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Network Attached Storage NAS and Other Nightmares

Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices have been a boon for storage technology.  What a great windfall for the industry.  Grab yourself an Open Source operating system, stick it on a prom, get yourself an inexpensive motherboard, some hard drives and presto chango, abbrakadabbra you got yourself a $1000.00 4 terabyte storage device that will mount on the network using a gigabyte transfer rate.  NAS is cheap, fast, and easy to setup.  However, if you have trouble with a drive, the file system, or the hardware in general, all of your valued data that is stored on your NAS device can be an agonizing nightmare to recover.  Unless you call the right company, and they have the right technicians your valued data is probably lost forever and here is why.

NAS devices come with a very nice web like interface.  It allows you to configure your NAS device, set permissions, add users, setup stores, so on and so forth.  The interface keeps track of the health of your device and has a nice log file that you can print out and look at.  However, the underpinnings of a NAS device are meant for the Linux, and BSD gurus of the world who are familiar with terms like LDM, RAIDED LDM, XFS, XFSCK, and many others that would bake your skull.  With that being said if your NAS device hiccups there is no real way to get to the device other than the web interface.  On some devices there is an RS-232 port on the back of the device that allows you access to a Linux or BSD prompt by terminaling in.  I’m not sure what good that will do you considering the file system is probably hosed to the point where it will not mount, or the RAID is degraded so badly that it will take five men and a small boy to try and get it back online.  In other words, as long as nothing goes wrong,  the device is a dream.  BUT! The minute something happens you have no control over your data, and in this industry, it is not ‘IF’ you have a crash, its ‘WHEN’.

I have written several articles on SNAP devices, the file system and how to recover your data.  I have also worked on Falconstor which is the subject of this particular article.  The following is a recovery I did without using a recovery tool.  I used Linux and some tricks to fake out the operating system, and the XFS file system handler so it would mount this four drive RAID five array and allow me to transfer data through the network.


2 Responses to “Network Attached Storage NAS and Other Nightmares”

  1. Andrew Norris April 1, 2010 1:46 am #

    My Scenario

    I have a NS 4300 4 bay Nas box from Promise.

    When i first set the machine up i was looking more for capacity than redundancy so .

    At set up i added each drive in independantly 1 drive 1 volume and the default raid setting is Raid 0 .

    2 X 1.5 tb and 2 X 1 TB dives in enclosure

    So raid zero on each Volume or disk , So not striping across all four disks but each individual disk .

    Machine ran well for 1 . 5 years .

    Until i upgraded to Win 7 and when connected the Nas Box into my Router network performance dropped drastically , so in my infinite wisdom (after reading various forums ) i reset the machine small hole back of machine to factory reset pushed with pin .

    This basically resets the machine not touching the data on the drives.

    But when the web window is opened on the device it was asking how the drive layout should be .

    And silly me added all four drives as a single volume with raid zero , the machine began to franticalluy spin red a nd green lights , 4 seconds into this realised i may be causing more problems than i bargained for so pullled the power at the back of the machine out .

    The drive have now been configured as 1 drive one volume and showing as empty.

    I have ran R Studio to analyse the disks and pretty much all the data is still there
    No data has been written to the discs , and according to lots of googling the Machine uses EXT3 as its protocol.

    Can anyone give me guidance as to how i should start the recovery process and as to what DTI software i should use ?

    Thanks in advance



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