NAS Data Recovery: What to Do When NAS Fails

Feb 16, 2017

Collaboration and easy access to information from virtually any location has nearly become a staple in the business world today. Whether it’s for a company full of employees working in house, a business with remote employees needing access off site, or a single professional with needing to leverage a large amount of data conveniently, there is one excellent solution that has become a standard today—Network-Attached Storage (NAS).

NAS has gained a great amount of popularity over the years, and has consequently become increasingly reliable and easy to use. Even so, this convenient technology is just as subject to failure as any other. All it takes is a user error or some other technical malfunction, and NAS is vulnerable to damage that can sever users from their data, sometimes permanently. The best way to avoid such a problem is to understand how NAS works, and learn what to do in the event of a failure.

NAS is like a private cloud for data storage

Rather than functioning as an operating computer that can manage files or perform authentication, NAS is simply a shared repository where data can be stored and accessed by users on a network. It is a standalone server without a connected computer, which is part of what can make data recovery a challenge in the event of a failure. It is made up of a control board that provides access to the data via the network, and a number of disks across which the data is stored.

Most NAS options today are relatively similar, though the data layout, features, firmware, and settings will vary according to the provider. The disks are usually organized into a complex RAID system, such as RAID0, RAID5, RAID10, or some other variation. It is also possible that a NAS system will use an individual drive instead of RAID. The type of disk configuration will determine what can cause a failure and how NAS data recovery can be achieved.

What causes NAS to fail?

NAS is a very reliable solution for shared access to a large amount of data via a local network, but it is still possible for it to go down and cut off access to the files stored upon it. Data loss on a NAS can occur for a number of reasons, including the following:

  • Accidental disk reformatting
  • Accidental file deletion
  • Bad firmware update
  • Boot failure
  • Controller failure
  • Data corruption
  • Disk failure
  • Electrical damage
  • Firmware crash
  • NAS link loss
  • Offline array

Some of these are user errors that can occur if a person makes a mistake while working with the NAS. For example, downloading a bad firmware update can reset the embedded RAID settings. Other problems are mechanical failure, like when disks go bad, or the power goes out and corrupts data. It’s important to determine what problem has occurred before taking any action. Reacting too quickly or trying the wrong fix can result in the disks being rewritten, which eliminates the existing data and makes NAS data recovery impossible.

In fact, for most people the correct action is to shut everything down properly and disconnect it. After doing so, it’s important to document everything about the failure that can be determined, such as what may have caused it, whether any hardware was damaged, and whether any action was taken after the failure before shutting the system down.

Failed NAS devices should be taken to a file recovery specialist

NAS data recovery can be very complex and involved, which is why most people with this problem turn to data recovery professionals for help. An expert data recovery service can consult with the NAS owner to find out what the problem is and let them know whether data recovery is a viable solution. Then the NAS can be physically brought in to the recovery service center to be analyzed by professionals.

After the analysis, the recovery experts can provide a report to the NAS owner detailing what is wrong with the device and whether the data can be recovered. If the owner agrees to begin the recovery process, the NAS will undergo the data recovery process relevent to the unique problems you each particular case. Since NAS devices are not equipped with a monitor or keyboard, plugging them into another computer is necessary to access any information that can be salvaged from them.

The NAS data recovery expert will recover all the information that can be saved from the damaged disks, and then place them on a new device of the owner’s choice, genearlly a new NAS. Once the information is recovered and copied to a new disk or drive, the owner can come pick up their data and take it back to their network for reintegration.