Running Spinrite 6.0 or 6.1 Release candidate on a laptop connected to USB Docking Station with Drobo HDD

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mark

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Feb 16, 2024
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Two of my hard drives have failed in my Drobo which is now not starting so I can even try and see what files might be there. Since it all the photos of my kids growing up I;m more than a little concerned.

I have a LogiLink USB 3.0 Dual SATA HDD Docking Station that I have connected to a UEFI Windows 11 laptop.

My problem is how to actually run spirite so that it can scan the disk. I've tried to get the laptop to boot from a bootable USB stick but Dell is trying to make that as difficult for me as possible.

My next attempt was to boot a VirtualBox from an ISO image, the problem there is that the disk shows up as Not initialized and I can't find a way to share the drive with the VM

I've purchased spinrite especially to hopefully save me here.

I'd appreciate any help
 

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What is the model number of your laptop? On many machines it is possible to get SpinRite to boot if you change the right settings. Here are some things to check:
  • The CSM (Compatibility Support Module) may need to be enabled
  • Secure Boot may need to be disabled
  • Legacy USB Support may need to be enabled
Keep track of which settings you change. Windows may not boot if you forget to change them back. Also, if BitLocker is enabled, make sure to back up your Recovery Key first!
 
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I have a LogiLink USB 3.0 Dual SATA HDD Docking Station that I have connected to a UEFI Windows 11 laptop.
SpinRite 6.1 cannot boot into (or run in) a UEFI environment. :(

You might look into System Setup to see if there is is perhaps a CSM/BIOS option? Not likely if this is a newer laptop.

Another option would be to connect a Drobo drive to a system capable of BIOS booting.

I fully agree with Colby's comments. (y)
 
What is the model number of your laptop? On many machines it is possible to get SpinRite to boot if you change the right settings. Here are some things to check:
  • The CSM (Compatibility Support Module) may need to be enabled
  • Secure Boot may need to be disabled
  • Legacy USB Support may need to be enabled
Keep track of which settings you change. Windows may not boot if you forget to change them back. Also, if BitLocker is enabled, make sure to back up your Recovery Key first!
It's a Dell XPS 15 750
 
I think it was more like 2019/2020
I was wondering about that when I noted Win 11 was on it. 2012 would seem to be too old for Win 11's stringent hardware requirements.

The only way to know for sure is to continuously tap the F12 key immediately after power on to bring up the boot menu. Then down arrow to System Setup, and press enter.

Look for UEFI / BIOS / CSM options.

And note Colby's comments.
 
Rather than the USB dock, you might want to consider getting a ZimaBoard with a juiced up power supply to handle powering up a spinning drive. For under $150 it will be guaranteed to run SpinRite today, and in the future. (This is the board @Steve develops on.) If you're interested, search elsewhere here on these forums for Steve's recommendation on a juicier power supply.
 
I was wondering about that when I noted Win 11 was on it. 2012 would seem to be too old for Win 11's stringent hardware requirements.

The only way to know for sure is to continuously tap the F12 key immediately after power on to bring up the boot menu. Then down arrow to System Setup, and press enter.

Look for UEFI / BIOS / CSM options.

And note Colby's comments.
Oh, I've done that and I managed to get USB into the boot order so that it was in first place but when the laptop booted again, it went into so Dell recovery mode instead of booting from the USB.

This is why I started trying to look at using the VM option.

I think I can't share it to the VM because it's not initialized but this is the state it came out of the Drobo and I'm worried that if I initialize the disk that when I put it back in the Drobo it won't be readable by the Drobo software anymore
 
Rather than the USB dock, you might want to consider getting a ZimaBoard with a juiced up power supply to handle powering up a spinning drive. For under $150 it will be guaranteed to run SpinRite today, and in the future. (This is the board @Steve develops on.) If you're interested, search elsewhere here on these forums for Steve's recommendation on a juicier power supply.
It looks interesting, however I'm based in Scotland so it would probably take some time for it to be shipped from China
 
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some dell require the boot usb to be in a certain port the one that is classed as port 1, I found that out recently
 
I'm worried that if I initialize the disk that when I put it back in the Drobo it won't be readable by the Drobo software anymore
I agree, you definitely don't want to do that.

Can you borrow a desktop from anyone? Friends, family, work? If not, what about buying one from a thrift store? It just has to have a BIOS and SATA ports.
 
It looks interesting, however I'm based in Scotland so it would probably take some time for it to be shipped from China
Hi Mark! Several points:
  1. Amazon now carries the ZimaBoard so it might be available to you quickly.
  2. The HUGE advantage of the ZimaBoard is that you can directly attach SATA drives to it. That will be significantly better than trying to work through USB.
  3. A VM is very much hit or miss. It's unclear whether SpinRite in a VM is really talking to the hardware or to an emulation.
So I agree with the previous posters here. The #1 best option would be a ZimaBoard (which is the environment under which I developed SpinRite and many of our testers have adopted them, too.)
 
