Software RAID In OS X Leopard

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I really enjoy how easy Tiger and Leopard makes setting up RAIDs. A RAID is essentially a collection of hard drives connected together. There are multiple RAID types but I generally stick with the mirror RAID type as it works well for my purposes.

To the point, one of the two drives in my mirror RAID failed. It made those tell tale clicking noises and wouldn’t mount at all. I opened up Disk Utility and sure enough it reported that my RAID was degraded. A day or two later I had bought a new hard drive to replace the failed one. I connected it up to my system and opened up Disk Utility again. I added the new drive (a simple drag and drop) into my degraded RAID and clicked on ‘rebuild’. Within a few seconds I was told that the ‘filesystem was unrecognized’ and the RAID could not be rebuilt. After trying again multiple times, I was prompted with that lovely message each time.

Being that I had about 450GBs of data on that RAID set I wasn’t about to give up so easily. I search Google for the exact error message that I was getting. I came across 2 good sources.

First was this thread in the Apple mailing lists. Apparently it’s a known bug. Great. Unfortunately the site didn’t seem to provide any solution for fixing the degraded RAID set.

The second link was to the Apple discussion boards. A few posts down a user posted a solution that worked and was confirmed working by following posts by other users. With only 450GBs of data to loose I thought I’d just give it a shot!

So a few days later I came back with my Leopard install disk and booted the machine off that. I opened up a terminal window and used the following commands (taken right from the post):

  • diskutil list (to find the partition that is going to be added)
  • diskutil checkRAID (to get the RAID UUID)
  • diskutil addToRAID
  • diskutil checkRAID (to watch the rebuild)
  • diskutil removefromRAID (to remove the “Failed” drive once the rebuild is done)

12-13 hours later my RAID had been rebuilt and worked just great! It’s too bad that Disk Utility isn’t working the way it should, although I could have sworn that I read something about 10.5.1 including a fix so that it works the way it should, and doesn’t return the ‘unrecognized filesystem’ error. Either way, if you have a degraded RAID system and are receiving that error when trying to rebuild it, the previous steps should get you back on track.

Of course if you’ve got some really important data and aren’t too daring, and use a mirror RAID, I recommend copying all the data to another drive, purchase a new drive for the RAID set, destroying the current set and then creating it again with the new drive. Then copy the data back over.