Recover data from a RAID array using Stellar Data Recovery

Data loss? No thanks! I’ll stick with good old fashion memory loss

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Losing data can not only be one of the most unfortunate events to experience, but it can also be detrimental to businesses and catastrophic for data-oriented infrastructures such as server farms. Introducing Stellar Data Recovery, which promises to prevent and even rectify events such as data loss, corruption, accidental deletion and, broken RAID arrays. Whatever your area or use case, Stellar Data Recovery keeps your servers, spreadsheets, and even your precious memories intact.

We got our hands on the Stellar Data Recovery Tool. We used the ‘Technician’ version. This package is very much geared towards businesses. However, Stellar has a range of products for individual users, which can be handy if you’re looking to rectify a case or two of accidental deletion or some pesky file corruption. 

What potential problems can occur with storage devices? 

Data, in a nutshell, is always the same. No matter where it’s stored, data ultimately is a series of binary ones and zeros at its core. There are different storage types and components that handle data slightly differently. Some even require the presence of a storage controller, which ensures the operating system can retrieve the files required correctly. 

Storage is intricate, and understanding it completely is a complicated endeavor. To put it briefly, the more components between your OS and the data, the more potential points of failure there are. USBs, Storage controllers, Hard drives are all examples of potential points of failure. 

Not only that, even reading and accessing data comes with its own dangers. The infamous “Bit-flip” happens when data in RAM is “flipped” from one to a zero or vice versa. The most common natural causes of which are Cosmic background radiation, power, and temperature fluctuations. The ”Bit-flip” subsequently causes problems ranging from minor to catastrophic. Data corruption being one of the most prevalent among them. 

It’s not a matter of if your data gets corrupted, it’s simply a matter of time. Don’t panic though, Stellar Data Recovery has the answer.

How does corrupt data recovery work? 

Data recovery software primarily utilizes two methods to recover lost or corrupted data. Metadata analysis in addition to raw data recovery. Metadata analysis is the easier and more successful recovery method by comparison. 

Metadata analysis 

Metadata is a secret hidden service that’s active within every file you have stored on a PC, phone, and even your games console. If it’s a file on a hard drive or storage device, it has metadata that is populated by essential details about the file itself. 

The metadata keeps track of a file, its location, how to access it, and its structure. This is imperative to recovery software, as the metadata can be analyzed for information about the file. Then, taking into account its structure in the metadata. The file can be rebuilt back to its original form. 

Metadata analysis is far more efficient and has much greater success than the ‘Raw’ recovery method, because metadata analysis is more accurate in nature and recovers complete, usable, and organized files as opposed to jumbled data, making it not only a preferred method but a superior one. 

Raw recovery

This method can be thought of as the backup plan, It is still extremely sophisticated and complex. But, it’s far more of a broader gambit, in comparison to the metadata method. 

Raw recovery relies mostly on tracing file signatures and patterns that indicate the beginning and end of a file, this data is then collated and restored. However, the data will often still be incomplete and unstructured as the metadata may be corrupt or absent.

With the absence of the metadata, the files will be placed into folders named most likely by the software you’re using. This will make organization and locating a specific file a nightmare, as everything will have a new name. But, at least you have the data back.

How does deleted data recovery work? 

The process of recovering deleted data sounds complex, but is very easy to understand, it’ll make you sound incredibly smart if you manage to work it into your next conversation. 

When a file is deleted, it’s not actually deleted. Rather the space that the file occupies is marked as available, the operating system will overwrite that file when it needs the extra space. 

If you manage to catch the accidental deletion before the file is overwritten, then you’re in for an easy ride. Stellar Data Recovery will just restore the file path and re-cement the file’s place on the hard drive. If the data happens to be overwritten, then it’s a little more tricky to recover. This ultimately depends on how many times it’s been overwritten. 

Thankfully, Stellar Data Recovery has got your data recovery needs covered. With the software using both ‘Raw’ and ‘Metadata’ methods in addition to few more complicated recovery tricks. Your files will be recovered, and back to normal no matter the condition. So long as you’ve not managed to somehow panic and accidentally smash a hard drive in half in the sheer onslaught of panic that you feel after you realise that the funny cat meme you loved from 2006 stops appearing in Windows Explorer. 

This can be said for almost all storage devices and configurations, SSDs, hard drives, USB sticks, even certain RAID configurations. Specifically RAID 0, 5, and 6.

What is RAID? 

We’ll only be covering one type of RAID configuration, RAID 0. With a brief mention of RAID 1 (two-way mirror). 

What is RAID 0? 

RAID 0 is a storage condition you can apply to two or more drives, often referred to as a ‘stripe set’ or ‘striped volume’ the data is split (striped) evenly between two or more volumes without redundancy, parity information or any fault tolerances. 

Since RAID 0 provides no fault tolerance whatsoever, this means that the failure or corruption of one drive will cause the entire array to fail. If the data is striped across all disks, you’ll be facing total data loss. RAID 0 is primarily useful for performance, large sets of temporary data and, creating large logical volumes out of two or more physical disks. 

RAID 0 can perform better than your average single drive by cutting write speeds almost in half but it’s far less reliable, and only considered as an option in applications that can tolerate lower reliability. Such as scientific computing and computer gaming. 

I’m sure you can see why recovery software for this RAID condition exists. 

How to use Stellar Data Recovery

We’ve got two identical hard drives set up in RAID 0. For us, it means that the larger volume can handle the large file sizes that video editing demands, and the speed of access that it also requires, making RAID 0 a perfect use-case for us to test out what Stellar Data Recovery is really capable of. 

