NAS Data Recovery Services

Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices are becoming more and more popular not only in enterprises, but also in medium-sized and smaller companies. Compared to servers on Intel platform, they are inexpensive, consume less electricity, and are easier to maintain even for a less experienced person. ACE Data Recovery has proven experience in recovering data not only from enterprise class storage systems such as DELL-EMC, HP, IBM but also from popular smaller appliances like those from Synology, Drobo, QNAP, Buffalo, Netgear, WD and others.

Most NAS devices use various types of “smart” RAIDs for fault tolerance and data storage. Many manufacturers of NAS devices offer their own RAID management systems, which allow users to combine hard drives from different brands into rather complex RAID systems, without much knowledge of the RAID technology itself. This creates additional difficulties in data recovery, as it requires an individual approach to arrays of drives from different manufacturers.

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A majority of the commercial NAS devices run on customized versions of Linux and differ from regular computers because they do not have video outputs, and it is impossible to connect a keyboard and mouse to them. Therefore, that makes it impossible for data recovery programs to use direct access to disk space. That’s why ACE Data Recovery creates disk images, as professionals always do, using ZCOPY technology, and performs all data recovery operations from said images.

In its simplest form, the NAS consists of one or two hard drives and a network controller controlled by a Linux-based operating system. More complex devices consist of a file server with a disk array of 24 or more disks combined into RAID arrays (RAID 0, RAID 10, RAID 5, RAID 6 or ZRAID). The most commonly used file systems are Ext4, BTRFS, XFS, and ZFS.

NAS Recovery - Any Size, Any File System

In case of large capacity disks (often dozens of terabytes), any classical partition table handled by LVM won’t work. To ensure safety, ACE Data Recovery needs to evaluate the status of each drive in order to select the best methods for creating sector-by-sector copies. Making full copies is a compulsory step, although sometimes it doesn’t seem as important and is considered by some to be a process that only delays the data recovery procedure.

NAS Appliances data recovery

For partitions consisting of one segment, the procedure for assembling arrays will not be any different from finding partitions on a regular RAID array. In the case of volumes with a lost (and often rewritten!) LVM partitions tables, which consists of 2 or more fragments, additional steps will be required:

  • Building a map of logical volumes consisting of one segment by recording the range of sectors occupied by the volume on the partition.
  • Building a partition map of the first segments of fragmented volumes – it is necessary to accurately identify the location of the section break. This procedure is much simpler if the exact extent size used by LVM is known, but significant resources and special skills are required if the table is lost.

Specific features of NAS-technologies make it possible to operate without a specialized RAID controller. Data processing, work of the operating system, and network connections are performed by the device itself and its processor. And this excessive system load is the direct cause of the most problems associated with NAS-drives.

Speaking of the shortcomings of NAS-storage, we can easily make a list of which problems tend to be the most significant:

  • Firstly, the system does not have a very high reliability. An ordinary reboot after flashing the device may result in data loss from the disk space of the drive.
  • NAS systems can become corrupt due to power failure, voltage fluctuations or overvoltage. RAID arrays inside the NAS are particularly vulnerable, as voltage fluctuations can cause individual disks to be out of sync resulting in a degraded or failed RAID array.
  • Also, the human factor should never be underestimated. The simplicity and ease of use of the NAS make them very popular, but often lead to problems that can’t be solved by inexperienced, non tech-savvy users.

Many of the NAS servers are equipped with recovery functionality, but it is applicable only to restoring various hardware and software components of the device itself. It can’t be used to restore user files. Therefore, a professional approach and professional tools are required here, which by definition, cannot be utilized by the ordinary user.

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Network-attached storage (NAS) is a file-level (as opposed to block-level storage) computer data storage server connected to a computer network providing data access to a heterogeneous group of clients. NAS are accessible over a network using an Ethernet connection and file protocols like SMB/CIFS (Server Message Block/Common Internet File System) or NFS (Network File System).

NAS is popular way of creating network file shares within an organization, where authorized personnel often collaborate on the same files or other forms of business information. It can also be used to keep a backup of files in case a local drive gives out and consolidate multimedia libraries, among other use cases where storing and trading files over a local network comes in handy.

Typically, the more high-end the NAS system, the more RAID configuration options are available. High end systems for larger organizations from the likes of Dell EMC, HPE, and NetApp offer a plethora of RAID options that storage administrators can use to meet their file storage capacity, performance and data protection requirements. NAS appliances can utilize RAID technologies, they work well together or completely apart in many cases. Home and enterprise users can create a RAID configurations unless they choose a JBOD (just a bunch of disks) mode.

Performance wise, components that was used to build NAS will define overall performance:

  • CPU: budget NAS devices will have low-end processors while enterprise NAS systems are often powered by server grade processors like Intel's line of Xeon CPUs.
  • RAM: low-end NAS devices can get by with meager amounts of RAM, while high-end systems can offer gigabytes worth of memory to cache up file operations.
  • Drives: opting for enterprise NAS grade derives will ensure they deliver reliably fast performance with better read/write speeds and better throughput rates. For the ultimate in performance, some vendors like Dell EMC or Synology offer all-flash NAS arrays outfitted with fast SSDs (solid-state drives).

In a RAID configuration, performance characteristics are governed by the quality and type of hard drives used, type of RAID controller and the RAID level selected. A RAID-6 implementation will deliver good read speed while write speeds suffer somewhat because the RAID array needs to store and manage parity information to provide fault tolerance, for example.

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