Archive for July 26, 2016

Case Study: Manchester Mortgages

manchester mortgages web siteThis month I was called out to Manchester Mortgages (http://manchestermortgages.co.uk/), a mortgage brokers based in Eccles, Manchester who had lost access to some of their data.

Background

Manchester Mortgages provide advice and assistance to people requiring mortgages for buy-to-let, remortgage and people with poor credit amongst others. Much of the information they hold is stored on an Access database and for one reason of another they held no backup of this data.

File Won’t Open

When attempting to open the file by double clicking it the computer hung and the file would not open. Analysis of the hard drive showed that the drive had many bad sectors – including bad sectors inside the Access database.

Bad sectors on a hard drive are areas that can’t be read due to the drive degrading to such an extent that the hard drive is unable to read the data from the bad sector. Bad sectors are rarely single isolated occurances – hard drives usually have hundreds or even thousands of bad sectors. Modern hard drives have effective management and control systems that detect bad sectors on a hard drive and swap them out, replacing them with a good sector from a pool of good sectors they keep in reserve. Eventually the pool of good sectors dry up and the bad sectors then spread across the hard drive.

Recovering the File

Recovering a file affected by bad sectors is a difficult thing to do. By double clicking the file, the computer attempts to open the file but it can’t because it can’t read the information from the bad sector. Rather than give up, the hard drive tries repeatedly to read the data from the bad sector. This places a high amount of stress on the hard drive’s head which will eventually lead to a head crash and all the data on the hard drive being lost.

Therefore the only course of action is to use a hardware approach that turns the error checking off and also circumvents the operating system. Fortunately I have this piece of hardware in my equipment, and hooking the Manchester Mortgages hard drive up to it I was able to recover their file fully.

Backup

This case study is a fine example of why it’s essential that we all backup our valuable data. A study has shown that 70% of businesses go bust within a year of a major data loss event (http://www.capitalnetworks.co.uk/news/2010/07/21/70-of-businesses-that-experience-a-major-data-loss-go-out-of-business/). Manchester Mortgages had most of their data stored in one file. If I had been unable to recover this data that may well have been the end of the business.

Data Recovery from Synology NAS Servers

Most Synology NAS models are preconfigured to use RAID, a method of storage that allows many hard drives to be utilised as a single storage volume. If problems develop with the Synology NAS I do not recommended that you use DIY repair websites to attempt RAID data recovery as RAID is a complex type of storage system and data can easily be lost for good if a faulty or broken Synology system is put into the wrong hands. I recommend that you contact me for assistance with your Synology system. I learned my RAID recovery skills at Data Clinic and so am competent at many forms of data recovery.

A Synology DS213 NASMost Synology devices feature a type of Assistant Interface that lets you ‘see’ your files and folders. This is a great tool that provides many administrative benefits for end users, but if a Synology NAS system should fail or begin to have problems for any reason, I recommend that the Assistant Interface is not used as it’s all to easy to reset the system and loose the data whilst doing it.

Common Synology Faults

I can repair most problems on Synology NAS equipment and recover the data successfully. Typical faults and failures on Synology NAS systems include:

  • Drive(s) not booting / missing files
  • Clicking drives
  • RAID controller failure
  • Damaged data striping
  • Corrupt partition table
  • RAID device not starting
  • Inaccessible boot device
  • Multiple hard disk failure
  • Accidental deletion of partition data
  • Component failure

Synology NAS Data Recovery

I successfully repair and recover file and folder data from many different models of Synology NAS systems. Recent data recovery procedures have involved:

  • DS214 – This 2 bay, high performance NAS server is ideal for home users or small businesses. It has 2 USB 3.0 ports and SATA III connectivity. This provides you with very high speeds and good general performance. It supports Synology Hybrid RAID, JBOD (Just a Bunch of Disks) RAID 0 and RAID 1. Due to the various possible configurations, it is of paramount importance that you only try to figure things out with it if you know what type of a RAID it is, otherwise, you can damage the RAID (which contains all your data).
  • DS414 – This model comes with the same specification as the DS214, but as the name would suggest, it has 4 bays that can be utilised. Along with the various RAID configurations that can be installed on these NAS devices, it is important to know what file-system is being used by it, these devices run off either EXT3, EXT4, FAT, NTFS or HFS+. As iterated before, if you don’t know what file-system you are running, it’s best not to fiddle with it.
  • DS214+ – a robust server that has 2 gigabit Ethernet adapters for rapid data access. Used by people wanting a high end server solution without spending too much money. Highest storage capacity is 10 Tb, which if damaged, can be a pain to try and get back, but with the right practises and technology, ‘lost’ data is never too far away.