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Your Question:

How should CHKDSK be used on RAID-5?

Our Answer:

Generally, CHKDSK or like utilities should not be used on any striped data storage device array, such as RAID-5.  CHKDSK is a utility that was designed and intended for operation on a single hard disk drive device, not a data storage repository made up of short, small segments of data that have been recorded upon a sequential series of multiple hard disk drives forming an array configured into what appears to the host computer system as a single drive (or other data storage device), but in physical reality of course, is not.  Helpful outcomes of such a procedure are extremely rare.

The process used by CHKDSK to resolve troubles on a disk involve moving or rewriting sectors of data to new physical locations elsewhere on that drive's media.  In the case of RAID, its normal operation relies upon drives within the data striped device being able to deliver a single stream of data residing in a precise sequential series of stripes written on multiple hard disk drive elements.  Moving any of the pieces around on any one of the drives will have disastrous consequences for the data set stored collectively on an array of multiple individual disk drives.

If CHKDSK were to be used as part of an investigation or analysis process, it should only be done with extreme caution, and sound protection against re-writing or overwriting anything, i.e., write protection is in full force.  Within this scenario minimum prerequisites would be comprehensive technical understanding in regard to applicable RAID theory, the specific RAID subsystem in question, as well as CHKDSK itself.  Obvious or not, the constraints for safety of data lying in striped drive arrays also precludes use of defragmentation tools.  Successful uses of CHKDSK with striped data RAIDs are very limited – so don't guess!  And lastly, not to belabor the point, but since it can't be overemphasized:  do NOT allow the RAID controller to overwrite data on any striped RAID array drive, including the working drives.

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