Data Recover of Solid-State Drives

Many consumers as well as several manufacturers are replacing traditional disk based hard drives with newer technology in the form of Solid State Drives. These drives are faster and have no moving parts to fail as due their disk based counterparts.

The removal of moving parts has made these drives impervious to mechanical failures. Speed is increased by writing the information to IC chips rather than writing data to a mechanical spinning platter found on the regular disk drive.

However these new devices aren't immune to failure. Numerous situations that can affect a regular hard drive such as corrupted data or controller failure will also occur with Solid State Drives. When these situations occur critical data could be lost.

SSD failure will require a professional data recovery service. Currently there is no do-it-yourself technology or software available for the end user. One issue that the consumer must be aware of is that data recovery from an SSD is generally more expensive than recovery from a traditional hard drive. SSD construction differs from a traditional hard drive in that they use a complex structure of flash chips. The data is stored across this array of chips in a proprietary manner depending on the manufacturer.

Providers need special equipment that can read these flash chips and reassemble the data into something that is usable. They also require computers with special firmware, specifically trained technicians and manufacturer service information which adds to the cost. As an example a hard drive that failed needed data recovery services from a professional provider. The cost was $680.00 and the turnaround was six days. The same company's cost for data recovery on a SSD was $2850.00. The turnaround time was three weeks. The following case studies will give an idea of how these costs are determined.

HDD Data Recovery

The HDD recovery process consists of four basic stages. These stages are drive failure analysis, drive restoration, drive imaging and data extraction. Drive failure analysis and drive restoration is where most of the cost comes in on HDD data recovery. Hard drives can fail electronically, logically or mechanically. Mechanical failures usually involve the motor or the read/write heads. There are also electrical and logical failures which can come from a surges, component failure or corrupted firmware.

In the case of a 1 TB HDD that suffered mechanical failure data was fully recovered intact and functional. The total time for the recovery process was six days. The total cost was $1000.00 with a breakdown of $875.00 for the labor and $125.00 for a replacement HDD.

SSD Data Recovery

The SDD device can share many of the same failures as a HDD with the exception of mechanical failure as there are no moving parts. One problem with the HDD solution is that the disk platter must be read byte by byte to restore the information. For large amounts of information this may be time consuming and very costly to the user. In these cases drive restoration is usually the solution. If the data corrupted or damaged then the recovery process has failed.

The SSD data recovery process has the advantage in this area. SSD devices store the data across an array of chips which can be read independently and then each one of these data images can be assemble into a new single drive image. This is the most costly portion of the recovery process for SSDs. Each chip image must be extracted and then assembled into a complete image. If the SDD uses sixteen chips then sixteen images must be assembled into a final image. Adding to the complexity of the process the method the device uses to spread the data over the chips must be known. If this information is not available the data can't be successfully restored. The only alternative is to search the data looking for key file clues such as Master Boot Record (MBR) and attempting reconstruction.

In this case a 128 GB SSD that contained sixteen 8GB chips was not recognized by the computer. The drive had failed because of firmware corruption. The process of searching for the MBR and reconstructing the images was used. The data was successfully recovered intact and functional. The total time for the recovery process was 2.5 weeks. The total cost was $3000.00

As SSD technology advances prices for data recovery services are decreasing and turn-around times are being shortened. However, when looking for a provider to perform this service a few precautions should be taken.

There are hundreds of companies claiming to be SSD data recovery experts and their prices for this service vary widely. When searching for a provider check their reputation and if possible contact some of their past customers. Take time to compare costs and turn-around times from several providers before making a final decision.