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Xeb's Misadventures as a Data Recovery Engineer - Updated 4/11/2017 - Page 5

post #41 of 220
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lord Xeb View Post

Well, today we had a job that went south. RAID for a business that someone attempted to rebuild twice after yanking the wrong drive... And not recoverable. RAID parameters are gone. frown.gif 8 4TB drives in RAID 5.

Whoever created that topology with that many drives of that size should have been shot, on principle. RAID 6 yes, but RAID 5? Really?
Putting that many drives in a case without obvious drive indicators? For a business? Really?
Putting the "backup" (read: copy) on the same array? Really?
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post #42 of 220
Thread Starter 
Yep. This poor guy was just doing his job trying to fix what his predecessor created. frown.gif then the thing failed and all hell broke loose. They didn't know about the backup till afterward. They knew it was backing but yep.
 
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post #43 of 220
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Alright ladies. It is time for the indept nitty gritty goody nasty boogadooga on this RAID. You know the Really now? Y U DO DIS? 6 3TB drives RAID 5... Dreaded Seagate DM series...

So, first off, this RAID has 6 3TB drives in RAID 5. I will spare a lecture on how exactly RAID5 works but essentially it allows for 1 drive to fail... not 2.

Upon evaluating each of the drives (I use the PC3K, backup resources like modules, ROM (SUPER IMPORTANT FOR SEAGATE!!! NO ROM NO RECOVERY!!!!!!). Afterward, I move onto the 2 drives that have failed. One drive gets ready almost immediately but the other drive takes over a minute of it clicking then it gets ready. Upon readinging (lets say drive 1) head 1 is very weak and VERY slow. If normally it moves at 100MB/s this thing was reading at 3MB/s. It was also picking up false unreadable sectors. If you re-read them again, it would read fine. All signs of a weak head.

The other drive? It didn't even try to work on Head 2 that had failed. Just would attempt read, completely destabilize and click. All wonderful signs of a completely failed head. Also possible for a severely degraded surface or even platter damage.


Moving on.

Since this was part of a RAID and was made at the same time, it has all identical drives. By identical I mean it. Seriously. These things were exact matches for reach other down to the data manufactured and even the pre-amp values (without a matching preamp you have no head exchange with seagate).

On Seagate drives, you have match the following (read are most critical) Yellow is somewhat important. Improves chances of matching heads. Green - Not as important but closer the better:

Second and third characters in the serial number
Drive model (ST3000DM001)
Part Number - 9SL154-579
Date Code: 13373
Site Code - TK

Lastly are preamp values. This can only be had via terminal and by issuing commands directly to the drive via its com port. I will not provide further details.
Head resistance values are also important but can be worked around.


Once I have a donor in hand (in this case other drives from the array) I imaged the drives then headed to the clean room and performed a head swap.

The 2 previously drives were previously imaged except for the surfaces and their corresponding failed heads.

The drive that immeaditely got ready just imaged and only 108 sectors out of something like 6 billion were unreadable. Not bad.
The other one? Yeah, no. Its "new" heads were still strugging because of how badly degraded it was. Well, lucky for me I now have 5 of the 6 drives. That is all that I need to start attempting to get RAID parameters.


There are all kinds of software out their that you can use to do this but we have a few we prefer certain ones. I will not go into details here.

Finding the parameters didn't take long.
OFF TO R-STUDIO
Using the output of the recovery software I rebuilt the RAID and everything came up. Extracted everything to an 8TB drive. Good to go.

Feel free to ask questions.
 
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post #44 of 220
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lord Xeb View Post

...

Lastly are preamp values. This can only be had via terminal and by issuing commands directly to the drive via its com port. I will not provide further details.
Head resistance values are also important but can be worked around.

...

There are all kinds of software out their that you can use to do this but we have a few we prefer certain ones. I will not go into details here.

...

Feel free to ask questions.

Are you not going into details because of trade secrets, anonymity, or laziness? Can bribery result in details? thumb.gif
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post #45 of 220
Thread Starter 
I am not ]going into details because I don't want people to takes this as a bible or as a "how to". Plus, you can simply do a google search and find what i am referring to. I am not hiding it but I am not disclosing anything either. Manly because of anonymity but also because I don't feel like sharing "secrets" if they are not needed. As I said before, this is not a "how to"

Additionally, building the RAID is nothing special. There is various software out there that can help you find the RAID parameters. However, that is if you know your RAID and drives are okay:
Quote:
1. Launch UFS Explorer.

2. On the toolbar, select "Build RAID".
3. Set "RAID level" to "RAID 5 - stripe set with distributed parity".
4. Set "Stripe size" to "Custom stripe size (sectors)", and enter a value for a stripe size, "128".
5. Set "Parity distribution" to "Right-asymmetric (forward)".
6. Set "Parity delay" to "1".

