Recovering with the RapidSpar and Configuration Options
Recovering with the RapidSpar
The process is fairly simple to get going. Attach your source and target drives (target must be equal to or larger than the source), connect power, and (optionally) connect to the host system via USB. The RapidSpar will appear as a storage device and you will see the contents of the internal SSD.
rsaSetup.exe can be found on the RapidSpar drive or can be downloaded from DeepSpar. This tool is a one stop shop for installing RapidSpar Assistant onto the host as well as downloading and performing firmware updates to the RapidSpar itself. Updates to everything associated with this tool has been quick and painless every time I have attempted it. Firmware updating is also a relatively safe evolution as the RapidSpar ‘firmware’ simply consists of files stored on its internal SSD.
This drive was part of a RAID, so no partitions or file systems were found and Targeted Recovery can not be utilized. Still, RSA / RapidNebula is useful for loading optimal configuration prior to fully imaging the source drive.
RapidSpar Assistant (RSA) connects to the RapidSpar upon launch. Here you can get your project going. The rough process is as follows:
‘Connect’ (first icon) if necessary. You may need to power on the source drive by pressing the ‘Power’ icon on the upper right of the RapidSpar display.
‘New’ (fourth icon) – You may be prompted to start a new project if one has not yet been started for this source drive. You’ll have a choice of sector-by-sector image or imaging to a file on the target drive, which will appear on the RapidSpar display.
‘RapidNebula Diagnosis’ (second icon) – Prompts for some basic drive info and then reaches out to RapidNebula to obtain optimal recovery settings for the source drive. Other drive parameters are also evaluated during this stage, such as firmware and head health.
‘Firmware Repair and Optimization’ (third icon) – Enables multiple stages / risks of firmware repair. This only needs to be used when firmware issues are suspected. ‘Easy’ fixes only make changes to RAM that are wiped the next time the drive power is cycled, but more permanent changes can be performed in bad cases. The original firmware is backed up to the RapidSpar / RapidNebula prior to making any such changes, so they can be rolled back and/or used by more professional services if this particular recovery goes outside of the capabilities of this device. RapidNebula maintains an archive of known-good firmware and is able to provide them via RSA.
Once you’ve gone through the applicable steps above, you’re ready to start recovering. If partitions were detected, they will appear on the left pane and can be double clicked to read the file system into memory. RSA coordinates with the RapidSpar to simultaneously read and image only the sectors necessary to complete this task. No writing takes place during this or any other part of the recovery process, and the RapidSpar maintains a bitmap of sectors successfully read from the source drive. Subsequent reads of those same sectors will come from the cloned copy of that sector on the target drive, meaning you will only ever read each individual sector from the source drive *once*.
If a file system was detected and selected, you can then search for the files you want to recover (or just select all, but you should go for the more important files first), right click the root, and choose ‘recover selected’. RSA will once again coordinate with the RapidSpar to image only the sectors related to the chosen files. Once complete, you may right click again and choose ‘copy selected’, which will prompt for a destination on the host system (where RSA is running). You can go straight to the second option if you know exactly what you are going for and just need the files off of the drive quickly, but the RapidSpar will still transparently image those sectors as they are copied. Once you’ve got everything you need, well, you’re done! If there were files skipped due to errors you can reattempt those with different options (more on that below).
Source Drive Options:
Here you can choose to generate a recovery report. Additional options become available if you opted for and unlocked the Data Acquisition add-on feature set. These include various mounting options which allow the RapidSpar to be seen by other logical data recovery tools. The unit will still clone all successful reads to the target (and repeated reads come from the target not the source) even in this mode.
Target Drive Options:
Here you can get disk info for the target drive, perform a write test, wipe the drive (write zeroes), or security erase (changes drive crypto key to perform a more complete wipe, but without feedback on progress). Wiping the target is not required when switching projects, since the RapidSpar makes a new volume bitmap and configuration data set for each new recovery. The only time you’d need a completely clean target is if you were fully imaging a source disk and doing more advanced slack space analysis or RAID-related full disk recoveries.
The default here is ‘balanced’, which first attempts relatively large reads, but then reverts to smaller reads if a large read fails. It will drill all the way down to single sector retries, but will skip after that retry fails.
