Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question

NAS | Question Regarding Win7 and the Ext4 File System

Last response: in Storage
Share
September 16, 2012 2:37:29 PM

I'm setting up a Synology ds411Slim NAS as a backup unit for my networked computer.

I've noticed that the drives were formatted by the NAS to the ext4 file system, rather than the NTFS I was expecting.

I will NOT be creating clone drives, or bootable backup drives with this machine, but rather using Acronis to backup various HDD systems on my machine separately.


1. I'm wondering though if this ext4 file system will prove a problem with being compatible with Windows7?

Let's say the primary drive dies, and I go into the NAS to grab the harddrive and want to use it to restore the OS (with the OS disk); will this be a problem? (or should I not be using the NAS to backup my OS to begin with?)


2. I've also realized that it doesn't seem possible to format to NTFS with the Synology - I believe I formatted the drives to NTFS originally, but the SynologyOS converted them.


3. I'm trying to figure out how this isn't a more general problem for many users - I don't have any Linux machines on this network, so nothing I have can read ext4 to my knowledge, moreover, I'm concerned to use it for backup if there are any questions as to its compatibility in an emergency...

a b G Storage
September 16, 2012 3:15:48 PM

Ext4 is Linux, and no it's not compatible with Windows 7 - http://www.askvg.com/how-to-access-linux-partitions-ext...
The file system of the unit itself has no bearing though, as to your concern because you're not going to take the drives out to put into a windows machine - you access the drives via a secure FTP, web based browser or File Station.
September 16, 2012 3:24:52 PM

Ok - I'm a bit confused though then - I feel that if my system HDD died, I would want to immediately pull the backup drive from the NAS, and indeed put it into my Windows machine with an Acronis Boot disc - and restore the image and the incremental backups.

How would I be able to do this via any other method? And to do this, presumably, the drive needs to be NTFS?

Related resources
a b G Storage
September 16, 2012 4:51:22 PM

I've never installed one of thes units, but I have to assume there's no drive for you to remove because all the drives installed in the device are used in some form of RAID Array

I've tried to find an installation manual to definitively know how it uses the drives, but came up short

todo what you explain, it'd be best to just buy another drive same as the one the OS is on, use Acronis to create a copy and store it in the safe for use if needed
September 16, 2012 6:03:13 PM

Well the drives aren't part of a RAID in my case (but yes that's certainly possible), so I can definitely remove the drive.

If I couldn't restore a crashed system using the NAS - I'm a bit confused what the point of it was - they're used very often for system backup - is that JUST file backup, and not actual image backup?

Even so - how would Windows7 be able to read any of the data independently, say if the NAS itself failed?

This incompatibility seems more and more problematic as I consider it, something I hadn't realized before I got this NAS...

Bit worried now...
a c 81 G Storage
September 16, 2012 7:15:17 PM

Sounds like you misunderstood the use of a NAS. It's indeed for files, not for cloning your internal drives. And it's not for file backup, but for file sharing in your home network with multiple computers or media players. And it has the raid function in case one of the disks fails. And if the NAS itself fails you need an additional backup, like a second NAS.
For what you want to do an external USB drive is the right solution. You can clone your system drive to that and start from it afterwards. If you go for that, try to boot from the disk before your system crashes, because it's not always working in the first place.
September 16, 2012 7:28:57 PM

I found that Windows 7 won't restore a backup from an array formatted in something other than NTFS. You back up to file server formatted from NTFS, you use your windows repair disc to point to the file server and select the backup copy and it restores your backup from the NAS using your network. I had my NAS using freeNAS formatted with zfs2 and even though I could see the backup image, it wouldn't restore.
a c 81 G Storage
September 16, 2012 7:50:36 PM

egilbe said:
I found that Windows 7 won't restore a backup from an array formatted in something other than NTFS. You back up to file server formatted from NTFS, you use your windows repair disc to point to the file server and select the backup copy and it restores your backup from the NAS using your network. I had my NAS using freeNAS formatted with zfs2 and even though I could see the backup image, it wouldn't restore.


That would be horrible for any professional data center with windows servers, because there is no backup device (NAS, SAN, Tape) that uses NTFS. It must have been something else. Probably the win version? Only win prof (and up) supports backup / restore from / to network devices. Do you remember the error you got?
September 16, 2012 8:07:02 PM

noidea_77 said:
That would be horrible for any professional data center with windows servers, because there is no backup device (NAS, SAN, Tape) that uses NTFS. It must have been something else. Probably the win version? Only win prof (and up) supports backup / restore from / to network devices. Do you remember the error you got?


