1. The basics
2. Installation 3. Using UFS Explorer Professional Recovery 4. Legal stuff 5. Glossary 6. Appendix
7. Keyboard shortcuts

1. The basics

1.1 Overview

UFS Explorer software is designed in a way to meet most challenging requirements of our customers. Covering all required data recovery techniques this software will recover lost data from a vast variety of data storage systems - from portable devices to complex RAID-systems and virtual machines. UFS Explorer provides support and access to various operating systems. At the same time, in response to to abundant market of operating systems there are releases for Windows, Linux, MacOS and BSD. The programs will work both on desktop and mobile, distributed and centralized as well as in virtual environments. The utilities are intended to produce remarkable recovery performance for data loss cases of any complexity - from simple file deletion by user to data recovery after complete destruction of a file system.

With abundance of tools and functions organized into one efficient software, this utility will become irreplaceable assistant to specialists in need for data recovery.

1.2 Specifications and requirements

Supported host operating systems:
  • Microsoft Windows ®: starting with Windows ® XP with Service Pack 3 and later;
  • Apple Mac OS X: all starting with version 10.7 and above;
  • Linux: Debian Linux 6.0 (or compatible) and above.
Minimal configuration:
  • Any of supported operating systems
  • At least 20MB free disk space for software executable files
  • At least 1GB RAM
  • Linux software version can run from most modern Linux Live CD
Recommended configuration:
  • 64-bit edition of any of supported operating systems
  • Over 1GB free disk space for program and temporary files
  • At least 4GB RAM and 4 logical cores CPU for parallel data processing
  • Default web browser
Supported host computer architectures:
  • Intel Architecture, 32-bit (IA-32, x86) - for all operating systems;
  • AMD64 (x86-64) - for all operating systems.
Supported file systems for recovery
  • NTFS: full support: data access, search for lost partitions, RAID recovery, deleted files recovery, recovery after format and recovery after file system damage.
  • FAT/FAT32: full support: data access, search for lost partitions, deleted files recovery, recovery after format and recovery after file system damage.
  • SGI XFS: full support: data access, search for lost partitions, RAID recovery, deleted files recovery, recovery after format and recovery after file system damage. Support of NAS devices and custom servers.
  • Apple HFS+: full support: data access, search for lost partitions, RAID recovery, deleted files recovery* and recovery after file system damage.
  • Linux JFS (JFS2): full support: data access, search for lost partitions, RAID recovery, deleted files recovery, recovery after format and recovery after file system damage.
  • Ext2-Ext4: full support: data access, search for lost partitions, RAID recovery, deleted files recovery*, recovery after file system damage. Support of both NAS and custom servers.
  • ReiserFS: full support: data access, search for lost partitions, RAID recovery, deleted files recovery, recovery after format and recovery after file system damage.
  • UFS/UFS2, Adaptec UFS: data access, search for lost partitions, RAID recovery for both little-endian and big-endian variations. Recovery after file system damage. Very limited support of deleted data recovery.
  • Sun ZFS: data access and support of data recovery from simple and stripe ZPOOL. Limited support of lost data recovery. RAID-Z are not supported.
  • Btrfs: data access and RAID recovery; supported harware RAID, madadm RAID, Btrfs-driven RAID.
  • Novell NWFS: only data access and RAID recovery (copying files and folders from NWFS file system).
  • Novell NSS: only data access and RAID recovery (copying files and folders from Novel Storage Services).
  • HFS: legacy Apple file system supported in data access mode only (copying files and folders from HFS file system).
  • VMware VMFS: support of RAID recovery, data access, very limited support for virtual disk recovery.
RAID support:
  • Automatic reconstruction of mdadm, LVM, Apple Software RAID, Intel Matrix
  • Supported are most popular standard RAID patterns for RAID0, RAID1E, RAID3, RAID5, RAID6, RAID7 etc.
  • RAID-on-RAID support: RAID level 10, 50, 60, 50E etc.
  • Supported are custom RAID patterns via RDL or Runtime VIM
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1.3 Features

  • Immediate data access for consistent file systems
  • Support of disk images and virtual disks
  • Recovery of complex RAID storages
  • Full-disk encryption support
  • Disk-on-disk recovery
  • Comprehensive files recovery
  • Recovery after file system format
  • Data consistency analysis and error correction
  • All-in-one data recovery tool
  • Fast data consistency test
  • Recovery from replaced file systems
  • RAID Builder and Analyzer
  • Disk-on-Disk recovery
  • Usability extensions

Installation

2.1 Setup

The software download page is located at: http://www.ufsexplorer.com/download_pro.php. This page also contains references to software update information, technical details, including specifications.

To install new copy of the software or update the software from a previous version you should follow the steps of fresh software installation. If you are updating software from an older major software version (e.g. from 3.x to 5.x or 4.x to 5.x) it's recommended to uninstall the older software version before installation of the latest version. Other UFS Explorer editions can be installed together with UFS Explorer Professional Recovery.

For Windows users

You can install software to Microsoft Windows NT 5.1 OS and later (Windows XP/Windows 2003 Server and later). It is possible to run the software on older Windows NT versions starting from NT 4 SP6. Software installation to Windows 95/98/МЕ is not supported at all. To install the software simply download software installer executable file and start it.

  
Warning: never download or install the software to the drive with lost data you are going to recover. This may lead to permanent data damage or loss. If data was lost from non-system partitions, it's recommended to download and install software to system OS partition. If data was lost from system partition, it's recommended to shut down computer immediately and boot it using 'Recovery CD'.

After start of installation process, you will be prompted for user interface language that will define language of software installer and software user manual. If software is updated from previous version installer will pick previous software language preferences. The installer will show End User License Agreement (EULA) for acceptance. You may continue installation only after EULA is accepted. At the next step software will prompt for software installation target folder. In case of software update from previous version the default installation folder will be set to the folder of previous software version.

