Even though we ARE Nikon lovers,we are NOT affiliated with Nikon Corp. in any way.

Sign up Login
Home Forums Articles Galleries Members Galleries Master Your Vision Galleries 5Contest Categories 5Winners Galleries 5ANPAT Galleries 5 The Winners Editor's Choice Portfolios Recent Photos Search Contest Info Help News Newsletter Join us Renew Membership About us Retrieve password Contact us Contests Vouchers Wiki Apps THE NIKONIAN™ For the press Fundraising Search Help!


Photo-Recovery From a Corrupted RAID

Geoff Baylis (GBaylis)

Keywords: gbaylis, backup, raid, storage, nas, recovery

Just before Christmas 2018 a catastrophe occurred: due to a software glitch on my Windows 10 computer I lost access to all of my images and many other files when the directory of my network attached storage (NAS) unit was corrupted. It has taken a long while to get my files back to (almost) normality and it is a timely reminder to all NAS users and/or RAID users that comprehensive backups are just as essential as for locally attached hard drives. 

Why Comprehensive RAID Backups Are Still Essential 

This document describes what happened and the many time consuming steps that were necessary to recover my files back to where they were just a couple of seconds beforehand. A lot of what I describe would apply equally to a failed drive that’s inside your computer too! 

Note to the ‘techies’ reading this: in a few areas I’ve simplified the explanation in order to reduce the length of the document and make it more digestible to the majority of Nikonians. 

What is a NAS and a RAID? 

First of all, let me explain what these two things are in simple terms:

  • A Network Attached Storage (NAS) device is simply a box containing a number of disk drives that is connected to a network rather than being plugged directly into your computer. This not only allows you access to far more storage than your desktop computer or laptop can hold, but also access from anywhere that you are connected to the internet. In most cases the extra time that it takes to access your files across the network is so minimal that you won’t notice the difference. A NAS is effectively a personal computer that doesn’t have the ‘human interface’ components such as video and sound cards, keyboard, mouse, etc.
  • A RAID, or Redundant Array of Independent Disks, is a way of providing protection in case of a disk failure, so that if a disk does fail, you can continue to access your data seamlessly. Once the bad disk is replaced, the NAS software will deal with bringing the new disk up to date. There are a number of possible RAID configurations but the safest, and most expensive, is where each disk is replicated on another so, for instance, a pair of 2TB disks are seen by your computer as a single 2TB unit: the NAS controls the data flow between the two disks without any end-user intervention.
  • Having the disks in a NAS can also make your data management easier because it can present a number of disks to any users accessing it as if they were a single large drive.

My QNAP NAS drive is my primary drive for almost all of my data: documents, spreadsheets and around 100k images. It holds a set of four 3TB Western Digital “Red” hard drives configured in a RAID 10 array: that means that my computer sees a single 5.8TB drive mapped to drive letter “G” but within the NAS the drives are in two pairs, each being a duplicate of the other, so that if any one drive fails (or two, so long as they are not from the same pair) the computer continues to see all the data with no awareness of the failure. Simply plug in a new drive to replace the dead unit and the QNAP file system will bring the new drive up to date. Easy. 100% redundancy = 100% protection. Doesn’t it? 

Backup Strategy Employed

Because of the fault tolerance within the RAID system I only backed up the data about once every 4-6 months to a pair of external hard drives which were then stored in an external building away from my house so that I have theft and fire protection. My local disks get backed up monthly (almost all of my non-system files, including the Windows standard folders of Desktop, Documents, Downloads, etc. are on a two-disk RAID within the system unit). All seemed satisfactory and had worked perfectly well for two years.

The Crash: What Happened? 

