Lately I’ve been hearing that some of you have read on the Internet where you can take a RAID 1 (mirrored) drive out of a ShareSpace, put it in a computer, and use an Ubuntu Desktop CD to recover your data, but no tutorials exist. Since you read it on the Internet it must be true, so I decided to write an illustrated tutorial to help out. Big, huge thanks to WDJeremy for preparing a ShareSpace drive for me to work on.
First things first - RAID gives you redundancy, and is not a backup. It is okay to use a RAID array as your backup location. That means if the array fails you still have the original which is stored on an entirely different physical disk. The second drive in a RAID 1 array does not count as that different disk. When your RAID array fails, you should restore from your backup. Sometimes the worst happens, and you need the data from the failed array. That’s okay, but these instructions are not an excuse to not have backups. I also can’t guarantee that these instructions will work, and a failure at this stage could damage the RAID array and cause data loss or make it more difficult for a data recovery company to recover data from the drives.
With that out of the way, if you hate data, let’s continue.
Your ShareSpace using a firmware that is Linux-based, and the drives are partitioned and formatted for use in a Linux RAID. This means putting the drive into a Windows computer will not show any drive letters Windows only understands FAT- and NTFS-formatted drives. Disk Management will show that the drive has four partitions, but Windows will show the file system as “RAW”. We’re going to use an operating system called Ubuntu to access the data on a RAID 1 drive. These instructions are written for Ubuntu 10.04 LTS and higher.
The first thing you’ll need is an Ubuntu Desktop CD. You can download it for free, and the Ubuntu website gives instructions and software for burning to a CD or creating a bootable USB drive. These CDs can be used to install Ubuntu or to try Ubuntu directly from the CD and that makes them super useful for data recovery, system testing, and so on. The download and instructions are available here: http://www.ubuntu.com/desktop/get-ubuntu/download
Once you have an Ubuntu CD, shut down your ShareSpace and computer. Remove one drive from your ShareSpace and connect it to your computer using SATA cables. Then, turn on your computer and boot from the Ubuntu CD. Check your BIOS settings to make sure your computer is configured to boot from CD.
Once Ubuntu has loaded, click on the button that says “Try Ubuntu”. After a moment, you will see the Ubuntu desktop. Because the ShareSpace drive is formatted for use in a RAID array, Ubuntu will ignore it and we will have to mount it manually. This is very easy to do the second time, but I’m here to guide you through it the first time. The first thing to know is that Ubuntu doesn’t use drive letters. Windows provides a drive letter to access file systems on a disk, and Ubuntu lets you “mount” them to a directory. So the first thing we need to do is find the name of the data partition on the ShareSpace drive.
Go to the System menu, click on Administration, then click on Disk Utility. From there, you can find your ShareSpace drive on the left, and when you click on it, the device name will be shown in the title bar and on the right side. In this case, the drive is called /dev/sdb but it might be different on your computer. You must get the correct name of the device. We’re going to add a 4 on the end to refer to the data partition, so we’re going to work on /dev/sdb4 in this tutorial.
Finding the device name was the hard part. Now comes the scary part. Ubuntu didn’t mount the drive automatically because the drive was part of a RAID array. So we need to enter a command that tells Ubuntu what drive to mount, how to mount it, and where to mount it. To enter this command we’ll need a command prompt, so go to the Applications menu, then click on Accessories, and then click on Terminal. You’ll get a command prompt that looks like this:
That’s where you’ll type in the following command. If your drive name earlier was /dev/sdc , you’ll substitute /dev/sdc4 instead of /dev/sdb4. Once you’ve typed it in, press Enter.
sudo mount -t ext3 -o ro /dev/sdb4 /mnt
This is what it looked like when I did it. My prompt looks slightly different because Ubuntu is installed on my computer, but the important thing you’ll notice is that the computer pauses for a couple of seconds and then you get another command prompt. No news is good news! Ubuntu will display an error if anything goes wrong, but everything worked and it’s ready for the next command. You can type exit and press Enter or click on the Close button in the title bar to close the Terminal Window.
Now that everything’s mounted, it’s time to take a look at your data. The contents of the drive are located in /mnt , and to get there we’ll click on the Places menu, then click on Computer.
Once that comes up, you’ll double-click on the Filesystem icon.
You’ll see a lot of different folders, but the one you want is called mnt. Go ahead and double-click on that one. From there you’ll see your Shares listed along with some other miscellaneous folders. Let’s double-click on the Public folder.
Here we can see the Shared Music, Shared Pictures, and Shared Video folders. It looks like WDJeremy backed up his SmartWare install files. This is the point where you can start backing things up. Plug in an external drive and another window should come up listing the contents of the drive. You can simply drag and drop your files to the external drive.
Maybe you have a My Book World or My Book Live that you would like to transfer your files to. As long as your computer is plugged into your network with an Ethernet cable, you can do that too. From any file management window, press Ctrl-L. This will bring up an address bar. You can type in a location in the same manner you would on a Mac. For example, if you had a My Book Live that was named mybooklive , you would type in:
and press Enter.
After a few seconds, the contents of the drive will appear, and you can drag and drop files from your ShareSpace drive to the network drive.