Then installer will prompt for name of “Start” menu product group (default is “UFS Explorer”). At this stage installer will finish necessary information collection and start the installation process. After it is finished, you will be able to start the software from final window of software installation wizard. You may start the software using shortcut in “Start” menu ('All programs', then software group (default is “UFS Explorer”) and then “Start UFS Explorer Professional Recovery”.

For Mac OS X users

There are no special actions required: just download compressed DMG-image files from the software web site and open it using Finder. As an option, you may copy software to “Programs” folder.

  
Warning: never download or install the software to the drive with lost data you are going to recover. This may lead to permanent data damage or loss. If data was lost from non-system partitions, it's recommended to download and install software to system OS partition. If data was lost from system partition, it's recommended to shut down computer immediately and boot it using 'Recovery CD'.

For Linux users

Download software binary archive from the web site (for example, into “~/Downloads” folder) and extract its contents. Open the folder in Terminal application and open the folder with binaries using “cd” command (e.g. “cd ~/Downloads/ufsxpci-other”). Run “install” script as local Administrator (e.g. “sudo ./install” or “su root -c ./install”).

  
Warning: never download or install the software to the drive with lost data you are going to recover. This may lead to permanent data damage or loss. If data was lost from non-system partitions, it's recommended to download and install software to system OS partition. If data was lost from system partition, it's recommended to shut down computer immediately and boot it using 'Recovery CD'.

To start the software, you may use shortcut in Window Manager main menu (under “System utilities”). If you are going to run the software as local Administrator, you may type the application start command.

In GNOME:

press Alt+F2 to invoke “Start application” dialog;

type “gksu ufsxpci”.

In Terminal:

type “sudo ufsxpci” or “su root -c ufsxpci”

2.2 Activating

Activating the program means purchasing license for the full version and registering it. For more information concerning the difference between Trial/Evaluation and Full versions, go to 4.2 License Information section. You can choose among three types of license according to the purpose of using the product: Evaluation, Personal and Business licenses are available, each with special conditions of applying the software. After purchasing the license at you will get a sequence of symbols, which will be sent to the e-mail address mentioned during the purchase.

Then you should start the application, if it is not started yet, press the Software license button.
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Enter the sequence of symbols to the gap “Registration Code”, as well as fill in the gap “Registration Name” according to the name mentioned in the payment document as a buyer.

After valid data is supplied, the software should switch to “Registered” mode and remove trial limitations immediately.

If you have problems with software activation:

make sure you are using correct software version and edition;

make sure if OS platform is valid for registration (different OS platforms require different software licenses);

make sure the registration code is copied as described above.

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2.3 Upgrading

To upgrade your software version to a newer one, go to http://www.sysdevlabs.com/store.php, download the upgraded installation pack of the needed software pack and simply run it as mentioned in the Setup section. You will not need to enter the registration code again, if you have one, as the application remembers it. In case when your software version is up-to-dated, the installation manager will show the according message.

2.4 Uninstalling

In case when the software is no longer needed and you are willing to uninstall it, follow these steps:

- For Windows users:  use standard “Uninstall” feature under “Programs and Components” of Windows Control Panel. The software name for removal is “UFS Explorer Professional Recovery”.

- For Mac OS X users:  simply delete it from disk.

- For Linux users: To remove the software run “uninstall” script (supplied with software installer) as local Administrator (e.g. “sudo ./uninstall” or “su root -c ./uninstall”).

3. Using UFS Explorer Professional Recovery

3.1 Introduction

As already mentioned in sections 1.1 Overview and 1.3 Features, is a professional tool for lost and deleted data recovery (after deletion, format, malicious software actions, data damage after hardware or software failure etc.) and is intended to be used by specialists in data recovery. The software contains tools for automated data analysis and data modification that means incorrect actions with the software may lead to permanent data loss. In this section software usage peculiarities are described providing examples and useful tips. In case if you have questions concerning the implementation of some of the procedures, please go to the Appendix section to check whether the question is already answered there.

3.2 Software settings

Software can be started before prior setup. After program is started you will be able to change software settings for more efficient software use.

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Software settings are available on the “About/Settings” user interface tab. Value can be changed by pressing “Change value” button next to the value. Software settings will be stored under user profile folder in special “,ufsxpci,hbin” file. The software will not save any data into operating system registry or configuration files (except software uninstall information, if applicable).
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3.2.1 Temporary files path

Defines folder for “Quick view” tool of Explorer. The software will write into this folder all the temporary files. More information can be found in “Explorer” description. The changes will take effect immediately.

3.2.2 Language

Allows to change user interface language. It does not apply changes to User Manual. You should restart the software to make changes to take effect.

3.2.3. Hexadecimal viewer

Defined default encoding for hexadecimal viewer to display symbolic byte representation. This section also defines maximum number of bytes to copy via system clipboard and maximum number of bytes to use for “undo” in hexadecimal editor.

3.2.4 Explorer

Settings include maximum number of objects available on single “page” of Explorer and maximum number of search results returned by single search operation. Lower values will save memory and increase speed, higher values will allow to operate more objects. The recommended settings are available in hint section (select field header to see). The changes will be applied to any next related operation. Additionally, it is possible to set up default action for file “Quick view”: the actions include opening in hexadecimal viewer or file copying to temporary files folder and launch using default associated application.

3.3 Operations

After software is started it displays main window that includes main menu (top), navigation tree (left) and workspace (right). By default, workspace will display “About/Settings” tab.

Simple data access does not require special knowledge: to access a file, activate required disk partition in navigation tree and software will display “Explorer” tab for the chosen file system. Use explorer-style navigation you may navigate to a specific folder, find and select required file and save it using “Save current selection” tool from explorer tab main menu or using “Save this object to...” context menu option.

The file can be also “opened” just by activating it by keyboard or mouse. This will either copy file to folder defined as “Temporary files path” and opened with default associated program installed on your computer or opened in new “Hexadecimal viewer” tab depending on your preferences.

