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  • Data Recovery from an XFS Disk

Originally developed for Silicon Graphics' IRIX (a UNIX based OS), the XFS file system now is widely used in many Linux distributions. Moreover, Red Hat Enterprise Linux uses it as its default file system.

Although the XFS file system is famous for its high performance and robustness, it's also prone to data loss - just like all other file systems. Causes of data loss include software bugs, system glitches, human errors, and more. Efficient data recovery is needed for all those causes.

Since its data recovery engine fully supports this file system in all the program's different versions, R-Studio can be used for data recovery from the XFS file system.

Important Notes Before We Begin
This article only applies to XFS formatted devices. If you need to recover data from other disks, see our other articles:

Your disk is in good physical condition
We presume that your disk is in good physical shape. If not, it's best to seek out the services of a professional data recovery specialist. Beyond checking that the cables are firmly connected, any "do it yourself" data recovery efforts may actually worsen your chances of recovering the data if your disk has a serious physical malfunction. Signs that a disk has a physical failure include:

  • The system does not recognize the device at all, or it appears with an unusual or garbled name.
  • A S.M.A.R.T. (Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology) utility warns that a severe hardware failure event has occurred. R-Studio can check S.M.A.R.T. conditions of your disk, and we explain how to do that below.
  • The hard drive makes unusual noises, clicks, or takes a very long time to spin up and initialize.
  • Bad blocks continually appear on the drive.

All these cases are best handled by qualified data recovery professionals. They have special equipment, software, and, most importantly, the required skills to work with such drives. Neither R-Studio nor other data recovery software will help you in such cases. Moreover, any further tampering with such a drive will surely inflict more damage to your data. Quite often, such damage will render the data completely irrecoverable.

  • Before you begin, prepare a storage place large enough to store all recovered files. It may be any disk visible by the operating system including an external or network drive. Do not try to save the files on the disk from which you're going to recover them.
  • If you haven't already, download and install R-Studio. Right now, it is not necessary to buy and register the program. R-Studio in its demo mode allows you to perform all the necessary data recovery operations, except saving the recovered files. This lets you see if it can successfully recover your files and therefore, if it's worth buying. You will not have to re-install or restart R-Studio to register it.
    Note: We'll use the Linux version of R-Studio to show the process of data recovery, but these directions are fully applicable to the Windows and Mac versions of R-Studio. The panels and dialog boxes will have a different look and feel, but the functionality is the same.
  • Connect the disk to the R-Studio computer. Use the fastest interface available: the SATA ports are the fastest, but the speed of USB 3.0 is sufficient. USB 2.0 may be too slow for large disks. Please note that many external USB drives have additional eSATA interfaces.

And one last reminder...
Do not write anything on the disk from which you're going to recover data! The new data may overwrite your old files, and you may lose them for good.

This article will discuss two cases of data loss on an XFS disk. It also gives you detailed instructions on how to recover files in these cases.

The first case is data recovery from an emptied system Trash folder. The second one is a format of an XFS partition into another XFS partition.

Case 1: Several files / folders were moved to the Trash folder and then the Trash folder was emptied.
The folder/file structure and files/folders to delete
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The task: To recover these files and the included folder.

1. Run R-Studio and locate the disk with the XFS partition.
The XFS partition
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2.Enumerate files on the partition and inspect the file system.
File system on the XFS partition
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3. Locate the deleted files in the Trash folder.
Deleted files and folders
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You can preview files by double-clicking them to verify that they aren't broken.
File previewer in R-Studio
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4. Mark the found files for recovery and click the Recover Marked button.
Files marked for recovery
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5. Specify the output folder and recovery parameters on the Recover dialog box and click the OK button.
File recovery parameters
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You can find more information about these parameters in R-Studio's online help: Basic File Recovery.

> R-Studio will start the file recovery process. When it's complete, you can see the recovered files and folders in the Output folder.
The Output folder with recovered files and folders
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Recovered files in the SF folder
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Case 2: An XFS partition was erroneously formatted into a new XFS partition.

The task: To recover files from the lost partitions and its entire folder structure, if possible.

1. Run R-Studio and locate the disk with the new partition.
The new partition
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First, we'll try to find the lost partition by using fast search for partition.

2. Click the Partition Search button and wait for the results.
The results of fast search for lost partitions
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Unfortunately, R-Studio was unable to find the lost partition in our case. Nevertheless, it's always a good idea to start file recovery from lost partitions by using this method. It typically finds them with all their files intact.

Our next step is to scan the entire disk.

3. Click the Scan button and specify scan parameters.
Scan parameters
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Click the Change button for the File System field, leaving only XFS selected. You can also specify Known File Types (raw files) to search for, depending on the types of files resided on the lost partition. You can read more about these parameters in R-Studio's online help: Drive Scan.

It's also a good idea to save scan info, as it can be necessary to interrupt scan process and resume it later. The saved scan info can be loaded at a later date and the scan will be resumed from the point where it was interrupted.

Click the Scan button when you have specified all the necessary parameters.

> R-Studio will start scanning the disk showing its progress
Scan progress
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4. Inspect the scan results when the scan is over.
Scan results
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R-Studio couldn't find the lost partition and therefore the only option is to try to search lost files on the scanned new partition.

5. Enumerate files on the scanned partition by double-clicking it and inspect the results.
Files found on the new partition after disk scan
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Files from the lost partition are found by their file signatures and placed in the Extra Found Files section. That is why they don't have their original names, and other file attributes might be missing, too. Still, R-Studio tries to give them some meaningful names using their internal tags.

You may also preview files to verify that the files aren't corrupted by double-clicking them.
File previewer in R-Studio
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6. Mark files for recovery and click the Recover Marked button.
Files marked for recovery
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Files marked for recovery
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7. Specify recovery parameters and click the OK button.
Recovery parameters
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R-Studio will start file recovery showing its progress.
File recovery progress
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You can see the recovered files when recovery is over.
Recovered files
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Our tests have shown that R-Studio is able to recover data from XFS disks. In the first case (deleted files), all files and the individual folder have been successfully recovered. In the second case (disk format), all files have been successfully recovered as raw files without their names and other attributes. The entire folder structure has not been recovered at all due to the fact that the metadata of the new partition has been written over the metadata of the old partition.

You may perform all these steps in the demo mode of R-Studio without committing to a purchase. If you can successfully find and preview lost files, you can register your copy of R-Studio and save recovered files.

Data Recovery Feedback
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Rating: 4.8 / 5
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