Sunday, October 11, 2009

Recover Deleted 1Tb WD My Book World

I know it has been a while since I posted and this might come off as a bit of a non-sequitor, but I feel like I just won the lottery. Earlier this week I accidentally deleted a folder share on my WD My Book World Edition (white light.) That folder had pretty much every piece of data I've ever created in the world and I hadn't yet backed it up. (You, go back-up now!) If it's too late, This entry might just save your life like it did mine.

Just so you know, I tried a week's worth of recovery applications in both XP and Linux with the drive hard-wired to my mobo and networked before I found the solution.

The 1Tb WD My Book World is an NAS drive. It basically has a small on board controller and a miniature Linux build that serves the file sharing system. If you are reading this you are probably in a panic, but don't skip ahead, this stuff is important to know. The drive has 4 partitions, two are RAIDed EXT3 partitions, this is where the file server lives along with the Linux share as a third Partition. These partitions come up anywhere between 100 Mb and 2 Gb. The file store is in the 928 Gb fourth partition. That partition is XFS. This is important, and why the manual says it is not possible to recover deleted files. Basically the drive is just not configured for undelete. Do not despair.

If you accidentally deleted a file share on your WD My Book and you haven't been able to recover anything that seems even slightly logical, try this:

Warning: You are going to void the warranty of your drive if you follow my directions. If you don't want to void your warranty, use one of the data recovery services listed on WD's website. That will run you anywhere form $300 - $2700 to recover your files.

Disconnect your drive. You should have done this in a panic already, in fact if you haven't and you have been messing around on the drive too much, some or all of your data may already be corrupt.

Now remove the drive from the white case. Be gentle, a strategically applied screwdriver along the front corner seams, gently twisted is sufficient for opening the drive. You are going to plug this directly into your motherboard. The drive is a SATA drive, you might need a cable, Radio Shack sells them for 9 bucks. Plug the drive into your motherboard, there are tutorials for this all over the net if you don't know how to do this.

In Windows, you want to make sure you can see the drive and it's partitions. You won't see it in My Computer, but you should see it in Administrator Tools>Computer Management>Disk Manager. It will show up as a group of unnamed partitions totaling 931.51 GB for the 1Tb version. At this point, don't mess around.

Windows can't access EXT2/3 file systems by default so a helpful utility to install on your main C: drive is FS-Driver. Find it at This will give you shell level access to the ext3 file sytem. The data you are recovering is in an XFS file system, but it is good to be able to access these partitions.

The only other tool you will need is Raise Data Recovery for XFS. Make sure you get the XFS version. This is not free, but you can test it for free and do your scan, but not save any file over 64K. The program only costs 30 euros, so it is well worth it, because it works perfectly. SysDev Laboratories, the Ukrainian outfit that makes Raise Data Recovery estimates that their software can recover 99% of the lost data in XFS file system and 80% of the directory naming. This is important, because what are you going to do with a pile of files named lostfile_xxxxxxx.ext. That's what some recovery aps recover. Raise gets everything. So if a folder was recently rewritten, it might change the directory name to something like inode1234567 but for the most part, I found everything else intact.

At first, I wasn't sure I had gotten everything. So be sure to check every folder Raise spits out. My stuff was really far down the list and two inode1234546 directories deep, but it was all intact with the correct names.

Now, if you haven't, register your software and save the important files to another HD and back it up. The reassemble your WD my book and plug it in and start over.

All I can say is thanks Raise Data Recovery. I hope this post helps someone who, like me, was stupid twice; once for not backing up and once for deleting without checking.