If you are like me, primarily a WINDOWS person and run a SOHO NAS which internally uses the linux OS, you will want to know how you can recover your precious files from the NAS when the hardware (the NAS, not the HDD mind you) gives up on you.
You basically have 3 options:
1) Have a second identical NAS device as backup. When the first one kicks the bucket, just plug the HDDs out from the first and insert them into the second and you are good to go. Fuss free but you have to be pretty darn rich to have a second NAS barebone just lying around waiting for the first to fail.
2) Maintain a linux system somewhere, maybe dual boot in your workstation to save on hardware cost. When the NAS fails, plug it into workstation and boot up in linux to access your files. This solution is good if you are comfortable with installing and working with linux. The downside is the hassle of moving files out from the ext2 filesystem to one based on FAT32 so that you can access the files again when you get back to your WINDOWS environment. Too much hassle if you ask me.
3) The "have-your-cake-and-eat-it" solution - get Ext2 Installable File System for Windows! This is a kernel level driver which allows your WINDOWS OS to both read and write to a ext2 file system. So when your NAS fails, simply plug it into your workstation and viola! Back in business!