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3.3.1 Storages tree navigation

The tree contains top-level container “This computer”, containing all the opened storages below. The storages will also include disk images and complex storages (RAID).

Storages operations

The “Open” tool in main menu and context menu of “This computer” element allows to open any of supported disk image or virtual disk. More information about supported formats is available in the software specification. This tool also allows to open saved RAID configurations as well as Runtime Software Virtual Image files (*.vim-files).

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The “Open storage” tool in main menu allows to open physical storage by specifying OS-specific device name. In Microsoft Windows, you may open volume by supplying volume mount point (e.g. “E:”). To access physical drives, you must run the software as local Administrator.

The “Close storage” tool allows to close the storage in UFS Explorer.

The “Refresh storages” tool resets tree of attached storages (closes all the opened storages and re-detects attached storages tree). This does not close already opened tabs. The storage is closed after last tab to a storage is closed. After refreshing, the tree will only contain available physical drives, excluding any disk images or RAID. In case OS used software RAID, it will be displayed as set of its components. To open such RAID use “Open device” tool and open the RAID by specifying device name or mount point (such as “E:” under Windows or “/dev/lvm/vg0” under Linux).

Disk partitions

A disk may be divided into “disk partitions”. Purpose of disk partitions is data isolation (from other data or OS), different OS installation on the same physical disk etc.

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The software will show disk partitions under “disk” element (including those with unknown or unsupported file system). The partition name consists of combination of its parameters: file system type, offset, size (in GB). More details about disk partition can be found on disk properties tab.

The file system icon will indicate its condition: green means file system can be accessed, yellow may indicate problems, red means there are problems and gray means file system cannot be recognized.

It does not display any information about file system mount point. For example, drive “C:” may be displayed simply as NTFS-formatted partition of required size.

File system can be identified by disk and file system size, as well as by its files/folders content.

After partition activation software opens “Explorer” tab for the file system.

Making backup or disk image

If the disk seems to have defects, it's strongly recommended to save a disk image file for further data recovery from disk image file.

For this go to the disk properties tab (“Open storage configuration” context menu option) or open hexadecimal viewer (“View hexadecimal content” context menu option); then in hexadecimal viewer press “Save contents as” button to save the data.

The tool allows to create bit-to-bit disk image file. It is possible to define data range to save partial disk image file. For this select specific storage range (e.g. using “Select range” tool) and when prompted, choose to save “current selection only”.

Full disk image may be opened in the software using “Open” tool.

You may use hexadecimal viewer tool for disk partition and thus save image file from isolated disk partition.

Defining missing partitions

The software allows to define missing partition both manually and by automated scan. The functions are available on storage properties tab (“Open storage configuration” context menu option) in “partitions” section.

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The “partitions” section is synchronized with hexadecimal viewer element: when new partition defined by default is analyzed, current position in hexadecimal viewer is used; when selecting disk partition hexadecimal viewer will navigate to partition start location on the disk.

Use “Define” tool in the “Partitions” tool bar to define partition manually. Prior to that you may find partition in hexadecimal viewer; in this case software may detect partition parameters (such as start, size, file system type) automatically if this information can be recognized by the software.

Automated search for lost partitions is available using “Find” tool. If you have started a new scan, you should specify disk range to scan for and file system types to detect. If file system is detected, the software will automatically add disk partition to the list of disk partitions and partition item under disk in left navigation panel.

The list of partitions can be saved to disk and restored later using “Save”/“Load” tools. It's recommended to save partitions list after successful scan to avoid repeated scan after software restart.

3.3.2 Using Explorer

After selecting disk partition the software will open Explorer tab for the file system. In case software did not recognize file system – it opens hexadecimal data viewer instead.

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Files and folders in Explorer are represented as sorted lists, containing file/folder name, type, size and modification date. You may re-sort the list by clicking to column header.

To simplify navigation Explorer contains quick navigation panel with support of navigation by navigation history, navigating to parent folders or by typing full path.

Left side of Explorer panel contains folders tree.

When folder is activated, software navigates to the folder. When file is activated, software depending on preferences will either open it in hexadecimal viewer or will copy into folder for temporary files and will open with installed associated application.

Files and folders can be saved to a specific “local” folder by selecting them and choosing context menu option “Save this object to...” or using “Save selection” tool in the tool bar.

You may select several objects in Explorer for copying by holding “Shift” or “Ctrl” keys when selecting object in list.

If you require more complex rule to copy files, use “bulk copy” operation.

Explorer tabs

If the number of files and folder exceeds maximum number specified in software settings Explorer will use “Pages” to show all files. In the tool bar, it activates buttons for “Previous” and “Next” pages navigation and button for navigation to page by given number.

To copy all the data from such folder you may either use “bulk copy” operation or apply copy operation for parent folder.

Bulk copying

The option is activated by “Define selection” button of Explorer panel. This turns both files list and folders tree to “checkbox mode” to select files and folders for copying.

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The copying rule is defined as:

- selected with checkbox file or folder will be copied;

- if checkbox from file of folder was removed, it will be not copied;

- if folder is selected, it will be copied with its content except deselected files and folders.

After all required files/folders were selected, press “Copy selection” to start copying process. Selection can be canceled using “Cancel selection” button.

Searching for files and folders

The function is available as “Quick search”: just specify sub-string of file name to search on quick search panel or as “Advanced search”: the tool in the tool bar, folder context menu or “Ctrl+F” keys combination.

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Quick search uses string as a part of file name and uses case sensitivity settings of the current file system.

For Advanced search, you may specify full mask for file name (including “wildcard” symbols * and ?). You may also define rule for file size and for inclusion of files and folders to search result.

Search operation will start on a new “Search result” tab and runs over all sub-folders of the selected folder until all sub-folders are processed or maximum number of found objects is reached.

New search will start on the same tab if previous search operation is completed and “open on new tab” option is not specified.

You may navigate from “Search results” tab to “Explorer” tab opening folder containing selected object. The software will not copy files/folders from search results tab.

