SSD Data Recovery is Complex

A common question asked is why data recovery from an SSD drive is more expensive than the traditional spinning hard disk drive. While the technology in both types of drive is evolving, the techniques used to recover data from traditional hard disk drives are relatively unchanged in recent years.

SSD drives however are seeing vast changes in technology to allow higher capacity, faster access times as well as providing reliability. Much of the technology being developed is proprietary to each individual company, and subject to rapid changes. The upshot is that the data recovery process for any given SSD may be different from those seen before, even from the same manufacturer.

SSD Reliability

Each memory cell in an SSD has a limited number of operations which can be performed, which is a large number. Each SSD also provides internal load balancing which ensures an even spread of wear, which for general use as a boot drive, will usually continue operating beyond the expected required timespan.

The problems occur when intensive access is required, particularly by multiple applications. This can in some cases significantly decrease the lifespan of an SSD drive, which in extreme cases could lead to a failure within a matter of just months.

Why is it Complex?

It sounds easy to just read the data from the SSD, but unlike a traditional hard disk drive, plugging a SATA cable into the drive will generally not allow us to acquire the required sector-by-sector image copy of the data. The process requires direct access to the data storage chips, which requires specialist equipment in order to read contents of each memory location.

Once the data from the chips has been read, further processing is required, as the data is will not be recorded in a sequential fashion, but with data interleaving. This data interleaving is often unique to each manufacturer and sometimes even SSD device range.

SSD Data Recovery

For the reasons stated, SSD data recovery is a more labour intensive process, which will sometimes require research and development work, when we see a device which uses a new iteration of the technology. This is why we recommend only using an SSD drive for the operating system and applications, rather than as a data storage device.

With the continuing research and development being undertaken by SSD drive manufacturers, data recovery is a moving target. This makes the success rates also lower than for traditional hard disk drives. For those requiring the faster access speeds of an SSD for their data, it is essential to ensure a backup strategy is in place, although this should always be the case for any data storage device.

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