Why you might want to factory reset a x86 ReadyNAS

A factory reset  wipes all data, settings, everything. So obviously it’s quite time consuming as you need to backup all data on the ReadyNAS first, backup the system configuration should you wish to restore it, then do a factory reset, restore configuration backup and restore data from backup.

However, there are multiple reasons why one might want to factory reset a x86 ReadyNAS (e.g. NVX, Ultra, Ultra Plus, Pro, 1500, 2100, 3200, 3100 and 4200):

  1. Sometimes when troubleshooting a problem e.g. a performance issue, a factory reset can be necessary to help isolate the cause of the problem. This would be one of the last things to try after exhausting other options first.
  2. A factory reset after updating to the latest firmware gives you a clean setup on the latest firmware. This would mean that in some ways your ReadyNAS would be in a better condition than when it left the factory!
  3. A factory  reset can be much faster than expanding your X-RAID2 volume particularly when using high capacity disks.
  4. You cannot reduce the number of disks and expand your X-RAID2 volume i.e. if you have 4x1TB disks installed you can expand to have a volume of 4x2TB disks, but you cannot expand to have a volume of 3x2TB disks.
  5. You cannot add smaller capacity disks and expand your X-RAID2 volume e.g. if you have a 6-bay x86 ReadyNAS with 4x2TB disks installed you cannot expand your volume by adding 1TB disks. Smaller capacity disks must be added first.
  6. On x86 ReadyNAS, some, but not all Flex-RAID volumes can be expanded. You may wish to do a factory reset if you cannot expand your existing volumes.
  7. The reason we all hope we never have: You’ve had multiple disk failures and had catastrophic data loss. You’ve contacted tech support for assistance, they’ve confirmed this and repairing one of your disks for data recovery has not been possible. Disks can and do fail at any time, so it is recommend that you backup important data primarily stored on the ReadyNAS regularly. See Preventing Catastrophic Data Loss
  8. Unfortunately some benefits cannot be obtained without a factory reset.
  9. Unfortunately some expansion limitations cannot be overcome without a factory reset. You can seek advice as to whether you are affected by any expansion limitations by posting on the ReadyNAS forums or contacting NetGear technical support

Benefits and expansion limitations that require a Factory Reset

Regarding the last two points above, the following is a list of major reasons why you may wish to do a factory reset. This list is current as of RAIDiator x86 4.2.17. It is by no means exhaustive, but lists the key reasons why one would want to do a factory reset on a system that is functioning fine.

Native EXT4

On RAIDiator x86 4.2.9 and earlier, 4-bay x86 and 6-bay x86 ReadyNAS volumes used the EXT3 filesystem. From 4.2.7 onwards these volumes have been mounted as EXT4 to get some of the benefits of this, but they are still EXT3 volumes at heart.

12-bay ReadyNAS (3200, 4200) use native EXT4.

RAIDiator x86 4.2.10 was special firmware just for the 4200 and 3100. These systems came with native EXT4.

With the introduction of RAIDiator x86 4.2.11, the default filesystem for 4-bay and 6-bay ReadyNAS was changed to native EXT4. For 4-bay (except the 3100) and 6-bay systems initially setup or last factory reset on older firmware, you need to update to RAIDiator x86 4.2.11 then do a factory reset to get native EXT4.

EXT4 brings some nice improvements, one of the key ones being support for file sizes larger than 2TB and up to 16TB. This is most useful if using iSCSI (before creating an iSCSI target larger than 2TB do check to make sure the initiator on the client machine supports iSCSI targets larger than 2TB).

For 32-bit x86 ReadyNAS (i.e. NVX, 2100v1) there is no huge file support (support for file sizes larger than 2TB) in RAIDiator 4.2.11

An easy way to check if you have native EXT4 is to download the logs (Status > Logs > Download all logs), extract zip contents and look at initrd.log. If the oldest firmware version listed there is 4.2.11 or newer then you have native EXT4.

A better check would be to look in volume.log and look at the filesystem features line. If you have native EXT4, it should mention things like “huge_file” and “extent” e.g.

Filesystem features:      has_journal ext_attr resize_inode dir_index filetype needs_recovery extent flex_bg sparse_super large_file huge_file uninit_bg dir_nlink extra_isize

Though not mentioned in the RAIDiator x86 4.2.12 Release Notes, if you did initial setup or last did a factory reset on a 32-bit x86 ReadyNAS on RAIDiator x86 4.2.12 or later you will have huge file support. See this thread on the ReadyNAS forums: http://www.readynas.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=126&t=47087

4k sector partition alignment

As the move was made to higher capacity disks, disk manufacturers began to release 2TB disks using 4k sector partitions in preparation for when it would be needed with 3TB disks (3TB disks are supported if you update to RAIDiator x86 4.2.16 before adding the disk, with the exception of the 3200 and 4200 which only support 3TB disks in bays 1-4).

The ReadyNAS needs to format the disks you use. Before RAIDiator x86 4.2.12, when disks were formatted they would be formatted for 512-byte sector alignment, but not 4k sector alignment. When 4k sector disks are not properly aligned you will have poor write performance.

If your x86 ReadyNAS came with RAIDiator x86 4.2.12 or later installed or you last did a factory reset on RAIDiator x86 4.2.12 (or later) your disks would be 4k sector aligned.