Data size

Before you start copying files and folders, it's recommended to evaluate data size to select matching target storage. You may use “Evaluate data size” tool available from folder or objects group context menu.

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The tool allows both to evaluate data size and test file system consistency. If file system consistency error is detected, it's recommended to continue with file system recovery.

Folders tree panel

The panel contains information about currently opened partition, file system and folder for fast navigation. If folder is chosen in the left panel, it will be opened in Explorer; this feature can be used for fast navigation through different folders.

Folder context menu contains all the tools available in Explorer for folder record. If Explorer is in “bulk copy” mode, you may select/deselect folders from tree by double-clicking them.

3.3.3 Lost files recovery

Lost files recovery is the main purpose of the software. Search for lost file systems was described in p.3.1.4. This section describes recovery of lost and deleted files (including recovery of user-deleted files, recovery after format, file system damage etc.).

Lost files recovery is available as a tool “Recover lost data” in partition context menu or “Recover” button in Explorer.

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Recovery process

Recovery tool activates “Recovery” tab used to specify and fine-tune file system scan parameters. The tab consists of tool bar, list of file system variations to scan and settings panel.

Tool bar contains tools for starting recovery process, searching file system variation, IntelliRAW management and so on.

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Searching file system variations is required if file system configuration or type was changed and you plan to recover previous file system state. The tool allows to define file system types to search and searches for their variants.

Example 1: external FAT32-formatted drive with data was re-formatted with NTFS; the goal is data recovery that was on FAT32. By default, the software will show record for NTFS file system only. Use “Find other file systems” tool, choose “FAT” as a file system to scan for and let it run. The software should detect “FAT” variation and scan can be aborted to run data recovery selecting “FAT” file system.

Example 2: NAS Buffalo Terastation (4 х 1 TB) was configured as RAID0 for speed (data partition rough size is 3.8 TB), but after failure was recovered to factory default RAID5 (data partition rough size is 2.7 TB). The address of clusters had been changed (XFS cluster address depends on file system size). To recover files from old state we should assemble RAID as RAID 0, but file system is still 2.7TB (new file system overwritten existing). To find files and folder the software must first find 3.8TB file system variant. For this you should use “Find other file systems” tool, choose “SGI XFS” as a file system to scan, run scan and wait until it detects 3.8TB XFS variant. After this you may abort the scan and run recovery using just-found file system variation.

The tool is also used when file system is damaged and can not be detected on the partition by default.

When file system is detected, select it in the list and choose scan preferences such as use or not IntelliRAW stage, encoding for file names, short or long scan etc. - the settings will depend on file system type. In case file system has “use fast reconstruction...” option, it's recommended to disable it for recovery after format. After all the settings are specified, just press “Scan” button in the tool bar.

The scan may take a long time. After scan is completed the software will show additional “Explorer” tab with scan result and will prompt to save the scan result. The Explorer interface for scan result will have minor differences comparing to main Explorer interface.

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Saving scan result project

To prevent loss of scan result caused by software or hardware failures, it's strongly recommended to save scan result project. If you save scan result, you won't need to scan the storage once again that could be important for large and slow storages. The tool is available in the tool bar, as well as action will be suggested just after scan is completed. If you need to resume recovery after software restart, you will be able to simply load the scan result. This option is available from partition context menu as “Load recovery scan result”.

UFS Explorer Professional Recovery saves entire storage configuration along with scan result as a part of the project file. This means software can restore storage configuration when scan result is loaded. If storage configuration was successfully saved in scan result, the software can open such scan results via common “Open” dialog. If option is used, software will search for matching storage and will load scan result as a virtual partition of the storage. If storage was not found, software attempts to restore it first by opening required disk images, assembled RAIDs etc.

Saving recovered files

The scan result is available to browse and copy files just like an original file system. This means required files and folder can be saved using all the same tools available in Explorer.

Important: never save just recovered files to the source storage. The file data (contents) for recovery is still read from the source drive; this means the software may overwrite file contents. Use separate storage to recover the data.

3.3.4 Disk-on-disk

The feature allows to access files and folders on virtual disk or disk image located on inaccessible location without prior copying as a “local” temporary disk image file. Supported situations include:

- virtual disks locked on file system by running virtualization software;

- virtual disks on ESX(i) VMFS partitions;

- disk images or virtual disks stored on partitions unsupported by host OS;

- disk images stored on file systems in disk images.

The indirection level for “disk-on-disk” feature is not limited.

To use the function, you must:

1. open the storage (e.g. disk partition) in UFS Explorer;

2. find virtual disk or disk image file;

3. select the file and choose “Open as a disk image” tool.

The software will open the storage just like any other disk image file. If disk image contains supported file system, it will be detected. If files of one this image are disk images, they can be also opened with “Open as a disk image” tool. Disk-on-disk can also be used as a part of RAID; however, such RAID configuration can not be saved.

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3.3.5 File data analysis

Professional Recovery software edition allows not only to find lost data but also evaluate file system consistency and diagnose logical causes of data damage. The special tools to analyze file allocations are:

- go to descriptor — allows to find object descriptor and point it in hexadecimal viewer;

- go to contents – points to file/folder start on the partition;

- open in hexadecimal viewer – allows to open file or folder contents in hexadecimal viewer for analysis;

- enumerate fragments — allows to find and navigate through fragments of file or folder.

The set of available functions will depend on file system type. The functions will allow to diagnose and resolve file system or storage logical issues by analyzing files and folder data allocation.

3.3.6 RAID

UFS Explorer Professional Recovery fully implements all RAID recovery related functions, they do not require any prior activation and are fully available in trial.

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The tool is available in main menu of UFS Explorer Professional Recovery as “Build RAID”. It displays new “Build RAID” tab that contains tab menu, list of components and RAID properties sheet. Bottom of the tab presents “quick analysis” panel implemented as context-dependent hexadecimal viewer.