When it was time for me to take another NAS backup, I plugged in my two external hard drives as usual and immediately noticed that Windows had assigned one of them (which was bootable, created by the Acronis True Image backup software) to Drive “G” – which should be my NAS. I immediately ejected the drive and checked my drive assignments. My NAS was still assigned to “G”, but when I looked at its contents I discovered that the external HDD had overwritten the directory on the NAS, leaving only a few hundred files showing. At this point I felt a tad cold and sweaty, and somewhat sick! Perhaps one reason that I’d never had this happen before is because there were always at least two spare drive letters before G, but as there were now new extra drives in the system unit, “G” was the next in line for that external hard drive – or so Windows assumed, clearly ignoring that fact that it was already in use. 


Top Level NAS Directory: Before and After


I have not found any similar situation from my online searching, there is no doubt that the corruption was caused by the bootable external drive, because the files in the additional folders are predominantly “bootmgr.exe.mui” files. It was not the first time that this drive had been attached, so the cause is a mystery. No doubt it was a combination of events which may never happen again, but I do not feel inclined to try to replicate the problem! 

The scenario which I had never anticipated was that if the file directory is corrupted then whole RAID becomes unusable and the only option is a full rebuild from backups, despite having 100% redundancy to provide fault tolerance within the RAID. 

Immediate Actions 

Step One: As the posters say “KEEP CALM AND DON’T PANIC”. That’s easier said than done. So, first off, turn off the NAS. I didn’t want to risk any further accidental loss, because even though the file directory was corrupted, I knew that the files themselves would still be there, but I’d need lots of time to think about what to do. 

Step Two: Create a new Lightroom catalog. Although the Catalog was not on the NAS and creating a new one was not strictly necessary, I wanted to preserve its contents as at the time of the crash so that I could see later exactly what should be rebuilt on the NAS, since the Catalog would flag missing files. 

Step Three: Develop a plan of action. Apart from emails and the Web, I didn’t use the PC at all for a few days while I got a clear head around what had actually happened and how I should recover everything. In the first 24 hours my head was not at all clear, but 40 years in the IT industry had taught me that when there’s a crisis it’s best not to make any knee-jerk recovery attempts as these can often lead to even more data loss. 

Step Four: This was to document a full inventory of my ‘formal’ backups plus all other sources of data, such as Dropbox, memory cards, etc. I had backups of everything on the NAS as at Feb 2018 and also images as at June 2018 – all, that is, except my images from 2017. Why 2017 had been excluded from the backups is still a mystery. One thing I could be thankful of was that my Outlook email data files and the Lightroom catalog were on the PC-based RAID drive.  

Step Five: Research RAID recovery. To my astonishment, the NAS manufacturer QNAP offered no assistance about possible recovery strategies, other that some discussion threads on its support forum. Once I started to research data recovery from a NAS/RAID configuration I discovered two key issues: 

  1. Most data recovery software packages do not analyse the drives while still network attached, because that means access via the NAS file system only and thus the software can’t bypass the directory and look at the disk content directly.
  2. Most RAID configurations use a technique called ‘striping’ to increase performance, by writing alternate blocks of data to each disk in the RAID group, thereby speeding up writing and reading back. This means that the recovery software you use must be aware that it is dealing with a RAID since the data for every file of any size is split across more than one disk, with no disk holding the entire file.

From my research, the three recovery programs most likely to produce a good result were: 

  1. DiskInternals RAID Recovery followed by NTFS Recovery
  2. PhotoRec Recovery
  3. ReclaiMe File Recovery

DiskInternals and ReclaiMe rely on the RAID disks being directly connected to the PC whereas PhotoRec is run on the NAS but controlled from the PC. 

DiskInternals and ReclaiMe both have a ‘trial’ mode which completes the disk analysis then shows what files are found, claiming later recovery success once the license fee has been paid. PhotoRec is free and saves recovered files to another disk. 

Step Six: Define a key recovery strategy, which was “Do not delete ANY data until after the NAS has been reconstructed and new backups have been taken” in order to ensure that I always had at least two copies of all my data. It was clear that to do so I would need lots of spare disk capacity, so two WD 6TB external drives and also four new disks for the NAS reconstruction, were all ordered. 