If you did the last factory reset (or initial setup if you’ve never factory reset the unit) of the ReadyNAS on RAIDiator x86 4.2.11 or earlier then any disks last added to the ReadyNAS before updating to RAIDiator x86 4.2.12 would not be 4k sector aligned.

So a quick way to confirm you definitely have 4k sector alignment is to download the logs (Status > Logs > Download all logs), extract zip contents and look at initrd.log. If the oldest firmware version listed there is RAIDiator x86 4.2.12 or newer then your disks would definitely be 4k sector aligned.

If the oldest firmware listed is RAIDiator x86 4.2.11 or earlier then take a look at partition.log. If your disks are 4k sector aligned the entry for a disk should have start sectors that are divisible by 8 (remember 4096 = 8 * 512, so 4k sector aligned disks are also 512-byte sector aligned)

On RAIDiator x86 4.2.12 to RAIDiator x86 4.2.15 a 1.5TB disk that is 4k sector aligned should look something like this:

Disk /dev/sdd: 1500.3 GB, 1500301910016 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 182401 cylinders, total 2930277168 sectors
Units = sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Disk identifier: 0x00000000

   Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
/dev/sdd1              64     8388671     4194304   fd  Linux raid autodetect
Partition 1 does not end on cylinder boundary.
/dev/sdd2         8388672     9437247      524288   fd  Linux raid autodetect
Partition 2 does not end on cylinder boundary.
/dev/sdd4         9437248  2930272064  1460417408+   5  Extended
/dev/sdd5         9437256  2930272064  1460417404+  fd  Linux raid autodetect

On RAIDiator x86 4.2.16 or later  a 1.5TB disk that is 4k sector aligned should look something like this

Disk /dev/sdd: 2930277168 sectors, 1.4 TiB
Logical sector size: 512 bytes
Partition table holds up to 128 entries
First usable sector is 34, last usable sector is 2930277134
Partitions will be aligned on 8-sector boundaries
Total free space is 5108 sectors (2.5 MiB)

Number  Start (sector)    End (sector)  Size       Code  Name
   1              64         8388671   4.0 GiB     FD00  Linux RAID
   2         8388672         9437247   512.0 MiB   FD00  Linux RAID
   5         9437256      2930272064   1.4 TiB     FD00  Linux RAID

Disk /dev/sdd: 182401 cylinders, 255 heads, 63 sectors/track
Units = cylinders of 8257536 bytes, blocks of 1024 bytes, counting from 0

   Device Boot Start     End   #cyls    #blocks   Id  System
/dev/sdd1          0+ 181688- 181689- 1465138583+  ee  EFI GPT
/dev/sdd2          0       -       0          0    0  Empty
/dev/sdd3          0       -       0          0    0  Empty
/dev/sdd4          0       -       0          0    0  Empty

If your disks are not 4k sector aligned, I would suggest you backup your data, then verify the backup was successful, check to make sure that the Volume Status under Volumes > Volume Settings in Frontview is “redundant” and then update to the latest firmware (if you haven’t already).

Two options:
Option i

  1. Run the “Disk Test” boot option using the boot menu
  2. If all disks pass the disk tests then hot-remove (remove while NAS is on) one disk that is not 4k sector aligned, wait a minute or two. Then hot-add the disk again. The disk should be wiped and re-added to your array.
  3. Once your volume status is “redundant” again, download your logs and check to confirm that the disk is now 4k sector aligned.
  4. Repeat for the next disk that is not yet 4k sector aligned.

Option ii

  1. If you haven’t already backup your data and then verify the backup was successful
  2. Do a System > Config Backup (keep the zip file that is downloaded. If it is extracted automatically you may find the zip file in the Recycle Bin)
  3. Do a factory reset, either via System > Update > Factory Default or via the boot menu
  4. Restore Config Backup
  5. Restore data from backup

If you are unsure about whether your disks are 4k sector aligned you can seek help by posting on the ReadyNAS forums or contacting NetGear technical support

16TB limit

On x86 ReadyNAS currently you cannot expand a volume past 16TB, you have to factory default with the drives in place.

Please note that the volume capacity is after redundancy.

ReadyNAS 3200 and 4200 hardware limitation

The 8 port SAS/SATA controller on the 3200 and 4200 does not support 64-bit addressing. As a result 3TB drives are only supported in drive bays 1-4. This is a hardware limitation and cannot be overcome by a firmware update.

How should I proceed with doing a factory reset

If you want to backup all data and do a factory reset proceed as follows (this assumes you have a fully working system and have access to your array. if not you can skip some steps as appropriate):

  1. Backup all data
  2. Verify backup is good
  3. Upgrade to latest RAIDiator for your NAS if you haven’t already. You can check the latest version of RAIDiator under System > Update > Remote in Frontview. If a newer version than what you’re running is offered, update. Be sure to reboot the NAS when prompted to complete the update.
  4. Optional – If you don’t want to reconfigure the NAS manually and would rather restore the NAS configuration after the factory reset, do a System > Config Backup (keep the zip file that is downloaded as this is what you will need to restore later). If your NAS has a configuration problem restoring the config may well bring that configuration problem back, so if you are having what you think is a configuration issue you may not want to restore it.
  5. Power down the NAS.
  6. If you wish to add or remove disks, do this now.
  7. Do a factory default using the ReadyNAS boot menu
  8. Optional – if you don’t want to reconfigure the NAS manually, restore the Config Backup.
  9. Restore data from backup

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