Imagine, we’re editing a video, but suddenly a gigantic dog jumps at the PC knocking it down, and suddenly our lovely RAID 0 array appears to be failing. The RAID 0 array appears to be broken and all our data is lost… Or is it? 

As you can now see, only one of our two total hard drives is appearing in the Disk Management window. Meaning one physical drive is inaccessible, leaving only roughly 50% of my actual data intact. 

Those incredible photos of you and your gigantic dog growing up, with all of his lovely red fur is gone. But, don’t fret, because Stellar Data Recovery is here to save the day.

Where to download Stellar Data Recovery Tool 

Your first port of call is to head over to the Stellar Data Recovery website. 

https://www.stellarinfo.com/windows-raid-recovery.php

Select the big green ‘Free Download’ button, you can’t miss it. 

Your download should then appear in the bottom right corner of the window (If you are using Google Chrome)

With the file fully downloaded, be sure to run the program. After this, select your preferred language and hit “OK”.

Just follow the on-screen steps and agree to any license terms and conditions, please read all the information on the screen carefully so you understand the software’s terms of use. 

After those steps are completed, the software should begin installing. Stellar Data Recovery gives you a short tutorial during the installation process. This means you can get a sense of familiarity with the software right off the bat, which should hopefully sate some of the fears that you might have while recovering data off of a corrupted or deleted sector on a drive. 

How to use Stellar Data Recovery

With Stellar Data Recovery fully installed, select any and all file types you wish to recover, for the maximum impact, we’d select  “All Data” to ensure that we get as much lost data back as possible. 

Our method of mimicking a total drive failure on a RAID 0 array was through disconnecting one of our identical hard drives. Due to this, one physical drive will not display in Disk Manager, leaving the other connected drive unable to compile the information it contains. This is because this data now belongs to a broken, incomplete array, and is just being displayed as unformatted, unallocated space. 

At least 50% of the all-important Metadata is stored on that drive, and we’d like to access the remaining connected physical drive without formatting it, as Windows would have you do. This means that for our RAID 0 array, we selected ‘Can’t Find Drive’ in Stellar Data Recovery.

We need to select the drive from the broken RAID array and in this case, it is the result at the top of our list. If you cannot find your drive, be sure to enable the “Extensive Search” slider,  which can be found on the bottom left of Stellar Data Recovery’s window. This will give you the best chance to recover your files. When you’re ready, just hit the blue ‘Search’ button.

Because the ‘Search’ function is extensive, it can take a while to search your drives. It took a grand total of 1h 18m to search a 500GB hard drive for lost partitions. So, be sure that you have sufficient time when you decide to use this tool, as it’s an in-depth and time-consuming process.

Stellar Data Recovery will now scan the logical disk you selected for missing or broken partitions. As we selected “Extensive Search”, the process will once again take a while to complete. It took Stellar Data Recovery 1h 18m to scan our 500Gb physical disk, but the speed and time taken will vary based on what type of storage media you are scanning. Go make a cup of coffee and let the software do its thing. 

With the lost partitions found, it will usually begin with sectors closest to 0 due to the way that drives and volumes are formatted. In our case, it’s labelled as Std Vol 1 under ‘Partitions’ in Stellar Data Recovery.

Click on the desired partition and select ‘Scan’ in the bottom right of the window.

Stellar Data Recovery will now scan the selected partition for the file types we selected at the start of the process. The software managed to complete this scan in around 1h 12m. The speed of your logical disk is a huge factor here. As we used a HDD, it’s not a speedy process.

After the scan has been completed, voila, Stellar Data Recovery will list the files and folders that it managed to detect. For us, it was “752.10Gb in 46439 folders”.

There is not actually 752GB of data present, as we know we only have a storage capacity of 500GB, but this is where the Metadata we mentioned earlier is hard at work. It shows the file structures and compositions for data that doesn’t actually exist on the disk due to the RAID 0 array’s composition.

We’re just looking for my photos and videos. To navigate through Stellar Data Recovery. So, use the dropdown menus to on the ‘Tree View’ to select files and folders that you want to recover.

With our search complete, and all of the files we want to recover selected, simply click the ‘Recover’ button on the bottom right. 

Choose a file path for your recovered files to save to, make sure the target destination has enough available space for files you’re recovering, then hit “Start Saving” 

The recovery process will take some time, this is governed largely by the amount of data you’re trying to recover in addition to the target destination drive’s write speed. Stellar Data Recovery only took around 31m 43s to recover 426 files (89.87Gb) in 3 folders, which is pretty speedy for a data recovery tool. 

A few hours later, we have 426 recovered files. It’s important to mention, many of them don’t work or are corrupted. However, around 10% of the video files do play and are of acceptable quality. 

Media is one of the more sensitive types of file to recover. Sometimes, a few bytes of misplaced data can render a video useless, and the fact that Stellar Raid Recovery managed to recover around 35 working videos from a broken RAID 0 array is nothing short of phenomenal. 

We gave Stellar RAID Recovery a nigh impossible task, and it pulled through, with usable files to boot. This is not representative of a simpler use case, as it’s likely that you’re not going to be running your home PC in RAID 0. We gave Stellar Data Recovery one of the biggest challenges you can throw at data recovery software, and it passed with flying colors.

If you need recovery software with no backup or two-way mirror to rely on, and everything has gone horribly wrong, consider using Stellar Data Recovery. Their simple and intuitive software takes advantage of the latest technology to recover what might have been otherwise lost forever.