Recovery Attempts 

1. DiskInternals RAID Recovery (v6.2) + DiskInternals NTFS Recovery 
The RAID Recovery software is free and its purpose is to identify the technical configuration of the RAID and how it was distributed across the disks. These details are stored in an XMP file for input to the NTFS Recovery software. The whole process, including a full disk analysis, took nearly 24 hours and reported a significant number of files available for recovery, but only about 60% of the number that I expected, so I knew that this software would not produce a satisfactory outcome. The NTFS Recovery software licence costs $99.95. 

2. PhotoRec Recovery 
The rather more complex process required to run the free PhotoRec software on the NAS was well documented on the QNAP Forum by someone who had been through it before, though it assumed that you understood UNIX command formats. First it was necessary to download the PhotoRec software (which is part of the TestDisk package) onto an external drive, then connect this drive directly to the QNAP NAS. Using software called Putty running on the PC provides a “DOS box” style interface for running UNIX commands on the NAS. The recovered files are created on the external drive (or wherever specified) in a series of folders each holding between 500 and 750 files each, but there is no categorisation of which files are in which folder. Overall, PhotoRec did the best job of recovering files and finding the original file dates and tags, also taking about 24 hours to run. 


PhotoRec’s folders of recovered files


3. ReclaiMe 
The ReclaiMe package has a very intuitive interface which looks for all available disks on the system and asks for confirmation of which ones are to be analysed. Once this is done, everything is automatic. A good feature of the package is that it lists and totals recovered files by file type as well as showing a rebuilt directory (where that is possible) and it is possible to recover selected files while the recovery analysis is going on. Although you must pay the licence fee ($199.95) in order to recover any files, they do offer a 30-day 100% guarantee of a refund if the recovery is not considered satisfactory. 

ReclaiMe did a very good job, but as with PhotoRec, it did not successfully recover many PSD or TIF files. I raised a fault ticket with them and within a few hours had a response suggesting that they connect to my computer using TeamViewer. This was scheduled for the following day and started at the agreed time. The issue concerning PSD and TIF files was identified as being due to them having been updated significantly since being created. The reason is as follows: 

When data is written to disk it will be written to consecutive unused blocks if enough are available (which will generally be the case). If the file is subsequently updated and increased in size, it may need additional blocks, but if the adjacent block is already in use, the location of the new block is stored with the file’s details in the directory. Without the directory, the recovery software can identify the start of a file by recognising the file type’s “signature”, and it can continue to retrieve consecutive blocks of data until it recognises another file “signature” which tells it that it has reached the start of a new file. It cannot retrieve the entire file because it has no knowledge of the blocks that hold the rest of the file’s data. Because of this, none of the recovery software packages I’ve tried have been able to fully recover many of my PSD or TIF files as they have updated and, very often, have significantly increased in size since their creation. The files are recovered, but errors occur when opening them in Photoshop, typically “unexpected end of file”. In contrast, all NEF files appear to have been successfully recovered, since these are never updated by Lightroom or Photoshop. 

As it was clear that no recovery software would be successful without the catalog, I raised a claim for a refund of my licence fee and to my surprise it was back into my account in just four days! 

4. DiskInternals RAID Recovery (v6.4) 

I discovered that there was a new version of this package which had the two parts combined, so I downloaded it to see if that would achieve a better recovery. Unfortunately this encountered an error immediately after starting up and would not progress further. I’ve raised it as an issue but it has yet to be resolved. This rebundled version is significantly more expensive than previously, starting at $249 USD. 

