Data Recovery Basics on RAID ArraysAuthor: Justin Tanker
Recovering data from RAID arrays tends to be more difficult than recovering data from a single hard drive - due to the complexity of the array. RAID data arrays can involve several hard drives and any one of those drives can cause your entire system to crash, taking with it your most valuable data.
This is one instance where the help of a data recovery specialist can be invaluable given the complicated nature of the array. Most data recovery service providers offer a free evaluation of your system to determine the likelihood of recovery and an estimate of the costs required to retrieve your data. Calling a professional might be the difference between being able to recover your files or losing them forever.
Reasons for RAID Data Loss
Your RAID array can fail and lose data for a number of reasons. Here are some of the most common problems that your array can encounter.
The RAID controller is the hardware component that manages all of the physical devices of your system and allows the system to interpret them as logical units. When the controller fails, you can't access these logical units and you won't be able to access your data.
Accidental Deletion of Files and Directories.
Accidental deletion of your files is a common cause of data loss from RAID arrays. It can also lead to the data being overwritten, which makes the data very difficult or impossible to recover.
Circuit Board Damage.
Circuit board damage is another common problem that can prevent the drives in your array from functioning as they should. In many cases this can be fixed by replacing the defective part and your data has a good chance of being recovered.
If the read/write heads on one of the disks in your array come into contact with the platter, it can scratch or damage the platter and eliminate the data stored on the damaged section of the platter.
The hard drives in your array are sensitive devices and are easily damaged by physical shock, excess heat or moisture and general wear and tear.
If your system manages to pick up a virus it can cause one of your hard drives to fail, which can take down the rest of your system along with it.
Adding a Failed Drive to Your Array.
If you add a drive to your array that has failed or is defective in some way, it can adversely affect the other drives in your system as well.
What to do to Protect Your Data
If you suspect that your RAID array has suffered a data loss incident or may be about to fail, there are steps you can take to make sure that the situation doesn't get any worse. Unfortunately it's common for computer users to keep trying different things to fix these types of problems on their own – without being informed about what the problem really is. The reality is that almost anything you do after your array has been damaged will increase the level of damage and make things worse. It's always best to consult with a professional data recovery service if you suspect that your RAID array has been damaged or compromised. Here are a few quick tips:
- If you hear any rattling, grinding or other strange noises coming from one of your drives, shut your system down immediately and get professional advice. Continuing to run your computer in this state will lead to further damage and possibly permanent loss of your data.
- Avoid running volume repair utilities is the file system seems to be un-mountable. Sometimes repair utilities can cause files to be overwritten or generate other problems if your system has already been compromised.
- Don't run defragmenter routines if you're having problems with your drives. These can cause further problems and possibly prevent your data from being recovered.
- Most importantly, make sure you backup your critical data on a regular basis and store the files off-site if possible. Storing data off-site ensures that your data will not be subject to loss due to environmental factors such as fire, flooding, electrical problems or theft that would damage your actual RAID.
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Data Recovery Specialist