BTRFS data recovery

BTRFS is a Linux filesystem which is sometimes used in ready-made NAS devices. Starting with 2013 NETGEAR switched to BTRFS as the main filesystem in their NETGEAR ReadyNAS devices. Synology NAS vendor uses BTRFS filesystem in many devices as well. Asustor company became to use btrfs filesystem in their devices in 2023.

BTRFS has many features like copy-on-write, checksumming, and creating snapshots designed to protect against data loss. You can read more about all these functions on the website – Btrfs file system .

Despite all the reliability of the btrfs file system, you can still lose data, most probably to a software bug. So, if you cannot access the data stored on BTRFS you can try to recover data using special data recovery software - ReclaiMe which is able to read BTRFS filesystem.

How to recover data from a BTRFS partition

  1. Make sure you have enough free space on another storage or on a network to hold all the recovered data.
  2. Connect all the drives on which BTRFS was created to a desktop PC separately. It is better to connect the drives directly to the PC motherboard using SATA. This will ensure faster scanning and stable connection. However, if there are no enough SATA ports, you can still use USB to SATA adapters. You can read more information about the disk connection on this page.
  3. Download and install ReclaiMe File Recovery.
  4. Run ReclaiMe File Recovery software, select the BTRFS volume for recovery under the BTRFS section and click Start.
  5. Data recovery from a BTRFS volume
  6. The files are displayed as soon as they are discovered. In most cases there is no need to wait until the scan is finished. You can estimate the recovery result using the Preview. If images, pdf files, music and video are shown correctly in preview, most likely all other files are also good even if they are displayed in hex view.
  7. If you are satisfied with the BTRFS recovery result, buy an Ultimate license key and start to copy data.

If you can't see the BTRFS volume in ReclaiMe File Recovery, then you need to recover RAID configuration of the BTRFS volume first using ReclaiMe Free RAID Recovery software. When the parameters are determined, select Run ReclaiMe to recover data in ReclaiMe Free RAID Recovery tool and back here. Click here for detailed tutorial.

What to expect from BTRFS recovery

BTRFS uses copy-on-write feature, meaning that when you edit a file BTRFS does not delete previous data, but writes changes to the new place instead. Because of this, file fragmentation is possible, slowing down file copying. The same copy-on-write feature also leads to another difficulty - the recovery time will be quite long, since the software has to analyze different versions of files and other metadata to choose the latest one. However, in the end the recovery quality tends to be fairly good.

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