Skip bad blocks will jump ahead by ~256 sectors on each failed read. This is handy for quickly skipping past bad areas in search of good ones.
Dig bad blocks does whatever it can to get bad sectors back, which for modern hard drives means longer read / reset timeouts. Bypassing ECC doesn’t work for most modern drives, so the RapidSpar team have opted to no longer default to statistical analysis of sectors read ignoring ECC. Even if the default was set to balanced, the more sensitive/vital read operations initiated by RSA (such as reading file system metadata) may briefly shift the RapidSpar into this mode in an attempt to obtain as much good data as possible from these critical areas.
One final note. While RapidNebula diagnosis should be performed on each new project, you can use the RapidSpar as a completely standalone imager for an entire project. You won’t have optimal drive-specific settings, but their defaults are good enough to work in a pinch where you just needed to fully image a drive in the field. You won’t be able to perform a targeted recovery unless you have a connected PC, but it’s still better than nothing.
I kind of wonder how this is
I kind of wonder how this is different from a software solution if it’s just interfacing with the drive through ATA commands. For all I know, it could just be running a standard PC OS with some software on top of it.
I could see the benefit of something like this out in the field where you might not have a proper PC with you, but since it’s just ATA, I doubt there’s anything this can do that software couldn’t. If anything it’s more of a hardware dongle to make it so you can’t pirate their software. The one thing that one could maybe argue is that its SATA controller and drivers may be more consistent so you can maybe rule out any poor behavior there. If you’re that worried, though, you’re going to be using a service.
So overall, a useful tool to have if you’re out a lot and you need something in your toolbox to allow you to recover hard drives, but I wouldn’t treat it as something magically better.
I’m not familiar with hard
I’m not familiar with hard drive interfacing, but this part of the article suggests that a software solution won’t do what a hardware solution can do.
“Since mechanical devices tend to degrade further after the first few signs of trouble, realize that with many data recovery efforts, you may be operating on borrowed time (one such case here). Software-based imaging tools are unable to perform a critical function for speeding up the dealing with those bad or slow sectors, as they cannot issue the hardware-based Reset command. Only dedicated recovery hardware can do this, which means all software tools must rely on the drives’ own timeout to occur for every single read attempt, a process that can take longer than 20 seconds *per sector*. Multiply that out and some drives would take weeks or months to image. One of my previous software image attempts took a week to reach 1%, and that was only a 400GB drive! That same drive later failed completely. If I had access to a better tool at that time, I would have recovered far more of that drive before it failed, easing my recovery efforts.”
(The anon OP here apparently
(The anon OP here apparently didn't read the article).
That said, I have yet to see any software recovery app that can instruct the SATA controller to issue a hardware reset to the drive. In fact, SATA controllers will typically hang until they get a response from the drive, meaning that even if a piece of software was able to direct a reset if the drive was taking too long to respond, that command would be ignored until the controller hit an internal timeout or received a timeout-related (read error) reply from the failing drive.
If you've tried working with unreadable sectors you've likely seen this in action. All other drive activity halts and the system hardware drive access light remains lit solid. With some controllers, even activity to *other* drives on other SATA channels halts until the outstanding IO has been serviced in some way (successful read or read error reply received). This is mainly because PC hardware is simply not purpose built for data recovery. It just gives the drive as long as it needs to provide an answer to the request, since it assumes that it needs *all* data to be successfully read. In that respect, data recovery is the art of quickly working around the bad parts within a reasonable amount of time.
The Rapidspar has a highly
The Rapidspar has a highly specialized and advanced ATA controller that has many features and abilities a standard ATA controller does not have. It can rewrite firmware on the drive, selectively turn off and on heads, reset the drive on the fly, and a host of other critical commands that are far beyond the ATA controller in a PC.
Fantastic article and review
Fantastic article and review Allyn. Data recovery is a complex operation, and having the proper tools is critical. This tool you reviewed is amazing. I am partners with an data recovery firm for my consulting business, but this is an intriguing option for shops and medium to large IT departments within companies. I often wonder what drive recovery percentages involve actually needing a clean room environment, compared to this level you talk about here.
