Maxtor Shared Storage II bites the big one,

Maxtor Shared Storage II bites the big one,

Or, how I recovered my data from a so called Raid 1 array device failure.

Note: this is not a very technical article, just a guy fumbling around trying to save some pictures and mp3s.

When this thing first came out I thought it looked great and had to have it for our media storage and file backups. It was easy enough to set up but I didn’t look into the limitations of the unit. It acts as a UPnP media server so I could hook up the Roku over the network and serve the music to our computers running Yahoo Music. It also offered the Raid 1 array (mirroring). Now, a Raid 1 device is suppose to be pretty good (especially by home user standard) for insuring you don’t loose you data from a single hard drive failure. Normally with the Raid 1, if one drive fails (they both are exact copies of each other) you just replace it and the device rebuilds the mirror and you didn’t loose any data.

Maxtor decided to treat it a little differently. With the MSS II you have the choice of Raid 0 (striping, is faster by storing some info on each drive) or Raid 1 (mirroring, two duplicate copies). With this device however, you aren’t protected in either mode. There is no way to remove one drive should it fail while still using the other drive. For one, that voids the warranty but the device is not capable of rebuilding the array and the mirror even if you replaced the bad drive. I know, you should make copies of the backups but I thought I had with the mirrored disks.

My MSS wasn’t out of warranty but they do not cover data loss under the warranty. From what I have read, they will be more than happy to try and recover your data for a hundreds or thousand dollars. Any of the Data recovery business (while doing a great job I am sure) are about the same price for Raid recovery. I searched with as may different phrases as I could think of but didn’t come up with any one good solution (especialiy with in my limited technical ability).

After several days of trying many different recovery programs I decided to attack it a slightly different way. The MSS uses a Linux operating system and the drives are partitioned as such. I didn’t suspect drive failure so if I had a Linux system I should be able to look at the drives.  I downloaded the latest stable release of Kubuntu (Ubuntu build with the KDE interface). I’m not a programmer or Linux expert, but I have played around with it off and on over the years. With the help of the many articles on hacking the MSS and other various Raid recovery articles I was able to access the drive and recover my data.

I loaded Kubuntu on a spare drive I had in our PC. You can run it from a LiveCD as well but I wanted to transfer all the data if I found it and I couldn’t figure out how to mount the Windows drives when I ran the LiveCD. After loading Kubuntu, I mounted the raid partition (one of the drives from the MSS was placed into USB SATA enclosure). After entering the shell program I created a folder to mount the raid partition to using “Sudo mkdir /usr/rdmnt“. I used the “sudo fdisk -l” command to list all attached drive and their partitions so I knew what to mount to my directory (/dev/sda6 in my case was listed as the linux raid file system). I then typed “sudo mount /dev/sda6 /usr/rdmnt“. This mounted the raid partition to the directory “rdmnt”. The “sudo” command makes it so you can use commands as if you are the root or admin user. After I had the drive mounted I was able to access the file system from the user interface within Kubuntu. I copied the contents of the Raid drive to my user folder in Kubuntu.

Now, since I still wanted the functionality I original sought, I searched around for a better alternative to the MSS II. I found the D-link DNS-323. It is very similar to the MSS device in almost every way, except one. It has the ability to keep functioning should one drive fail. That drive can be easily replaced by simply powering down, removing the front cover and pushing down on the eject lever. Remove old drive and replace with the same size or larger drive. The device will rebuild the mirror on its own and you are back up and running with your data protected. It also has the ability act as an FTP server so you can access your data (or as much of it as you want to put in the FTP share) from any place on the internet.

I have learned my lesson though. Even with the extra protection of the mirrored drives, I will be archiving my pictures and music to DVD as well as USB mass storage devices.

9 thoughts on “Maxtor Shared Storage II bites the big one,

  1. I’ve encountered this EXACT same issue, and I’ve got one of my pulled drives connected via a SATA-to-USB adapter — but Ubuntu won’t recognize it. (I’m using the LiveCD version; not sure if that matters.)

    Interestingly, Fedora will recognize the drive, but won’t seem to let me access the contents. Very frustrating. Glad someone had better luck!

  2. Actually, I need to amend that last comment: Fedora does let me access the drive, but I don’t see any of my data there, only file-system stuff.

  3. With Ubuntu I was not able to view the raid drive using the LiveCD (don’t know why) so I loaded it on an extra drive in my PC. Are you able to see all of the partitions on the drive? My data was stored on the Linux Raid partition (sda6 in my case).

    Good luck.

  4. Thanks for the assistance and advise on where to start with recovering my data from my crashed Maxtor Share Storage case. The drives themselves were intact. Thankfully I have been able to go a little further than hwat you have mentioned above and been able to recover a RAID 0.

    Firstly my error was much the same as above. Seems like a slight power surge after a recent storm did the damage when the UPS ran out of battery. Solid yellow light and would not go any further.

    As everyone has found, warrant was over.

    I have done the whole commercial recovery of data from drives before and must admit I have been disapointed.

    The process that I followed started with what you have described above. Plugged the two SATA drives into spare ports on my computer. Kubuntu loaded on boot from CD. I used gparted to identify the differnt patitions on the hard drive and identify the names of the partitions which contained the data.

    Then used mdadm to assemble the RAID drive. It seems to interigate the partition.

    Finally mount the md0 partition which you created with mdadm and voila accessable raid 0 partition to recover your data from.

    From now on found more reliable raid devices and using redundant raid.

    Good lunk to all.

  5. HERE’S A SIMPLER ALTERNATIVE FOR THOSE WITH VISTA OR XP PC’S

    I had 2 MSS II drives and after lightning struck our home one of the drives disappeared off of my network. Since both were out of warranty I opened them both up and switched drives to see if I could pinpoint if it was the drive or the other hardware. It was the drive as the good drive still worked on the ‘broken’ MSS II (both were 320GB versions, by the way).

    I run a Vista machine and did the following simple thing that worked: I downloaded:
    TOTAL COMMANDER 7.04 (Freeware) and installed it.
    I then downloaded the EXT2/3 ReiserFS PLUGIN from the Total Commander website and installed it (just follow the plugin instructions).

    I then plugged the MSS II drive into my SATA connector on my PC.

    In TOTAL COMMANDER. because of the plugin, you can simply mount and access the drive.
    I then copied off 265GB of data (toot 24 hrs, a little slow). No errors, no problems. I have my data back and I could not care less about the crappy MSS II drive. I reformatted it with Partition Magic and reused it elsewhere.

    Give this a try, it might just work for you as well.

  6. A question about the Total Commander solution in Windows –

    Is this a solution you can use if your MSS II was in RAID 0?

    -Zach

  7. Thanks for this posting and the many replies. I found it extremely useful when I had to recover data from my failed MSS drive. I used a bootable SUSE Linux 10 disk with both MSS drives in USB caddies and backed up to a big memory stick. It took ages to copy but at least I now have access to the data.

    Jim

  8. An update… writing the files to the USB memory stick was painfully slow so I upgraded to a bootable CD of SUSE Linux 12.2 which allowed me to copy the files to an internal NTFS drive instead. Dolphin displayed the MSS drive as a raid partition and also showed the NTFS drive with write access. It was still slow but much quicker than using the memory stick and I can just leave it running overnight. Thanks again for all the suggestions posted here – I was about to give up on it.

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