How to Recover Data from a Solid State Drive (SSD)

Tuesday, August 8, 2017 by Shira Caldie

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The Solid State Drive (SSD) is continuously becoming more and more prevalent and is starting to become the norm as home computing devices.

chart of stored digital universe solid-state technology

Image source: http://www.storagenewsletter.com/2017/07/10/digital-storage-outlook-2017-spectra-logic/

Solid State Drive vs. Hard Disk Drive

The biggest difference between SSDs and HDDs is the usage of magnetic recording to store data versus using electronic recording.  SSD uses NAND flash, while HDD uses glass or aluminum platters coated with a thin magnetic alloy.

Recovering Data from SSD

Three common types of flash/SSD failures are user error and environmental influences, electronics component failure, and system area corruption.

Often when SSD data is lost, panic ensues.  Ontrack engineers have developed successful data recovery techniques with several models drives from different vendors.  Bypassing built-in challenges, Ontrack engineers were successful in bringing the drives back to factory mode.  Some of the challenges specific to data recovery with SSDs include: several manufacturers in the SSD space, lack of standards in NAND manufacturing, proprietary chip pin outs, proprietary wear leveling algorithms, proprietary encryption, use of glue and other epoxy-like substances on the NAND chips and microscopic traces, along with many others.

What else makes recovering data from SSD possible?  During the recovery process, Kroll Ontrack uses a specific structure targeting to find used areas of the SSD in order to target them for imaging.  This allows Ontrack engineers to recover the critical sectors without spending time on the unallocated space.

SSD Data: the good, the bad and why it matters

In contrast to HDDs, SSDs are durable and less prone to mechanical failure (no moving parts).  They are also resilient and can handle many environmental impacts, such as shock, temperature extremes and physical vibration, all without sacrificing data integrity or suffering data loss.  However, SSD data is still susceptible to electrical damage, firmware corruption and controller failure.

Although recovering data from SSD is not an easy task, it can be done in many cases with great success.  Ontrack has the necessary experience and tools to attempt the data recovery.

How to Preserve your SSD health

There are many strategies to utilize when trying to prevent data loss to your SSD or just trying to maintain the overall health.

We previously laid out some helpful tips for extending the life of your SSD:

  • Misusing drive – Do not max out the capacity on your SSD drive.
  • Enable TRIM in the operating system – Most SSD drives have a function called garbage collection (GC). The TRIM command makes this GC function more efficient.
  • Make sure to use the latest firmware with SSD devices. Frequently check with your storage vendors for any updates
  • Carefully monitor how intensively you use the SSD device and calculate its estimated lifetime. The lifetime expectancy depends on how actively you continue to use the SSD device.
  • Power – make sure to protect the SSD from power surges and low power conditions.

While it may appear difficult, there is a way around the challenge of losing SSD data.

If you've experienced data loss on an SSD, click here for more information about Ontrack's expert data recovery service.

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