How to Recover Data from a Failed NAS Appliance

Paul Mah

We all know that storage drives are prone to failure, and accordingly, SMBs implement regular backups or redundant physical drives to protect themselves from data loss.

RAID, or redundant array of independent drives, is a widely adopted technology that uses multiple hard disk drives to offer redundancy and avoid downtime. Depending on the chosen configuration, data is either mirrored or spread across multiple drives in such a way that it can survive the failure of one or more storage drives simultaneously.

Today, the technology is natively supported by most operating systems, and also implemented in affordable network-attached storage (NAS) appliances. But what happens when the NAS appliance itself fails, either due to buggy firmware or an irreparable hardware component?

In most cases, this means that the data will be spread across multiple disks. When that happens, plugging individual HDDs into a PC will not work, and attempting to reuse the disk drives in a new NAS may cause it to reinitialize them – thereby destroying the existing data.

It is due to these challenges that the traditional advice for NAS recovery is to send it in to a data recovery vendor. Times have changed, though, and tools do exist to help cash-strapped small businesses to extract data from RAID volumes themselves.

One such tool is the ReclaiMe Free RAID Recovery tool from data recovery expert ReclaiMe. Unlike other solutions that will only work with NAS appliances made by certain vendors, ReclaiMe says that its free RAID recovery tool will work with a long list of NAS, including those from Buffalo, Iomega, Synology, Thecus, NETGEAR, QNAP and even Drobo (only if all the HDDs are of the same size), among others.

To be clear, all HDDs must be removed from the failed NAS and plugged into a working Windows PC for the tool to do its magic. Note that any damage at the file system level will require the use of data recovery software to fix.

If you are thinking of going this route, below are some pointers you will want to take note of:

  • Power down the recovery PC completely prior to disconnecting or connecting HDDs.
  • It is a good idea to clearly label the disk drive according to the drive bay number in the NAS.
  • Recovered data should always be saved onto a separate storage drive.
  • Allocate plenty of time for this; don’t expect it to be completed quickly.

And if you’d like a visual, I found a video put together by ReclaiMe demonstrating the process of recovering data from a RAID system.

Subscribe to our Newsletters

Sign up now and get the best business technology insights direct to your inbox.


Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Aug 2, 2013 8:19 AM Roy Roy  says:
I am currently using Recover Data RAID recovery services but I think this is the best one.... Reply
Aug 10, 2013 6:27 AM Tommson Tommson  says:
sounds great, i didnt know this one. i use minitool power data recovery all the time. guess i should try something new. Reply
Aug 27, 2013 7:34 AM Space Center Systems Space Center Systems  says:
I like the helpful info you provide in your articles. I’ll bookmark your blog and check again here frequently. I’m quite certain I’ll learn plenty of new stuff right here! Good luck for the next! Recover Data from Hard Disk Reply
Jun 25, 2014 7:45 AM Michael Douglas Michael Douglas  says:
Well in this case i agree that drive is really prone to failure and you will not know when this scenario will happen so for me i encourage peeps to have a backup especially your important files. And if your drive failed or damaged and then you forgot to backup, As stated in this article RAID recovery is really helpful whenever you want to recover files from your damaged hard drive. Raid recovery is a powerful recovery process in regaining your important data and this is performed by experts and professionals. Reply
Aug 23, 2014 5:03 PM Billy Marshall Billy Marshall  says:
Pau, you left out a very crucial part of recovering data from a NAS device, or in the case of a NAS failure. The very first step is (after labeling the drives) to make a bit level clone of each drive. I cannot stress the importance of not working of the original drives. Once that is done you need to figure out how the failure happened to know what you are working with. Billy Marshall SERT Data Recovery http://www.sertdatarecovery.com/raid-recovery/nas-data-recovery Reply
Jun 24, 2016 11:59 AM David David  says:
Recovering data is a big hassle work. I am really impressed with your post. You have mentioned all the details to recover data in a very profound manner. Even a non tech savvy or a person from a non hardware field can recover their lost data to some extent. Thank you for sharing such a valuable post with us. Reply
Jun 30, 2016 6:28 AM Phil Roon Phil Roon  says:
Very nice RAID systems is a common for such storage systems - but now this is yesterday, i Think, and you may know about any kind of issues as a minus of this traditional type of storage. But i thinks we no need to be afraid of our data - new SSD storages has another level of safety and don't falls like previous. It's good, i think, don't it? Reply
Jan 15, 2017 3:13 PM Pierre Pommier Pierre Pommier  says:
What if the controller breaks and you do not have everything as a offline copy? Can you simply buy a new NAS in RAID5 and then put the disks back into the new system? Reply
Jun 1, 2018 8:33 AM Kyle Johnson Kyle Johnson  says:
In my case only Stellar Phoenix Windows Data Recovery-Technician was able to recover the lost RAID partitions. This brilliant software managed to recover close 98% of all the data. Reply
Oct 10, 2018 11:00 AM hard disk price in dubai hard disk price in dubai  says:
I faced some issue in recovering the data from Failed NAS Appliance and did not know how to get the solution. But when I searched websites and found your website then I must say you provide good information. Reply
Jan 3, 2019 8:47 AM etechca etechca  says:
Thanks for sharing Reply
Feb 14, 2019 9:09 AM Mohammad Hassan Mohammad Hassan  says:
This is a nice post. RAID systems are common for such storage systems. Thanks for sharing this useful information. Reply

Post a comment





(Maximum characters: 1200). You have 1200 characters left.




Subscribe Daily Edge Newsletters

Sign up now and get the best business technology insights direct to your inbox.

Subscribe Daily Edge Newsletters

Sign up now and get the best business technology insights direct to your inbox.