Hard Drive Death

Sometimes I wonder if I get a bit paranoid about backups and using my NAS. This usually happens on the occasion that I have to do some maintainance on it. Most of the people I know do not have a NAS, which of course begs the question of whether we need to have one or not. As more and more Cloud storage and services are available, perhaps a NAS becomes less relevant. In any event, it’s not often that a friend will tell me about a hard drive crash and them losing data.


Well, yesterday I almost had another one of those events. The hard drive on my NAS, the one that holds the OS, died. I’ve been using NAS4Free for almost a year now, after the FreeNAS project switched over. It’s been a pretty seamless solution for me, but with the OS pooched I was worried. You see, I use a software RAID with the NAS and it’s the OS that makes me able to read my storage drives. I can’t take the storage drives out of my NAS and get data from them using another computer. So it’s pretty important that my NAS keeps on working. Luckily I have a saved copy of my NAS4Free configuration, which is the key to all of this.

I didn’t have an extra drive, so I decided to run the OS from a USB flash drive. It’s a painless process to set it all up, but it did take a bit of time. I re-downloaded the OS, downloaded a USB image writer, created a Live USB OS and then booted into NAS4Free. I then had to grab another blank 4gb Flash USB, and use the “Live” version to install a “Full” version on the 4gb drive. Simple, but a little time consuming. Once the full version was running, I uploaded my configuration file, rebooted, and then all of my old NAS4Free information was there, including access to my storage drives.

Maybe I get an apparent higher rate of dead hard drives simply because I have more hard drives that can screw up. There are 5 in my NAS (1 dead drive which used to be the OS, and then 4 drives for storage), and 1 each in my laptop and desktop. Oh, I also have two external hard drives for backups. I really only use one of these now, it holds 3 TB. As data storage goes up, the old backup drives get too small. My hold external backup was only 500GB…

Moving forward, I can still see a place for the NAS at home. We can download torrents and keep them on the NAS, and have them show on our computers or TV in the front room. The NAS is also good for storing and streaming music, tv shows and movies. However, the increased popularity of services like Netflix has decreased much of our tv and movie streaming.

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