Recover lost data on an SSD: is it possible?

Published on Nov 03, 2016

The technology proceeds forward in an implacable way and it leads to having to replace established technologies (as in the case of hard disks, HDD) with the new and most promising discoveries can provide greater speed and performance (like the SSD).

But in case of data loss how well does the new technology? If we delete by mistake a file, a folder, or the disk has read errors, how many ways are there to retrieve lost data in an SSD modern?

Let's see together in this investigation, if it is really reliable a SSD in the recovery of lost data.

Guide to SSD: benefits, installation, and helpful tips

Normally when we delete (both intentionally or accidentally) a file it is not physically deleted from the file system, at least not immediately: in order to save unnecessary movements of the head and of the dishes (in the case of the HDD) and to preserve the cells in NAND flash (SSD) the file “is still there”; the deletion actually takes place only at the level of the operating system, while at the physical level the areas where you secure the files are marked as “rewritable”: the space occupied by the file deleted, may at any time be overwritten by new stored data.

Delete a hard disk: the best free programs

So logically we now know as the acts of any data recovery software (like Recuva): if we are quite timely in the notice of the accidental deletion of a file or a folder, launch one of these programs allow you to “read” the fields marked as writable in the file system, and at the end (even with a bit of luck) to retrieve the file immediately deleted.

DOWNLOAD | Recuva

Inevitably the more time passes the more the recovery with these programs it becomes very difficult, because we can't predict in advance when the sector (marked as re-writable) will be rewritten by the OS or by ourselves (saving a new file), therefore preventing the recovery of the file that we deleted.

Programs to erase files and make them unrecoverable (like Eraser) to act precisely in this way: delete the file and/or fields marked as writable, possibly with many steps, in order to make it unrecoverable, the file of which we want to prevent the recovery.

DOWNLOAD | Eraser portable

The disk type does not affect the use of Recuva or Eraser: even on SSD, there are sectors and blocks, just like on the HDD, so we can safely attempt to recover a file you deleted by mistake or prevent the recovery of some files, compromising by making a deletion of the multi-step.

The only real enemies of the recovery on the SSD are the cells in NAND flash, and the TRIM, as we will discover in the following steps.

To explain this step, we will use a few examples: the same file is saved on 10 HDDS and 10 SSD, then deleted from the Windows recycle bin.

The discs are immediately extracted from the PC (and then left without current) and put in a dry place, and away from interference of any kind for a period sufficiently long (at least 2-3 years), then tried the recovery.

The result? The files on the HDD are still recoverable without problems, thanks also to the fact that nobody in the meantime has rewritten the sector or sectors used by the erased file in the test.

Recover lost data on an SSD: is it possible?

The files on the SSD, have not had the same fortune, this is because the cells in the NAND of the sectors of the disk have lost a part of the electric charge needed to maintain the information in the cells.

The problem of the SSD is in the nature of the cells in NAND flash are used to create the storage space: these cells need to be loaded and unloaded continuously to keep the data intact, and therefore in need of electricity constant, would otherwise inevitably lose the data in it. You need to specify that the decay time at rest is however long (at least 2 years without electricity), but less than a HDD, we can consider (speaking in computer terms), practically immortal (the magnetic disks if left to themselves, without any interference, they begin to falter only after 10 years, but many re-use the disks for 15 years without encounter loss of data).

And, always coming back to the SSD, if we leave the disc in a warm place, the decay of the cells is even more rapid.

The SSD can lose data in just 7 days at elevated temperatures

In theory, it takes only 2 seconds! Even without waiting for years without the current, another enemy of the lost data on the SSD is TRIM, the command (run by the operating system) that was created to solve a very big problem on these types of disk: the SSD controller does not know which blocks of the file system are actually in use and which are free. While the file system on a SSD will continue to maintain a list of blocks in use, the SSD (or better controller) does not know how to read the file system, and then can't access the list. This is because in the long run the problems and slowing down the rapid of the disk because the controller doesn't know which cells must intervene to restore the level of electric charge (and must do so only on cells that are blank or marked for deletion!).

Launching the TRIM (which is done automatically with most recent operating systems) the controller “know” which cells are no longer in use (or are marked for rewriting), and will give his “cleaning up”, restoring the level of electric charge is optimal for the maintenance of the cell.

The disk will be faster by launching the TRIM command, but the data that we have, deleting by mistake, may be lost forever, especially if the TRIM command should be triggered just in the moment in which we lost our master thesis, that ended up in the recycle bin and deleted by mistake.

How to recover deleted files unintentionally

The recovery is still possible in these scenarios, but much depends on the file system used: in many cases the only way to recover data is to rely on the professionals of recovery, certainly not cheap (even 1000€ for the recovery of a 120gb SSD).

If before you still have some doubts about keeping all the data on an SSD because “faster or because it is fashionable to have modern on PC” (I have seen types as well), now you do not have mitigating circumstances: our data (photos, music, documents, video) NOT to be saved on the SSD, but only on the HDD classic. SSD is a good ally for the operating system and programs, but it is at the moment a sword of Damocles for our sensitive files: it takes so little to derail everything.

Best SSD: a guide to buying the [2016]

The combination of SSD+HDD is still the best choice, in my opinion, in any scenario, at home, at least until the technology of the SSD will not be improved.

MSATA solid state drive: buying guide

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