I have four disks from a Buffalo Terrastation NAS which were setup in a RAID5 configuration. The terrastation apparently runs a linux based software RAID.

Unfortunately one disk has failed entirely, and I have a second disk which is working intermittently (it works then stops, then works then stops)

RAID5 arrays will allow one disk failure but not two so I'm in a bit of a predicament. I need to recover that second almost failed drive before it stops working entirely. Otherwise I've lost all my data - which I'd prefer not to do. :)

Rather than trying to get the entire RAID array back online (which takes hours due to a consistency check needing to run) I just want to try to clone the failing disk from another system. The trouble is that when I take the disk (or any disk out of the system and plug it into my windows system, windows see's the disk as uninitialized.

So I can't clone it with any of the windows tools. I'm not sure if its "safe" to initialize the disk in windows. Will that wipe the data or otherwise make it unreadible? If so, how can I get the drive online enough to clone it from windows?

Ideally I'd like to use disk2vhd to make a VHD of each drive. I'll then attempt to recreate the software RAID array with the VHDs without having to access the physical drives any more.

Thanks, Brad

  • I'm not sure if its "safe" to initialize the disk in windows. Will that wipe the data or otherwise make it unreadible? - Yes, you would lose the data if you allow Windows to initialize the disk.
    – joeqwerty
    Sep 3, 2016 at 23:46

2 Answers 2


Put it into your other system and then boot a Linux livecd / pen drive. This will give you access to tools like dd(1) which should allow you to clone the drive or write it to a file etc.

You should also spend some time investigating backup solutions. RAID is for availability not backup.


To answer the question it will set the disk up in a way you do not want. It will become unusable to the raid if you initialize it wroth windows disk management.

Raid 5 sometimes can fail recovery even with one drive. I'd copy as much important stuff that you can off there before doing to much.

You can you a boot disk or drive to use other clone software.

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