The RAID 5 recovery story

I lost my valuable RAID 5 setup on my main computer earlier in the year and didn’t spend too much time trying to fix it since then, but safe to say that I was able to match the drives correctly and recover all the disks without corruption! I almost felt a little bit like hacking doing the whole check sum analysis using the recovery software. First picture I recovered was of my Lee from our Hawaii trip last year just to make sure the image came through.

My photos recovered which included family photos.

I did a stupid thing that goes against all the IT rules. Backup, backup, backup. I rebuilt my gaming computer at the begging of this year and to do it, I scrapped my separate data server computer that I used as a NAS for all of the computers in my house. I had it setup to network backup essential files and once in a while, I would transfer large media files from photo and video gigs to the server, which account to hundreds of gigs every year. From this server, I had a RAID 5 for storage and RAID 1 for essential files that I didn’t want to loose, which the RAID 5 also had for file redundancy and I had lots of space.

I wanted to scrap the server because I really didn’t need to have it and simply my data backup so I setup a RAID 5 using newer 5TB drives on my main box, copied everything over and dismantled the server; putting those drives in my current PC as well with two additional PCI-E SATA expansion cards. I currently have 14 hard drives including 4 SSD’s in the case plus 3 external storage drives as backup.

During the move consolidated all the data to my enormous RAID 5 disk array and was planning to sift through it to merge any duplicates down. Then I kind of forgot to finish that and didn’t backup the files to the backup external drives that I had originally planned on doing until I got rid of duplicate files.

Then one day, my PC wouldn’t turn on after being on for months  at a time. I tried everything and nothing gave way, till I realized that the BIOS was bad. Good thing I have a dual BIOS motherboard and switched it; having it turn on right away. The bad news was that it messed up the RAID array so windows had no idea to detect it, but the good news that all the data was there, just need to do a recovery, but RAID recovery is expensive and I held off on it till I had more time to recover 12 years of files.

I tried 10 different RAID software and 2 of them sort of worked, but not really. One found some files with maybe a 60% corruption rate and the other one found all the files, but the file system was out of wack so it just dropped all the files into a single folder. We are talking about Terabytes of data, probably in the range of over a million files. The last software was UFS Explorer and tried it last because they are the most expensive, but it found my files after doing some initial check sum analysis to make sure it found the file system structure and was as simple as copy and paste, although it took a few days to do that.

Everything I checked so far has been 100% perfect so I’m happy.

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