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Protecting NAS Devices from Data Loss

NAS

NAS (Network Attached Storage) as a storage option is unbeatable. It’s cost-effective, functional and flexible. However, as with all storage devices, data loss cannot be completely ruled out.  Each NAS device data loss has its own history, but there are frequently occurring scenarios that require a restoration of network storage.

  • Human error: Human error is a common cause when NAS/ RAID (redundant array of independent disks) data is lost. Data loss often happens accidentally due to re-formatting, reinstallation, or someone accidentally overwriting the drive.
  • Power failure: NAS network memory can have problems due to power failure, voltage fluctuations or overvoltage. RAID arrays that have been in use for some time are particularly vulnerable, as voltage fluctuations can prevent disks, which are out of sync, from being reintegrated into the RAID.
  • Overheating: Overheating of the system by faulty cooling in the server room or by placement of the device in the office or at home, which could eventually lead to drive failure, is also quite common.
  • Defective NAS controllers: Defective controllers as a result of faulty reorganizations or rebuilds can cause data loss. Firmware or operating system errors can occur if the memory configuration is overwritten.
  • Mechanical faults: RAID systems are designed to compensate for the failure of a single hard drive. In the instance a drive fails, the remaining drives must compensate for the failure, which could lead to a total failure.
  • Natural catastrophes: Fire damage, water damage, contamination can destroy a NAS network storage in seconds. Rebuilding such a system requires special knowledge and the ability to thoroughly clean and decontaminate hard drives and devices. Only then can the data be restored by a logical rebuild. Professional data recovery service providers such as Kroll Ontrack have the technical expertise to thoroughly clean and successfully restore heavily soiled media.

The examples above show that there are many reasons and situations where data loss can occur, even in a NAS system. However, by just implementing a few of the suggestions below, you can increase the data security. Here are some tips and insights on how to minimize the risk of data loss.

  • Control access rights: If the network is used by several users, it should be clear who can access what data. Data is often deleted because a user does not know that another person needs them.
  • Create automatic backups: NAS systems offer many advantages, but there is no absolute data security. Therefore, it is recommended to periodically back up all important data on other storage media, such as a USB hard drive. Even more security can be achieved if the backup is spatially separated. The data should be encrypted when the data is stored in an external location.
  • Correct setup: A NAS system is typically setup with a RAID configuration. In the best case, this ensures additional security, which is essential for companies. However: RAID-0 does not provide data security! RAID-0 allows faster data access, but does not provide any redundancies or mirroring, nor does it increase data security. RAID-5 is the better choice, but an external backup should not be forgotten nevertheless.
  • Trust is good, control is better: Backups should always be tested for their functionality. An incomplete or inaccessible backup is not worth anything. At the same time, extended NAS solutions should also be tested by experienced personnel before the final set-up. Incorrect expansion can lead to a complete failure, and thus, to a data loss.
  • Correct documentation: Each administrator should document the NAS system used. Important and frequently forgotten details are BIOS version, controller version, and file systems used. Exact documentation facilitates data recovery, if necessary, and also plays an important role in compliance.
  • Proper investment: A decisive mistake is unreasonable thrift. Therefore, you should pay attention to quality when buying the hard drives for the system. The most suitable drives are ones that have been certified for 24/7 continuous operation, fast access times, and large cache. It’s best to purchase hard drives from different production batches. In this way production-related errors or susceptibility to failures can be reduced. There is a risk that hard drives will fail within a short time in a chain reaction.
  • Standardized or customized? It’s recommended to use standardized drives with Microsoft file systems or Linux ext3 or XFS. Alternatively, proprietary formats with little or often non-documented file systems make the data recovery more time-consuming and costly in case of an emergency.
  • Be prepared and keep calm. In case of an emergency, a data recovery service provider should be contacted. This allows the necessary rescue measures to be initiated quickly. And it protects you from mistakes that otherwise arise in the first panic. Trying to recover the data yourself should not be performed and could result in the data becoming unrecoverable, even for professional data recovery experts.

 

Picture copyright: C. Nöhren / pixelio.de

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