SSDs and data recovery: everything you need to know

With the cost of the hardware needed to manufacture SSDs continuing to fall, the popularity of this flash-based media is certain to grow.

SSDs offer a few advantages when compared to HDDs, but there are a few drawbacks, too, chief amongst which is that SSD data recovery can be a difficult task.

SSDs fail without warning

Whilst hard drives typically let users know that a failure is imminent by making unusual sounds, the same cannot be said for SSDs.

Hard drives are mechanical devices that utilise moving parts whilst SSDs do not. Instead, they use electronic components and are completely silent. As a result, SSD failure often comes completely out of the blue.

SSDs have a specified shelf life

Mechanical devices fail, but they do not fail exclusively because of the regularity with which they’re used.

Cars are a good example of this: one model could last more than 200k miles whilst an identical model could last for less than half of this. It is not the frequency with which the car is driven that determines when it fails. Rather, mileage is on of several things that can affect an automobile’s functionality.

Hard drives are comparable in that the amount of times they’re used alone does not determine when they’ll fail. The environment within which they operate, how they’re used etc. all influence their lifespan. SSDs, however, will fail after a set number of writes and re-writes.

In order to store data, SSDs write information to cells and each of these cells can only withstand so many writes before they cease to function.

Generally speaking, SSDs are capable of withstanding thousands of writes and rewrites, so this should not deter the average user but it’s certainly something you need to be aware of, particularly if you’re likely to be using an SSD in an enterprise environment.

SSD technology is constantly evolving

On the face of things, the fact that the technology used in SSDs is always being updated is no bad thing. It’s led to better speeds, lower costs and greater capacities, for example. When it comes to recovering data, though, it’s a source of difficulty and frustration.

Hard drives have been using almost identikit setups for decades and, as a result of this, data recovery engineers are au fait with the techniques that need to be utilised in order to retrieve data when one fails. When they’re tasked with recovering data from a failed SSD, they need to utilise bespoke techniques or may even need to develop a completely new technique if the device is relatively new.

Encrypted data is extremely hard to recover

Encrypting the data stored on an SSD substantially reduces the likelihood of a full recovery in the event of data loss. Without getting too technical, encrypted data is difficult to piece back together and we’d advise any SSD user to consider whether or not they genuinely need to encrypt their data as a result.

Always backup your data

Whatever type of media you use to store your data, we cannot stress the importance of backing this up to at least one other location strongly enough.

No type of storage media is immune to data loss; people will make mistake; accidents will happen. The only way to be certain you’re protected against data loss is to regularly backup your data.