Data Loss on SSD and SSHD is Not the End

Thursday, April 13, 2017 by Michael Nuncic

More and more consumers and enterprises are buying SSDs and solid state hybrid drives (SSHD) these days. Studies from the IT market researchers of IDC show that in the enterprise market, SSD capacity shipments are seeing a 50 percent annual growth rate, and this trend should continue until the end of this decade. Another research group, DRAMeXchange, is predicting that during the fourth quarter of 2017, 50 percent of all notebooks that will be shipped to market will carry SSDs. Furthermore, a leading researcher from IDC Europe – Carla Arend, Program Director Datacenter Software & Cloud, stated in an interview with a leading German IT magazine that she expects that in only 2 years about 80 percent of all storage systems in data centers will be flash-based.

What's Going on with SSD and SSHD?

The reason for the success of flash SSD is obvious: In comparison to an HDD, SSD is three to four times faster in operating boot time, 30 percent faster in opening a file or file copy, and the write speed is four to ten 10 times faster. Additional benefits include almost no heat production during operation, and in most cases, less energy consumption and no noise or vibration. Besides that, the next SSD/SSHD technology is on its way: 3D XPoint. Intel is offering a new SSD-PCIe-Card with this new technology the write speed is seven times faster than a “normal” SSD based PCIe-Card like the Intel-SSD DC P3700.

Whether it's NAND-Flash or the 3D XPoint technology, there are also some disadvantages to chip based storage drives: price, reliability, and life span of the storage chips.  In addition to that, the difficulties in regaining and recovering data in case of a SSD or SSHD failure. It is even more difficult when the drive has an encryption method – either by software or by hardware.

Sales Continue

As Ontrack found out in a survey conducted last year, sales of both SSDs and SSHDs are increasing as well as the number of data losses. More than one third (38 %) of the surveyed had already experienced a failure of their SSD and much greater number of (64 %) had lost their precious data whilst using SSD technology.

Since recovering data from SSDs and hybrid drives is more complex due to the fact that the storage of the data is totally different and each product model (and its controller) has its own unique way to store data, each data recovery case has his unique challenges. But even though it is more challenging to recover data from SSD-chip-based devices a professional data recovery service provider like Ontrack is constantly researching and developing new methods and processes.

New successes in data recovery

Over the past several months, Ontrack engineers have gained success in data recovery from several models of failed Samsung SSD drives, as well as certain models of Toshiba hybrid drives with 8 GB build-in NAND-Flash chips. In both cases the SSD and SSHD drives were not accessible after the controller chip did not function anymore.

In the case of the Samsung SSDs, the drives showed no sign of “life” and responded “not ready” after checking the drive. By bypassing several built-in technological challenges, our engineers were able to able to bring the drive back to factory mode, changing the RAM content of the controller chip, and finally gain access to the service area of the drives. After this success they were, will be able to reconstruct the data structure on the drive and recover all the data on Samsung SSDs.

Hybrid Drives

The hybrid drives of Toshiba were somewhat more difficult to recover. As with all hybrid drives – and as described in our articles about that technology – the most frequently used programs and files are stored in the 8GB NAND-Flash chips – while the other data is stored on the built-in HDD drive, which has around 500GB or 1TB of disk space. The SSHD controller decides which data is on the NAND-Flash chip. Normally when a controller is breaks, there is no way to access data on either the SSD or the HDD. One way to access the data was to replace the controller with a new one, suitable with the hybrid drive model and various other steps.

Our engineers have now found a new method to gain access to the data stored on the HDD inside the hybrid drive only by bypassing the NAND-Flash. With this method, the majority of data is recoverable even faster than before.


These two examples show that even if SSD and SSHD data recovery is not an easy task, it is accomplishable in many cases with great success. As with HDD data losses, the main thing to remember is not to panic when such a disaster happens. It's best to immediately contact an experienced data recovery service provider, like Ontrack, who has the necessary experience and tools to attempt the data recovery.