RAID Recovery: Buffalo Linkstation Case Study (RAID 0)

While RAID 0 offers increased capacity and better performance, it has no data redundancy – something which one of our recent clients found out the hard way when one of the drives in his Buffalo Linkstation failed.

RAID takes multiple hard disk drives and combines them into a single unit, for increased performance, capacity or redundancy. RAID 0, one of the most common RAID configurations, is used primarily for greater performance, and utilises two or more hard drives. The data is split (or “striped”) across all drives in the array, meaning there are always multiple sets of read/write heads in operation. When you need to access the files on your RAID, all of the drives in the array work in tandem, reducing load times. The downside to RAID 0 is that it doesn’t offer any redundancy, and the more hard drives in the array, the higher the chance it has of failing; essentially, you’re gambling the safety of your data for increased speed. For this reason, arrays configured to RAID 0 are best confined to two hard disk drives, as any more than that is putting the data stored on the system in danger.

The client approached us with a Buffalo Linkstation, made up of two 500GB hard disk drives, and configured to RAID 0. Following a move, the client’s RAID system was no longer recognised. A scratching noise emanating from inside the RAID’s casing suggested a physical fault with one or both of the drives. The client brought the RAID system into our Cardiff office, and after it had been booked into the system, our RAID data recovery team set to work immediately. Both drives in the array were disassembled in our ISO-4 certified Class 100 clean room, which ensured a dust-free environment. The drives’ PCB boards – responsible for communication between the computer and drives – were both tested and found to be in full working order. Similarly, there was no problem with the RAID controller in the Buffalo Linkstation. Our data recovery team then accessed the firmware, which was found to be faultless. It was soon apparent that the problem was mechanical. Unfortunately, one of the drives in the array had suffered damage to its read/write heads during the move, so a head swap was required. Luckily, though, our RAID recovery team were able to utilise the read/write heads on the working drive, since it was identical to the faulty one. With both drives imaged, we were able to reassemble the array and begin the data recovery process; all of the client’s data was recovered.

Our RAID recovery team examine dozens of RAID systems every month, with a 97% success rate. All of the arrays that we examined were evaluated within 48 hours, after which the clients were offered no-obligation quotes and file listings to weigh up whether they wanted to go ahead.

RAID Recovery