7. On the left, select an entry starting with "Drive6:", right-click it and pick "Add to RAID" on the toolbar.
8. On the left, select an entry starting with "Drive5:", right-click it and pick "Add to RAID" on the toolbar.
9. On the left, select an entry starting with "Drive3:", right-click it and pick "Add to RAID" on the toolbar.
10. On the left, select an entry starting with "Drive4:", right-click it and pick "Add to RAID" on the toolbar.
11. On the toolbar, click "Placeholder".
12. On the left, select an entry starting with "Drive0:", right-click it and pick "Add to RAID" on the toolbar.

13. In the table on the right, for every storage set "Start sector" value to 0. To do this, use "Edit Range" on the toolbar.

14. Click "Build" to close RAID setup.

Like I said, sometimes things are just not as interesting so I leave them out.

Also, I forgot to mention but this is in the OP:
Quote:
Posts will be as vague as possible.

On another note:
The reason why DM series are a pain is that you never know if the drive has platter damage or not. Finding compatible heads is not an issue. Finding out that there is platter damage is. Sometimes when the heads die they will overheat and come into contact with the platter. Bad juju happens after that. See my first post for clarity on this matter.
Edited by Lord Xeb - 11/28/16 at 9:20pm
 
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post #46 of 220
Thread Starter 
Case 3 - DAMN YOU VILE DRIVE. DAMN YOU!


So, just another day at the office like any other but occasionally I will get jobs like this one. Something that seems simple at first but ends up complicated much later...


I have a WD here sitting on my desk. When drives are evaluated, they are give various levels based on what is wrong:
Logical (degraded surface)
Firmware gunner.gif <- Sometimes the worst jobs in existence
Electronic
Mechanical
RAID (e-e)

Depending on what is wrong, what is needed to recover the drive or in what combinations there of justifies the pricing given the customer. Simply put: More complicated = More expensive the recovery

This drive is a WD 2.5" which it seemed to just have some bad sectors. No biggy. Using the recovery equipment at hand those can easily be rectified or at least controlled. This one however turned mechanical... Which is the worst. Once a job is quoted you cannot go back and say, "Hey, sorry, but it is going to cost more". That is just bad business.

This all happened after this drive was approved... But let's start from the beginning?

I found an appropriately sized image drive to use and began imaging. Whenever you start an image, you always create a head map. Trust me it makes life easier.

This drive in particular has 4 heads: 0 1 2 3
During the imaging process all is going well. Drive is hitting some bad sectors and occasionally destabilizes. That is fine, just have to tweak things and continue. Each drive is different and each one you can get away with certain things. Other ones I need to do entire scripting to make a drive do as I ask.

I let it continue. This is a 500GB drive so it will should take about 4-8 hours for the imaging complete before I can begin the extraction (which sometimes involves reading and reconstructing from the MFT to get a working file system). So, without further to do, I just let it go.

Come the next morning.

The drive is still imaging? O-o odd. I look at the sector map and it is filled with sporadic bad sectors. 28k of them! huh? wut?
Okay, time for a little test. I stop the imaging and try to re-read the bad sectors. Guess what? They read fine. Hm... looks like we got a weak head here.

Lets just turn off the offending head (head 1) and imaging the rest.

A while later...
I come back to the job and all the other surfaces are done imaging. Great. Problem is that I still have almost a 4th of the drive that is not imaged. Hard drives don't write data a per platter basis but instead tend to jump around in a certain order. It is usually 50-250k sectors then jump to the next head. In some cases it can be more or less. Other times they move up and down or butterfly (8 heads so 012345676543210 or 01234765401234 etc). Very confusing. But that is what can make recovering data a pain in the butt. Why? You have NO idea where the data is on the drive or what platter(s) it is stored on. That is why if 1 platter cannot be imaged it can result in a completely unrecoverable drive. Fun times. Glad I am not the one who has to talk to the customer. I just talk to my machine and whisper naughty things to hard drives. You know, gotta give them a little motivation! wink.gif

So, what do we do? Well, we got a couple of things:
1) Image the drive with all other heads but the weak one disabled. During imaging have it automatically skip 256 sectors each time it hits a read error.
2) Find a matching donor and swap heads. Re-read all the bad sectors and continue imaging. Then pray. Yes, there is a lot of praying here. Hope you are devote and loyal to your religion. Your gonna need it sometimes.

Well, first option is a no go. The bad sectors have no order to them. Sometimes when there are bad sectors they come in slivers or clumps. Other times they are just random and have no rhyme or reason. Unfortunately, there is no reason here...

