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Background: I have a FreeNas box with a boot SSD and a 2x 3TB HDD. I know only enough linux and FreeNas to get me in trouble and must have gotten it up and running a while ago. I transferred data to the drive (somehow) and backed it up to CrashPlan (since disappeared). I moved the box to the garage to get it out of the middle of the floor and forgot about it.

Recently, I went to retrieve data off the hard drive by pulling it out of the box and putting it in my Windows box. The drive was seen by disk management with two partitions, but I was unable to assign a drive letter (disk1). Starting to panic, I grabbed the other drive and put it in the Windows box to find that Windows did see it and assign it a drive letter, but it was empty (disk2).

I cloned the drive that I couldn't mount (disk1) to the drive Windows could mount (disk2) so I could go about recovering the partition. I loaded up easeus to recover the gpt partition and found that it said "invalid ZFS file system". I grabbed the SSD from the FreeNas box, put it in the computer I'm working on and booted FreeNas. I was able to get in and saw the FreeNas saw a pool, but it stated that 2.7TB were empty, which is not right.

Here is what I know. If I copied the original data to the FreeNas pool, it would have been setup for disk1 to be mirrored to disk2, so I don't think I destroyed any parity information during the clone. I don't think disk2 had any data, unless the partition was damaged and it stated it was empty when it wasn't. I have the original FreeNas box, but at this point, I don't remember which SATA port each drive was plugged in to (if that makes a difference). I REALLY would like to get this data as it is pictures of my wedding and when we were dating. If I need to leave this to a professional, please recommend someone and tell me what I need to tell them (is my zfs file system invalid?).

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If I copied the original data to the FreeNas pool, it would have been setup for disk1 to be mirrored to disk2, so I don't think I destroyed any parity information during the clone.

You did overwrite disk 2 with the contents of disk 1, what if disk 1 has experienced data loss? You would then have two "broken" disks. This seems to be unlikely, but it may be a possibility.


First, do not try anything with either of the live disks, but create two low-level copies of each of the disks to other disks or systems (complete images). Put the first two aside for backup and use the second two for your experiments.

Here is a very detailed post of an attempted recovery with zdb and other tools, along with links to further information. "zdb recovery" on your favorite search engine should also get you started.

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I only know enough to get me in trouble with Linux and ZFS Pools. I sent the drives off for data recovery and found that the ZFS Pool spanned across both drives, one of which I wrote over during the clone. I'm having the recovery performed and will pay the price of impatience...

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