Access contents on a single disk from a Debian mirror array

I am setting up an Open Media Vault, OMV, NAS box for my home storage requirements, detailed in the post Installing Open Media Vault. I don’t have the resources to setup a full RAID 5 array, this would require a box with space for 3 drives plus which I would actually need to purchase 3 drives.

So I am going with an older box with two 3GB drives in RAID 1 (mirrored). The idea is that if the box fails or I lose a drive the remaining drive can still be read. Not perfect for performance but I am going to use 7200 Barracuda Seagate drives, so hopefully that will help.

This article is about taking a drive from one from this RAID 1 and reading it on another box – worst case scenario.

Given that Open Media Vault run Debian the approach taken is to run a live USB version of Debian and mount the drive.

1. Create a Debian Live USB flash drive as described in article Create a Debian Live USB flash drive
2. If you want to connect to this Debian Live instance using SSH follow the instructions int he post Enabling SSH access to Debian live USB
3. Should you get timed out the password for the user “user” is “live”.
4. At this point ensure the terminal window is not too small because the first screen you get will only:

mdadm configure screen

+ Click to enlarge

If this happens to you just kill your terminal session, make the window bigger and try again. This time you should see:

mdadm configure screen 2

+ Click to enlarge

5. Now install mdadm:

apt-get install mdadm rsync initramfs-tools

You will be asked If “the system’s root file system is located on an MD array (RAID…”

Ensure you enter “none” as your answer.

6. Now we want to see the drives that are available so run:


This should produce something like:

sda 8:0 0 74.5G 0 disk
└─md127 9:127 0 74.5G 0 raid1
sdb 8:16 1 7.5G 0 disk
└─sdb1 8:17 1 1.2G 0 part /lib/live/mount/medium
loop0 7:0 0 1.1G 1 loop /lib/live/mount/rootfs/filesystem.squashfs
7 You can see from above that our remaining Mirror array disk is “sda”.

Create a temp directory to mount it in:

mkdir /mirror
8. Now mount it using something like:

mount /dev/md127 /mirror
9. Because we enabled ssh login using root you can now sftp using WinSCP as root to move your files back to your laptop or PC.


A useful command is:

mdadm --examine /dev/sd*

Which will give something like:

Magic : a92b4efc
Version : 1.2
Feature Map : 0x0
Array UUID : 99576b9e:6ffe87e8:fc43bf24:9c6b84ab
Name : nas2:Mirror1
Creation Time : Sat Jun 4 05:42:20 2016
Raid Level : raid1
Raid Devices : 2

Avail Dev Size : 156181504 (74.47 GiB 79.96 GB)
Array Size : 78085120 (74.47 GiB 79.96 GB)
Used Dev Size : 156170240 (74.47 GiB 79.96 GB)
Data Offset : 131072 sectors
Super Offset : 8 sectors
Unused Space : before=130992 sectors, after=11264 sectors
State : clean
Device UUID : 55c45427:8ba028de:ef53f68a:2cd44a10

Update Time : Wed Jun 22 21:26:19 2016
Checksum : 38926569 - correct
Events : 122029
Device Role : Active device 1
Array State : .A ('A' == active, '.' == missing, 'R' == replacing)
MBR Magic : aa55
Partition[0] : 2573440 sectors at 64 (type 17)
mdadm: No md superblock detected on /dev/sdb1.