Hard but Not Impossible: How to Recover Data From Your SSD

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The SSD (solid-state drive) is easily the coolest kid on the block – with several laptop and PC manufacturers housing SSD components. And it’s not surprising! We are looking at reducing size, efficient power consumption, and faster data transfer speeds.

But as SSDs become commoner, more people experience data loss. Unfortunately, SSDs are built differently from regular hard drives, and standard data recovery tools don’t work. So let’s look at how you can retrieve data from a formatted or failed SSD.

Before diving into the actual data recovery process, there’s a critical element to SSD data deletion that you must understand.

Brief on the TRIM Command

The TRIM command “informs” the SSD which data blocks are unneeded and can be earmarked for deletion or overwriting. In other words, TRIM helps the operating system know precisely where the data that you want to move or delete is stored. That way, the SSD can access only the blocks holding data, making it faster.

Consider the analogy of an SSD to a library having many shelves – filled with books.
SSD trim

A word of caution though: Upon deleting data, the TRIM command instantly “zeroes” or wipes out all deleted data – unless you act promptly. In other words, the delete instruction on your computer triggers the TRIM command to clean out the pages or blocks containing the files.

However, if you quickly unplug your SSD right after deleting some files, the TRIM command wouldn’t have enough time to wipe out the paths. As a result, data recovery would still be possible (via a USB connection).

The good news is that the TRIM command can be disabled.

How to Disable TRIM on Your SSD

Disabling TRIM on an NTFS-formatted SSD can be done simply by entering one command in the Command Prompt.

Step #1: Open the Start menu, type “command prompt,” and select the Run as Administrator option.

Step #2: Type the following command and hit Enter:

fsutil behavior set DisableDeleteNotify 1

trim disabled

If you see the “NTFS DisableDeleteNotify = 1 (Enabled)” messages, then it means (rather confusingly) that TRIM is disabled.

Step #3: You can always check the current TRIM status by entering the following command:

fsutil behavior query DisableDeleteNotify

If you want to enable TRIM, replace 1 with 0 in the command fsutil behavior set DisableDeleteNotify.

How to Recover Data from SSD

While SSD data recovery is slightly tricky, it’s very much possible. We will walk you through some steps to retrieve data from your corrupted SSD.

Bear in mind that this article focuses on SSD recovery. If you’re dealing with a conventional hard drive, you might need to know some things beforehand.

Solution #1: Use data recovery software

When attempting data recovery from an SSD, there are certain significant shortcomings like the TRIM command. Nevertheless, you can try to scan the affected drive for file recovery.

There are several data recovery software available, such as EaseUS, Stellar, and Recuva. We have extensively tested all of these, but we consistently found that Disk Drill is a reliable, accurate, and fast service for data recovery. Moreover, it works wonders for all storage systems, including SSDs.

Here’s how to use Disk Drill to recover data from your corrupted SSD:

Step #1: Download and install Disk Drill on your computer.

disk drill setup

Step #2: Connect your SSD to the computer.

Step #3: Launch Disk Drill.

Step #4: Select the disk or partition for recovery from the list presented by Disk Drill. selecting the SSD from Disk drill

Step #5: Click the Search for lost data button to initiate Disk Drill’s scanning algorithms to identify recoverable files. disk drill main screen sd card selectedWe recommend selecting the default All recovery methods for optimum results.

Step #6: Choose the files for recovery.

selecting files for recovery in Disk Drill

Step #7: Click the Recover button. Then, select a storage location for the restored data. Do not select the same SSD as the target destination. Press OK to trigger the data recovery. SDHC Recovery - Step 4

Solution 2: Approach a Data Recovery Service

SSDs are not just extra storage these days, often acting as the primary storage in many modern computers, storing vital data: personal and professional. Unlike flash drives which store data that can be moved quickly, SSDs hold essential and irreplaceable information.

If an SSD failure stops your computer from booting, consult a professional recovery service.

data recovery services

Data recovery services can seem expensive, but they have teams of highly skilled professionals who work with data loss all the time. The best ones are the teams that help make data recovery software, such as Cleverfiles, the team behind Disk Drill.

All you need to do is get in touch with a service provider, who then schedules a free consultation with you and quotes a price. After this, you can ship your drive to them. The experts at the recovery service first clone your drive and then begin the recovery process.

If you approach a reliable service, they will try their best to recover your data. But in the rare case that they can’t, they will return the drive to you at no charge whatsoever.

If you are dealing with the conventional HDD, here’s a great article to get started on external hard drive data recovery.

Common Indicators of SSD Corruption

Unlike HDDs, there are no physical moving platters in SSDs, so it’s immune from traditional hard disk issues. However, other factors like power and speed fluctuations also indicate signs of corruption:

  • 💥 Power Failures – SSDs require a capacitor and power supplies, which are vulnerable to malfunctions: especially in the case of a power surge or a power failure. Furthermore, power failures cause SSDs to corrupt existing data, even if the drive itself hasn’t failed.
  • ✍️ Limited read/write cycles – The other possible problem with SSDs is that they have limited read/write cycles: an issue with all kinds of flash memory.
  • Extremely slow read/write speeds – This is a pretty self-explanatory indicator for SSD corruption. If you witness unusually slow read/write speeds, chances are you are dealing with a corrupted or deteriorating SSD.
  • 🧱 Bad blocks – Much like “bad sectors” on HDDs, there are “bad blocks” on SSDs. We are typically looking at a scenario where the computer attempts to read or save a file, but it takes an unusually long time and fails. The system eventually gives up with an error message.
  • ⚠️ Frequent crashes during boot – If your PC crashes during the boot process but works fine after hitting the reset button a couple of times, then your drive is likely to blame. It might be a bad block or the sign of a dying drive, so it’s best to back up your data before you lose any of it.

All that being said, SSDs should last many years on average, so you shouldn’t worry or be paranoid. If you bought an SSD in the last couple of years, research has shown that new SSDs are less susceptible to these read/write problems.

Either way, the read/write cycle will affect whether you can write to your SSD. Since you’ll still be able to read your data, it can all be retrieved. However, you’ll still want to know when it is nearing the end of its life so that you can upgrade.

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Conclusion

To sum it up, SSD data recovery is challenging but not impossible. The most important thing to remember is to stop using your device, which houses the affected SSD. After that, the only concern is whether your SSD has TRIM enabled and the type of data loss you have experienced. In most cases, data recovery software will be able to restore your lost files.

Jeff Cochin is a data management and recovery professional, who has been with 7datarecovery for nine years and has always been an essential part of the team. Jeff also works as a technical writer at Macgasm, being a first hand in testing, trying and writing about big and small tech software.
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Strong knowledge in data recovery, computer forensic and data litigation. 12 years experience in software development, database administration and hardware repair.