I have win7 64 pro. I could see the files, and when I tried to restore it said backup not available or something like that. It was very annoying. Maybe it was a limitation with FreeNAS?
September 16, 2012 9:22:27 PM

Wow, now I'm even more confused. This is my understanding of the situation:

Data is very easy to understand/deal with - and presumably it wouldn't really matter much which file system its in as you can just read it back with the native system (so if the file system is ext4, use the NAS or linux, if it's NTFS, use Win, etc.). The data is discrete - obviously it would be preferable probable to put it in the filesystem which you're more likely to read it through...

When it comes to OS restoration though, its gets trickier

To zoom out - I have multiple backup solutions in use in simul - I have an onboard "bootable clone" of my OS drive, so if the primary fails, I shut down, reboot using the clone, seamless restoration (with some minor delta loss from whatever wasn't backedup to the clone in the interval before failure of course). This is essentially the 'external drive' that's been referenced, only I have it on SATA so it can boot easily.

I then have an NAS (aforementioned), which serves several purposes (yes it shares network files, etc.) but which is also a backup unit (I know that this is certainly a common practice). What I seem to be hearing is it's a backup unit EXCLUSIVELY for discrete files (and NOT operating system backups).

This makes some sense to me (while at the same time I'm becoming more and more convinced that all of our computing architecture, an OS with an MBR, discrete files, different file systems, is primitive and in need of a massive technological update).

On the other hand, in principle, the only problem with using an NAS in the nature I'm looking to do so is in the file system. If Windows could read ext4, for instance, I could easily pull the drive from the NAS upon primary OS failure, boot the system with whatever media (Acronis disk e.g.), and point to the image file on that drive (attached to the primary machine).

It could then restore the image, and the backup incrementals over it. I know this could work obviously, save for that Linux file system.

1. I have been reading around, and I've been getting the vibe which I can't confirm, that other NAS models DO support NTFS formatting - if this is indeed the case, then I have simply purchased the wrong model of NAS.

2. Similarly, I have investigated simply changing the OS which runs the NAS, but so far I haven't seen anything on that.
a c 81 G Storage
September 17, 2012 9:07:35 AM

egilbe said:
I have win7 64 pro. I could see the files, and when I tried to restore it said backup not available or something like that. It was very annoying. Maybe it was a limitation with FreeNAS?


To be honest, I have to try a backup / restore with my win pro PC and one of my Thecus NAS myself. Haven't done in a home environment so far, but I don't think it's freenas. I think it's the backup config and what exactly is written to the NAS. I will ask our backup administrator group. :) 
September 17, 2012 1:08:08 PM

If you find out, let me know :sol:  Otherwise, I'm going to salvage my server for the drives and just use them to make images of my PC's drives
September 19, 2012 7:51:42 PM

If there are NO backup devices that use NTFS (as was mentioned above); why should this affect the saving of an image file (of an operating system) for later restoration?

I HAVE to imagine data centers find the need to image systems, store the images (as you've said probably on non-NTFS file systema), and then load said images when a restore is required.

I am definitely missing something here viz. understanding the basics.
November 25, 2012 5:16:55 PM

Hi commissarmo,

That last statement kind of sums it up exactly.
Let me try to shed some light on the matter from personal experience and professional life as network/infrastructure engineer/manager.

I've had the same problem with Windows Image backup, which shouldn't be a problem at all if I'm honest, but Microsoft seems to know better.

As far as I can gather it's Microsoft that imposes the NTFS rule in Windows 7.
I haven't tried in Windows 8 yet but they use the same program so I won't hold my breath.

The system image backup that Windows Backup creates should be just that, an image in the form of a VHD-file (yes FILE !).
Which should be read back and restored to a replacement disk by the Backup restore client (USB/CD) from a network source.
In which case the format of that network sources file system shouldn't matter at all.

But helas Microsoft seems to be of different mind !

As to how datacenters go about this I can only say they use a different category of NAS or other storage.
Often they do not use Windows but mainly rely on LINUX/UNIX from a cost standpoint alone......

If they do use Windows it's only in a virtual environment in which Windows itself runs on file based disk images (VHD).
And those are managed by the virtualisation software and are back-upped on that same level.

Snapshotting and other virtualized back-up methods are then used outside of the control of the Windows OS.
Which simplifies matters a lot !
Microsoft is heading that way themselves and is playing catchup in the server market.

Unfortunately not everything they use in their servers, makes their way into the PC realm, but that's only a matter of time.

FakeRaid is often used as cheap way of either getting more performance or redundancy out of 2 or more disk, by writing data to alternate disks (performance aka RAID0) or writing the same data to different disks (reduncancy aka RAID1or RAID5).

Hope this helps you in understanding some of the even more technical stuff out there.

Greetxn Peter
August 14, 2013 4:50:20 AM

why not to use any extfs driver for windows and get full access to extfs partition from windows? I'm currently using paragon extfs for windows and it gives me read/write access to ext4 inder windows7. From my side it seems to be working fine. So i don’t see the problem accessing ext partition from windows even understanding that windows are not compatible with ext file system
!