Building RAID

To build a RAID you should enumerate all its components in the components list, set up RAID parameters and press “Build” button on the tab toolbar to add RAID to UFS Explorer storages. For RAID5 supported reconstruction without single drive; for RAID6 – even without two drives. This still requires component specification as Virtual disk placeholder to build RAID correctly.

Note: Incorrect RAID configuration in UFS Explorer does not modify on-disk RAID configuration, however, makes data recovery with such configuration impossible. To start successful data recovery, you have first to build RAID correctly. You may perform any number of RAID reconstruction attempts with UFS Explorer because it does not modify data on the source disks.

Adding RAID component

All opened disks or disk images available on the left panel of main window can be used as RAID components. When “RAID Builder” dialog is opened, this changes default behavior of main disks tree and activation of item there adds it as a component to RAID. This also adds new function “Add to RAID” to disk or disk partition context menu.

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Thus, to add disk or disk partition to RAID as a component, simply “activate” it or use “Add to RAID” context menu option. If you have added wrong component, select it in the list and press “Remove” button on the RAID Builder tab tool bar.

To add placeholder for a missing drive (only for degraded RAID 5 or RAID 6) press “Placeholder” button.

And finally, to correct order of storage components, you may select item and use “Move up”/“Move down” buttons to set correct ordinal position for selected component.

If storage component has incorrect size or you should adjust start position use “Edit range” tool.

RAID parameters

You may use any source materials to find correct RAID components (RAID board BIOS information, configuration files, on-disk structures etc.). Anyway, you should specify correct RAID parameters to recover intact data.

Different RAID levels use separate settings. The RAID builder properties sheet adapts to selected RAID level and allows to specify only required RAID parameters.

For RAID 6 there are additional parameters (related to redundancy algorithm and distribution) and they should be specified only in case RAID is reconstructed with missing (failed) drives.

Contextual data analysis

On-disk data of selected component is displayed at the bottom of hexadecimal viewer panel. This allows to analyze fast on-disk content and visually confirm drives order. Switching component shows content of other component on the same position; hexadecimal viewer is also configured to allow “tabulation jumps” of size of stripe specified for RAID.

Automated RAID reconstruction

Some RAID configuration can be parsed by the software and software can build such RAID in semi-automated mode. If any of good components of such RAID is added the software suggests building RAID automatically.

On success, the software loads RAID components in right order and full set of RAID properties.

In case of failure (e.g. in case of RAID configuration damage) you may cancel automatic RAID reconstruction and build RAID manually.

Result

In case of successful RAID reconstruction, it will be added as a new storage in the storages tree. You may apply all the operations available for other storage types to RAID (including adding RAID as a component of another RAID).

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Saving RAID

To save RAID configuration, select it in the disks tree of UFS Explorer and use context menu tool “Save RAID configuration”. You may load this configuration in future via common “Open” tool.

Correcting RAID configuration

To change RAID configuration, select in the disks tree of UFS Explorer and use context menu tool “View/Edit RAID parameters”.

This will display RAID Builder dialog tab with pre-configured RAID components and RAID parameters. When this RAID is built, it replaces original RAID in the disks tree.

The tool is useful to change (or guess) RAID parameters after incorrect specification.

Compatibility to Runtime Software RAID configurations

RAID configurations in format of Runtime Software .vim files (Virtual Image files) are supported by the software and can be imported using common “Open” dialog.

Additionally, SysDev Laboratories implements several extensions to vim-file format that can be not supported by Runtime Software products:

Full 64bit support for all numeric parameters, including offsets and sizes.

Support of all disk image files and virtual disks (supported by UFS explorer) via .vim.

Support of .vim-files under Linux, MacOS, BSD. This changes format of hard disk reference record and has format of “HD${path}”, where ${path} is the full path to block device (e.g. HD/dev/sda:).

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User-defined RAID configurations

After successful configuration import, the software displays configuration confirmation dialog. In case configuration seems correct, press OK to accept it. After this press Build on RAID Builder dialog to finalize the RAID and store it as a RAID storage in UFS Explorer.

For a configuration file used textual file (ASCII or UTF-8/UTF-16 with format marker) containing RAID configuration instruction. RAID is configured via “stripes” command that use “stripe size” and “pattern length” arguments. The block of command describes storage components in their order. The “comma” symbol delimits components of the same row;  “semicolon” starts description of the next row. Optional argument for component defines row “bias” of a component. The definition is not newline sensitive. It's allowed to add block comments /*...*/.

Example: RAID5, Left Symmetric, 64KB stripe using 4 drives is defined as: stripes(128,4) {
1,2,3;
4,1,2;
3,4,1;
2,3,4;
}

Without newlines: 

stripes(128,4) {1,2,3;4,1,2;3,4,1;2,3,4;}

Here “stripes(128,4)” — defines configuration with stripe size of 128 sectors and pattern size of 4 stripes. Enumeration in {...}-block defines ordinal number of components. Semicolon defines new pattern row.

Using bias argument you can write the same as: stripes(128,4) {1,2,3,4(1),1(1),2(1),3(2),4(2),1(3),2(4),3(4),4(4)}

Instead of component you may also specify functional expression. Supported expressions include “reconstruction by parity”, “reconstruction by Reed-Solomon code” or  “combined by parity and Reed-Solomon”.

The formats of functional expressions: parity: P{1,2,3}. Here: P – parity function, enumeration — components to use to calculate parity. Reed-Solomon: Q(5,g,4){1,2,3;1,2;3}. Here: Q – Reed-Solomon code, 5 — disk ordinal number, location of Q-stripe, g – index type, 4 — missing drive index; enumeration - disk numbers followed by disk indices (separated with semicolon) to calculate Reed-Solomon code.

a) Parity and Reed-Solomon: PQ(6,7,i,4,5) {1,2,3;1,2,3}. Here: PQ – combined calculation, 6 — P-stripe drive ordinal number, 7 – Q-stripe drive ordinal number, i – index type, 4 - disk index to reconstruct, 5 – disk index of the second missing drive; enumeration - disk numbers followed by disk indexes (separated with semicolon) to calculate Reed-Solomon code. Index type g – means two power of index in Galois field, i – just a simple index.