Hi Mark! Several points:
  1. Amazon now carries the ZimaBoard so it might be available to you quickly.
  2. The HUGE advantage of the ZimaBoard is that you can directly attach SATA drives to it. That will be significantly better than trying to work through USB.
  3. A VM is very much hit or miss. It's unclear whether SpinRite in a VM is really talking to the hardware or to an emulation.
So I agree with the previous posters here. The #1 best option would be a ZimaBoard (which is the environment under which I developed SpinRite and many of our testers have adopted them, too.)
Hi Steve

Thank you so much or taking the time personally to respond.

I've just received my ZimaBoard and I'm trying to get SpinRite running.

Can I just run SpinRite from a bootable USB with SpinRite on it. Either directly from the SpinRite image / Freedos image or do I have to install Freedos onto the ZimaBoard?

Just now I'm trying to run it from FreeDos on the USB drive but it's not seeing the disk
 
Hey mark (@mark):

It sounds as if you're doing everything exactly right. The ZimaBoard can definitely boot from USB and run SpinRite... and since (as I understand it) you're directly attaching the drive to one of the ZimaBoard's SATA ports, nothing would/should prevent SpinRite from seeing that drive. The only thing I can see that might make that happen is if the drive completely fails to bring itself online at all.

One thing you could/should try if you can is attaching any other SATA drive and confirming that SpinRite with your ZimaBoard sees that known-good drive??
 
Hi again,

Thought I should give you guys an update.

So I had 4 disks in the Drobo, it was giving me a blinking red light next to two of the bays. One of the bays it was showing as having a disk but still blinking. I took this disk out and performed a level 2 scan with SpinRite. SpinRite ran for about hours (4TB) drive but didn't find any problems.

The second disk that had a blinking light the Drobo was showing the bay as empty. When I attached this to the ZimbaBoard it couldn't identify the disk at all.

So unless anyone has any ideas it looks like I've lost everything.

I'm pretty disappointed with the Drobo as it won't let me see any files. I was under the impression that even if two disks failed things should have been alright.

The other thing is strange is that the disk that it has the flashing red light next to that SpinRite says is OK, the Drobo reports it as having good health too, in which case only one disk has failed.

Unfortunately Drobo is out of business so I can't see anyway forward
 

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Hey Mark (@mark) — I agree, it sure appears that only one drive is down. You can only afford to lose two drives if you had set the DROBO to RAID 6. If you were using the more common RAID 5, then you can only afford to lose a single drive.

I used to own two Drobos (because I didn't know any better). I still have one spinning, but after being exposed to Synology (which is astoundingly good) I would never buy another Drobo even if I could. One of the two Drobos died in a very frustrating way. I didn't lose any data, but it was acting so oddly that I spent a LOT of time fussing with what was ultimately a lost cause.

If you ever have the occasion to use a Synology system you'll see what I mean! (y)
 
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I have a Drobo 5C that only had single parity protection (now it has double) and I had to recover files. I found a program in Ukraine called "UFS Explorer RAID Recovery" (https://www.ufsexplorer.com/ufs-explorer-raid-recovery/ or https://www.sysdevlabs.com/product.php?id=ufsxr&user_cat=home&os=win) that will probably recover at least some of your files. It recovered most of the smaller ones less than 100MB and some of the larger ones, too. Good luck.
P.S. It is CRUCIAL that any drives removed from a Drobo when reinstalled be put back into the EXACT SAME bay. Drobo does NOT recognize them when the bay is different.
 
Further update: Just when I thought things couldn't get worse.

So to give you a bit more of my NAS history, many years ago in a galaxy far far away (Berlin, Germany) I bought a Drobo5n. I used this to store my family photos and some media files. Many years later I divorced and moved back to Scotland. Being precautious with my digital memories I purchased a Drobo5n2 where I duplicated my family photos from the Drob5 onto and then went on to add newer photos.

As mentioned above my two of the disks in my 5n failed at some point this year and I was not aware of it as I was with my ex wife back in Berlin but when I discovered the situation I went into mild panic mode. I managed to recover most of the old photos from a combination of my 5n2 and an external HD that I had backed up the photos to (See told you I was cautious), and I was in the process of consolidating my digital media ready for the arrival of a Synology 923+ that I purchased so that I would be back to two NAS for security. While the Synology turned up in two days Amazon let me down by postponing the delivery of the 4x18TB Ironwolf Pro that I ordered to go with the Synology. The disks were supposed to be delivered yesterday and again weren't.

Having learned from listening to Steve's podcasts about the dangers of unpatched instances of Plex, last night I downloaded the latest version of plex server and restarted the Drobo5n2, only to have my worst fear come to life. The 5n2 will no longer power up. The fans come on but none of the lights do. So now it looks like I may have lost a lot of my more recent files.

Does anyone know if I boot my old Drobo5n into read only mode if it will be able to recover the data from the Disks I've taken out of the 5n2?

I really can't believe these failures have happened one after the other, or that if Amazon hadn't let me down I'd have safely cloned the files onto the new NAS

Yours,
VERY frustrated
from Scotland

P.S. I hope you don't mind me posting here Steve and trying to get help from your very knowledgeable customers / fans