Advice on Data Recovery for WD MyBook II Studio Edition (RAID-1)

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by okachobi, Nov 3, 2011.

  1. okachobi macrumors newbie

    Oct 30, 2007
    Today I upgraded the firmware in a WD MyBook II Studio Edition. After upgrading the firmware, I noticed that the Disk Manager tool was reporting 0% use, but the partitions on the drive were mounting just fine. So I made the ignorant mistake of opening the Raid manager and clicking the configure button. Their software did not warn me before erasing the existing partition information. I do not understand why configuring the RAID level (which was not changed) would also result in rewriting the partition table...but that is moot. The result is that I lost access to 10+ years of pictures on a RAID mirrored drive. I have backups of about 7-8 of those years, but had missed doing backups over the past year or 2. Needless to say, I typically do backup and do not trust RAID alone, but I got behind due to some overwhelming situations personally. (death in family due to cancer, loss of loved one due to alzheimer's, new job, new baby, etc...)

    As soon as I noticed that the 2 partitions (pictures and time machine) were gone and replaced by 1 ("mybook"), and ejected the drive and disconnected the firewire. I did not turn it off for about 10 more minutes, so I'm not certain that the firmware wasn't busy zero'ing my data as part of a RAID initialization, but I suspect it was not (I hope).

    Here is where I need help. Given the particular scenario (partition table erased on a RAID-1 mirrored set of drives), can anyone suggest a strategy and appropriate tools for recovery? I am searching here for other threads on this since its a common issue- but in particular I need advice on whether to attempt recovery of files using the WD enclosure, or whether I should remove a drive and use a SATA/USB cable for recovery from 1 drive. I'm worried that the enclosure, set for RAID-1 mode, may start erasing data on both drives until it completes initialization. I know from past experience with hardware raid controllers that other raid levels with striping will go through a period of formatting regardless of what you do. However, RAID-1 is a mirrored mode, and I can't see it attempting any kind of disk conditioning prior to use...nor would I expect it to do an erase. But then again, I didn't expect a button 2 levels deep in the manager software to erase my partitions without AT LEAST prompting me with a warning.

    I'm also now researching data recovery tools, and there is so much mixed information out there. Most of the google hits are propaganda from each maker of their tools. I'd hate to buy something and only find out that it doesn't support multiple partitions.

    I will continue reading reviews and searching here for past advice on tools. If anyone has any experience good or bad with professional recovery services, I'd be interested in hearing them. I'm guessing that I'm not going to get the file structure back. Since it was an iPhoto library, the individual files should get recovered and marked as images...but there will be thousands. If any tool is available that attempts to recover partition table and directory information, then that would be the preferred tool for me. The partition table was rewritten, but I presume that somewhere on the disk there may be partial directory/filename information. I'm also guessing that some tools won't even attempt to look for this- preferring to just scan the disk for the files and give the arbitrary filenames. So if anyone knows of a particular tool that DOES attempt to recover filenames when possible, that is something I'd like to hear about too.

    I appreciate any advice anyone can give...this has been a very sucky day. 2 weeks ago I was telling my wife that we needed to do an iPhoto backup again...sigh...
  2. cuestakid macrumors 68000

    Jun 14, 2006
    San Fran
    First of all-I believe (and someone please do correct me if I am wrong), but I think that the WD MyBook Studio's are not hardware RAID, but rather a software RAID, in that the software controls how the raid is organized and managed. What is means is that (I think) you can remove one drive and replace it and have it re-build the RAID. Of course, if both drives are truly wiped, then I think your only option may be data recovery services, but these can be extremely expensive and may or may not work.

    However, I should mention that same drive. Recently, somehow the power supply blew out (I didnt know it at the time that this was the problem, since the device wouldn't boot or power up).

    Since I was genuinely concerned about the data (all my movies, tv shows, apps, ect). I decided to take the risk-I opened the drive, pulled out one drive and mounted it in a SATA to USB like device. The drive mounted, with al data intact and the drive safe.

