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Hi there, I wonder if anyone can help me saving my data.
During Windows XP startup I get

STOP 0x000000ED
(0x8256A8D0, 0xC0000185, 0x00000000, 0x00000000)

I've spent already two days googling for solution so please read my whole description before making your suggestion.

I have AMD Athlon 64 2800+, MSI K8T800 motherboard, 512 MB RAM, FDD, DVD/RW and two SATA Maxtor hard disks in RAID 0 - stripe (onboard hardware controller) 80 GB each.
Windows XP SP 2, single partition on the whole RAID array. No other hard drives.

This box had been running quite ok for half a year. I experienced occasional freeze-ups - mostly when playing games. About once/twice per month.
I looked like this:
* blank screen
* sound goes on for about three seconds (sometimes in a loop) then stops
* monitor switches off
* fan goes on but otherwise the computer is silent (no HDD activity)

A week ago I was running original Microsoft Defrag and started MS Excel at the same time. The computer started to get slower and slower and then hung up completely. After reboot I got UNMOUNTABLE_BOOT_VOLUME - see above.

Please note that I didn't even open the box not to mention changing any hardware.

In RAID BIOS I can see the array with both disks but the first HDD is said to have 74.53 GB (less than 80 GB) and the other one 114.49 GB (more than 80 GB) - that's not even 160 GB together. I don't remember what was there before but I assume that the size should be at least the same.

What I've tried so far:
trial "Active@ Partition Recovery" with bootable floppy and DOS-based NTFS-Reader (www.ntfs.com)
I was able to see some directories on the first HDD. When trying to browse the second HDD the NTFS-Reader froze.

I opened the box, disconnected the SATA cables at both ends (each end at a time) and blew into the plugs (once I managed to "fix" my floppy drive this way). No change.

Maxtor PowerMax (www.maxtor.com) for HDD diagnosis. It turned out that they are right - it's not able to read SATA disks in RAID.

I ran memtest overnight - no errors.

In WinXP recovery console (when booting from WinXP install CD) I ran
* fixmbr \Device\Harddrive0\Partition1
(I refused to work when called "fixmbr C:")
* fixboot
(before successful fixmbr I received "failed to write new boot record")
* chkdsk /p
(worked for half an hour or so and in 4th phase 50% said that there's one or more unrecoverable errors)
I didn't get rid of the BSOD (UNMOUNTABLE_BOOT_VOLUME). The only result is that NTFS-Reader (see above) hangs up already when trying to browse the first HDD. I guess this fixmbr/fixboot combo was a mistake in my case (though widely recommended).

New RAID drivers from MSI - I'm only able to load them during WinXP CD booting for the recovery console. They are not for MS-DOS.

A bunch of other diagnostic/recovery software without any success (e.g. testdisk). The problem is that it's not a single drive but a RAID array. For this reason too I cannot just take the disk out of my box and put it into my friend's box.

So what could be the problem?
2.1) Defrag messed up the filesystem
probably not (or not the only problem here):
- RAID BIOS should still report two HDDs with the same size, right?
- should be repairable with fixmbr/fixboot/chkdsk

2.2) broken RAID array (the Defrag/Excel combination was just a coincidence)
- what the hell broke it?
- is it ok to remove the array in RAID BIOS and recreate it without
initialization? Will it bring the data back to life? I've read this suggestion somewhere but I'm too scared to do it.

2.3) physical HDD failure
- how do I find out if this is really the case?
- any chance of saving at least some data from the other disk?

2.4) anything else
- bad memory - I found forum posts seriously mentioning experiencing this STOP error together with bad memory. Unfortunately I have only one memory stick and I don't believe it to be the memory because memtest found nothing.
- bad motherboard
- bad power
...again, how do I find out if this is really the case?

My plans to try:
Knoppix 3.9 (I hope Mr. Knopper added SATA support) + ntfsfix (I have the src and hope to compile it)

Maxtor MaxBlaster - I don't quite understand what is this 100 MB thing good for...

Hard Drive Mechanic trial - recommendation of a friend of mine

Congratulations for reading the whole story. Any suggestions?
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