the correct MediaShield driver installed in Windows in order to rebuild the array. The array IS NOT REBUILT from BIOS (or the MediaShield post-BIOS screen). You can INITIATE a rebuild process from that screen, but the rebuilding will be done when Windows loads and NVidia MediaShield driver runs.

It is easier and more intuitive to rebuild the array from NVidia Control Panel View Storage Configuration section. However, if the section is now shown the following procedure will illustrate how to initiate the array rebuilding from post-BIOS screen.


The procedure:

1. You must have checked both hard drives for absence of SMART failures and errors reported by chkdsk.

2. Refer to the RAID initialization article for useful information. Refer to your motherboard user manual for RAID recovery, or the sample user manual I have provided.

3. Recover that piece of paper described in the initialization article. For example, your note would say:

WDC WD3200AAKX-081DA1 installed in SATA1

WDC WD3200AAKX-081FA1 installed in SATA2

If you choose to rebuild the array with the original drives (which originally contained the array), then one of the drives would be wiped out from this procedure, and be overwritten with data from the other drive. You must be absolutely sure which drive you want to designate as the "Healthy Master" drive. It is very easy to tell the computer to rebuild a damaged hard drive onto a healthy drive. This action will wipe out both drives. I recommend that you instead purchase an empty hard drive for the array, and keep the designed UNHEALTHY CLONE in a secure place in its ESD bag as a backup to your RAID array.

4. Press F10 after BIOS loads and while MediaShield screen is displayed, before Windows loads.

After the array degrades, and since two listings (0 Degraded and 1 Degraded) are shown, you cannot press [R] for repair if you simply select one item from the listing, and press Enter to go into its detailed description. This is the most confusing part of the Rebuild process. MediaShield is now treating the two separate disks as TWO SEPARATE ARRAYS, and this is why pressing [R] for Rebuild has no effect. This is dumb; the option should not have been shown.

To rebuild the array, do the following. Highlight the OUTDATED CLONE hard drive entry from the listing, and press Enter to go into its detailed description. Press [D] to delete the "array" consisting of the split hard drive. Note: THIS WILL WIPE OUT ALL DATA on this hard drive and replace it with data from the other drive.

After you delete the bad drive, only one "array" listing is shown. This must consist of the HEALTHY MASTER. Press Enter to go into the detailed listing for HEALTHY MASTER.

Press [R] to Rebuild. This option is now available, since...

You can now choose the PREVIOUSLY OUTDATED CLONE as an "available" hard drive for the array. Choose the available HD and press A to add.

A green pop-up appears "Rebuild Array?" Press ENTER to OK the process.

RAID Array status will now change to "Rebuild"

Ctrl+X to exit from the utility.

Windows will now start loading.


In taskbar, a popup should appear saying that Rebuild Started. You can now open NVidia Control Panel, and check the progress under Storage Configuration section. (If this section is blank, read my article on reinstalling MediaShield). The rebuild procedure clones a hard drive. This will take a long time if your hard drive size and utilization is large. Disable the sleep timeout on your computer so that the computer does not go to sleep or hibernate before the array is done cloning.


˅˅˅ Additional valuable information is available at one of the links below: ˅˅˅


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Page last modified 21-May-16 14:40:47 EDT
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