Understanding The Recovered Data 

Once the data had been recovered I then had to filter out that which I actually needed, but there are many obstacles that complicate that process: 

  1. Because the file names are held in the directory (which has been trashed) the recovery software gives each file a ‘made up’ name such as “f00034586220198.jpg”. Fortunately, when files are originally written to the disk as a group (such as from a memory card upload) they will generally appear in a contiguous area of the disk and will therefore be processed sequentially by the recovery software, and thereby getting sequential numbers – which means that they can be sorted and re-filed as a group.
  2. As with the filenames, the Created and Modified dates are held in the directory, so with the exception of some formats which also hold the file name and metadata in the file itself, such as Excel and Word files, all file dates are set to the date of the recovery.
  3. Files that have previously been deleted can also be found by the analysis if they are still intact, so some files will appear more than once.
  4. JPEG thumbnails embedded within larger image files (such as NEF files) will also be found and ‘recovered’ giving you thousands of additional small (e.g. 150x100 pixels) JPEG images.


Embedded thumbnails are also created as separate files


What’s Missing 

1)  Some PSD and TIF files 
This has been the area of major loss for me, not in numbers of files but in terms of work which I had done in Photoshop during the latter half of 2018. I have large JPG copies of the final images, but I cannot now go back to see how I had achieved some significant outcomes, especially for some very creative exhibition work.

Two images with lost Photoshop (PSD) files


Click for an enlargement



Click for an enlargement


2)  XMP sidecar files 
Not lost...just orphans, because the recovery software cannot pair up RAW files with their associated XMP files without the original file names. I had very few of these anyway, so I can live on happily without them.

3)  The Unknown Unknowns 
Almost certainly there are still non-image files that I created or updated during 2018 which I have yet to recover and will one day wonder “what happened to that file....?”. For that reason I shall keep all the files that PhotoRec recovered in perpetuity...just in case. 

Rebuilding The NAS 

Without the original catalog, there was no option other than to put four new disk drives into the NAS unit (or formatting the existing ones, but that was against my strategy) and set up again from scratch, creating a completely new RAID array ready to receive recovered files. 

Once the NAS and RAID configuration were going again, I recovered the majority of the data from the Acronis backups I’d previously taken. Where there were gaps, particularly 2017 and the latter half of 2018, I had to create new folders to replicate what had been there before then drag and drop files from the restored folders and from various other locations where I still had copies of the data. 

I then had to identify and find non-image files that had been created or updated in 2018 by looking individually through XLS, DOC, PDF and other formats to find the latest versions. Fortunately, PhotoRec found modify dates for many of these which meant that I could filter out much of the unwanted data, but by no means all. 

In future I will not have the NAS assigned to a drive letter, but simply accessed via a network link/association. The downside of this is that some software does not recognise these links and so one must navigate to files via the ‘Network’ path, but I can live with that. 

Recovering Lightroom 

This was relatively straightforward: opening the pre-crash Catalog showed me what all the folder names were and every image was flagged with the “!” symbol to indicate that it couldn’t be located. Since Acronis restored most of the images from my backups to their original folders, Lightroom was immediately happy to apply the Catalog’s stored post-processing to them. 

The outstanding issue that I’ll have to deal with is that although the PhotoRec recovered files are now located in the same place that Lightroom previously recorded, the original filenames have changed so Lightroom cannot apply the recorded post-processing to the new files. There are two methods of addressing this (i) compare the thumbnails seen in Lightroom with those of the recovered files to find matches, then renaming the “f000...” files to those which Lightroom understands, or (ii) ‘Remove’ the existing files from Lightroom then import (Add) the recovered files into Lightroom and apply new post-processing as and when required, keeping the new names. 

Once I had Lightroom back again as at the point of the crash, I then added in the new work that I’d created under a different catalog. This merging process is very easy using Lightroom’s “Import from Another Catalog...” function contained in the File menu. 

The last step of the process was to take new Acronis backups from the NAS and then tidy up all the ‘extra’ backups of data that I’d accumulated throughout the recovery process. 

