Notes on the Accusys ACS 76130 (and 7630) RAID5 box


The Accusys 76130 is SATA RAID5 solution. This is a real RAID5 (also does RAID0) solution, invisible to software. After installing three drives in the box, it acts as one drive, both electrically and to software, to the computer.

Accusys has discontinued the 7630 (three disk IDE RAID5) and the 7500 (two disk IDE RAID1) in favor of the newer SATA products. The 7630 and the 76130 are very similar in most regards, and this document will apply to both except where noted.

This box is very similar to the ACS75130/7500 system, however there are some differences, which are what will be covered here:

Design and Operation Notes

ACS76130 vs. ACS75170

All things considered, I would much rather have the ACS75170. I'm biased towards mirroring and against RAID5, however there are places where sometimes storage density is more important than the simplicity of mirroring.


install four "new" 40G IDE drives. Lock down one, power up machine. Power up other two drives, one at a time, wait for drive to spin up before powering up next.

Observation: ACS7630 takes about 15 minutes to initially build array on three 40G drives. During this time, it beeps about once every minute. Anoying. Array does not exist to computer, either. It also seems that it has killed the IDE bus on my computer, as the CDROM drive on a different channel seems to vanish to the BIOS until the rebuild is somplete. (should investigate if this is just a BIOS issue).

Proceedure: Power system down, exchange drives in two carriers, power back up.

Observation: This is a bad thing to do. RAID will not come up this way. However, swapping drives back to original position results in RAID coming up fine. Apparently, the distressed array controller does NOT write anything to disk under those circumstances.

Conclusion: Once mounted in the drive array box, the drives are "positional" -- you can not swap drives carelessly. In fact, you can't swap them at all. Moral: Label the drives when you install them, and certainly when you remove them for any reason. Make sure they are reinstalled to the same bay they started out on.

Proceedure: Build array. Power down, remove (and label!) drives. Replace with a new set of three drives, build array. Remove (and label) new drives, restore original drives back to their original position.

Observation: As long as drives were returned to their original bay, RAID sets could be swapped.

Conclusion: While it is possible to remove, replace, and restore a drive set in this way, it is dangerous. If one were to mess up the drive positions, getting the array back could be difficult.

Install 40G drives into ACS7630, and one-by-one, replace each drive with a 250G drive.

Observation: While drive is being removed and replaced, ACS7630 does not beep. Once the drive is locked down and the array is rebuilding, it beeps obnoxiously...Bah. When the swap was complete, I still had an 80G drive (to software), consisting of three 250G drives. Rebooting kept it still the same 80G size. I saw no obvious way to get the array "expanded" to the 500G potential size. Bummer, but not unexpected.

sidetracked proceedure: Remove six screws from bottom pannel of ACS7630. Stick small bit of tape over beeper which is visible.

observation: MUCH better.

Conclusion: not sure I would go into production this way, but for testing, it may save sanity of me and my co-workers. Note: if warranty is not an issue, remove four screws from back plastic cover (including one under the "dont open me" sticker). Otherwise, a car key to smooth the tape over the speaker did wonders.

Real world experience

My employer has a number of these devices in an application where the storage size of the RAID5 option was important. So far, we've had only one failure, but it was a doozy. The drive failed, placing a short across the power supply, shutting down the computer. This apparently also dammaged the Accusys box, as it was not able to access the new drive in the old bay. So, we moved this array to a new, spare box, as we had planned ahead for. This is where I discovered a "feature" I REALLY don't like about the 76130: it comes jumpered for RAID0, not RAID5. To its credit, it didn't just blindly distroy my data, it fought me hard, protesting strongly that it didn't like what it saw on the disks I had inserted into it. However, due to the impressive failure of the dead drive, I was ready to believe the entire array was dammaged, so I "forced" it, by turning on the system, mounting one drive, then the second, then the third (instead of having the two good ones in at power-on and "introducing" the third later). The 76130 gave in, and initialized the array to all zeros for me. It wasn't until I noticed that the resultant disk was 50% larger than expected that I realized I had probably toasted my array needlessly.

Moral: Set the jumpers on your ACS76130 how you want them to be WHEN YOU GET IT, even if it isn't being installed that moment.

Further update: After almost two years in operation, we've had a second drive failure in a 76130. This one went "as expected", no data loss, no downtime.

This machine is pretty impressive: four Accusys 76130s, at this point, each with three 500G drives for almost 4TB on-line, pluse a pair of 300G drives in an Accusys 75170 for the OS and scratch area. This system is an e-mail archive, it fills arrays, we take the full ones off and put them on the shelf, and repopulate the "emptied" RAID boxes with new drives. This ends up being a very nice solution -- we don't buy more than four or five months of storage in advance, so as time goes on, we benefit from bigger storage and cheaper drives.

Holland Consulting home page
Contact Holland Consulting

since Nov. 6, 2005

Copyright 2004, Nick Holland, Holland Consulting

$Id: acs76130.html,v 1.2 2007/07/25 01:55:07 nick Exp $