ReFS Recovery

ReFS, standing for Resilient FileSystem is a new filesystem developed by Microsoft. ReFS will be first used in Windows 8 Server and then probably in Windows Home edition. In fact, ReFS is designed to eventually replace the popular NTFS filesystem.

Errors associated with ReFS

When Windows cannot access a ReFS volume, it displays the following error message:

Location is not available. X:\ is not accessible. The volume repair was not successful.

How to recover data from ReFS

The first thing you face when dealing with ReFS failure is that CHKDSK tool known to all the Windows users doesn't work with ReFS. If you launch CHKDSK on a volume formatted to ReFS, you get the following message:

The type of the filesystem is ReFS.
The ReFS file system does not need to be checked.

The fact that according to the design, ReFS checks and auto-corrects data on its own. So the only way to check ReFS is to try to actually read the file. If there is something wrong with the file or folder, the ReFS driver is trying to correct the damage immediately. If the correction fails, the damaged part is isolated, theoretically, without affecting the remaining "healthy" part. If you cannot fix the damage by means of the filesystem driver, you need to recover data using ReFS-capable data recovery software.

  1. Download ReclaiMe File Recovery, a tool that can recover ReFS.
  2. Install the tool as you regularly do with any other software.
  3. Launch ReclaiMe File Recovery and select a ReFS volume for the analysis.
  4. Within 3% of scan ReclaiMe File Recovery displays the recovered data. Check the files and folders and if you are satisfied with the result, click the Save button and start copying data; otherwise, wait to see if more data is recovered.

What to expect from ReFS recovery

ReFS filesystem uses the copy on write feature. This means that when it is required to edit a filesystem entry, the ReFS driver doesn't modify the original entry, but instead it copies the entire entry along with all the required changes to a new location. Once copying is successfully completed, all the internal filesystem links are modified to point to the new version of entry, not the old one. This avoids problems with a partial write, a phenomenon when due to power failure only part of the large filesystem structure is written. A side effect of the copy on write is that old versions of objects are lying all around on disk. From data recovery point of view, it is a huge plus; the previous versions of objects which are abundant on the disk greatly increase the chances of successful data recovery. Even if the latest versions are destroyed, it is still possible that some of the earlier versions of the object will be good for recovery.

Note to early adopters

Based on experience with the other filesystems, probably you should not trust your data to ReFS until at least the end of 2013. By that time, the others will have experienced all the possible errors and failures, and most likely you will get pretty bug-free filesystem.

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