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Recovering Deleted Data from a RAID 5 System

A recovery technician begins disassembling a customer's hard drive for low-level data recovery services.

RAID 5 is one of the most common RAID configurations due to its high access speeds and reliable redundancy. RAID 5 arrays can keep operating after a single hard drive failure, and physical media damage rarely causes data loss on these types of systems. However, RAID 5 redundancy does not protect against accidental deletion or other sources of logical file damage. If you unintentionally delete files or partitions from your RAID device, take the following steps to improve your chances of a successful recovery.

Immediately Stop Using the Device.

Your RAID will not immediately overwrite your data as soon as you delete files, but the longer that the device operates, the higher the chances of a complete overwrite. When data is fully overwritten, it is unrecoverable. To prevent overwrites on multi-user systems, un-mount the affected volume. If this is not possible, shut down the entire RAID and keep it powered off until you can speak with a qualified RAID 5 data recovery professional. On single-user systems, keep the RAID powered off if possible. Do not run any programs on your RAID after deleting data. Never attempt to copy files to another device or rebuild your array. You can safely make individual bit-by-bit clones of your RAID hard drives, but only by accessing the drives individually from another machine.

Exercise Caution When Using Recovery Utilities.

Commercial data recovery utilities are rarely designed to repair damaged RAID data, and you may accidentally overwrite your data when using these utilities. Many commercial RAID data recovery programs provide access to deleted files by restoring file entries, but this does not treat any logical issues that result due to overwrites. Data recovery programs may provide corrupt or unusable files as a result. We do not recommend using data recovery software for RAID 5 systems, but if your operating system has built-in protection from accidental deletion, you may decide to use a file utility to try to regain access to your files. Many Linux and UNIX distributions have built-in undelete functions, for example. Be careful when using any type of file utility. Your system constantly reads and writes information while operating, so you should access your RAID from another system if possible or use a utility that prevents your RAID's operating system from overwriting information. Never install a new file repair or data recovery utility after losing access to your data, as this can immediately overwrite your files.

Find a Data Recovery Provider with RAID Experience.

If you have lost mission-critical data, you should not use recovery utilities on your RAID array or take any steps that could result in accidental overwrites. Look for a professional data recovery company that has appropriate tools to treat RAID media. Your provider should have direct experience with your RAID operating system (if applicable) and filesystem as well as the deleted file's parent application and file type. At Secure Data Recovery Services, we make full clones of every RAID member before carrying out logical data recovery procedures. Our engineers have experience with all common server operating systems and filesystems, and we can safely treat logically damaged RAID data in a matter of days under our standard service option. In many cases, we can recover partially overwritten or damaged data. Our engineering teams are the best in the industry, and we treat hundreds of RAID 5 arrays every year. We offer free media diagnostics for all RAID configurations. Call our customer service team for more information or to set up a free evaluation for your RAID.
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