How Easy is SSD Data Recovery?

We see a high number of solid state drives (SSDs) in the data recovery lab, and they pose more of a challenge when compared to traditional mechanical hard disk drives. So what makes SSD data recovery such a challenge?

Solid state drives are becoming the go-to storage medium for most mobile devices now, including laptops, tablets and mobile phones. Unlike their mechanical counterparts, SSDs don’t use moving parts, instead storing data on NAND flash chips, which are able to read and write data at incredibly fast speeds. Users can access their data more quickly, and your operating system will be faster too. This is why sales of SSDs has shot up in recent years, and sales of HDDs has slumped. But why, despite SSDs containing no moving parts, do we complete so much SSD data recovery work? Put simply, while SSDs eliminate most of the physical faults that occur in HDDs – such as head crashes – they bring with them a whole host of other problems. Not only can data still be lost, but SSD data recovery can be incredibly difficult and time-consuming.

Solid state drives might be faster and more compact than hard disk drives, but they only have a limited number of write operations that can be performed. Whereas traditional mechanical hard disk drives store data on platters, solid state drives store data on NAND flash chips as a series of electrical charges. SSD memory is what’s known as non-volatile, meaning it can retain data even without power. Write operations wear out NAND flash cells, reducing the drive’s lifespan. Not all flash chips used in SSDs are the same, however, and they have varying lifespans. There are three main types of NAND – single level cell (SLC), multi level cell (MLC) and triple level cell (TLC). The more levels a cell has, the more bits can be stored in a cell, increasing the capacity of the SSD, and bringing the cost down. The downside is that adding more cells reduces reliability, durability and performance, which can speed up the wear process.

As SSD technology is developed by manufacturers with the aim of bringing costs down, the proprietary design evolves. This has massive implications for SSD data recovery; for every new SSD design, the layout of the data needs to be mapped. This can be incredibly time-consuming, as SSD manufacturers are understatedly very reluctant to reveal their secrets. For each new design architecture, our SSD data recovery technicians map the layout before they can extract the data. Beware of SSD data recovery vendors who tell you it’s as simple as simply reading the NAND flash chips – it isn’t. Our SSD data recovery team are familiar with common SSD faults and problems, including bad blocks, power failures, controller chip failure and software corruption. 

SSD Data Recovery