Thanks. I don’t know the
Thanks. I don't know the percentages, but this sort of device certainly helps pull files or images from drives that wouldn't cooperate even with a standard write-blocking hardware imager. That has to increase your odds, perhaps by more than the larger data recovery places would be happy about, as it might steal away some of their easier work.
It's certainly not going to make the big operations disappear. Clean rooms aside, there are a lot of logical-only recoveries out there that need the 'big guns' brainpower and experience of the large recovery firms. There are plenty of ways to corrupt the contents of a mechanically sound drive in a way that makes recovering the files extremely tedious and time-consuming, and not all logical recovery software can handle all situations. As an example, I recently recovered an SD card with a corrupted partition table. It imaged just fine, but it could not be mounted and no logical recovery apps were able to lock onto the correct partition offset. The answer ended up being to quick format (!!!) the SD card and re-running a logical recovery on *that* image. All files were recovered, but it was knowledge of that particular trick that made the magic happen. Knowledge and experience typically trump the tools when things get squirrely.
I won't even get into RAID recoveries (saving that for the next article), but that takes an even higher level of experience and know-how. I've done such recoveries myself, and it was an extremely complex operation that required the coding of my own tools to automate some of the work.
I couldn’t agree more. There
I couldn’t agree more. There is no substitute for experience. Also there is the business side, and many small IT service firms just won’t have the capacity that a larger outfit does that does nothing but data recovery.
Formatting is data destructive. There is NEVER any reason to do this on a drive that you need to recover data from. In any case recovering a “corrupt” partition table is trivial. I do it almost every week in one or more storage forums. I recommend DMDE for this purpose.
how does this differ from an
how does this differ from an $80 copy of spinrite? I don’t see how this would work any different except for being more expensive and coming with adapters.
SpinRite can’t issue hardware
may possibly be writing back incorrect data to modern drives that do not correctly handle read-ignoring-ECC commands. I have a query in with Steve Gibson on this one. *EDIT* I've confirmed with Steve that SpinRite does some pre-run checks to only use DynaStat when it is safe to do so.
All points brought up in this article. It may be helpful to read it prior to commenting.
Further, if an $80 item was the solution to all problems, data recovery would not be such a large business. I realize that it works for a lot of folks, but people should be aware that there are risks involved, especially if the drive is about to fail completely. A drive that I was repeatedly imaging (at high speed, with the RapidSpar), completely failed after about 20 hours of work. That very drive would not have made it through a single SpinRite level 4 pass and would have died long before any data could be recovered. With the RapidSpar, I had a complete copy of that 6TB drive (minus 1024 bytes) overnight.
I whould be happy if we could
I whould be happy if we could target a drive in SR! 🙂
For what it is, is a good tool.
SpinRite is NOT a data
SpinRite is NOT a data recovery program. At no point does the program prompt to copy a single sector from the failing hard drive to a healthy drive. It doesn’t even take the time, that I have ever been able to see, to test and confirm that each read/write head is actually properly reading and writing. I’ve seen thousands of drives that are falsely showing bad sectors because of weak PCBs, weak heads and even firmware issues which, when corrected, read 100%. If you don’t fix those issues first and then try to remap the sectors, you are just going to make things worse, without a way to undo the changes.
If you insist running SpinRite on a drive, at least follow the advice given in the manual and make sure that all the data on the drive is first backed up.
Spinrite is potentially data destructive. You must NOT use it on a failing drive.
In any case most of the claims made in respect of Spinrite haven’t been relevant for the past 30 years.
Starting the article I was
Starting the article I was expecting “it’s just a little Linux PC in a box running dd with a write-blocker on one end”, but pleasantly surprised to see this is a remarkably well thought-out device with actual advantages over a roll-your-own software solution.
Dat price tho.
Dat price tho.
We purchased one of these in
We purchased one of these in March of 2016. We’ve been able to recover many hard drives that no other process would touch. Yes, the price is steep, but we were able to recoup our investment in less than 60 days!
We purchased Rapid spar tool
We purchased Rapid spar tool in 2 months back. Presently I am using. I am in this field since 10 years. This tool is not worth to purchase for the price.My suggestion is not to purchase this tool. Reviews available in the site also fake.
It’s very hard to find
It’s very hard to find reliable reviews in the DR industry.
Thx for sharing