02 October 2008

BIOS woes

Secure storage of my photos have become more and more important since going digital five years ago. So when building a new computer last summer, I took the bother to set up a fault-tolerant disk solution (RAID-5), and make sure that I had a backup device large enough to accomodate as much data as the computer. I also forced myself to do backup regularly, and have kept at it. More or less. :-)
Last week-end's outing was not yet fully backed up. Nor would it be, until all the keepers were extracted from the raw files, and jpegs for web produced.
And if you suspect a disaster coming now, you're quite right. Last night I installed a new CPU in the machine, which made an upgrade of the BIOS necessary. I downloaded the latest version from Asus, along with the proper tool to upgrade it, and began the process. What the tool did was to erase whatever trace there was of BIOS inside the machine, as it should, to make room for the new version. But guess what it did NOT.
So last week-end's few fabulous, and loads of not-so-fabulous, photos of reindeer and landscapes are now in limbo on an array of RAID-5 disks inside a dead computer.
Did I sigh? Well, I'll do it again.
It looks like the way out is to buy a new motherboard with a RAID-controller in the same family as the one I have, and then carefully set up the disks exactly as they are in the current config, down to plugging the disks into the same SATA ports on the controller. Then, the magic trick should be to tell the new controller NOT to write any changes to the disks, just make use of the parameters I give it to access the disks. A new motherboard is ordered, so if this method works there's only one more joker. Will Windows Vista accept the changes in hardware? My fingers are crossed... :-)
A fall-back solution would be to install Windows Vista anew on a different disk, and then access the RAID-5 as a second disk. Alternatively, if the BIOS cannot take a new configuration without overwriting the disk data, I will purchase a Raid Recovery tool like Runtime or DiskInternals, hook up the disks as individual entities and scavenge the files that way.
Not the end of the world, but a lot of extra work. Updating a BIOS shouldn't have to be this risky.
I will permit myself a third sigh, I think.

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