ZFS uses checksums, redundancy, and self-healing data to minimize the risk of data corruption. Nonetheless, data corruption can occur if a pool isn't redundant, if corruption occurred while a pool was degraded, or an unlikely series of events conspired to corrupt multiple copies of a piece of data. Regardless of the source, the result is the same: The data is corrupted and therefore no longer accessible. The action taken depends on the type of data being corrupted and its relative value. Two basic types of data can be corrupted:

  • Pool metadata – ZFS requires a certain amount of data to be parsed to open a pool and access datasets. If this data is corrupted, the entire pool or portions of the dataset hierarchy will become unavailable.

  • Object data – In this case, the corruption is within a specific file or directory. This problem might result in a portion of the file or directory being inaccessible, or this problem might cause the object to be broken altogether.

WARNING: ZFS IS FAR MORE COMPLICATED THAN TRADITION RAID SYSTEMS. Risky experiements should be avoided. Or typing experimental shell commands.

ZFS, or Zettabyte File System, is a sophisticated file system with a strong emphasis on data integrity and error correction. But like any other data management system, it's not impervious to issues, and there can be instances where data becomes inaccessible or lost. If your business, Zero Alpha, relies on ZFS for data storage and management, having a robust data recovery strategy is a must. This article provides a detailed guide on how Zero Alpha can recover data from ZFS problems effectively.

Understanding ZFS Problems

ZFS is revered for its self-healing features, RAID-Z, data integrity verification, and automatic repair functionality. Nevertheless, issues can still arise, including data corruption due to hardware failures, software bugs, or power outages. Understanding these issues will inform your data recovery strategy and help you adopt proactive measures to mitigate them.

  1. Built-In ZFS Data Recovery Features

ZFS offers several built-in recovery features. Understanding these features will help you in your data recovery process.

i. ZFS Scrub: The scrub operation in ZFS scans the entire storage pool and corrects any identifiable data inconsistencies. Regularly scheduled scrubs are recommended for proactively maintaining data integrity.

ii. ZFS Snapshots and Clones: ZFS's snapshot and cloning functionality offer an efficient way to save and replicate states of your data at any given point. If data corruption occurs, you can quickly revert to a previous, uncorrupted state using a ZFS snapshot.

iii. ZFS Raid-Z: ZFS offers its RAID solution, known as RAID-Z, which stripes data across multiple disks and includes parity information for recovery. In the event of a drive failure, ZFS can use this parity data to reconstruct lost information.

  1. Data Recovery Tools for ZFS

When built-in recovery features can't resolve the issue, several third-party tools can aid in ZFS data recovery.

i. PhotoRec: Originally designed to recover lost pictures from digital camera memory, PhotoRec is a powerful tool that can recover a wide variety of files from many filesystems, including ZFS.

ii. TestDisk: From the creators of PhotoRec, TestDisk is a powerful open-source data recovery software designed to recover lost partitions and make non-booting disks bootable again.

iii. ZFS Recovery: A dedicated tool for ZFS data recovery, capable of restoring files even from heavily damaged ZFS pools.

  1. Hiring Professional Data Recovery Services

In some severe data loss scenarios, it might be necessary to enlist the help of professional data recovery services. They have access to specialized tools, cleanroom environments, and expert knowledge, which might be required to recover data from seriously damaged ZFS systems. Trusted providers include DriveSavers, Ontrack, and SecureData Recovery.


Even with the robustness of ZFS, it's essential for Zero Alpha to have a comprehensive data recovery strategy. This includes taking advantage of ZFS's in-built recovery features, employing third-party recovery tools, and, in severe cases, seeking the help of professional data recovery services. Above all, prevention is always better than cure, so regular system checks, timely updates, and data backup should form part of your business's data management policy.

        NAME        STATE     READ WRITE CKSUM
        boot-pool   ONLINE       0     0     0
          ada0p2    ONLINE       0     0     0

errors: No known data errors
root@nas:~ # zpool import
   pool: nas
     id: 2743567243525636543
  state: FAULTED
status: The pool metadata is corrupted.
 action: The pool cannot be imported due to damaged devices or data.
        The pool may be active on another system, but can be imported using
        the '-f' flag.
   see: https://openzfs.github.io/openzfs-docs/msg/ZFS-8000-72

        znas                                   FAULTED  corrupted data
          raidz1-0                                      FAULTED  corrupted data

zfs data recovery

Welcome to FreeNAS

Warning: settings changed through the CLI are not written to
the configuration database and will be reset on reboot.

root@nas:~ # zpool import
   pool: nas
     id: 14356345643515
  state: ONLINE
 action: The pool can be imported using its name or numeric identifier.


root@zeroalpha-nas:~ # zpool import nas
cannot import 'nas': I/O error
        Recovery is possible, but will result in some data loss.
        Returning the pool to its state as of Thu Mar 24 20:17:59 2022
        should correct the problem.  Approximately 34 seconds of data
        must be discarded, irreversibly.  Recovery can be attempted
        by executing 'zpool import -F nas'.  A scrub of the pool
      is strongly recommended after the recovery