DLINK DNS323 NAS – stories from the trenches (the 94% bug strikes again)

We have been using the marvellous DLINK DNS323 NAS (network attached storage) device on our family network for years now. This device has become the most important part of our digital record keeping. A week ago one of my sons lost his hard drive on his Ubuntu Linux box as the motor died. I felt quite sorry for him and order some new parts, but in the meantime I decided to expedite the recovery process of his Linux box.

Since our DNS323 stores very important information I had setup two Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB hardrives in a RAID 1 configuration. I decided to take the backup drive out of the DNS323 and use it as the replacement drive for my son’s Ubuntu and got him up and running within a few hours (he was very happy). A number of days later our shipment of replacements parts arrived (one of which was an identical Western Digital Caviar Black 1 TB drive). I placed the drive into the empty slot (the one on the right hand side) of the DNS323 and followed the prompts in the web configuration page to format the drive as a RAID 1 backup drive. After a few hours i came back to see it seemed stuck at 94% so I checked out on google to see if this was a known issue. Indeed this was a known bug in firmware v 1.06 and the suggestion was to keep trying the format until it works.

Here is where things went bad quickly! After trying the format process 2-3 times and still getting stuck at 94% I thought I would swap the drives place in the DNS323 and did so. I used extreme caution (writing down the new hard drives serial #) while going through the entire process. The next format attempt the firmware said it would format the drive with the NEW serial number but unfortunately due to ANOTHER NASTY BUG in the firmware it formatted the drive in the right hand bay (with all of our data).

Here is what the drive looked like after it was reformatted when I viewed it in Ubuntu’s Partition Manager:

The drive looks like this when it was partially formatted by the DNS323
The drive looks like this when it was partially formatted by the DNS323

Sadly I tried using a number of data recovery tools like testdisk, gparted, ddrescue etc… but nothing was to help us out of this dilemma. Well we lost a LOT of important stuff to say the least but we all agreed it was a lesson learned and would never be repeated again. We would use FANATICAL caution from now on when dealing with the DNS323 and never use its components for anything other than it sole purpose.

I should mention that afterwards I downloaded the v1.08 beta firmware and it did NOT suffer from the original 94% bug and formatted the second drive just fine. I wish I had known about that before as it would have saved MUCH GRIEF.

4 Responses to DLINK DNS323 NAS – stories from the trenches (the 94% bug strikes again)

  1. Avatar Dominic Giroux
    Dominic Giroux says:

    A question, actually. I was thinking about buying a DNS-323. The only thing I can’t figure out from the Dell web site is whether or not I can simply take a drive out of the unit and use it under a linux system (I need to know I can, in case the unit dies).

    I was trying to find the answer (no luck so far) when I stumbled on your post. You said you used the unit to kickstart your son’s ubuntu system. I assume you reformatted it, but was the drive readable ?


  2. I powered down my DNS323, pulled out the right hand bay drive and connected it to my sons Ubuntu 9 PC, booted up and noticed 3 partitions:
    #1 – swap partition
    #2 – regular ext2 file system which looked like it is used by the DNS323 internally
    #3 raid ext2 file system (which looked like a ext2 parition to GParted).

    I mounted the 3rd parition in Ubuntu like this:

    sudo mount -t ext2 /dev/sdb2 /media/dnstest

    and voila, all the files were accessible under the mount point: /media/dnstest

    So the answer is yes you can easily access your files by mounting the 3rd parition.

  3. you should take that drive if you have it and send it to gilware.com or something like that. they do data recovery in wisconsin. it will cost, if they get the data, about 600.00 bucks usa but that is pretty cheap if they get your stuff back. i am a consultant and use them exclusively if i have issues and need a clean room to rebuild drives for clients. i would probably not tell them you used it in a raid, i would say it is a linux ext3 hdd, i believe maybe that the dns-323 has embedded linux so it should be, i am assuming, lvm with ext3? i might be wrong though.gd

  4. duh, i just read the post above mine, so it is an ext3 system. good for you.gd