A Firmware Affair (RAID 0 Case Study)

Firmware issues

Sometimes it is very difficult to correctly diagnose a drive: the symptoms one is facing can be confusing and can lead you in the wrong direction.

We received a RAID 0 system, made up of 2 drives. One of them was completely unresponsive, it had no sign of life when powered on.

In such situations, the first issue that comes to mind is a major PCB failure; so you have two solutions: replace it with a matching PCB that you know works, or try to repair the damaged board.

Well, this time the PCB swap didn’t help at all.

We checked all the other components and they were fine; at the end of a long process we found that the problem was in the ROM chip: the firmware had suffered a severe corruption.

The word Firmware is related to a collection of small programs, this is what “controls" the hardware to put it simply. Usually, such microprograms are stored mainly on a Read Only Memory chip and partly on the platters.

Nowadays almost all modern intelligent devices have a firmware onboard that oversees the proper functioning of the device.

Maybe you have experienced it with your digital camera or mobile phone: A Firmware upgrade results in a totally new behaviour (hopefully better) of your device.

Well, in our drives case, the FW damages prevented the PCB working at all.
Here come the real issues. Every Hard disk firmware stores some unique information, belonging to that specific drive, vital to its correct functioning: you cannot simply take a FW from another drive and overwrite it.

So, we started a real handcraft job trying to reconstruct the damaged FW modules cutting and sewing from other drives.

Our efforts have been rewarded: the customer was very pleased to be able to have his data back in fully working condition!

R3 Data Recovery is real lab that deals with real disasters each an every day. If you have RAID that has failed or any data storage device, we are the people to contact. Call us today on 0800 999 3282 for immediate help and assistance.

How To Identify RAID Devices

Synology RAID storage device

Modern storage devices come in many forms from simple USB devices that can be transported around in your pocket all the way up to network attached devices that sit next to your router or in your office accessible from your network or over the internet.

This is fine until you need data recovery and you are asked the question "is it a single hard drive or RAID device.." obviously this effects the cost of recovery.

Identifying these devices isn’t always straight forward but I hope this goes some way to explain the difference.

First of all there are a handful of vendors that regularly make multidisc RAID backup devices:

Buffalo, LaCie, NetGear and Gstore to name a few;

These devices can be large and have options on the rear of the unit for safe or large storage which is a giveaway that it’s a multidisc RAID device. The unit is heavy and bulky with lights on the front to indicate disc activity also may have the facility to remove the hard drives to upgrade the storage capacity in the future and also hints that it may be RAID.

Remember if all else fails just a simple Google search on the model will bring up the manufactures details and help guide you through some of the questions you may be asked by the data recovery company.

If we know this it can sometimes make the engineers lives easier as some manufacturers will tell you on their websites the parameters fo the model you may have. This could possibly save hours o time trying different parameters and configs and you could have your data back faster than you thought.

R3 Data Recovery is real lab that deals with real disasters each an every day. If you have RAID that has failed or any data storage device, we are the people to contact. Call us today on 0800 999 3282 for immediate help and assistance.

FreeNas RAID 5 Server Emergency Recovery (Case Study)

​The client needed help as his freeNas RAID 5 had a set of disks (4 disks) that had been formatted and needed assurance that the data will be recovered. Naturally we said that it’s most likely that we will recover the data but there may be a chance that we won’t be able to locate the data.

The client was still willing to pay the full payment before we had even started the recovery, which meant he had his complete trust in us and our work.

FreeNAS RAID5 hard disks set
  • Thursday 11:54am - Customer sending in NAS
    We agreed that we needed to get the NAS into the lab as quickly as possible so since the company is based in Rotherham, the client suggested that one of his staff members should drop the NAS off to us from Rotherham to Sheffield.

  • Thursday 16:22pm - Received NAS
    Once payment had been sorted out, one of the employees of the client arrived and dropped off the NAS. He then proceeded to give us all the information that we may need to help us with the recovery, he also filled in what his boss wanted as priority data just so that we could concentrate on that rather than the whole amount of data to speed the process along. We than booked in a took photos and noted all serial numbers of each drive.

  • Thursday 17:26pm - Diagnosis and Cloning
    Due to the fault being an issue of the drives being formatted, there was nothing wrong with the drives, we did some firmware tweaking for safety and began to clone the drive as quickly as we could.

  • Thursday 17:45pm - Client ​Advised
    At this point the client was advised that the recovery was under way and that we were cloning the drives. We also advised that there shouldn’t be anything wrong with the drives since the drives were just formatted and that there was nothing wrong with them mechanically.

  • Friday 10:00am - Cloning Complete
    All the drives had been patched and cloned 100% with no bad sectors. It was just a case of scanning the drives to check if we can visually see the data after the scans. It is also worth noting that the customer had used Recuva software on drive 1, so we concentrated on all 4 drives but we looked out for if anything was affected on drive 1 because of the Recuva software. Running data recovery software, yourself can work, the software may be able to find the data that you are looking for, but if you are unaware of how data recovery works and you begin to save your lets say deleted data to the same drive you’re recovering from this could lead to many problems as you may be possible overwriting the data you are trying to recover, which would make our job increasingly difficult and most likely impossible to do. This is why we always advice our customers not to run data recovery software as it could make the situation a lot worse than it actually is.

  • Sunday 02:04am - RAID configured and Data extracted to a 4TB external drive
    From Friday to Sunday, the transferring process was pretty straight forward, the priority data from the RAID was found after the scan and we managed to copy the data to a 4TB external drive ready for the customer to pick up Monday morning. Admittedly it was pretty tight in regards to time, as we were extremely close to the emergency service, obviously it didn’t help that we had to transfer over 3TB of data and that was quite a large part of why the recovery was longer than expected. Nevertheless, we managed to recover what the client had asked for and he and the company were pretty satisfied with the results.

​Get advice and assistance from Andy and the team at R3. R3 Data Recovery is real lab that deals with real disasters each an every day. If you have any sort of problem with a ​RAID or any data storage device, we are the people to contact. Call us today at 0800 999 3282 to get started with your unique case.