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NAS recovery

Summary

NAS (Network Attached Storage) is a multi-disk device used as a file server providing data access to a various clients. Typically, RAID technology is used to combine NAS disks into a single storage, the most common RAID layouts used are RAID0 and RAID5. Most known NAS vendors are QNAP, Buffalo, NETGEAR, LaCie, Seagate, and Synology.

NASes usually work under Linux operating system and therefore their volumes are formatted to Linux-based filesystems like EXT, XFS, and BTRFS.

NAS data recovery involves disassembling the device, connecting the drives to a PC directly, and using NAS data recovery software like ZAR or other NAS recovery software (check the detailed comparison of most known NAS data recovery tools).

Note that before you start NAS recovery, you should prepare free disk space equal to the capacity of NAS you are going to recover to copy the recovered data off.

Step 1 – Disassemble a NAS and connect the disks to a PC

You need to get the disks out of a NAS unit and connect them to a PC running Windows directly. If you are not sure how to handle your particular NAS, you can search YouTube for the video instructions, typing something like

"how to get the disks out of Buffalo"

Also, do not forget to label the disks in order "what disks in what bays" so that you can return back to the original setup.

Step 2 - Get, install, and start ZAR NAS recovery software

Download and install ZAR NAS recovery software just like you do with any regular program. When you run it, ZAR displays the window like the one below:

Select NAS recovery

  1. Click "Data recovery for Windows and Linux"
Step 3 – Select a NAS volume

If NAS metadata is not severely damaged, you should see your NAS volume under the "Software RAID" section because modern NASes use RAID technology to organize data storage. Typically, NAS have several partitions where small partitions are used for NAS metadata while the large ones store user data. ZAR NAS recovery software displays all the found RAIDs but you are after the large partition(s); that's why you need to select the largest RAID.

Additionally, if you click the volume on the left, you see the detailed information about the NAS volume on the right, namely the capacity, layout, member disks. In case of missing disk involved, ZAR informs you about that. Be aware that RAID5 recovery is possible with up to one disk missing while RAID0 recovery requires all disks.

Select NAS partition

  1. Select the NAS volume. Typically it is located under the "Software RAID" section. Due to the nature of data storage in NASes, there will be several RAIDs under the section; however, you need the largest RAID.
  2. Click "Next"

If you do not see a NAS volume under "Software RAID" section, most likely NAS metadata is severely damaged and first you need to recover RAID configuration by following the instructions on the RAID recovery page.

Step 4 – NAS filesystem reconstruction

NAS recovery processing

This part of NAS data recovery is fully automatic.

Step 5 – Mark files to copy

All the recovered NAS data will be placed under the root folder named after NAS filesystem, typically it is EXT or XFS.

Select files and folders for NAS data recovery

  1. Mark files and folders to recover by clicking their corresponding checkboxes
  2. Click "Next"
Step 6 – Copy the files

Copying the recovered NAS data

  1. Enter the name of the folder for the recovered NAS data
  2. Click "Start copying" to start NAS data retrieval

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