In today’s digital world, your data is everything.  It’s your photos, scanned legal documents, customer files, music collection, software, and pretty much all of the important things we want to hang on to nowadays.  Then one day the computer doesn’t start.  You hear a strange clicking noise coming from your laptop while you stare at black screen.  You suddenly realize that you no longer have access to the data on your system.  You don’t know whether to cry, drink or throw up.  

It happened to me recently as I was replacing a bad drive in my main network attached storage (NAS). Shortly after replacing the bad drive (drive #2) and initiating the rebuilding of the array, the NAS began beeping.  The first thing I noticed when I looked at the NAS was that the light for drive #1 went red.  This meant that drive had totally failed!  To make matters worse, the NAS was indicating that it could no longer mount the array!  Crap.  I contacted support for the NAS and they gave me a couple things to try.  Unfortunately, none of them worked.  

The only option left was expensive data recovery.  I contacted the data recovery company that the manufacturer recommended and was given an initial quote of $1,200-$7,000 dollars.  Ouch.  As I sank a little lower into my digital depression, I remembered that I carried insurance on my business.  After explaining what happened to an adjuster, she felt that I had a good claim.  They had me send in my drives to the data recovery people for examination and a quote.  

The data recovery people were able to pinpoint the catastrophic failure in drive #1, as well as confirming that drive #2 was in the process of failing.  The insurance company was satisfied that the failure was completely out of my control and that it was covered by my policy.  Good thing to…  The final damages came to almost $6,000.00!

The lesson learned here was that you really need to back up EVERYTHING.  Although a RAID is far less likely to experience a catastrophic failure compared to a single drive…  It CAN happen.  Back up that important data, and if you DO experience tragic data loss, check with your insurance company.  Depending on the cause, it may be covered.

Larry Hutchinson (Hutch) is President of Twin Cities eMedia,
an IT problem solving company that’s been in business since 1990.