New Backup Strategy 

With hindsight, I clearly needed to change my backup strategy to protect myself from such unusual glitches as well as hardware failures. A fellow Nikonian pointed out that I can attach an external hard drive to the QNAP NAS and get the QNAP system to initiate backups on a pre-determined basis, which also eliminates the workload on my PC as well as the network traffic while the backups take place. However, a new QNAP product was launched in the UK in March 2019, which is a 4-bay expansion unit that can be plugged into my existing NAS and can be configured in many ways, including as a RAID expansion, separate RAID system or just as individual disks. As I have acquired four 3TB HDDs as part of the recovery process, I shall re-use the original disks in the new expansion unit and schedule daily overnight incremental backups. Backups to the External drives will be taken monthly and stored offsite as before for fire and theft protection. 


I’ve been lucky (relatively speaking, given in the circumstances) because I worked in IT all of my career and am therefore quite IT savvy. Despite that, it has been a long and stressful exercise to recover the data and rebuild my NAS. Quite expensive too. For the not so savvy it would probably be beyond their capability and lead to a much greater data loss (or significant expense for specialist support) so ensuring a comprehensive backup strategy is in place is vital. 

Finally, I recommend to all of my fellow Nikonians that they should not simply wince at the pain such a catastrophe can exert but to learn from it too. There’s no telling what Windows will do to YOU next!

Editorial Note: We discuss computers and related matters here: Computers forum, Websites, Sharing and Cloud and Post-processing and Workflow

(21 Votes )

Originally written on May 2, 2019

Last updated on May 2, 2019

Geoff Baylis Geoff Baylis (GBaylis)

Donor Ribbon awarded for his support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Donor Ribbon awarded for his very generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015 Awarded for his generous and continuous sharing of his high level skills with the Nikonians community Writer Ribbon awarded for his contributions to the Nikonians Articles. Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2017 Ribbon awarded for his win at the Best of Nikonians 2107 Annual Photo Contest Winner of the Best of Nikonians Images 2018 Annual Photo Contest

Oakford, Devon, United Kingdom
Team, 1886 posts

More articles by Geoff Baylis

Smoke & Bubbles Photography Smoke & Bubbles Photography
More... More...


R J. Murray (RJM Shooter) on February 24, 2020

Geoff, I just came across this article. Thanks so much for this info. It gives me hope. This same thing happened to me several years ago when I bought a new computer and NAS drive. The new computer was an upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 10. I lost all my NEF files when I dragged and dropped all my photos from an external HD on the old machine to new machine NAS drive. All my images were changed from NEF to jpeg. I spent hours talking to experts from Adobe & Western Digital asking what happened and how can I recover from it. All to no avail. Adobe couldn't even tell me if the jpeg files still had the raw data in it. I tried changing the file extension on files I new were once NEF and opened them using camera raw but couldn't convince myself the data was there. Since there was multi-dimensional change with drives, operating systems and Adobe I gave up trying to fix the files. You have given my new hope that I might recover from this yet. Thanks Rich Murray

Geoff Baylis (GBaylis) on October 14, 2019

Donor Ribbon awarded for his support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Donor Ribbon awarded for his very generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015 Awarded for his generous and continuous sharing of his high level skills with the Nikonians community Writer Ribbon awarded for his contributions to the Nikonians Articles. Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2017 Ribbon awarded for his win at the Best of Nikonians 2107 Annual Photo Contest Winner of the Best of Nikonians Images 2018 Annual Photo Contest

Joseph, you are correct in that assumption - so I could have just changed the drive letter to something at the back end of the alphabet, but I'm not taking the risk. Normally drive letter allocations are dynamic, so each time that you plug in an extra device Windows chooses the next available letter - there's obviously a glitch in Windows which prevents the dynamic allocation process from seeing my manually assigned drive.

Joseph shank (Kjshank2) on October 13, 2019

I have a similar setup. Am I correct in assuming that if your mapped drive had been a letter further in the alphabet this would not have happened? Or at least made it less likely because you would have had to plug 20+ external drives in simultaneously to create this scenario?