Samples of RAID configurations with reconstruction:
4 x RAID5, Left Symmetric, 64KB stripe, without drive 3:
a) stripes(128,4) {
1,2,P{1,2,3};
3,1,2;
P{1,2,3},3,1;
2,P{1,2,3},3;
}
b) 5 x RAID6, Left Symmetric, 64KB stripe, without drive 3, redundancy order is P, then Q:
stripes(128,5) {
1,2,P{1,2,3,4};
4,1,2;
3,4,1;
P{1,3,4},3,4;
2,P{2,3,4},3;
}
c) 5 x RAID6, Left Symmetric, 64KB stripe, without drives 3 and 5, redundancy is P, then Q:
stripes(128,5) {
1,2,P{1,2,3,4};
Q(3,g,1){1,2;2,3},1,2;
3,P{1,2,3},1;
PQ{1,2,g,1,3}{3;2},3,PQ{1,2,g,3,1}{3;2};
2,Q(1,g,2){2,3;1,3},3;
}
If RAID has “parity delay”, you may specify “loop” to entire column including functional expressions using “repeat” function. For example, 4 x RAID 5 Left Asymmetric, 16KB stripe size and parity delay of 16 stripes:
stripes(32,64) {
repeat(16){1,2,3};
repeat(16){1,2,4};
repeat(16){1,3,4};
repeat(16){2,3,4};
}

Specifying disks

The optional “drives” section. If section is not specified, RAID builder will use already defined components. If specified – the list components from RDL will replace list in RAID Builder. Supported types of components are: “disk” – physical drive, “image” – a disk image file, “span” – a pre-defined span of components. The component is defined as type (identification information, start offset, use size). The “start offset” and “use size” parameters are optional.

Example:

disk (1,2048,233432);

image(C:/image1.img,0,4096);

image(C:/image2.img);

span(myspan01,0,40960);

Physical drive identification information under Windows is drive ordinal number; under MacOS, Linux etc. - the full block device path, for disk image – full disk image path, for span – its identification name.

Here is example of full configuration for HP RAID with 4 x RAID 5 Left Asymmetric, 16KB stripe size and parity delay of 16 stripes:

drives {
disk(1,1088);
disk(2,1088);
disk(3,1088);
disk(4,1088);
}

stripes(32,64) {
repeat(16){1,2,3};
repeat(16){1,2,4};
repeat(16){1,3,4};
repeat(16){2,3,4};
}

If configuration contains only “drives” section, it simply loads components into RAID Builder without defining any RAID configuration.

Defining span

The span can be defined with “defspan” section. It must be defined before used as a component. The syntax of span definition is: defspan(name){enumeration}. Enumeration may include the same components as for “drives” section (including spans).

Example:

defspan(“myspan01”) {

disk(1,2048,233432);

image(“C:/image1.img”,0,4096);

image(“C:/image2.img”);

span(“myspan00”,0,40960);

}

The simple span can be loaded via RDL using the following code:

defspan(“images”) {

image(“C:/image1.img”);

image(“C:/image2.img”);

image(“C:/image3.img”);

}

drives {

span(“images”);

}

stripes(1,1) {1}

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3.3.7 Data modification

The software allows for data modification on the source drives to correct logical data structure defects. This also means there are risk of permanent data loss. Before using data modification feature, be totally sure you understand what you are doing. It is strongly recommended to save backup copy of the source storage and operate on the copy.

The edition functions are available for disks (including disk images and virtual disks) but not for RAID or files.

To enable “edit mode” press “Modify data” button on hexadecimal viewer panel or use “Modify data” context menu option. This opens new hexadecimal editor tab marked with red icon. If the editor is invoked from hexadecimal viewer, it will be configured to the same storage view position. The editor supports all the functions of hexadecimal viewer, extended by data modification tools available as dropdown menu under “Modify data” button. The editor also accepts data modification via entry using keyboard or data copying via clipboard.

Via clipboard you may both paste (overwrite storage content) using raw clipboard data or parse clipboard contents as hexadecimal text (available though “Paste as” tool).

Finally, there are tools to fill in data ranges or make more complex byte transformations.

If the amount of modifications does not exceed undo tracking limit, all the modifications are performed in memory before explicit “Save” command and they can be reversed. If there are too many modifications the software will ask to save data to continue. If single operation requires too much memory to fit undo buffer, the operation can be performed on the storage directly without possibility to undo it.

Example: To destroy all the data on the disk partition open it for write (“Modify contents” context menu option); this will open hexadecimal editor. Review the data to make sure correct partition is selected. Select all the data with “Ctrl+A” keys combination. Press “Modify data” and “Modify selection”. Apply action “Replace bytes” with 0 (default action). Wait for completion.

3.3.8 Making “clones” of disks, virtual disks, RAID etc

The software allows to make bit-to-bit copy of any supported storage on a hard disk.

To do this:

1. make sure all tabs are closed to exclude incorrect source selection;

2. open source storage in hexadecimal viewer and check its contents;

3. open target storage for write (“Modify contents” context menu option) and make sure there are no valuable data;

4. on the target storage hexadecimal editor choose “Modify data” and “Overwrite data with...”;

5. in the dialog choose source storage; its start position and number of sectors to transfer;

6. start the process and wait for completion.

The action can not be undone.

4. Legal stuff

4.1 Copyright

UFS Explorer products are licensed, not sold. This means that the Software Legal Owner (LLC SysDev Laboratories) only grants you some rights to use the software. Please read End User License Agreement for more information about software licensing.

The Software Legal Owner grants you a life-time license for UFS Explorer products (see p.10 of EULA for details). Software update policy is the subject of End User License Agreement.

The End User License Agreement is a Public Offer Agreement. Any use of the software (including copying, installation, exploitation etc.) means you have accepted the Public Offer Agreement. From the moment of acceptance, the Agreement comes into legal force in most countries worldwide.