So, we could just keep reading and let it do its own thing. Problem is that there is no way of knowing if and when the weak head will fail. Nor do we know how long it is going to take. Imaging a drive like that could take a month or a weak. Deadlines are set and must be met. Path of least resistance is always best in these situations. Though, sometimes that is not always the easiest...

Well, I guess I have to do it. Head swap is needed. I have to go get a good set of head on this drive and finish reading it. It is the only way to either:
1) Avoid a long drawn out recovery
2) Possibly cause a catastrophic drive failure with possible platter damage occurring. I am in the business of recovering data not loosing it.

Off to our VAST donor library. Nothing like having 6000+ drives on hand. Comes in handy. Really handy. No need to buy a part and wait. Buying parts can be a problem because a lot of times you need a specific drive. Well, if you need a specific drive you go to specific places that sell drives with their specific identification. There are companies out there that specialize in finding, recording and offering hard drives with all their indentification. Cost for said donor from said places? 300. Nope. Not happening. Besides, we have 6000+ drives in stock. Why do I need to order one?

Let's look through the library's indexing system and bam. Found it. Guess what? Near perfect match. Just about 2 months off of the DOM (Date of Manufacture). Couldn't find a better match than this.

Cleanroom!
Head swap complete. Plug in the drive and pray. Well hell. Why is this drive not wanting to get ready? Oh.. derp. Screw loose on the PCB. FALSE ALARM!

Drive is imaging better but that surface sure is messed up. I reduced the number of bad sectors from 28k down to less than a 100. Not bad. Still slow going but less painful than before. I will take that thank you very much.

What do i need do from here you ask? For one, this drive is FAT32 formatted and its file system is wrecked. After I am done with the image I will have to do a scan through both of the FAT directory copies and do a composite build of the file system. Then, if it works out, extract data. All in a day's work.



Why is data recovery so expensive? I give you this as my answer. Merry Christmas.

Edit: Fixed some grammar issues and added some clarity.
Edited by Lord Xeb - 11/28/16 at 9:17pm
 
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post #47 of 220
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Quote:
Originally Posted by parityboy View Post

@Lord Xeb

Many thanks for the explanation. It actually helps me to firm up a theory I have that some drives are actually larger drives with defective platters; i.e.a 3TB drive is actually a 4TB drive with a flaky platter thrown in to recoup some of the investment from poor yields, a bit like AMD with their 3-core processors. Or that some drives actually have the platters of larger drives, but "short-stroked" in the firmware to give a lower usable capacity - the transfer speeds (indicator of areal density at a given rotational speed) are a bit of a clue.

The first theory is why I stay away from 1.5TB (2TB), 3TB (4TB) and 6TB (8TB) drives.

EDIT:
Yes please! biggrin.gif

I forgot to address this. You are partially correct. It depends on the aerial density of the platters. If we take a Pharaoh drive such as the ST3100524AS drives. and you change it to lets say an ST3200528AS then you get a 2TB drive but it actually has 4 platters not 2 in the 1TB drive.

Sometimes in these weird drive sizes they will instead only use one side of a platter or physically have a head disabled. God I hate dealing with drives that have 3 heads... Having that other head there to allow me to take them out and put them back in makes my life easier. Hitachi, I am looking at you.

As far as 1.5TB drives go you are partially correct there if you are referring to seagate. 3TB drives, seagate. 6TB drives? So far haven't seen issues but I would say seagate.
Edited by Lord Xeb - 11/28/16 at 11:35pm
 
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post #48 of 220
@Lord Xeb

Where you mention about an "image drive" drive for that 500GB 2.5" WD, do you not image to that big NAS you built? Oh, and I'll ask again - do DR outfits accept drive donations?
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post #49 of 220
Thread Starter 
We do but only from jobs which we have completed and not from the outside. It is an odd thing it is what it is.

While I could image to the server it is not reliable. I cannot have even a minor hickup. If the network went down or a faulty cable occured, then the images would be ruined. Some of these drives we have one shot and that is it. So, best course of action is via an destination drive.
 
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post #50 of 220
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lord Xeb View Post

We do but only from jobs which we have completed and not from the outside. It is an odd thing it is what it is.

While I could image to the server it is not reliable. I cannot have even a minor hickup. If the network went down or a faulty cable occured, then the images would be ruined. Some of these drives we have one shot and that is it. So, best course of action is via an destination drive.

Ahhh, ok. Good point about the possibly flaky Ethernet cables. So just out of interest, what's the big NAS for? Also, when you do a head swap are you assisted by a machine in any way or is it completely by hand?
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