Bill Naiman (pixures) on May 5, 2019

By comparison to others, I have relatively modest storage requirements. I have an internal 1TB internal SSD for "Windows OS", LR Catalog, and some specific files that benefit from the fast transfer rate. User files, including my image library reside on an internal 4TB HD that is approximately 50% full. My backup service is Acronis True Image which provides local and cloud backups that are updated every night. The Acronis solution was used for the full system recovery about a year ago when the original internal 2TB HD that came with my system failed completely during an editing session. After replacing the failed 2TB HD with the new 4TB HD, the Acronis recovery program restored all of my files to the new 4TB drive in about 1 hour as I recall. The only data that was missing was from the editing session that was in progress at the time of the failure. For me, the minor gap between live data and back up data was at most a minor inconvenience. I understand that for business critical systems, a minor gap can be serious. As mentioned in other comments, I fully agree that a backup scheme should include both nearby (e.g. in house) backup and out of house back up that is current and reliable.

Geoff Baylis (GBaylis) on May 3, 2019

Donor Ribbon awarded for his support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Donor Ribbon awarded for his very generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015 Awarded for his generous and continuous sharing of his high level skills with the Nikonians community Writer Ribbon awarded for his contributions to the Nikonians Articles. Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2017 Ribbon awarded for his win at the Best of Nikonians 2107 Annual Photo Contest Winner of the Best of Nikonians Images 2018 Annual Photo Contest

Thanks for all the comments, I hope it was enlightening for some and maybe a call to action for others. One thing I’d like to reiterate is that my NAS/RAID is my primary data source, not my backup device, so backups of the RAID have always been an essential part of my routine. With hindsight thought, they were not comprehensive enough. - Jim (FFN) – it would be my intention to use the expansion unit as one would a normal external hard drive – it plugs into the NAS via USB and would be configured as 4 independent disks. It can also, if necessary, be plugged into my PC for access to the data. While the QNAP software on the NAS can use it for automatic incremental backups I can also access it from my PC for backups of my local disks. When we are going away, I can unplug it and move it to my offsite location for additional security. I’ll still take additional backups to external drives for regular offsite storage. - Kyriacos (sakkask) – thanks for the update about Backblaze, I was looking at old info online. According to their latest info their software is integrated into QNAP NAS kit, so I’ll definitely look into that further. The downside is that the annual cost for me would be about $250 and rising: it may only be $0.005/Gb/month but it mounts up when you have over 4Tb of data, so potentially a solution for some data. You make a good point about deleted files: I don't want a 'replication' solution that will instantly replicate a corrupted NAS onto a disk/cloud backup - old versions must be retained too. - David (kuttler) – were you thinking that it was my Lightroom catalog that was corrupted? It was, in fact, the system directory that records for the file system where each file is located in disk. - Mike (mikedean54) – we live and learn – I’ve used drive letter associations for personal and business use for many years and never had a problem, or were even aware that problems could exist with their use. I’m now using network addressing! - Kenneth (f5titan) – I expect you can set up a RAID with a matched pair of external drives, but I’d find it a bit precarious having them both plugged in all the time: all too easy (for me) to accidentally disconnect them. If I did, I think I would tape the two units together and also the two USB leads (and maybe get some USB leads that were not black as a warning too). Geoff

KENNETH JACKSON (f5titan) on May 3, 2019

Not being IT savvy myself, I have four 4TB (one failed), one 3TB, two 2TB, two 1TB and one 500GB (failed) external back up drives. I try to keep folder names consistent across drives and add data to the most recent drive. I may try a RAID setup with these existing drives but I do not know if it can be done.

Noel Gillam (NFG) on May 2, 2019

Very good article, thank you for posting your detailed recovery. One very important point: raid is not a backup strategy, it's a provision for disc failure. Noel

Mick Wood (Triptych) on May 2, 2019

A great article Geoff with plenty of details to help others in a similar situation. Unfortunately it's often only after a disaster that any wrinkles in a backup strategy become apparent. Like some of the others here I don't have a NAS but make monthly backups into a couple of external drives and let Crashplan take the strain with continuous cloud backups of all my photos and other data files. In theory I should be covered against any PC failures ... maybe!

