RAID Data Recovery – How It Works

April 16, 2018

Data recovery

RAID data recovery is probably one of the most complex processes any data recovery firm can perform. More often than not, the problems are compounded by the actions of the client prior to sending the drives in for recovery. Many users feel that it is important to try and recover the data themselves or repair the array through various system utilities, and this may be fine if the data is not critical. However, it has been our experience that when you have a RAID failure that has resolved in substantial data loss, more often than not, somebody's job is on the line if that data is not recovered. The largest piece of advise this article can provide in the event of a RAID failure: LEAVE IT ALONE.

IT professionals have a lot of pressure placed on them when a catastrophic system failure occurs. It is their job to make sure that all systems are up and running. Many times, out of panic, troubleshooting processes are initiated in order to correct the problem. Often times these processes only make a bad situation even worse, and in many instances they can render the data unrecoverable. Let's keep in mind what this data can consist of in an average corporate environment. You are probably dealing with information that cost many hundreds of thousands of dollars in labor and resources to create. Much of the data probably can not be duplicated. The intellectual value alone could have been in the many millions of dollars. Corporate executives really do not care to hear about how the failure occurred, or what unbelievable string of events led up to the server crashing. They do not care to hear the technical jargon as you try to explain to them what happened, and hope they understand that it was not your fault. They only want to know one thing … "Why was this data not backed up, and how can we get it back?"

Instead of taking chances on your own, call a data recovery professional. RAID data recovery can be expensive, but in most cases it is much less costly than trying to recreate the data that has been lost. There is a set procedure that most data recovery professionals follow when it comes to performing any recovery work. These procedures are followed and expanded upon when dealing with a RAID recovery. The first step of any RAID recovery is to make sure all of the drives are functional. In order to properly complete the recovery it is essential that all drives are fully functional (this is especially true with a RAID 0). This may involve taking any physically damaged drives into the clean room, in order to make the necessary repairs so that they function normally again. Once that is completed the next step is to make complete, sector-by-sector clones of every drive. This is not "Ghosting", but a very low-level process that allows the recovery technician to work around bad sectors, and have complete control over how the drive functions. During the cloning process, the original source drive that you sent in, is generally put in a "write protect" mode so that no data can be written to the drive. This insures that the original source data is not altered in any way.

Once the cloning process is complete, the original drives you sent in are set off to the side and are no longer touched. The actual recovery process is performed on the cloned copies, so nothing that is done during recovery can make the situation worse. After the drives are cloned, they will be loaded into an emmulator and destriped. Destriping is like taking the scattered pieces of a puzzle and putting them together neatly. Simply stated, destriping is taking the data scattered among the multiple drives that make up array and placing it onto a single destination drive. From there we have a single drive in which we can complete what we would consider to be a "normal" recovery. We can complete this process even at the multi-terrabyte level. If the damage to the stripe is not too severe, in most cases a complete rebuild of the directory structure and all associated data can be completed.

As mentioned earlier, RAID data recovery can be expensive. Depending on the company you contact the prices can vary considerably. Typically a RAID recovery can be priced anywhere from $ 800 to $ 3,000 per drive. A number of factors influence the cost, such as RAID type, file system, total size, situation of failure, etc. Many times attempt fees and assessment fees are charged if the data is unrecoverable. This is understandable due to the amount of time and resources required to perform a single RAID recovery. However, in most cases the costs involved in recovering the data are not even 1% of the data's overall value. If you are reading this article and you have not suffered a RAID failure, what are you waiting for? Back up your data NOW.

16 Comments

  • Shams Tabrez Khan April 16, 2018 at 8:54 pm

    Greetings !
    Sir,
    I have a Seagate GoFlex External 500GB 2.5" HDD.
    It stopped detecting and I watched a couple of videos on youtube that talked about same buzzing sounds that said the cause to be "a struck head within it".
    And I followed those videos and opened it up and literally found the Head was stuck.
    Very carefulluy without touching the platter i released it and re-assembled it.
    Then it started making a clicking sound this time.
    My question is, did I make an irreversible damage to the data that was there on it just by opening the case and subjecting the platter to the normal ambient room light ? Was it the biggest mistake ?
    I then went to local Computer market and Data-Recovery guys say that as I have opened it all the data that was there is just gone for ever.
    Please tell me is that true ??? Please answer me sir.

