Recover Data From RAID1 LVM Partitions With Knoppix Linux LiveCD

Version 1.0
Author: Till Brehm <t.brehm [at] projektfarm [dot] com>
Last edited: 04/11/2007

This tutorial describes how to rescue data from a single hard disk that was part of a LVM2 RAID1 setup like it is created by e.g the Fedora Core installer. Why is it so problematic to recover the data? Every single hard disk that formerly was a part of a LVM RAID1 setup contains all data that was stored in the RAID, but the hard disk cannot simply be mounted. First, a RAID setup must be configured for the partition(s) and then LVM must be set up to use this (these) RAID partition(s) before you will be able to mount it. I will use the Knoppix Linux LiveCD to do the data recovery.


I used a Knoppix 5.1 LiveCD for this tutorial. Download the CD ISO image from here and burn it on CD, then connect the hard disk which contains the RAID partition(s) to the IDE / ATA controller of your mainboard, put the Knoppix CD in your CD drive and boot from the CD.

The hard disk I used is an IDE drive that is attached to the first IDE controller (hda). In my case, the hard disk contained only one partition.

Restoring The Raid

After Knoppix has booted, open a shell and execute the command:

sudo su

to become the root user.

As I don't have the mdadm.conf file from the original configuration, I create it with this command:

mdadm --examine --scan /dev/hda1 >> /etc/mdadm/mdadm.conf

The result should be similar to this one:

DEVICE partitions
CREATE owner=root group=disk mode=0660 auto=yes metadata=1
ARRAY /dev/md0 level=raid1 num-devices=2 UUID=a28090aa:6893be8b:c4024dfc:29cdb07a

Edit the file and add devices=/dev/hda1,missing at the end of the line that describes the RAID array.

vi /etc/mdadm/mdadm.conf

Finally the file looks like this:

DEVICE partitions
CREATE owner=root group=disk mode=0660 auto=yes metadata=1
ARRAY /dev/md0 level=raid1 num-devices=2 UUID=a28090aa:6893be8b:c4024dfc:29cdb07a devices=/dev/hda1,missing

The string /dev/hda1 is the hardware device and missing means that the second disk in this RAID array is not present at the moment.

Edit the file /etc/default/mdadm:

vi /etc/default/mdadm

and change the line:




Now we can start our RAID setup:

/etc/init.d/mdadm start
/etc/init.d/mdadm-raid start

To check if our RAID device is ok, run the command:

cat /proc/mdstat

The output should look like this:

Personalities : [linear] [multipath] [raid0] [raid1] [raid6] [raid5] [raid4] [ra id10]
md0 : active raid1 hda1[1]
293049600 blocks [2/1] [_U]

unused devices: <none>

Recovering The LVM Setup

The LVM configuration file cannot be created by an easy command like the mdadm.conf, but LVM stores one or more copy(s) of the configuration file content at the beginning of the partition. I use the command dd to extract the first part of the partition and write it to a text file:

dd if=/dev/md0 bs=512 count=255 skip=1 of=/tmp/md0.txt

Open the file with a text editor:

vi /tmp/md0.txt

You will find some binary data first and then a configuration file part like this:

VolGroup00 {
	id = "evRkPK-aCjV-HiHY-oaaD-SwUO-zN7A-LyRhoj"
	seqno = 2
	status = ["RESIZEABLE", "READ", "WRITE"]
	extent_size = 65536		# 32 Megabytes
	max_lv = 0
	max_pv = 0

	physical_volumes {

		pv0 {
			id = "uMJ8uM-sfTJ-La9j-oIuy-W3NX-ObiT-n464Rv"
			device = "/dev/md0"	# Hint only

			status = ["ALLOCATABLE"]
			pe_start = 384
			pe_count = 8943	# 279,469 Gigabytes

	logical_volumes {

		LogVol00 {
			id = "ohesOX-VRSi-CsnK-PUoI-GjUE-0nT7-ltxWoy"
			status = ["READ", "WRITE", "VISIBLE"]
			segment_count = 1

			segment1 {
				start_extent = 0
				extent_count = 8942	# 279,438 Gigabytes

				type = "striped"
				stripe_count = 1	# linear

				stripes = [
					"pv0", 0

Create the file /etc/lvm/backup/VolGroup00:

vi /etc/lvm/backup/VolGroup00

and insert the configuration data so the file looks similar to the above example.

Now we can start LVM:

/etc/init.d/lvm start

Read in the volume:


Reading all physical volumes. This may take a while...
Found volume group "VolGroup00" using metadata type lvm2


PV /dev/md0 VG VolGroup00 lvm2 [279,47 GB / 32,00 MB free]
Total: 1 [279,47 GB] / in use: 1 [279,47 GB] / in no VG: 0 [0 ]

and activate the volume:

vgchange VolGroup00 -a y
 1 logical volume(s) in volume group "VolGroup00" now active

Now we are able to mount the partition to /mnt/data:

mkdir /mnt/data
mount /dev/VolGroup00/LogVol00 /mnt/data/

If you recover data from a hard disk with filenames in UTF-8 format, it might be necessary to convert them to your current non-UTF-8 locale. In my case, the RAID hard disk is from a Fedora Core system with UTF-8 encoded filenames. My target locale is ISO-8859-1. In this case, the Perl script convmv helps to convert the filenames to the target locale.

Installation Of convmv

cd /tmp
tar xvfz convmv-1.10.tar.gz
cd convmv-1.10
cp convmv /usr/bin/convmv

To convert all filenames in /mnt/data to the ISO-8859-1 locale, run this command:

convmv -f UTF-8 -t ISO-8859-1 -r --notest /mnt/data/*

If you want to test the conversion first, use:

convmv -f UTF-8 -t ISO-8859-1 -r /mnt/data/*
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5 Comment(s)

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Hi guys I have been looking all over for something like this and it seems to be what i am looking for. I have a RAID array and i need to get the data off the disk and rebuild the machine yet I cannot mount the drive - or when i mount it all i see is the Lost+Found directory that is read only I was following the steps laid out above but when I try to run the mdadm step it does not create the conf file for me - a default one is already there - am i doing something wrong. I have knoppix 6 live cd and i have the Red Hat Enterprise 5 version Any help is greatly appreciated Thanks Kev


Just wanted to say that I found this howto extremely helpful.  It worked like a charm the first time through.  Thanks.


This was very helpful. It worked perfectly the first attempt. Thank you very much till.

By: Anonymous

You guys saved my life, this article is very helpful. In only few steps I was able to recover my data from raid volumes.

By: Idalo

Hola amigos espero me puedan ayudar tengo un server NAS de 4 disco duros de 2TB por problemas electricos se daño el disco 1 a lo cual y al no poder ingresar y ve los datos instale un centos 7 y se coloco en el compartimiento del disco 1 hasta hay todo bien logre entrar y ver mis datos, pero por error un dia cualquiera haciendo pruebas con un disco de 160GB que tenia instalado centos 5.4 se coloco donde estaba el disco 1 que tiene el centos 7 al ver el error de que ese no era el disco correcto esperamos que prediera y cargara para apagarla y colocar el disco correcto que era el que tenia centos 7 la prendimos y cargo bien pero sorpresa que ahora no me deja ver o no se donde esta la carpeta que tenia con mis archivos.    Espero puedan ayudarme con cualquier solución de antemano muchas gracias si necesitan algun dato mas me dicen.