Brett Coyle (DrBrett) on May 2, 2019

Geoff: I had a similar (although not as disastrous) event recently. I'm not in IT so I can't be as technical in my description. I also have a NAS in RAID (mine is RAID 5) but I use it as my backup, on a weekly backup schedule. Yes, this means I have to have a computer with enough capacity for several large HDDs, but that's not a problem for me. I also use Acronis True Image, to do the backup. Two days into a two week vacation, I got an automated email saying one of my backups (I have several running at different times, for different drives) had failed. On return, I found my 3 TB drive in my computer with all of my images for a four year period was failing, and so Acronis couldn't back it up. The benefit of having the NAS strictly as a backup paid off here. I was able to install a new drive in my computer and repopulate it with the files from the last successful backup for that drive, without any problems. Lightroom confirmed I had all my files (no ! marks is a wonderful thing!) Although I have to have more drives than you, this system means I always have two copies of every file, and the RAID configuration means one drive failure isn't a big problem either. If you have room for a desktop computer with several drives in it, this is a different way to go.

Marsha Edmunds (meadowlark2) on May 2, 2019

Donor Ribbon awarded for her support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Fellow Ribbon awarded for her continuous encouragement and meaningful comments in the spirit of Nikonians. Donor Ribbon awarded for her generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015 Ribbon awarded for her generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2017 Awarded for her in-depth knowledge and high level of skill in several areas.  Awarded for winning in The Best of Nikonians 2019 Photo Contest

Thanks Geoff for your fine article. Having had a issue in the past year and struggling to restore everything gradually had me feeling a little sick and deeply concerned for some time. My system is much simpler than yours but I enjoyed hearing of your configuration, equipment and strategies as I think every day on how I can improve things to avoid/minimize tragedy in the future.

Mike Dean (mikedean54) on May 2, 2019

To avoid the problem you had in the first place simply don't mount/connect the NAS as a drive letter. Rather address it as a network device such as \\NAS. I use the Veritas System Recovery to automate my backups to a NAS using just a RAID mirror. I use this software because it allows a bare metal restore of my Window 10 laptop computer and it has saved my butt when a hard drive failed restoring Windows, Lightroom, Photoshop, printer calibrations, everything. The simple RAID 1 mirror is a little less complicated than the RAID 10 striped mirror on the NAS. It does not offer the increased space but if you have that many images your strategy should include a method of archive as well as backup. Having TBs of storage can simply lead to the ability to be sloppy.

David Kuttler (kuttler) on May 2, 2019

Thanks for sharing this. I wonder if multiple shared directories would have helped. Maybe by subject, time or something else. After a while size of the catalog will become an issue on the naz. May be worth considering

Russell Whittemore (rosewood_ltd) on May 2, 2019

Donor Ribbon awarded for his support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Donor Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015 Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2017 Awarded for his in-depth knowledge and high level of skill in several areas. Ribbon awarded as a member who has gone beyond technical knowledge to show mastery of the art a

Thanks for sharing your pain, Geoff :). It was very instructive to read your description of events and how you responded - a very useful and timely contribution to our community database. I recently moved to NAS storage for my media library and my photo images (4x10TB WD Reds in a Synology box) and your saga has prompted me to get cracking immediately on my off-site storage plans. While I am running currently on a MacPro, your experience points out very clearly that one cannot assume anything about the safety of data on a NAS, RAID configuration nonwithstanding. Stuff happens. "Non-IT" readers who are thinking about transitioning to NAS for their storage needs should also note that Geoff uses one of the more highly regarded providers of NAS - QNAP. It is highly advisable that the lay person should not try to implement NAS on the cheap. Purchase the most reliable, task-specific hard drives and choose an NAS from a source with a good track record for reliability, tech support and a robust, friendly support community. My personal opinion is that QNAP and Synology represent the best the industry has to offer. Thanks again for a great article, Geoff!