    S.T.Khan
    redeye.keeper@gmail.com

  • Barry Yang April 16, 2018 at 8:54 pm

    What happens if the heads are damaged and resetting the head and letting everything spin causes more damage? Isn't the risk kind of high if you don't do a head swap and just go head with a read without knowing for sure whether the stuck heads are damaged or not?

  • Karlee Chadwick April 16, 2018 at 8:54 pm

    This video is disappointing, everybody can remove screws and reinstall them, and everybody knows these drives are delicate….I am no more informed now than I was before I saw the video. This video is like those videos where you go there thinking its a how to video and then rather than the video that a person was expecting, it instead starts playing Rick Astley singing "never gonna give you up…" You've been rick rolled! Disappointing in this uninformative video really….why even put a video up if you aren't going to show what the video says its supposed to show? Thumbs down!

  • Stuff1646 April 16, 2018 at 8:54 pm

    My Westdarn digital laptop drive 1TB, The heads have got stuck to the platter because the laptop fell off the table.

    Good video anyway though 🙂

  • CYVstudio April 16, 2018 at 8:54 pm

    Hello Sir. great video, I'm having problem with my 2TB WD passport drive Ultra just stopped working when is connected to my computer it will only show in disk utility and the partition its unreadable and I will get a message saying ( not volumes found) and i will hear a clicking no frequently its happen about every 30 seconds or longer. any idea?  here's my direct email newagtfree@hotmail.com I do have some important files in this drive will appreciate any help and donate to the person that help me to get those data back. thanks

  • Tab Valentino April 16, 2018 at 8:54 pm

    The part they don´t want to show you is the easiest part of all. Un-sticking the arm. Just Spin the platter counterclockwise and move the arm back towards the parking position. Any idiot can do it. 

  • Cam Kirk April 16, 2018 at 8:54 pm

    this is an amazing video

  • prasanth cena April 16, 2018 at 8:54 pm

    hi thanks

  • Christopher Ryan April 16, 2018 at 8:54 pm

    had any cases with a drive drop and the spindle motor is seized where it would require a platter transplant to a donor drive? I assume that is probably more expensive than say a head swap… I know seagate, and maxtor is probably very prone to bearing seizures especially when the drive is dropped.

  • Nolan Kriegel April 16, 2018 at 8:54 pm

    For a professional video this it terrible, sound has so much noise it is extremely hard to decipher what is being said..

  • SimplyChrist037 April 16, 2018 at 8:54 pm

    Hello! I've opened up my hard drive (WD 1TB), and seeing the head are just fine. No stucking. When I plug in power to it, when the head start to read, it keeps on kicking back to its original position,producing constant beeping on my HD. Can you give some advice about this? Thanks. 🙂

  • Jose Francisco Medeiros April 16, 2018 at 8:54 pm

    Interesting Video, I am not aware of the program that you are using. What's your opinion on Spinrite by GRC software?

  • Karol Baum April 16, 2018 at 8:54 pm

    Hi! Thanks for your instructive video! I have a Toshiba 2.5", 320 GB internal HDD. Actually,is the main drve of my laptop. Nothing happened to the computer: no 

    damages of any kind. But the disk stopped working. I heard a clicking noise. I oppened the drive. It is a 2 plates,4 heads drive, I connected it and I saw: perfect plates, 

    moving step by step (like moved by a step by step motor, right?). And the heads fixed outside the plates, I mean without touching the plates at all. Could you please advise 

    me on this issue? (May be the heads are damaged and the disk has any kind of protection (¿?) to avoid the heads damaging the plates….¿?)

  • LennonScript126 April 16, 2018 at 8:54 pm

    Excuse me but I have a damaged head on my 320gb hard drive. It has only one platter but I got awful finger prints all over it. And the heads bounce back, forth, and then the hard drive stops on a brief period, then kicks back on in a minute. Its the exact same model except: WD3200BEVT-60A23T0. I damaged them by accident, but when it was fine and healthy, the hard drive will unfortunately NOT format. Rip my 3 year old loyal working drive :' (

  • ACS Data Recovery April 16, 2018 at 8:54 pm

    Sure. What's the problem?

  • William Oliveira April 16, 2018 at 8:54 pm

    Hello, I would to know if you can help me with a problem on my hard drive?

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