Un-mirror RAID 1 drives to retrieve data?

By M-17 ·
Tags: Hardware
I have a Win 7, 64 Ultimate PC with the OS on RAID 1 mirrored 1TB WD SATA hard drives and extra data on RAID 1 mirrored Seagate Baracuda 3TB SATA hard drives. It has a Gigabyte motherboard with AMD Phenom II. RAID is via the motherboard.

The system is working fine except that Windows stopped seeing the data drive pair approximately a week ago. They aren't visible in Windows Explorer nor in a drive monitoring Desktop Gadget but they are visible in during POST from the BIOS/CMOS, the RAID utility during POST, and from Windows in Device Manager and [System Configuration>Computer Management>Storage>Disk Management].

I tried a trial version of a data recovery app to scan one of the drives and it can see almost all of the data still on the drive. I don't think there's a physical error problem with the drives and neither one has giver any bad SMART results.

What is the best way to copy the data off of one or both of the mirrored data drives before I do any restore or reformatting of the drives to return to normal operation again?

Do I need to un-mirror the drives in the RAID application before I can put the drive in another PC to read it or try to fix the MBR or whatever? Would putting it in another PC change anything on the drive?

Would it be better to just leave the drives where and how they are now and go straight to recovery software such as GNU TestDisk to try to fix the MBR or partition tables of the disk (or even start recovering files right away)?

Once I get access to the data on the drive, I plan to copy it to a large USB external hard drive before trying to reset the mirrored drives for daily use again.

Should I first try to do a bit-level copy of the entire data drive to the external hard drive before I do anything to the internal drive? If so, what utility would be best for this.

Any help or suggestions will be much appreciated! Thanks.

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