Thankfully fire damage is rare, especially for RAID array systems, even when a server room with fire suppression systems can still suffer extensive damage if a severe fire occurs. Many server rooms avoid using water for suppression, but when fighting a severe fire, water may damage the servers, or due to a water leak caused by the damage.
Backups should be held off-site, especially for important enterprise level storage systems, to avoid the possibility of damage to the servers and the backup systems and tape media. Following fire damage, it is important not to power any systems up and send them to a professional data recovery company, such as DiskEng.
Fire Damaged RAID
The platters inside each hard disk drive used in a RAID array are durable, with a high enough resistance to the temperatures experienced in all but the hottest fires. The data recovery success rates from fire damaged hard disk drives and RAID arrays are very high. If water has entered any of the drives, this may greatly complicate the data recovery process.
The most likely outcome resulting from a fire is damage to the controller board, the interface connectors and the chips. If smoke particles enter the drive there is a high possibility of damage occurring if the drive is powered up. It is essential that following fire damage, even if water has not entered the RAID system, they should not be powered up as it may result in severe damage which could cause loss of data.
Fire Damaged RAID Data Recovery
Each hard disk drive in the array must be dismantled, so that it may be cleaned in a clean environment before it is rebuilt. The main risk facing the magnetic data stored on the platters following infiltration of the drive by smoke particles or water. Should this occur, the read/write heads will be highly likely to impact with the surface of the platter, leading to data loss, which can range from small areas of damage to a large scale destruction of the recording media.
Fire damaged RAID systems are rare, but the success rate when recovering data is high, especially for those using RAID levels which include data redundancy. Should the RAID system have become wet during the fire, either from a water leak or fire-fighting, each hard disk drive should be sealed in an airtight container to avoid it drying out, which could result in further damage. In all cases of fire damage, the RAID system should be sent for professional data recovery.