How To Recover Data From A Buffalo TeraStation

Q. I have a Buffalo TeraStation TS5400DN1204 NAS. It has (4) 3TB hard drives configured in RAID 0. Giving me a total of 12TB of storage. Two of the hard drives are showing as failed (I hear one of them clicking for sure), and I can’t read the data from the other two. What does this mean, and can the data be recovered?


Find out how to recover data from a Buffalo TeraStaion with RAID 0

Data recovery on Buffalo TeraStation devices is complicated by RAID parameters and an uncommon file system.

Your issue is comprised of multiple complicated problems, and it won’t be an easy fix I’m afraid.  Not only is your Buffalo TeraStation set up as a RAID 0, which offers no redundancy, but you have at least one drive that is manifesting symptoms of a physical failure.  If that drive cannot be repaired, or has severe platter damage, then your data is gone no matter what condition the remaining drives are in.  That is the downside to RAID 0 for sure.

Even with all of the drives accessible, you run into an additional problem of finding good data recovery software that can actually read the file system Buffalo uses on it’s TeraStation devices.  We use our own custom built software to regenerate the partition and file structure, so that the data looks exactly like it did before the crash occurred.  If you want to attempt to do the recovery yourself, and don’t care about keeping the original folder and file names you will need to take the following steps…

  1. You must either clone, or create image files of each source drive. This isn’t the same as just copying the contents of one drive to another, this is a sector-by-sector cloning process.  Never, under any circumstances do any type of recovery from the original drives.
  2. Use a program like WinHex to find the header size, and stripe size of your array.
  3. Once you have the stripe configuration,  you can then destripe everything to a single 12TB image file.
  4. Scan the image file with a good piece of data recovery software. If you use decent data recovery software, like RStudio, you may be able to rebuild the stripe manually right within that program (if you are familiar with how to do that). However, your data will not have the original file and folder structure.  Given the file system used in the Buffalo TeraStation, the best outcome would be a raw, unorganized list of folders with your files containing generic file names. (Folder JPG with files….001.jpg…002.jpg…003.jpg etc. etc.)

If any of your drives are clicking or unrecognized, or you aren’t up to trying it yourself and want to have your data recovered with the original file and folder structure intact, then we can help you. Sometimes drives will drop out of the array, but have no obvious symptoms of having suffered a physical failure.  If your device is utilizing Seagate hard drives, then there’s a good chance there could be firmware corruption that caused the drives to drop out.  In any case, we can help recover your data.

If you need hard drive repair and data recovery, call 1-800-717-8974

How We Recover Data From Buffalo TeraStation Devices

  1. We start by analyzing all of the drives within the array
  2. If any drives have physically failed we evaluate them to determine the fault, and begin the necessary repairs in our clean room.
  3. We then image ALL of the hard drives that make up the array
  4. Working from the images we created, we then analyze the array to verify RAID type, stripe size, drive order, etc. so that we can begin rebuilding the stripe
  5. After the stripe is rebuilt, we destripe to a single image
  6. We then rebuild the partition and file structure so that the original file names, folder names, and organizational structure remains intact.
  7. Finally, we copy the recovered data onto the destination media of your choice.

Successfully recovering data from failed Buffalo storage devices is possible, but you need to be able to properly diagnose the issue and know exactly how to proceed.  Without the proper experience and knowledge, it is very easy to render the data completely unrecoverable.

Reasons Why A Buffalo TeraStation May Be Unrecoverable

  • The array is configured as a RAID 0, and one drive has severe damage that prevents it from being imaged
  • Prior to sending in for recovery, the end user attempts hot swaps and/or runs various utilities that corrupt the existing stripe
  • The stripe becomes corrupted due to a degrading drive in the moments before a complete failure of the array occurs.
  • An inexperienced technician works from source drives and inadvertently writes data to those disks.

What To Do If Your Buffalo TeraStation Fails

The first thing you should do if your fails is assess your knowledge of how the device works, and whether or not you feel confident in being able to recover the data without making the situation worse.  If the data is critical, and you are unfamiliar with the processes used in RAID data recovery procedures, then it is best to consult a professional recovery service that can help you.  Even if you don’t choose us, there are other reputable companies out there.

If any of the drives are clicking or making unusual noises, then that is a sure sign that there is some type of mechanical problem with at least one of the drives.  If the RAID parameters are set up as a RAID 0, then you are stuck until the drive is repaired and imaged.  In many cases, simply replacing the damaged drive with a cloned copy does not work due to corruption in the stripe that can occur when the original drive failed.  You will most likely need to image all of the drives and then rebuild the strip using a program like WinHex.

If you would like to speak with a RAID data recovery specialist, who can help evaluate your problem and see what the chances of recovery are, please feel free to call us at 1.800.717.8974 and we would be happy to help you.