Even Reliable RAID Needs Data Recovery

Hard drives may be bigger, faster and more accessible than they were two decades ago, but are they more reliable? The answer many computer experts would give you is no. For all the enhancements here and there, the fundamental technology that powers hard drives remains the same, along with all its vulnerabilities.

Individuals and organizations rely on hard drives to keep their precious data secure, but hard drives can fail. Routine backups and other contingency measures are wise, but even storage technologies such as RAID – specifically designed to increase data security – are susceptible to failure.

RAID resilience has its limits

RAID stands for ‘Redundant Array of Independent Disks’, and refers to a storage technique whereby data is stored on multiple interconnected hard disks.

By merging multiple hard drives into a single storage entity, not only is capacity increased, but read-write times are enhanced as well. Furthermore, the security of the data is strengthened by having it duplicated on multiple devices.

It’s no surprise then that incorporating a RAID system is standard for many business enterprises, with their reams of valuable data that must be both secure and easily accessible. Of course, this makes it all the more essential that business have access to RAID recovery services, as they stand to lose vast quantities of precious data should their RAID system fail.

And they can indeed fail, despite the very purpose of this setup being to prevent such a calamity. In fact, the overconfidence in data security that results from having a RAID system often exacerbates the issue, as business management grows lax in ensuring routine backups.

The following are just a few of the factors that can trigger RAID failure, despite its vaunted resilience:

  • Increased strain on a RAID network that is missing one hard drive may prompt failure in other units.
  • The RAID network may comprise multiple units, but they are all subservient to a single controller. If that controller fails, the network may go down with it.
  • A power surge can be disruptive enough to bring about failure in the controller or in multiple storage units.
  • Incorrect configuration when replacing a faulty unit can disrupt the whole network
  • RAID fault tolerance only protects against the consequences of hardware failure, not against incidences of logical corruption, such as a virus.

RAID recovery

Yet, all is not lost, as data recovery services have specialized methods for retrieving lost data from RAIDs, though it is an extremely complicated procedure.

As you can imagine, the process of establishing a network of connected storage drives is an intricate one, and there are a number of potential configurations. For example:

  • Some employ a technique known as disk mirroring, where storage of specific data is repeated across multiple drives to ensure its security.
  • Some employ ‘disk striping’, whereby a particular body of data is spread across multiple storage devices.
  • Some configurations prioritize fault tolerance over read-write performance, while others do the opposite.
  • Some are implemented through hardware, while others are software-based.

Regardless of configuration, what most RAID systems have in common is that they contain information vital to the organization. Untangling this web of sectors and arrays is not for the faint of heart. Attempting to retrieve lost data from a damaged RAID is much like venturing into the ruins of an ancient city to search for buried treasure. Except that no one’s likely to make a film about it.

Leave data recovery to the experts

Brisbane is one of Australia’s primary business hubs, often referred to as the biggest economy between Sydney and Singapore, and a large number of these businesses depend on RAID systems for the security of their valuable data.

It is therefore essential that these businesses acquire the services of professional data recovery organizations should any of this data be at risk, as attempting to adopt a “do-it-yourself” approach to a complex procedure like RAID recovery could have unpleasant consequences.

As someone who knows from experience that computers cannot be trusted, Matthew Flax feels obliged to alert other computer users to the importance of data recovery.