    My point-If you think one drive is good, I think it may be worth it to take it out and dump the data somewhere else (if you can) and replace both drives and copy the data back.

    Again this is just my two cents
  3. okachobi thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 30, 2007
    I don't think either drive is necessarily bad- I simply clicked on a button that triggered the writing of a new partition table- erasing the partitions I had previously created. There was no warning that this would occur prior to clicking, or subsequent to clicking. Its a pretty dangerous button.

    I contacted WD, and they graciously offered to cover the cost for professional recovery service. I was pleasantly surprised at their response since I was simply asking them for information on the best approach to recovery or advice on the best software to use.
  4. cuestakid macrumors 68000

    Jun 14, 2006
    San Fran
  5. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    Glad to hear you got such a gracious offer of help from WD customer service.

    But a word of advice for the future:
    Unless you have specific reasons as to why you absolutely need to have RAID as a storage strategy, you're probably better off not using it.

    Plain old HFS+ in plain old finder format works best. Fewer problems, and easier to recover if you have to.

    I'd also recommend CarbonCopyCloner as a backup/clone utility, if you're not already using it. Absolutely free and one of the better pieces of Mac software out there.
  6. cuestakid macrumors 68000

    Jun 14, 2006
    San Fran
    may I ask why you say no to RAID as a storage strategy ? I can think of several reasons to use it and I am just curious as to why you don't like it?
  7. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    "may I ask why you say no to RAID as a storage strategy ? I can think of several reasons to use it and I am just curious as to why you don't like it?"

    One word:

    If a drive in the RAID goes bad on you, you may lose everything (even on the remaining "good" drives). Does not a group of two or more "RAID-ed" drives scatter file data amongst different drives (and thus, speed things up from a read/write standpoint)?

    If that's the case a file may have it's "pieces" distributed between two, three, or more different drives. If ONE of those drives goes bad, that means some of the data for each file stored in that manner is lost. How can the files then be reconstructed?

    I can see the usefulness of RAID for high-powered users who have a way to backup RAID-ed data up to protect themselves in the event of a RAID drive failure.

    But if you don't go to that trouble -- or if you are using RAID _as your backup_ (with no "backup on the backup") -- what happens when you have a catastrophic failure of the RAID?
  8. AngryRedTicTac macrumors regular

    Jan 15, 2011
    He's using RAID-1, as a mirrored set, a pretty robust backup plan, one best paired with a Time Machine backup. You're thinking of RAID-0, which is the striped RAID set up for performance. RAID-1 is generally slower than a single drive, but is sturdy indeed.
  9. y10012, Feb 26, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2013

    y10012 macrumors newbie

    Feb 26, 2013
    What was the resolution of this problem?


    I find myself in the same situation as the original poster (okachobi), and I would really like to know how he resolved his situation. Is there a way to recover or recreate the overwritten partition table? There should be no data corruption--the drive has not been used after overwriting the partition table.

    Any pointers to software tools or recovery services that could help would be greatly appreciated. This is an external 2TB Mybook II, formatted as a Raid 1 and containing tens of thousands of media files, including long videos where the files are most likely fragmented due to their size. Thus being able to recover the directory information would be very helpful.

    I spent more than an hour talking to Level 2 support at WDC, but they were not really helpful--they basically directed me to the data recovery services on their website.

  10. CWallace, Feb 26, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2013

    CWallace macrumors 603


    Aug 17, 2007
    Seattle, WA
    That is the case with RAID 0 - Disk Striping. If you have two 2TB HDDs in a RAID0 array, you have 4TB of capacity but no redundancy. If one of the HDDs fails, all data is lost.

    RAID 1 is Disk Mirroring - a copy of the data is written to each disk so if one disk fails, the other disk has all the data. So if you have two 2TB HDDs in a RAID1 array, you have 2TB of capacity as each drive has a copy of the data for redundancy.

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