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Stupid Me!!!

Michael Naylor

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I'm in the process of improving my backup strategy. I have an old USB 2 8TB raid box, about to be replaced with a much faster Thunderbolt 2 box. The plan was to copy all the raid files to another disc, then swap the drives into a the new enclosure. So, I figured it would be wise to test the new enclosure first by inserting an unused drive. So what happened next?

I accidentally erased the wrong box and lost 4TB of data!!!

A frantic Google search and several downloads of trial recovery software later, I found one that looks promising. It's currently scanning and predicting another 23 hours to go, but I think its going to work. Its called EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard. Does anyone have experience with this?
 

Paul B

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Ooops!

I think I've used their Partition Manager before. But they've been around for years ... I would expect to be able to trust them. It's gonna take a while though :)

What RAID level is it? If it's a mirror (type 1 if memory serves ... and I assume it is since you have 4Tb of data in an 8Tb box) you could always split it and keep one disc untouched.

But it sounds like you realised straight away what was going on and you should have an extremely high success rate in recovery ... good luck.
 

Michael Naylor

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Ooops!

I think I've used their Partition Manager before. But they've been around for years ... I would expect to be able to trust them. It's gonna take a while though :)

What RAID level is it? If it's a mirror (type 1 if memory serves ... and I assume it is since you have 4Tb of data in an 8Tb box) you could always split it and keep one disc untouched.

But it sounds like you realised straight away what was going on and you should have an extremely high success rate in recovery ... good luck.
Thanks Paul. Its actually a hardware raid 5 box with 4 x 2TB drives, so it has 6TB of usable space. I "had" about 4TB of stuff that is very dear to me. I say "had", but the scan seems to be finding everything. Its taking forever and, unfortunately, also finding stuff that was intentionally deleted years ago. I may find it difficult to to see the wood through the trees.

The live char tech support is very responsive and helpful, so I'm able temporarily pause the scan and try copying some of my files to another drive. It appears to be working. Its incredible how one click can have devastating consequences, and ironic that all this is happening because I was trying to improve my backup system.
 

Michael Naylor

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Contrary to popular belief, and something you just found out the hard way, a RAID system is not a backup. It's a system that protects you against hard disk failure, but not against human failures.
Of course, you're absolutely correct, but this applies to all types of "backup" systems, including offsite cloud systems. I've just been reading some of the horror stories users of CrashPlan have experienced.
 

Paul B

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Yeah it's so easily done ... not so easy to undo.

Although I did originally forget to ask how you deleted the data or formatted / initialised the drives. By the sounds of it that's academic; you're getting files back (if you'd done any sort of format that initialised the data part of the disc you wouldn't get anything at all back!) and if you didn't perform any subsequent disc writes you should be in good shape. Just the additional faff of sorting the wheat from the chaff by the sound of it.

Good, responsive tech support is worth its weight too!
 

Michael Naylor

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Paul. I was preparing to replace the USB2 raid 5 enclosure with a new Thunderbolt 2 raid 5 enclosure and swap the disks over AFTER copying to temporary disks. Using the macOS Disk Utility app, instead of erasing one of the temporary disks, I accidentally erased the USB2 raid. I think doing this deletes the directory structure, rendering the files inaccessible. I refrained from doing anything more until I could find a recovery software that might work.

Referring back to my earlier post where I paused the scan, this has not worked. It recovered (copied) the found files to another disk, but the files are unreadable. I've been advised to allow the scan to complete. The estimated time for this has remained at 24 hours since starting 18 hours ago, although the progress bar has advanced to around 30%. I will try to remain calm and optimistic.
 

Paul B

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Exactly how did you erase the RAID Mike?

Do you have any indication from recovered file(name)s whether these were current or previously deleted files?

As you say it's early days yet.
 

Paul B

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Also how were the disks formatted (FAT32 etc)?
 

Michael Naylor

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Also how were the disks formatted (FAT32 etc)?
I erased using the macOS Disk Utility. The format was Mac OS Extended (Journaled) with the default single partition for the whole disk. The recovery s/w doesn't seem to flag what was originally "live" or "deleted", so I guess I'll have to do this manually when deciding what to copy.
 

Paul B

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On Windows for example, it doesn't matter whether the directory structure is missing. The recovery utility goes through the disc byte by byte looking for files, ignorant of where they are/were in the logical directory structure. I can't see any reason why this behaviour wouldn't be the same on Mac filestore.

The important thing is how the 'erase' worked. If it just set some sort of flag that the declared the disc to be 'empty' and left the data untouched then I can't see any reason why it shouldn't be recoverable. If the 'erase' was virtually instantaneous then this scenario would seem likely; it wouldn't have had time to physically erase all of the disc sectors. And indeed inmost cases there's no need to do this; all you're interested in is being able to overwrite what's already there by declaring that space to be usable.

I don't know on Mac [format] is how file fragments are linked. If the 'erase' has removed any sort of pointers between parts of files, then those files would become unrecoverable even if the parts of the files were intact.
 
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Of course, you're absolutely correct, but this applies to all types of "backup" systems, including offsite cloud systems. I've just been reading some of the horror stories users of CrashPlan have experienced.
No, it does not apply to real (incremental) backup systems. That's exactly the point. If you had made a backup of your RAID system, as you should have, you wouldn't have this problem now.
 

Michael Naylor

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No, it does not apply to real (incremental) backup systems. That's exactly the point. If you had made a backup of your RAID system, as you should have, you wouldn't have this problem now.
So, you're saying a "real (incremental) backup system" is utterly reliable and indestructible? And yes, I know I could have avoided this problem, that's why I'd begun implementing a better system. It was during the implementation that I screwed up. Had I spent more money several years ago, I would have been better prepared.
 

Paul B

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Mike very few companies have bullet-proof back-up plans, let alone individuals. It's one of things where it's very easy to talk the talk. RAID can be an invaluable part of a back-up plan ... at least you had disc redundancy. As you said earlier the irony is all in the circumstances.
 
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So, you're saying a "real (incremental) backup system" is utterly reliable and indestructible?
No, of course I'm not saying that. Do we really have to argue like this? What I am saying however is that the chance that your backup system(s) all fail at exactly the same moment is extremely unlikely. No backup is foolish, one backup is still risky, multiple backups is what keeps your data safe.
 
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Hindsight is a wonderful thing. In about 2006, pre-LRQ days, I did exactly the same thing. ProSoft Data Rescue saved my bacon. Mistakes happen, and the best thing we can do is learn from it and make sure it never happens again.
 

Michael Naylor

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After 72 of continuous scanning with the EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard, it finally finished and I'm now beginning to copy my treasured files to some spare disks. The copying is slow, presumably because it somehow reconstructs as it goes. So far, I've only seen one folder which appears top be unreadable. Of course, it also found tens of thousands of much older bit and pieces that had been deleted years ago. I'll have to be careful with this, so patience, patience, patience...
 

Paul B

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That sounds like pretty good news Mike. So I guess a back-up is the first thing you'll do when you've copied it all ;)
 
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