Mandatory Pic-less Random Update: The NAS Chronicles

03.25.2018

After the picture-fest of the last post of the Walking Dead game, I feel obligated to balance it out with a non-gaming photo-free post. So with that...

Stupid Netgear NAS enclosures!

In 2009, I bought a 4 bay NAS to use random hard drives I just couldn't find myself willing to part with. I set up whichever RAID level maximizes disk space and enjoyed the thrills of having too much disk space. 2½ years later the enclosure died, and I learned that the RAID striping used was somehow proprietary to where only another ReadyGear NAS would read the drives I had RAIDed. Like everybody else, I don't back anything up. So I got 4-bay enclosure by the same company. Once I got the drives accessible again, I set up the NAS to RAID things differently. The 1st 2 drives were mirrored with stuff that's just a pin to track down again but seldom used, the next 2 drives were mirrored with important, day-to-day stuff. Last year I moved to laptop(s) only at home, so having networked drives for the important stuff was actually kind of handy. Plus, they're mirrored! If 1 drive goes bad I can always stick in another. Right?

Last week, during tornadic activity where I got a little rain, there was enough of a brownout to flip the house GFI circuits. In a coincidence, RAID-1 drive #2 (with the unimportant, just hard to track down again data), was flashing a warning. Looks like I have a drive going bad. I'll order a replacement as it is unimportant. Being trained in the ways of PCs since the 90's (fine, 80's), I decided to reboot the NAS just in case that would magically fix it - maybe the brownout just skewed a sensor setting. Reboot away! After reboot, I found that my problem of 1 bad drive of unimportant data...

... had just gotten a lot worse. Now the 2, extremely important, mirror RAIDed drives (because what are the chances 2 drives will go bad) were showing up as dead.

Well. Shit.

I removed the drives from the NAS and rebooted it again. I felt a little better (just stay with me) since after reboot the NAS system was still reporting 3 bad drives, yet only 1 drive was plugged in. Odds are good my data was still in there. With my 1 (unimportant) drive still recognized, I started transferring the data off to one of the bajillion USB hard drives I've got laying around. What followed for the next 3 hours was trying, very unsuccessfully, to get data off the other drives without using the NAS. Things I learned include, but are not limited to:

That last bullet was Plan D, or whatever next-to-the-last plan letter I needed. Once the unimportant drive was copied off, I was going to try switching an important disk to the 1 recognized functioning bay. The plan after that would be to order another ReadyGear NAS from Amazon, copy my crap off, and then return it and never buy anything with "Ready"Anything in the name. Luckily, the plan of using the 1 working bay worked. Over the course of 2 days, data got copied off. Right now, I have a NAS with 1 functioning bay, 9 hard drives of 1.5-2.0 TB (that's a story for another time), and a USB hard drive cradle sitting in a box "in case I need any of it". All of the important data is spread among 3 USB hard drive + my most used laptop.

I still have a NAS drive. I got a Seagate drive (which they no longer sell the 8TB version I picked up) 2 years ago. I was using this to store media files. Files I don't really access that often. Of the important files that were rescued, a handful truly are important but only updated every once in a while (budget files, tax stuff, etc). While Googling "how to get data off a RAID disk on Windows" I came across some pretty good instructions for backing up modified files on Windows. Every other time I've made Windows backups I could never get the file to restore. After my adventure over the past week, I think it's time to try again. If I use a NAS to store the backup, and the backup can be restored, that should cover my Important Files scenario. Hopefully.

I like the "here's what I painted" posts better. Keeps my blood pressure from racing.


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