SSDs: Common Misconceptions

While solid state drives are still gaining traction, there are still many myths and misconceptions that dog the technology. Many home users and businesses are reluctant to fully embrace the still-emerging technology due to lingering concerns, particularly around performance and data recovery.

The first and probably most common myth relates to solid state drives’ failure rate. While it is certainly true that solid that drives are much more reliable than hard disk drives since they have no moving parts, they can still be damaged. In particular, NAND flash chips are more sensitive to heat than the magnetic platters in hard drives, and they can still be damaged by water. Data recovery is generally much trickier on SSDs.

People often assume that because of their lack of moving parts, SSDs will run forever. Again, this isn’t true. Solid state drives store data on NAND flash chips as electrical charges, and every time a write operation is performed, there is some wearing out of the cells. There are measures you can take to extend the lifespan of your solid state drive, like not defragmenting it or filling it to full capacity, but the lifespan of SSDs is typically more than five years and they can withstand many write operations.

Some people mistakenly believe that data recovery is easier with solid state drives than hard disk drives. In reality, SSD data recovery is still being developed, and getting data back is significantly harder than with an HDD. The difficulty is down to the way SSDs store data. The drive’s controller scrambles data before it gets written to the NAND chips, and a map of the data is created. Different manufacturers use different controllers, and each controller has its own way of mapping the data. The pattern must be reverse engineers manually in order to undertake data recovery.

Data Recovery