Kyriacos Sakkas (sakkask) on May 2, 2019

Quick feedback on GBaylis's comment - Backblaze will happily back up a NAS if you have it mounted with a normal drive letter, as the author did.

Kyriacos Sakkas (sakkask) on May 2, 2019

Having had disks crash before, and either losing all files or manually recovering from disparate or incomplete backups, my current choice is to outsource the hassle. I got an online computer backup solution. $6-7/month it will back up any drive attached to 1 PC, and keep files available (and versioned) for 30 days after they are gone from local storage. This is not OneDrive/GDrive/iCloud, but a more targeted backup offering. I do use those too, but even if you have the space on them, they will not save you from a deleted file. Maybe a month or so ago I did lose the main data drive on my PC, this held almost all my RAW files, as well as my document folders, Lightroom catalog files and so on. Restoration of everything was a matter of plugging in a new drive, and waiting about a day for everything to download. Now I did have some files permanently lost, since by default it does not back up files over 250MBs, so some random videos were not backed up, but this were few and not important - and I have now upped this limit to where they are covered too.

Jim Troxell (FFN) on May 2, 2019

Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2017-2018

Update/supplement to my previous comment, our nas to nas replication is performed at a schedule interval and initiated manually and then runs automatically. It is initiated only if we are confident nas 1 is not corrupted or producing any errors. A regular error-checking routine confirms this before we initiate the manual nas 1 to nas 2 replication.

Jim Troxell (FFN) on May 2, 2019

Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2017-2018

We maintain over 100K of images and gigabytes of non-photo worked-related data on our systems. May I offer a safer alternative to attaching an expansion unit to your primary qnap nas that has worked well for our purposes? We maintain two separate NAS units (Synology). In addition, each NAS has its own external usb drive that serves as a target for scheduled backup sessions on each nas that are set at different intervals from each other. Finally, each NAS is manually backed up to a separate "air-gapped" usb drive connected at somewhat random intervals. If nas 1 fails and cannot be easily rebuilt (running Synology's version of RAID 5), then we revert to nas 2 for production and recover any newer files that were missed since the most recent duplication from nas 1. These "newer" files may be on the nas1 external usb backup or on the separate manual "air-gapped" usb drive. After we are satisfied we have all recoverable files (usually missing, at most a day or two of work), we rebuild or replace nas 1 array and return to normal production. Our bu procedures do not take any significant time or effort and over many years, we have missed only an insignificant amount of data. My concern about your method of attaching an expansion unit is you risk its corruption from: a) malware; b) os crash; c) qnap system errors/crash; d) a repeat of your recent loss caused by your pc os.

Geoff Baylis (GBaylis) on May 2, 2019

Donor Ribbon awarded for his support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Donor Ribbon awarded for his very generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015 Awarded for his generous and continuous sharing of his high level skills with the Nikonians community Writer Ribbon awarded for his contributions to the Nikonians Articles. Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2017 Ribbon awarded for his win at the Best of Nikonians 2107 Annual Photo Contest Winner of the Best of Nikonians Images 2018 Annual Photo Contest

Hi Steve, you are correct that locally held backups are at risk from burglary, fire or flood, which is why I also keep a backup version offsite. Unfortunately neither Crashplan nor Backblaze offer cloud backups of a Windows based NAS drive. Geoff

steve hayes (shimself) on May 2, 2019

This is all very well, but stil la burglary, flood or fire will leave you in the mire Thus automatic cloud backup. I use Crashplan which allows me to backup both to a local usb drive and the cloud, it has versioning, automatic incremental backups, it does most of the work when you are away from the keyboard and is unlimited in size. Alternatives include Backblaze

Bo Stahlbrandt (bgs) on May 2, 2019

One of the two c-founders, expert in several areas Awarded for his valuable Nikon product reviews at the Resources

Excellent contribution to the community, Geoff. Thanks for writing this up, I am sure it can help many who might end up in the same situation as you did.