Only LLC SysDev Laboratories, software Author and authorized resellers are authorized to issue Registration Codes for applications that are property of LLC SysDev Laboratories. Unauthorized Registration Code use is violation of the Ukrainian and international Copyright Laws.

Any publication of Registration Code by License Owner or unauthorized license transfer result in End User License Agreement termination.

End User License Agreement is a Public Offer Contract that has legal force in Ukraine, Russia and other countries. By installing and using the software you accept this Public Offer. Violation of EULA can be considered as a crime in these countries.

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4.2 License information

UFS Explorer products are sold based on the following licenses:

1. Evaluation License - the Software can be used by a single person for evaluation purposes only. License Owner shall agree to "trial limits" of the Software.

2. Personal License - the Software can be used by a single private person (individual) for non-profit use. License Owner is not authorized to provide any "for-profit" services using the Software.

3. Business License - the License is applicable for using the software by an enterprise or individuals on up to 10 (ten) computers owned by License Owner per single License and/or for profit use. Software cannot be installed to computers of third parties (e.g. customers of License Owner).

Personal license and Business license require license fee payment. After the purchase of Software License SysDev Laboratories authorize it by issuing Software Registration Code. This code is used to unlock program functions (remove "trial limits") and identify License Owner as authorized owner of Software License.

Personal License Registration Code is issued to Person's First and Last name; it authorizes Person to use application by himself/herself only.

Business License Registration Code is issued to either Company's name or Person's (entrepreneur) name and authorizes the Person/Company to use the application according to Business use.

4.3 Contacts

Company details

Central Office:

Limited Liability Company SysDev Laboratories

Code of legal entity: 35951055

28-V, Druzhby narodiv

Kyiv, 01103, Ukraine

E-mail: info@sysdevlabs.com

To contact our support team, please visit http://www.sysdevlabs.com/contact.php and fill in the contact form.

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5. Glossary

This section describes the main terms and notions needed for understanding the peculiarities of working with the software.

5.1 RAID

RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) is a special technology for data storage organization where several separate disks is combined to constitute one system. In such a system, as compared with traditional linear storages, the data is distributed across the drives in a way typical for certain RAID level. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, but the main idea of any RAID is a balance between maximum performance, increased reliability and full capacity of useful storage space.

An operating system detects RAID as a single drive giving it its own mount point and treating all its disks as one and the same storage. All responsibility for correct system work is on RAID controller, which can be either hardware or software.

Most commonly used RAID levels include:

- JBOD, which is not exactly RAID, as you trace no signs of redundancy or increased fault-tolerance here. Generally, this is Just a Bunch of Disks (not obligatory of the same size) combined to consequently store data as the disks are filled one after another. This technique is also called disk spanning. Yet, the cost varies.

- RAID0 is based on data striping without redundancy. Each disk in the system is divided into separate segments – stripes. During writing, the data is cut into pieces equal to the stripe size and takes the disk stripes simultaneously: while one data part is still being written, the system starts input of the next one. In general, RAID 0 is the fastest in terms of input/output, but the least fault tolerant one. If any disk out of such a system happens to fail, all other data becomes unreadable. However, the speed is advantageous.

- RAID1 applies mirroring method. During write operation, the system creates an exact copy of the data on another drive. If one disk fails, the other one remains readable. This method has the highest level of reliability and the most expansive disk capacity, though. Disks work in pair only: the system stops working completely without all drives being in operation. RAID 1 is perfect where data backup is of vital importance.

- RAID3 is the first to use parity. In combination with data striping like RAID 0, this system has a separate dedicated disk that stores parity for other disks. Due to its byte-level writing and separate disk to calculate and write the parity on, RAID 3 has not much to boast of in terms of speed. Such a scheme ensures system security, yet at expense of slow operation. For this reason, RAID 3 is not very popular. In case of failure, data is retrieved by intact disks and parity.

- RAID4 has the same scheme as RAID 3 (i.e. striping with dedicated parity) with one distinction: while RAID 3 operates at a byte level, this one handles data at a sector level. As a result, this resolves a write issue to some extent. Nevertheless, faster and more reliable RAID 5 has replaced RAID 4. As with RAID 3 this level is recovered by remaining disks plus parity disk.

- RAID5 takes the principles of basic data striping similar to RAID 0 and redundancy of RAID 3, but is more progressive in its technology than its predecessors. Now no separate disk is dedicated to store parity information and it’s rather distributed among all data disks following special rotation schemes. This method speeded up writing, as the system doesn’t have to wait until the parity is calculated on a separate disk. If any of the drives fails, the data will be retrieved from the remaining drives and parity.

- RAID6 is a further step into higher reliability. This method implies two layers of parity distributed across all disks following special order and rotation schemes. Compared to other levels, RAID 6 allows for data recovery with two drives missing. This scheme is the most reliable one but the least cost-efficient, as plus one drive is used to store parity.

6. Appendix

In this section, most common users’ questions are being answered. For any further information, please contact the developers of the software directly via contact form at: http://www.ufsexplorer.com/contact.php.

Does software modify data on the source drives?

Source drives are opened as read-only so software is unable to modify the data. However, this software edition contains tools for explicit data modification. Any incorrect use of these tools may lead to permanent data loss.

What file system is on my storage?

If file system is supported by UFS Explorer it will be shown as “NTFS partition (sector 2048, 40 GB)”. Here “NTFS” is file system type.

Does it support an X file system?

This information is available in the software specification. Anyway, this can be checked by running software trial.

How to identify partition in UFS Explorer?

Find the drive and file system of specific size. Anyway, you may open file system in Explorer and check it by contained files.

Windows dynamic disk was not recognized by the software. Where is problem?

The software is likely to have defined complex dynamic disk (e.g. span, stripe, RAID 5 etc.). UFS Explorer does not assemble RAID automatically. If such RAID is mounted by Windows as a volume, you may open it as a “storage device” by specifying its mount point (NTFS path or drive letter followed by colon).

