How to recover Network Attached Storage [2023] – 2 ways

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This article is written by Norma Woods 2023/06/09

The article approved by Elena Pakhomova

Network Attached Storage (NAS) is a stand-alone device used to store large amount of data. Typically, a NAS device uses the Linux operating system and RAID storage technology. You can find more information about RAID array types used in NAS devices on this page - RAID Types .

Basically, NAS is a typical computer without peripheral components. Mechanically, a consumer-grade NAS is built on a board with the processor, RAM, and flash memory. Since the NAS is based on Linux, this device is flexible in term of settings. More or less any NAS at least supports hot disk swapping and allows to create different RAID levels.

Since a NAS is a Linux-based storage, in case of NAS failure, it makes sense to connect the drives or their clones to a Linux PC and see what it brings. Obviously, this doesn't always work, for example, due to:

  • RAID metadata or filesystem damage,
  • incompatibility of file systems.

Common NAS failures

Failures in NAS devices are not much different from failures of regular Windows or Linux RAID servers.

Typical NAS failures include:

  • Partial disk failure. For example, a lot of bad sectors appear on one of the disks. Often the NAS can start to choke on bad sectors and behave like a non-functional device. This is resolved by identifying a failed disk and replacing it. This case does not include data recovery per se.
  • A severe disk failure that exceeds the fault tolerance of the array. This also includes any disk failure in RAID 0 or JBOD because these types of arrays are not redundant. Obviously, before you can recover the data you need to repair the minimum number of disks required for a particular RAID level. For a RAID 5, you can lose one of the disks, for a RAID 6 – two, but for a RAID 0 you need all the disks.
  • NAS motherboard failure. In this case you need to use data recovery software.
  • Another hardware RAID or NAS failure scenario is when the wrong drive is pulled out by mistake when replacing a failed drive in RAID5. The controller or NAS marks the array as failed because the allowed number of faulty disks has been exceeded. Sometimes it is impossible to force a controller to include a healthy disk back in the array, that's why data recovery is nedeed. Typically, chance of successful data recovery in case of such a failure is high.
  • Damage or deletion of RAID metadata. In some cases, a new empty RAID may be created on top of the original one. If the metadata is too corrupted, you need to perform a RAID recovery using a special software like ReclaiMe Free RAID Recovery.
  • Formatted filesystem.
  • Deleted files.

Two ways to recover NAS data

NAS devices use two levels of data storing – the RAID level that is responsible for the way of writing data to disks and calculation of checksums needed for redundancy and the filesystem level that is responsible for the way data is stored. If your RAID is not destroyed, for instance, you are dealing with a failed NAS box, or with a formatted filesystem, then you should take the following steps:

  1. Turn off your NAS device and pull the disks out. Label the the drives according to the bays you removed them from. This must be done so that you do not accidentally mix up the order of the disks, because if you mix it up, it will destroy the RAID configuration when you insert them back to the NAS box and turn it on.
  2. disconnect NAS disks
  3. Connect all the NAS disks to a Windows computer. It is preferable to connect them directly to a motherboard via SATA. However, a NAS device can be built over 5 or 6 or even more drives, and the motherboard can just lack free SATA ports: in such a case, you can use USB-to-SATA adapters.
    How to connect the NAS disks to a PC directly How to connect the NAS disks to a PC via USB
  4. Download, install and run ReclaiMe NAS data recovery software.
  5. Select your NAS volume and start the scan. Typically, you will find the NAS partition underthe BTRFS section or Linux md-raid or Linux LVM section.
  6. Select NAS volume
  7. Wait till ReclaiMe File Recovery displays the recovered files and then check the recovery result using the Preview function. Notice that you do not have to wait till 100% of the scan, in most cases 5–10% is enough for ReclaiMe to recover all the data.
    Check the quality of the recovery in ReclaiMe
  8. Purchase a license key, activate the software, and save the recovered files. Note that unlike many other data recovery software, ReclaiMe license key is a lifetime and can be used on as many computers as you own.

Described actions are common recommendations for all NAS types. But NAS devices from different manufacturers have some differences. We made tutorials for the most popular NAS devices:

Also note that if you need to recover accidentally deleted files from the NAS device, you do not have to pull the disks out, just run ReclaiMe software directly on your NAS. However, one should not expect a high scanning speed. You can learn how to recover deleted NAS data on this page.

If you are dealing with a destroyed RAID configuration, the recovery process will be a little more complicated, because in addition to recovering files, first you must restore the array configuration. To recover the array parameters, you also need to remove the disks from the NAS and connect them to a PC. However, before using ReclaiMe software, you should use ReclaiMe Free RAID Recovery software. So, here is the course of actions in case of RAID recovery:

  1. Run ReclaiMe Free RAID Recovery software.
  2. Select all NAS disks and press Start RAID 0 or Start RAID 5, or Start RAID 6 or other RAIDs button, depending on what type of array was used.
  3. Wait till the software stops analyzing all metadata and provides you the result. The result of the software work is not files but the array parameters, such as:
    • - disk order,
    • - block size,
    • - start offset and others.
  4. Click Run ReclaiMe to recover data. If ReclaiMe File Recovery is already installed, it will start in the RAID recovery mode, otherwise, the software installation process will begin.
  5. Scan reconstructed RAID and check the quality of file recovery.

You can find more information about the RAID recovery on the web-site - ReclaiMe Free RAID Recovery

All the steps on video

NAS Recovery Feedback

I accidently deleted files off my NAS…

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Does a good job

I used ReclaiMe to restore deleted files from an accidentally factory-reset Buffalo Linkstation running Raid0. Overall, it did what it claimed to do, which was locate and restore files not overwritten after the reset. There was some weirdness in the results, such as 10GB shortcut files, JPEGS being identified as DOCX, etc. The search filters are surprisingly robust. They could do with a bit more granulation in functionality, but overall they helped me filter out erroneously discovered files.

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Reclaime saved 1TB of my data from NAS…

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overall user rating - 4.8

You can see more reviews about ReclaiMe software on the Trustpilot site.

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