Data is stored on software or hardware RAID not recognized by OS. How to access the data?

UFS Explorer Professional Recovery supports virtual RAID reconstruction and uses such RAID as virtual storage to access the data.

The disk image file is split into many fragments. How to access the data?

Entire disk image can be combined from fragments using free RAID Access Plugin – Autospan module or via RAID Builder (span mode).

There are bad clusters. How to read the data?

If data is very valuable, it's better to contact data recovery service laboratory for data recovery. If data costs less than data recovery service fee, you may use the software to attempt data recovery.

If there are file system errors, it's recommended to use file system reconstruction tools of UFS Explorer. Anyway, it is strongly recommended to access the data from such drive only via free “Read-It-Once plugin”.

External drive was not recognized, what are my steps?

A: Check data cable connection type and if there is enough external power for drive (e.g. 3.5' drives can not be powered via USB). To make software to detect the drive, make sure OS can recognize the drive as a device.

In Windows: right click “Computer” choose “Manage”. Go to “Storage” and “Disk management”. Make sure disk is listed.

In Linux and Mac OS there are “Disk utility” in system applications section that can be used for the same purposes.

Important: if you have connected disk from other OS to a computer with Windows OS, it's possible it may ask for “disk activation”. Decline this prompt to prevent data loss.

The OS recognizes disk but not UFS Explorer. What to do next?

Make sure software is started using local Administrator user account (this is required to access physical drives).

If other disks (except required) are detected, this may indicate bad cluster on sector 0 of the drive. In this case, disk still can be accessed via “Read-It-Once Plugin”.

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7. Keyboard shortcuts

The following keyboard shortcuts work in the tab Hexadecimal contents.

Del Remove selected closes the selected component in the data comparison, parallel search, data span tool, RAID Builder and parity calculator tools.
Backspace Previous location moves the cursor backwards on the positions that were under cursor location.
Shift+Backspace Next location moves the cursor in the forward direction on previously selected positions.
F5 Refresh updates information of the current data source, if modified
F3 Next occurence moves the cursor in forward direction on parallel search results.
Ctrl+- Unbind structure breaks off current structure template.
Ctrl+ = Bind current structure applies a structure from the list of imported structure templates at a current cursor position.
Ctrl+, Split as “sparse” file allows creating a new virtual disk using space-saving “sparse file” technology.
Ctrl+. Set end of file cuts all data after the cursor position and makes cursor position the last byte.
Ctrl+/ Split to fragments allows creating and saving several data chunks from the data source.
Ctrl+Alt+F New search allows setting parameters for parallel data values search. Possible search variants include hexadecimal values search, text values search and advanced hexadecimal search.
Ctrl+C Copy raw copies raw unformatted data.
Ctrl+D Mark current position opens a dialogue for saving user information about the position. Current position will be added to the positions list.
Ctrl+Down Move component down moves the component downwards in the components list.
Ctrl+Enter Build this RAID assembles current RAID configuration in the UFS Explorer Professional Recovery program. The software opens the assembled virtual RAID storage in a new hexadecimal viewer tab for further operations.
Ctrl+F Search tool allows searching data with preset user-defined parameters. This includes search within text data field, search within hexadecimal data field and advanced hexadecimal data search, which gives more precise results.
Ctrl+F3 Previous occurrence moves the cursor in backward direction on parallel search results.
Ctrl+G Go to... allows changing positions by setting position location parameters.
Ctrl+H Copy hex text copies selected data from the hexadecimal pane.
Ctrl+I Toggle inspector panel hides information panel. To expand information panel, press the tool button once again.
Ctrl+K Next difference moves the cursor in the forward direction on the data difference positions detected by the software.
Ctrl+L Follow link interprets highlighted hexadecimal values in little-endian order as an address for jumping to a new position. Data values can be set in a range from DWord (2 bytes) to Qword (8 bytes).
Ctrl+M Modify data/selection switches the current data source to data editing mode. The software creates a new editing tab for data modification operations/allows changing values of the selected data range in a manner opted by the user.
Ctrl+P Copy position copies cursor position.
Ctrl+R Select range allows specifying data range for further operations including actions in viewer tab, editing tab and software tools.
Ctrl+S Save changes saves modifications made to data.
Ctrl+Shift+= Bind a structure allows applying structure templates to data at current cursor position. To load a new structure from a text file select Import in the structure templates dialogue. Data structure details are displayed in the Structure details window and in the Information panel. Please, refer to Software forum for more information on how to create a structure template file.
Ctrl+Shift+A Append a file allows adding a file to the data end and merging several files into one.
Ctrl+Shift+C Copy text copies selected data from the text pane.
Ctrl+Shift+K Previous difference moves the cursor in the backward direction on the data difference positions detected by the software.
Ctrl+Shift+P All positions opens the list of all marked positions. In this dialogue, you can save the current positions list and load it in later references. To save new positions to already existing list, create a new list file. If you open several list files, they are merged into one list. Go to button will address you to the selected position.
Ctrl+Shift+R Find and replace opens a dialogue to set data search parameters and insert replace values
Ctrl+Shift+S Save as copies selected data from the hexadecimal pane.
Ctrl+Shift+T Previous position allows moving backward on positions from the list of marked positions.
Ctrl+Shift+U Copy UTF-8 copies selected text data in one-byte UTF-8 encoding.
Ctrl+Shift+V Paste as pastes clipboard contents in a manner opted by the user.
Ctrl+T Next position allows moving forward on positions from the list of marked positions.
Ctrl+U Copy Unicode copies selected text data in two-byte Unicode encoding.
Ctrl+Up Move component up moves the component upwards in the components list.
Ctrl+V Paste pastes clipboard contents to the cursor location. If the cursor is set at the last byte, the software gives an option to append the data to the file end or insert it before the last byte.
Ctrl+X Cut/Virtually cut selection deletes selected data area/ removes the selected data area from the data span.
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